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Tassie’s anti-protest laws make it to the Legislative Council

Debate on the Tasmanian State Government’s latest attempt to implement tough anti-protest laws has made it to the Legislative Council where it has so far survived. The Police Offences Amendment (Workplace Protection) Bill 2022 seeks to amend the Police Offences Act in relation to existing offences around nuisances. Source: Timberbiz

If successful, protesters could 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 would also be included and could pay penalties of more than $100,000.

The Legislative Council has been adjourned until 12 August when the third reading of the Bill will be heard, and a vote passed.

Debate this week attracted what The Mercury described as “assorted angry activists” who protested outside Parliament House against the bill.

Resources Minister Guy Barnett said the Bill would protect the rights of workers and deter unlawful interference with workplaces, by strengthening the law of trespass and obstruction, making it easier to understand and enforce.

“We have been elected at three consecutive elections with workplace protection policies,” he said.

“We have listened to the needs of workers and business, and we have seen the impact of unlawful protests on businesses and their employees. It costs money, it creates risk, and it can cause stress for the workers and in some cases, there is potential for physical and mental harm.

“Tasmanians can be absolutely reassured that we respect and support the right to free speech, and the legislation will not put in place anything that will limit lawful protesting.

“Tasmanians will still be entitled to protest and have their say.”

Mr Barnett repeated the Government line that the Bill would not stop lawful protests outside hospitals, schools, or restrict those who wanted to make their views known on issues like climate change.

“It will not interrupt our democratic processes and it will not limit people’s ability to contribute to the State’s political and regulatory decision-making,” he said.

“We acknowledge Labor’s support for this legislation in the House of Assembly, which is similar to laws already supported by Labor across the country and look forward to that support continuing in the Legislative Council this week.

“Tasmanian workers deserve to be protected from intimidating, threatening, and dangerous behaviour in the workplace and this legislation will help stamp this out.”