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Right to Protest

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 14 November 2019

Tags: Protest, Anti-Protest Laws

Right to Protest: Rosalie Woodruff, 14 November, 2019


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise today to condemn this Liberal Government for introducing a bill to the House that will fundamentally change the long held right of Tasmanians to protest. Fear of arrest if they are peaceful and making a statement.

I can assure the Clerk before he speaks to you that I am not going to speak about the contents of this bill. I am quite aware of that. Merely the fact it has been tabled is a disgusting statement about how authoritarian this Liberal Government has become and the police state that we are slowly marching towards.

This is not a light thing to say. It is a frightening thing but we are seeing Liberal and Labor governments around Australia increasingly introducing and passing this disgusting attack on the right to protest in this country so that corporations are not stopped or hindered in any way in their continued successful attempts to destroy the natural environment, to take and extract every little resource that they can that is remaining there and to do whatever is required to further the profit motive. Let us be clear, that is what this is about.

There are no instances that the Government can provide where this would have been required in recent history. There is no peaceful protest that could not be managed by the laws today that we have in Tasmania so that the safety of people is not hindered. There are trespass laws. There are many ways for the police to ensure that the rights of businesses are maintained already.

This legislation would lock people up for 18 months for peacefully protesting the first time. Lock people up for four years for peacefully protesting the second time and as Mr Barnett said, crowed quite happily, up to 21 years in jail for protesting. That is more than you get for murder in this state. Just think about it. More than you get for murder.

As Bob Brown said today, people are not afraid of prison when the alternative is extinction. We know the [6:14:33] extinction of all animals on this planet is occurring right now. We know that. We are hurtling towards a dark place. Every scientific body that is responsible for this research is telling us this. A biodiversity crisis. The United Nations this year has told us, the IPPC panel has told us. Land use change is bringing a massive extinction crisis. A million species are expected to be gone within the next 10 years.

This is what people are speaking about because this Government wants business as usual. Why do they want it? Because that is what corporations want, of course they do. The Labor Party and the Liberal Party are together, doing the bidding of corporations and we are so far from understanding where we truly are because normal to the Labor and the Liberal Party is just doing what they have always done. They cannot think differently.

This is not going to stop people. This is going to encourage people because it is going to be really clear what we are up against. We do not have time to wait to move into the police state that is coming toward us. People will be less afraid of going to jail than the alternative. The alternative is an unthinkable abyss in which there is total breakdown of the climate. There is a loss of all functioning biodiversity. It will be the young children in the school strike for climate, the 'knitting nannas', the old people, the peaceful young people, the 20 000-odd people who are on the streets; they are the people who will be locked in the Government's jails.

Shame on the Premier for crowing that these were the toughest laws in the country. What sort of a government do we have? Who did people elect? Every single Liberal member in this place should feel disgrace that this bill was tabled, to what end? It is so that it is entirely possible that nobody could protest Ta Ann, a Malaysian timber company, extracting what they can from the old growth forests in Tasmania. Of course, let us not stand in their way, off you go, do your bidding.

The coal exploration licences: why would we stop opening up the Midlands, farming land, to the international thermal coal extraction company? Let us write some legislation now to make sure they can do it and they do not have to worry about any annoying protestors getting in the way. Shame on Michael Bailey from the TCCI for saying that it was necessary for businesses to have this legislation. Horse shit, Madam Speaker, absolute horseshit -

Madam SPEAKER - Order, I do not think that is a very nice word to be using in here.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is the right word because it is not true. There is no such thing as 'economic tourist' -

Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Speaker. That is totally unparliamentary and I ask the member to withdraw.

Madam SPEAKER - What is the point of order?

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, what is the point of order? If you do not like it, get up and give an adjournment speech about this yourself.

Madam SPEAKER - Could I have what point of order it is?

Mr BARNETT - The point of order, the wording of 'h-o-r-s-e-s-h-i-t' is unparliamentary and it should be withdrawn.

Madam SPEAKER - Is there a standing order that I have to obey? Can I have a ruling on that, please? I agree with you that that is unparliamentary, I am not impressed at all. Okay. It is intemperate. Could you please withdraw the word 'horseshit'?

Dr WOODRUFF - I withdraw it for the people in the room who are uncomfortable with the fact that the world has moved on and it is no longer considered to be a problematic word. The point is, the real problem with the language in this place is that which is coming from the Liberals in Government and it is absolutely disgusting. People will rise up against this bill and the High Court will have another challenge before it.