We hoped the newly convened Parliament would help chart a greener and kinder future. Unfortunately, what we seem to have is the same tired old Liberal government rehashing tired old legislation.
Like a dog returning to its vomit, Minister for Unlawful Activities, Guy Barnett, has resumed his favourite pastime - vilifying and attempting to make criminals out of passionate, future focussed Tasmanians. This time by introducing the Police Offences Amendment (Workplace Protection) Bill 2022, otherwise known as the Anti-Protest Bill.
The irony can’t be ignored that this is occurring at the same time the Government introduced the Forest Practices Amendment (Validation) Bill 2022 - the Liberals’ bill designed to paper over the cracks of decades of illegal logging.
The anti-protest laws will impose heavy fines and jail terms on forest defenders and climate change activists and potentially anyone who protests about planet destroying activities, on public or private land.
This draconian legislation paves the way for dodgy corporations like JBS, the Brazilian Butchers, to destroy our waterways and trample workers’ rights – as they are world-renowned for doing.
If legislated, it’s a guarantee more climate-saving, carbon-rich forests will be flattened and incinerated while brave forest defenders have their lives derailed by criminal convictions. Workers’ rights will go down the drain, unchallenged, and champions for fair workplace conditions will be fined and jailed.
If passed, prisons and courts will surely swell with passionate and caring Tasmanians, whose conviction to their cause far outweighs their fear of arrest.
We know the Liberals are doggedly pushing their assault on Nature and democracy, but what will Labor do?
If the Labor Party support this legislation they will betray a core principle of their movement – the right to peaceful assembly.
We implore Labor to stand up to the dinosaur Liberals, out of touch as they are with the crises afflicting our planet and which affects every element of our lives, whether it’s the climate and bio-diversity emergency, workers’ rights or the cost of living.
Protest triggers change, and the right to protest is a human right – one every member of Parliament should be protecting.