New workplace protection laws have been passed in Tasmania’s Upper House. Source: Timberbiz
Under the new Police Offences Amendment (Workplace Protection) laws, protesters can now be slapped with harsher fines or longer jail terms for action that obstructs streets or causes a nuisance to workplaces, where penalties would be more severe if a person is convicted of trespassing.
Corporate entities are also be included and could pay penalties of more than $100,000.
State Development Minister Guy Barnett said the government respected the right to protest and free speech. “But it is also important this is not at the expense of the right to lawfully work or run a business,” Mr Barnett said.
“We are amending the Police Offences Act to ensure that our police are able to better protect workers and businesses through strengthening trespass and obstruction laws,” he said.
“This is the purpose of the Government’s Workplace Protection legislation, and we will continue to support the Bill’s passage through the Parliament as long as it delivers better protections for workers and their workplaces.
“Intimidating, threatening and endangering employees will never be acceptable. We’ve been elected three times with policies designed to protect the rights of workers and to deter unlawful interference with workplaces.
“The Tasmanian Government respects the right to protest and every Tasmanian’s right to free speech, but it is also important this is not at the expense of the right to lawfully work or run a business.
“We are amending the Police Offences Act to ensure that our police are able to better protect workers and businesses through strengthening trespass and obstruction laws.”
Mr Barnett said the State Government would continue to monitor very closely interference with businesses and whether more needs to be done to provide a deterrent from unlawful and unsafe protest activity.
This would include the consequences of “Labor not supporting efforts to stop those seeking to obstruct the entry to businesses”.
Mr Barnett said the Government was disappointed Labor had again “let down workers by not supporting this Bill”.
“It would seem that instead of throwing its support behind Tasmanian workers, Labor has again preferred to stand side-by-side with the Greens and the Bob Brown Foundation,” he said.
Bob Brown Foundation founder Bob Brown claimed the legislation was “always aimed directly at our foundation” but would not deter it or its supporters.
He told The Australian his foundation would continue disruptive protests in Tasmania’s forests.