You are here

Labor Needs to Return to Traditional Values and Vote Against Anti-Protest Bill in Upper House

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Tags: Anti-Protest Laws, Protest, Freedom of Speech, Democracy

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader

The Liberals’ politically-motivated, draconian Police Offences Amendment (Workplace Protection) Bill 2022 is scheduled for debate in Legislative Council tomorrow. We hope Tasmanian Labor realise their grave mistake in voting for this odious legislation in the House of Assembly, and return to their values by voting against the Bill.

Whether or not Tasmania remains a peaceful and democratic state or is frog-marched closer to becoming a police state, is a question for Labor.  

The Liberals gagged debate on their draconian anti-protest Bill in the House of Assembly, then voted to pass it with Labor’s support. Both parties dishonestly claim these laws are needed for worker safety. We know from Greens’ questions in Budget Estimates that is a lie – no peaceful protesters have caused any workplace injury that has been reported to WorkSafe. 

The Liberals’ Bill adds in an offence of ‘nuisance’ – or unreasonably obstructing any street. That kind of reasonable peaceful protest has been, and continues to be, used in Tasmania and around the world by unions, conservationists and other activists for generations.  

It is core to our identity as citizens of a peaceful, democratic state with a proud history of civil society protest to drive positive change.

It’s how women got the vote and workers’ rights were protected - and in Tasmania how homosexuality was decriminalised and how the Franklin River was saved. 

Labor has a responsibility to protect that right to peaceful protest by rejecting this Bill. If they don’t, they have completely lost touch with their roots and fallen captive to corporations driven only by the profit motive.

A recent police raid on a peaceful climate activists camp in NSW has highlighted the clumsy enforcement of draconian anti-protest legislation. The raid disrupted commuters for hours and created a volatile situation from a benign one. 

This is the future we will face if the Legislative Council rubber stamps this oppressive legislation. Those brave activists in NSW weren’t even protesting.

The Liberals’ fourth attempt at anti-protest laws criminalises peaceful protest and enables unchecked corporate profit at the environment’s expense. 

This vote will be a crossroads for the Tasmanian Labor Party.