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Hodgman Running Scared from High Court on Anti-Protest Laws

25 May 2016

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.08 a.m.]

You must be embarrassed about how your anti-protest laws have played out.  They have been criticised by the Law Society of Tasmania and by civil liberties groups as draconian and unnecessary.  Your Government promised that the laws would not apply to mum and dad protestors, but at Lapoinya not only mums were charged but grandads as well.  Now, to top it all off, after your Forestry minister expressed full confidence in the constitutional validity of the laws and that they would be vigorously defended, the charges against the most prominent individual are dropped to avoid scrutiny and the Solicitor-General is moving to have a High Court challenge struck out before it gets a full hearing.  If you are so confident in these laws, why are you running scared from a High Court challenge?

Madam SPEAKER - I remind the Premier that the bill referred to is an order of the day, so confine comments to general matters rather than specifically on the bill.  I will allow the question on those terms.

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question.  I respectfully suggest that the member be respectful of legal process.  That is what we are being.  Parliament passed legislation which we took to the state election as a new policy.  It does not, as you suggest, do anything other than restore some balance to this issue where previously illegal and unlawful protesters have been able to impede businesses and people from earning a lawful living.  We took that to the election as a matter that we thought would support particularly the forest industry, which has been the principal source of targeted attacks by environmental campaigners over many years, and to send a message that we are going to do what we can to support Tasmanian jobs and business from unlawful protests.  We make no apology for wanting to do that.  It remains our stated position. 

I am not sure what the Labor Party says about this, whether they are going to align with their Green coalition colleagues or stand up for Tasmanian workers and do what we can to pass laws that will no doubt be tested time and again by environmentalists.  It will no doubt be a source of some entertainment for those who want to do what they can to disrupt the execution of these laws, which are designed to protect Tasmanian people, their jobs and their workplaces.

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  Members interjecting can save it for the debate.

Mr HODGMAN - I have no doubt that environmentalists and those with a point to prove will do whatever they can to get themselves arrested and get themselves in a court to test these laws; that is their prerogative.  Our policy objective remains - to protect Tasmanians who are lawfully earning a living in an industry that has been under attack from Labor and Greens governments, or certainly Labor-Greens governments.  We had a complicit and willing -

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I am not going to continue to allow interjections from the members for Denison, Bass and Franklin.  There is a debate later today and you will have ample opportunity to make all the comments you are now making by way of interjection.  I have been very generous in allowing the question to be answered and you will allow the Premier to answer it.

Mr HODGMAN - We had a former Labor-Greens minority government with a former forests minister complicit in shutting down an industry in supporting a Green agenda.  We went to the election saying to Tasmanians that we want to restore the balance.  We want to support Tasmanians in their workplaces and allow them to safely go about earning a living.  We want to stop those who would obstruct that, by passing laws, as we have done through this Parliament, to ensure as best we can that they are protected from this sort of thing.