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Time to Scrap Liberals' Protest Laws

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Tags: Anti-Protest Laws, Protest, Forests, Democracy, Australian Constitution

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader 

The decision by Tasmania Police to drop charges against Bob Brown is further evidence we'd be far better off without the Liberals' protester laws.

The Greens have tabled in parliament a bill to repeal the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 and we will be bringing this on for debate in our Private Members time, next Wednesday.

In retrospect, the laws will be seen as a rookie mistake by the Hodgman Government, who aren't used to drafting legislation after 16 years in Opposition.

These laws politicise the police, they're heavy handed and overly complex. A terrible trifecta.

We would be better off returning to the conventional laws of trespass and public nuisance. They're simple and regulate protest activity in a way that is well understood by all parties, and is accepted.

A petition* currently circulating states the bill, amongst other flaws, was drafted in an unnecessarily complex style and that there is considerable uncertainty about its operation. The petitioners have been proven right, and MPs should listen and act.

It's time the Liberals admitted their mistake.

We hope they'll abandon disgraced former Minister Harriss' legacy and support our repeal bill in Parliament.



Text of petition:

Text of Your petitioners are concerned that the Act: 

1. harshly punishes free speech and peaceful assembly, including on public streets and other public places, through possibility of four year jail terms or $10,000 fines 

2. has been used against local Tasmanian parents and grandparents, contrary to the government's pledge it would not be used against ‘mum and dad protesters’ 

3. may contravene the implied right to political communication in the Australian Constitution 

4. was drafted in an unnecessarily complex and convoluted style, which was subsequently compounded by amendments made to the proposed legislation by the Upper House, and as a result there is considerable uncertainty about the operation and scope of the Act 

5. was passed by the Tasmanian Parliament without the benefit of any formal public consultation process with the legal profession or other expert or interested groups 

6. duplicates existing laws, including trespass and public nuisance, which manage to govern protest activity in a way that raises none of the above concerns