The Tasmanian Government’s attempts to restrict citizens’ right to protest with the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Amendment Bill 2021, is unnecessary and problematic. The Amendment Bill 2021 continues to preference businesses’ ability to carry out work over the right of people to protest by making a broad range of peaceful protest activities illegal, with harsh penalties attached.
The nebulous definition of forestry land as a business premises has been retained, meaning that this legislation could continue to breach the freedom of political communication implied from the Australian Constitution.1 The definition of a public thoroughfare is even more nebulous than forestry land as a business premises. This results in the offence covering a worryingly broad range of activities.
The Bill is unnecessary, as several offences already exist and are commonly used in order to protect businesses and their ability to continue work from protestors. For example, it is already an offence to enter or remain on land without the consent of the owner without a reasonable or lawful excuse.2 This is an offence commonly used against protestors.3
The Tasmanian Government should not proceed with this legislation, protecting citizens’ right to participate in their democracy through protest.
1 Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Amendment Bill 2021, s 6.
2 Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas), s 14B(1).
3 See, e.g., Bob Brown Foundation (2021) Media Release: Six women activists charged after courageous environmental protest this morning in Tasmania’s north west