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Importance of Peaceful Protest


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 5 May 2022

Tags: Native Forest Logging, Anti-Protest Laws, Protest

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr ROCKLIFF

Do you agree that peaceful protest over the decades has help to make Tasmania the wild, and in most parts, unspoiled place it is today? It has helped to strengthen our brand and deliver tangible economic benefits from agricultural exports to tourism. Peaceful protests have also helped to deliver real reform in securing the rights of women, workers and the LGBTIQ community. All the great gains of the Tasmania we know and love have come from the passion of our people, uniting to make things better, protesting where we must.

Today, you take us back when you promised to take us forward. Do you really want to be the Premier that allows dissent to be crushed and the peaceful protest that has been core to our identity and our brand to be prohibited? Do you really want to be the Premier who chooses to take Tasmania back to a darkness that belongs to our past?

 

ANSWER

Mr Speaker, I thank the member, Ms O'Connor for her question. It was a good question because you used the words 'peaceful protest'. That is important because I would never - and I imagine any government of any colour - would want to inhibit one's right to peacefully protest.

There has been lawful protest throughout this week, with no trespassing; just people ensuring they have their say, which is vitally important. I acknowledge that over many decades, change happens when people speak up and their voice is heard. I include examples that you have used, Ms O'Connor. Peaceful protests are essential. I recall when I was the Minister for Education, young people wanted to express their view on climate change. There was discussion in the community about whether our students should remain at school. However, as Minister as Education, it was important to me that we listened to the voices of young people. There were climate change rallies on parliament lawns and elsewhere across Tasmania. That is a good thing: peaceful protests, lawfully expressing their view in large numbers, to which governments listen.

You are referring to the situation with the Government bill about workplace matters. What I am concerned about, and I think back to some protests where people chained themselves to equipment -

Dr Woodruff - Peacefully chaining themselves to equipment. Doing everything they can.

Mr ROCKLIFF - It is dangerous. They are risking their lives, and the lives of people who work at the workplaces, and it is preventing people from going about their right to work. That is what this is about: ensuring the safety of people who can lawfully protest. You know this, Ms O'Connor. You know it.

I want people to express their view, and for Government to listen to people's voices - like the voice of young people on climate change. What I do not want to see is people risking their lives and the lives of people who work in those workplaces, and preventing lawful workplace activity from happening. That is the intent of the legislation Mr Barnett has tabled this week.

It should be no secret that we are committed to such legislation. As I recall, it was certainly promised in the 2014, 2018, and 2021 elections. We believe we have a mandate to ensure people can lawfully go about their right to work. There have been various iterations over the years. We believe we have the balance right with this legislation. We look forward to debating it in the House.