You are here

Anti-protest Laws - Classification of Protesters

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 16 September 2021

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


Premier, we have now had a chance to take a good look at your Government's proposed amendments to the nasty anti protest laws which were found to be unconstitutional. Can you confirm the amendments create two classes of protesters?

For example: they would continue to allow the right to protest of anti vaxxers and anti abortion activists while removing the rights of Tasmanian anglers and bushwalkers who will defend Halls Island from your Government's EOI development; the thousands of southern Tasmanians who will defend kunanyi from a cable car; coastal communities standing up against fish farm expansion; young Tasmanians defending forest carbon stores and striking for climate action; north-west coasters defending Robbins Island and its incredible birdlife from a misplaced and massive windfarm proposal; and east coasters opposed to the Cambria Green development and eastern shore residents opposed to the privatisation of Rosny Hill.

Premier, when your own Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council says we have to look after the environment better, why is your Government targeting civil society seeking to do just that, while giving a pass to other groups who might protest outside a hospital, day centre, charity or school?



I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question. Her continued attack on what is an attempt to ensure that we can keep Tasmanians in work; that is what this -

Ms O'Connor - Would you like to answer the question?

Mr GUTWEIN - In fact, there are about 20 questions. I will cover off at a high level.

The intent of this legislation is to enable people to go about their lawful occupations and to enable those businesses that invest in this state to continue to employ Tasmanians. That is what this legislation is about. Again -

Ms O'Connor - But an anti vaxx or an anti abortion protest, that is fine.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, member for Clark, order.

Mr GUTWEIN - Again, the Leader of the Greens simply seeks to attack Tasmanian jobs through this. That is what is occurring.

The amendment bill that we put forward takes into account legislation approved in other jurisdictions around the country and addresses issues that were raised during the course of the debate in the 2019 amendment bill.

It reflects our commitment to protect both Tasmanians' right to work and also Tasmanians' right to free speech.

Ms O'Connor - It actually does not. Have you read it?

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you took a substantial amount of time presenting a question to the Premier. It had, of course, opinion in it. The Premier is allowed to answer that in any way that he likes. I ask you to cease your interjections. If you interject on the Premier again - your question was put in silence, the Premier should be able to be heard in silence.

Ms O'Connor - He is inciting interjections, Chair.

Member Suspended

Member for Clark - Ms O'Connor

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you can leave the Chamber until after question time.

Ms O'Connor - I asked you to pull the Premier into line because he is inciting interjections.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, if you wish to say any more, that time will be extended.

Ms O'Connor - Nice try.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you will now be allowed to return at 12 o'clock.

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you were asked to leave.

Ms O'Connor withdrew.

Mr GUTWEIN - Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The point that I was making and, obviously, one that the Leader of Greens does not agree with is that Tasmanians should be allowed to go to work, businesses should be allowed to employ people.

It is unfortunate that, again, Ms O'Connor takes the opportunity to very squarely line up Tasmanian businesses that invest in this state, that employ Tasmanians and -

Dr Woodruff - There will be two classes of protesters in this state.

Mr GUTWEIN - does not and has not throughout this debate -

Dr Woodruff - The ones you support and the ones you do not.

Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, unless you wish to join your colleague - I have asked for the Premier to be heard in silence.

Mr GUTWEIN - Again, I make the point that the opposition to the legislation that we are attempting to put through this place is about ensuring that not only can Tasmanians go to work but that Tasmanians' right to free speech is also protected.

I am still very disappointed that Labor chose not to support the legislation when it was before the House the last time. There should be no reason at all that Labor cannot support this legislation.

There should be no reason at all that Labor cannot support the amended legislation. The question before this place when the bill arises is whether or not Labor will join with the Greens and once again oppose Tasmanians being able to go work and, importantly, Tasmanian businesses being able to employ Tasmanians.