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Premier - Protestors

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 6 September 2021

Tags: Anti-Protest Laws, Protest, State Budget, Legislation

Ms O'CONNOR - Premier, I want to go now to the draconian anti-protest legislation that your Government still has as a statute and now intends to try to put a shine on with a new Workplaces (Protection of Business and Workers) Amendment Bill. Can you explain how this draft bill does not infringe on people's right to freedom of political communication, when young people, people of all ages, people like lettuce grower Anthony Houston have exercised their constitutional right to freedom of political communication by protesting to protect the Tarkine's rainforests?

Mr GUTWEIN - You are broadly capturing somebody being in a location they shouldn't have been.

Ms O'CONNOR - Who says they shouldn't have been? They were at the entrance to a public road.

Mr GUTWEIN - I would need to seek advice on that but I thought trespass was the issue. I am not certain. How you draw that into political communication, I don't know. I thought trespass is a fairly simply law to understand.

Ms O'CONNOR - There was no trespass.

Mr GUTWEIN - The broad principle is that Tasmanians should be able to go about their lawful occupation. That was the intent of the original legislation and that is what the current legislation is aiming to ensure can be provided.

Ms O'CONNOR - As I understand it the third attempt to make this legislation constitutional would exempt a protest, for example, outside the hospital. Why should people who fall within a group that might be called anti-vaxers be given preferential treatment if they are protesting outside a hospital, or people who are protesting for women's reproductive rights, get a leave pass when young people and people of all generations are protesting for a safe climate and the protection of biodiversity?

Mr GUTWEIN - I'll need to take that question on notice. I come back to what the principle is and that is to ensure that people can go about their lawful occupations.

Ms O'CONNOR - What about nurses and doctors at the hospital who might be obstructed by anti-vaxers? Why does your Government want to shut down the right to peaceful protest?

Mr GUTWEIN - We're not attempting to shut down the right to peaceful protest.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes you are.

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr GUTWEIN - What we are attempting to do is to ensure that people can go to work and conduct their lawful occupation, which as you all know -

Ms O'CONNOR - Except if they're nurses and doctors at a hospital walking through an anti-vax protest.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, please.

Mr GUTWEIN - There will be a difference of opinion on this. I don't think it's right that because as an environmentalist you don't like sawmills or you don't like -

Ms O'CONNOR - I don't mind sawmills. That's different.

Mr GUTWEIN - You don't like mining or other activities.

Ms O'CONNOR - It depends where the mining is. Chipping and burning old forests.

Mr GUTWEIN - And you want to impede people from going about what is their lawful occupation.

Ms O'CONNOR - No we want to support people protecting the environment.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, I am asking you not to interrupt the Premier while he is answering the question.

Ms O'CONNOR - He's inciting interjections, Chair.

CHAIR - You are inciting interjection from him as well, Ms O'Connor. Please let the Premier answer the question.

Mr GUTWEIN - We will always have a difference of opinion on this. I believe that people should be able to go about their lawful occupations. I also believe very firmly that people should be allowed to protest, but they should do it lawfully. Impeding somebody going about their lawful occupation should be an offence.

Ms O'CONNOR - You can't arrest your way out of a climate protest.