Criminalising protest through the expansion of police 'move-on' powers: A case study from Australia
This article analyses the evolution of police 'move-on' (dispersal) powers in Australia, with a focus on how this form of statutory police power is being recalibrated as a technique for deterring and closing down public place protests. Using a case study from recent events in the state of New South Wales, we draw attention to the ways in which governments have begun to employ the move-on power as a tool for imposing their own visions of how public places should be used and how protests are allowed to be conducted. We highlight the work done by the ambiguous and malleable concept of 'public safety' and the imperative of not permitting protests to interrupt business activities. We argue that the combined effect of the ascendancy of these preferences, and the pre-emptive logic which is at the heart of move-on powers, is to produce a serious challenge to the vision of public places as sites for dissent and democratic mobilisation.