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Workplace Protection from Protesters Negotiations

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 28 October 2021

Tags: Anti-Protest Laws


Mr Speaker, I want to remind the House that the Municipality of Sorell lost $300 000 to poker machines in September.

Minister, yesterday we saw your two parties working in lock step against the public interest. Here is another. Can you confirm you are in negotiations with the Labor Party, who once represented workers and the democratic right to peaceful protest, to secure their support for the draconian anti-protest law amendments?

Members interjecting.

Ms O'CONNOR - All right. Are you having a conversation?

Mr SPEAKER - Order. We need a question to the minister.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - The House will come to order. I will ask Ms O'Connor not to ask the question until we settle down. Thank you. Ms O'Connor has the call.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. Minister, we listened carefully to your contribution on Greens private members' time yesterday. You said in the House that you were waiting to hear back from the Labor Party on the anti-protest law amendments. Can you confirm you are having chats with the Labor Party in order to secure their support for the anti-protest law amendments? In the interests of openness and transparency, can you tell the House what Labor has asked for in return for their vote?

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. Before the minister starts, I remind Ms O'Connor that she has put the question and I expect the answer to be listened to in silence.



Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader for the Greens for the question, or the Dorothy Dixer. I am not sure how you would describe it but it is certainly one out of the box. I will have to be careful with my eye contact today, standing here, as to who I look at and who is on side and who is not on side.

There is nothing more important than jobs. As a Government, we are out there to protect those jobs, particularly in the forest industry. The first part of your question related to the debate yesterday, which was the bill you put forward. I will not reflect on that vote but it is clear that the Greens' position is to kill off the native forest industry and to kill off jobs, as they did under the Labor-Greens government in 2010-14. You have form in killing off those productive industries, whether it is forestry, mining, salmon or the productive industries.

That is why, on three occasions at the elections, we have received a mandate to bring in our workplace protection laws to protect those jobs and to say, 'We are backing you'. You have a right to free speech, you have a right to protest peacefully but you do not have the right to block a person from working freely in the workplace, to earn an income, to feed and support their family. Likewise, you do not have the right to impede a workplace and a business from operating freely, and their workers to operate freely.

I am delighted to receive the question. We have circulated our bill into the community for public feedback. We have received excellent, positive feedback, particularly from all our productive industries. They are backing it and the people of Tasmania have backed it three times, at three elections, for a majority Liberal Government. That is why we are standing on this side of the cross benches.

The question is, where will this go? We have had that feedback and we are looking forward to further feedback from the Labor Party. That is a question for the Labor Party. Each member of the Labor Party is on the other side of this Chamber and we want to know their position. We want their support for this bill because it is in Tasmania's best interest to protect jobs, protect businesses, protect our productive industries, and it is the right thing to do.

Just this morning we have had another protest by the Bob Brown Foundation in the Styx Valley, tying themselves to forestry equipment, stopping contractors getting out to do their work. And, of course, we have the Greens, the parliamentary wing of the Bob Brown Foundation, come in here doing their bidding. They say 'Jump', the Greens say 'How high?' to the Bob Brown Foundation. That is what you are doing. You are the parliamentary wing and we are not going to put up with that. We will continue to support our workers -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45. We asked the minister to explain to the House the nature of the conversation with the Labor Party on these amendments.

Mr SPEAKER - The minister heard that question and that is not a point of order. What I have heard is him explaining his position.

Mr BARNETT - Yes, we have explained it very well. It has been quite clear over three elections what our position is. We have a mandate. The people of Tasmania support it. The people in those industries support it.

So, the question is for the Leader of the Opposition. We know that they are divided over there. They have been riven by the toxicity in the Labor Party. Not only that, we have seen this morning the cheap political shots that have been thrown. They are not just divided but they are irresponsible in the way they are behaving. We want them to respond to that draft bill we want to bring into this place and we want their support. Now it is a matter for the Labor Party.