Greens question government agenda to 'shut Nannas down'

9th April 2015 3:24 PM
UPDATED 10th April 1:09 PM

UPDATE 1.10PM: THE GREENS NSW coal seam gas spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham wants to know if the government has an agenda to 'shut the Nannas down'.

Following ABC reports that suggested National Party members initiated the confrontation between police and Knitting Nannas on Thursday at their usual knit-in in front of Thomas George's office, Mr Buckingham today called on Deputy Premier Troy Grant to clarify whether his party and government wanted the Nannas shut down.

The 'post-election police crackdown', according to Mr Buckingham is 'a ridiculous attack on the democratic right to peaceful protest'.

"As soon as the election is over the first move of the National Party has been to try to use the cops to shut down a peaceful group of people knitting outside their local member's office," Mr Buckingham said.

"This ridiculous attack on our democratic right to protest is a desperate attempt by the National Party to stop opposition to coal seam gas so that they can roll out toxic gasfields across our state.

 

Andrew Gordon speaks about the Knitting Nannas: Andrew Gordon, the Chairman for the state electorate of Page for the National Party, speaks about the recent developments with the Knitting Nannas.

 

"If the National Party wants to ban knitting in the street then I can only imagine what their response will be to the level of protest they can expect if coal seam gas is allowed to return to the Northern Rivers

"The issue of coal seam gas is bigger than the state election.  As much as the National Party might wish the issue would go away now the election is over, they are kidding themselves if they think communities will stop protesting while there are still toxic coal seam gas licenses in NSW."

Police face off against the Knitting Nannas outside Thomas George's office at Lismore.
Police face off against the Knitting Nannas outside Thomas George's office at Lismore.

UPDATE 9.40am: THE Knitting Nannas move their weekly protests from Thomas George's office to the boat sculpture at Molesworth Street, Lismore Nationals president John Barnes has said.

Speaking on ABC Radio this morning, Mr Barnes said he was against CSG but the Nannas were a "nuisance" and they should move to "the HMAS Jenny Dowell", referring to the sculpture.

"I don't care what they are protesting for, if it is CSG or the man on the moon," Mr Barnes said.

Reader poll

Should the Knitting Nannas continue their weekly protests outside Thomas George's office?

This poll ended on 10 April 2015.

Yes - they should stay there until coal seam gas is banned across NSW - 58%
Yes - they should stay there until all coal seam gas licences on the Northern Rivers are cancelled - 19%
No - they can keep protesting but they need to do it somewhere else - 5%
No - the election's over and the battle's done. It's time to go home - 16%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

"They should give the streets back to the people."

Mr Barnes said someone had hurt their ankle trying to get around the Nannas' tables and chairs some weeks ago.

However, a caller to the station clarified the person who injured their ankle was trying to avoid the bags of manure used by farmers in another protest outside Mr George's office.

 

UPDATE 8.45am: ATTEMPTS by police to shut down the Knitting Nannas weekly "knit in" outside the office of Lismore MP Thomas George smells of a post-election crackdown, an expert says.

Aidan Ricketts, a lecturer in Southern Cross University's Law and Justice school and activism expert, said claims thee Nannas' protest was illegal were wrong.

>> MORE NORTHERN RIVERS NEWS

Mr Ricketts said there was "no such thing" as an illegal protest under Australian law.

"Groups only need to apply for permission to hold an event that will obstruct people or traffic," he said.

"The Nannas do not block the footpath outside the office so they cannot be charged with obstruction."

The move against the Nannas comes after nearly three years of weekly knit-ins outside Mr George's office. It also comes as one of the group, Jenny Leunig, prepares to fight Lismore City Council claims a giant anti-CSG banner on the roof of her Ballina Road home, which has also been in place for three years, is illegal under state planning law.

>> MORE ON JENNY LEUNIG'S STORY

A group of 10 nannas had yesterday just settled in to their usual positions on the pavement outside Mr George's office yesterday when they were approached by a group of police who informed them the act was illegal.

Eltham Knitting Nanna Judy Summers said she was told by a senior policewoman the group "had no reason to be here as CSG is done and dusted".

The police left after issuing a warning that the group would face more serious action if they returned next week.

But Ms Summers vowed the group were "not going anywhere" and were seeking legal advice over the issue.

"I told her it is not done and dusted; until both licenses are cancelled we will continue to be here," Ms Summers said.

"We are not obstructing the pathway."

INITIAL REPORT: AFTER almost three years of weekly "knitting sessions" outside Lismore MP Thomas George's office, the Knitting Nannas against Gas have been told they are breaking the law.

Eltham Knitting Nanna Judy Summers vowed the group were "not going anywhere" and were seeking legal advice over the issue.

Ms Summers said about 10 of the group had gathered just after 2pm when four police approached including Richmond Inspector Nicole Bruce, who said "'you're having an illegal protest and we've had complaints that you've been blocking the footpath'".

"She said we had no reason to be here as CSG is done and dusted," Ms Summers said.

"I told her it is not done and dusted; until both licenses are cancelled we will continue to be here.

>> MORE CSG NEWS

"She said, 'this is a warning'."

Ms Summers reiterated the group was seeking legal advice about their regular knit ins, and the current advice was it was not illegal.

"We are not obstructing the pathway," she said.

"And we are seeking legal advice so we can go back to Inspector Bruce and talk about it."