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Upper House Votes to Undermine Democracy

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 25 August 2022

Tags: Anti-Protest Laws, Protest, Democracy

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

It’s a sad day for Tasmania’s democracy. 

With its passage through the Legislative Council, the Liberal Government’s savagely undemocratic and unnecessary anti-protest legislation is all but certain to become law. 

Debate confirmed five MLCs listened to the deep concerns of the Aboriginal community, unions, NGOs, environment groups, young climate activists and the wider community. 

In contrast, six other MLCs gave their ears, attention and votes to a small number of vested interests, including a Chinese state owned mining company intent on trashing the Takayna rainforest.

Meg Webb, Rob Valentine, Mike Gaffney, Rosemary Armitage, and Sarah Lovell all deserve credit for voting to uphold the right to peaceful protest. 

Liberal MLCs Leonie Hiscutt, Jane Howlett, and Jo Palmer, and independents Ruth Forrest, Tania Rattray, and Dean Harriss deserve no credit or thanks. Each of them undermined this island’s long, proud history of peaceful protest and contributed to a less democratic lutruwita/Tasmania. 

There have been some modest improvements to this Bill through amendments, but fundamentally it remains as it was - an assault on free speech and the right to peaceful protest. It’s questionable whether it’s even constitutional. 

Tasmania is in the midst of a health and housing crisis, a devastating Commission of Inquiry, and an ongoing pandemic. Rather tackling these critical issues, the Rockliff Government has prioritised laws designed to lock people up for exercising their democratic rights.

Well, they’d better build bigger jails. 

These laws will not crush the democratic, protective spirit of Tasmanians who engage in peaceful protest to defend human rights, protect places like Takayna and champion a safe climate.