Jenny Leong questions the Premier in Parliament about his plan to block protest livesteams, on 27 June 2023:
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (13:18): My question is directed to the Premier. Given human rights and civil liberties advocates like Digital Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch and the Council for Civil Liberties have all warned that Labor's plan to team up with Meta to block protest livestreams would further suppress the right to protest in this State, will he heed the experts' concerns and abandon the plan to silence dissent and further crack down on the freedom of expression and peaceful protest in New South Wales?
Mr CHRIS MINNS (Kogarah—Premier) (13:18): No, I will not. It is important that we put in context the reasons why. Those are, at the end of the day, illegal activities. Whether they are for political purposes or otherwise, they are more often than not extremely dangerous. Given Meta and other social media companies in New South Wales block content like copyrighted information, media and social media have every right to block the livestreaming of illegal activities. We have to be really careful about what is being broadcast, particularly considering it is illegal. I do not deny and I do not want to be in a position where the Government does not acknowledge the passion of protesters, or their right to peaceful assembly, or their right to freedom of expression or to protest. But I have a genuine fear—one that must be acknowledged—that they will kill either themselves or someone who is sent in to rescue them. The circumstances around that are serious, and I will explain why.
A 32-year-old person is alleged to have blocked three lanes with a truck on the Harbour Bridge during morning peak-hour traffic on 13 April 2022. An 18-year-old woman is alleged to have scaled a coal loader and glued herself to the railing. A 22-year- old Queensland woman was detected at 7.15 a.m. on Monday 19 June suspended over the freight line at Kariong. Emergency services were called to Rose Point Road in Singleton because there were reports that two people had climbed on top of a train carriage at Singleton railway station. It is a genuine fear that either the people who are conducting these protests, or the New South Wales police, paramedics or ambulance who are sent in to rescue them, may lose their lives in these protests. Given social media companies routinely and regularly take information offline, whether it is illegal or not, I believe it is appropriate in the circumstances. I do not want to see someone killed as a result of these protests.