Dubbo Regional Council has developed a new policy to make it easier for groups to hold protests.
The council policy covers the approvals that need to be sought to hold an event in the local government area, including a protest, demonstration or special event on the road network.
Councillor Stephen Lawrence highlighted a need for the framework last year, following an incident that arose when a group wanted to hold a demonstration on water issues in Dubbo.
I wouldn’t imagine it would lead to an increase in that sort of activity. It’s mostly just to make it clear for council staff and the community.Councillor Stephen Lawrence
There was confusion around the council procedures that needed to be undertaken, which lead to the group believing they weren’t allowed to hold the protest.
Cr Lawrence said it created a lot of angst in the community.
ALSO MAKING NEWS:
He wanted a policy to be developed that would not only outline what needed to be done when someone wanted to hold a protest or demonstration, but also for special events on council land.
The policy also ensure council meets its responsibilities around workplace health and safety, as well as the safety of the public. It also helps council if there is a public liability claim.
The councillor said he didn’t expect the policy would lead to more demonstrations.
“I wouldn’t imagine it would lead to an increase in that sort of activity. It’s mostly just to make it clear for council staff and the community,” Cr Lawrence said.
Outlined in the policy is also actions that are recommended to be taken before holding the demonstration, like contacting the police so they ensure the event is safe.
The larges protest in the region recently happened in 2016 when people showing their opposition to Coal Seam Gas lined more than 8000 kilometres of road, including along the Newell highway in Dubbo.
The special events policy also covers the requirements to book facilities such as parks, ovals or other open space areas when held in conjunction with a road-based special event. Special events are anything that partially or fully is on the road or requires special traffic management, such as a fun run or street market day.
Council’s policy is based on information from the NSW government, Roads and Maritime Services and NSW Police.
The policy on application and enquiries relating to events including protests, demonstrations and special events on the road network can be found on council’s website.