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Questions Still Hang Over WorkSafe Protest Referral


Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Tags: WorkSafe, Protest, Forests

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson

In Parliament today, the Minister for Justice, Elise Archer, undermined her own official statement and denied she referred alleged unsafe workplace behaviours of the Bob Brown Foundation to WorkSafe Tasmania.

The joint media statement, issued by Minsters Archer and Barnett at around 9am on 21 February, states clearly they had referred the matter to WorkSafe.

Later that day, Minister Barnett gave a confusing interview on ABC radio. First, he denied the Gutwein Government had referred the matter to WorkSafe, then he flip-flopped and said the joint media statement was still correct.

Those positions are entirely contradictory.

Unions Tasmania yesterday publicly stated workplace safety complaints are often not dealt with in a timely matter, that they were concerned at the politicisation of the regulator, and had lost confidence in its independence.

In the case of the Bob Brown Foundation, and the Liberals’ politically-motivated attack on peaceful forest protesters, the WorkSafe Regulator mustered its scarce public resources and moved quickly to try to shut them down. Their direction to cease forest protest activity was rightly seen by the Magistrates Court as massive over-reach and unlawful.

There are still serious questions hanging over this referral.

The Minister for Justice oversees the regulator. She must reveal whether she sought legal advice from the Solicitor General prior to WorkSafe’s legal over-reach and misuse of public resources in this matter.

Ms Archer and Mr Barnett are Minister answerable to the people of Tasmania, and WorkSafe Tasmania are a public authority, cracking down on peaceful protest in public forests. This is a matter of broad public interest and questions must be answered.