You are here

Anti-Protest Laws

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 24 March 2021

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


The draconian and highly political anti-protest laws which your Government described as urgent a year and a half ago, then parked upstairs gathering dust ever since, look set to be debated in the upper House today.

We have here leaked correspondence from February 2019 between then DPIPWE secretary John Whittington to then Justice secretary Kathrine Morgan-Wicks, which makes clear the startling overreach behind these laws, which were found unconstitutional by the High Court, prompting the amendments being debated today. The DPIPWE secretary was seeking legal advice on the powers to manage protesters on lands associated with leases and licences on all reserve classes, including Wellington Park. He also recommended that the tourism industry be included in the definition of a business premises to protect industries operating on reserve land, on public land.

Your Government wants to stop Tasmanians from standing up for their protected areas, just as your Government is launching an unprecedented assault on them. You want to stop Aboriginal Tasmanians from defending wilderness their people have shaped and nurtured for 5000 years. How do you justify this?

Mr Barnett - Nice long speech.

Ms O'Connor - I don't care what you think of me - I never have and I never will.

Mr Ferguson - It's okay, you've got the support of the Labor Party on this one.



Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question and just note the comment behind me. It appears that on this issue that the Greens and Labor are locked at the hip. I believe Labor can see the benefits of our legislation. They have heard the calls from industry and employers that there is a need for a stronger set of laws in this state, as there are across other jurisdictions, to ensure people can go about their lawful occupations without being impeded.

Yes, I expect the bill will be on later today in the upper House and I will not reflect on what may occur up there. However, I hope the Labor Party has the courage of its convictions to accept that we need this legislation. They are desperately trying to weave a pathway to say they actually do support it.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, the Premier is on his feet.

Mr GUTWEIN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. It is no wonder they are clamouring and carrying on over there because they know they are caught on this. They desperately want to support the Liberal position, the Government's position, that we want to ensure that people can peacefully protest.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, under standing order 45. Out the front of Parliament House this morning were representatives of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. That is why we asked the question specific to the concerns of the Aboriginal community about these anti-protest laws. Perhaps you could address your mind to that, Premier.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order, but I ask the Premier to consider the statement.

Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, the Leader of Greens knows the answer to that. There is no problem with peaceful, lawful protests. What we want to do is ensure that businesses that want to employ people are able to go about their lawful occupation and that Tasmanian workers are able to go to work without these dangerous activities occurring. It is very clear that Labor is crab-walking themselves to our position trying to find a pathway. They know this is a problem that needs fixing.

I make the point in closing that we support lawful and peaceful protest. We do not support people stopping Tasmanians going about their lawful occupations, conducting their lawful businesses, by these dangerous stunts that we see occurring time and time again.