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Workplace (Protection from Protestors) Act - High Court Challenge

18 October 2017

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.36 a.m.]
In a massive slap in the face to your Government, the High Court has just ruled in favour of former Greens leader Bob Brown's challenge to your Government's draconian antiprotest laws. The High Court has determined that your Government's Workplace (Protection from Protestors) Act violates the implied freedom of political communication in the Constitution. Your efforts to silence dissent and peaceful protest in Tasmania are in breach of the Constitution.

What is your response to this embarrassing slap-down of your draconian law, which stands condemned by the highest court in the land?


ANSWER

Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question and look forward to considering and analysing the decision of the High Court appropriately in due course.

Members interjecting. 

Mr SPEAKER - Order. The question has just been asked. I am sure you intend to listen to the answer so please do not interject. Allow the Premier to answer.

Mr HODGMAN - It is entirely appropriate that we would do so without immediately accepting the characterisation of the High Court's decision by the member who asked the question.

I can say that as a government and opposition party before the last election, we had a very strong position to stop extremist protestors from invading workplaces and denying people earning a lawful living. That was what was happening under former Labor-Greens governments when they backed down from any support for a forest industry that was often under attack by extremist protestors. We know the Greens often cheered them on and were often themselves part of those protests. It was Labor who, as part of their deal with the Greens, sat by and let it happen while Tasmanian and workers suffered -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, going to relevance under standing order 45. I asked the Premier what was his response to this embarrassing slap-down of this draconian law from the highest court in the land. I did not ask the Premier for a false history lesson.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor. Standing to take a point of order is not a chance to re-ask the question. That is disorderly in the first sense. The reality is that the Premier was answering the question. The Greens may not have liked the answer the Premier was giving but I will give the Premier appropriate time to talk about the answer he has given and to explain his answer. If members could hold their interjections and take note of what the Premier is saying it would be much appreciated.

Mr HODGMAN - Whilst some members opposite might care less about Tasmanian businesses and workers having their right to earn a lawful living being impacted by extremist protestors, we went to an election promising to do something about it. As a Government, we introduced laws to do something about it. Our commitment remains. We are strongly in support of workers. 
We will do what we can to protect them in their workplace, to stand up for them and to provide for their security as well, not only for the security of a weak Labor-Greens government so dismissive of the rights of workers in the forest industry they were prepared to let it happen time after time. When we visited Tasmanian workplaces in the forest sector, they were 
under attack, frequent attack, by environmentalists, what did the then Labor government do about it? Nothing at all. We will stand up for workers, including those in the forest sector, sold out by a former Labor government and now coming back to an industry that is being rebuilt by a majority Liberal Government. 

We will take the time to appropriately consider the decision of the High Court and what further actions we might appropriately take to protect and stand up for Tasmanian workers.