The recent arrest of former Senator Bob Brown has sparked renewed focus on the Workplaces (Protection From Protesters) Act 2014
In November of 2014 Resources Minister Paul Harriss trumpeted the newly minted legislation as the toughest anti-protest laws in Australia. The minister made reassurances to Tasmanian logging industry that they would be protected from “radical protesters seeking to make their point by destroying livelihoods”. For More Click Here:
Mr Harriss also attempted to placate mainstream voters with the platitude that Mum and Dad protestors would not be targeted. As events unfold we are seeing that only one of his assurances is being honoured. Perhaps the Tasmanian police missed the memo not to target ‘Mum and Dad’ protesters by arresting a grandfather John Henshaw, retired anaesthetist and Jessica Hoyt, a registered nurse who has a three year old daughter and a step-son. More likely there was no memo at all and the hollow assurances that civil liberties of the average person will not be infringed is exposed for what they truly are. Read More Here: theguardian.com/
The new laws allow for $280 on the spot fines for protestors, with $10,000 as the maximum penalty for first-time offenders and four years in jail for repeat offenders. The laws did not go as far as Minister Harriss intended, who proposed for the bill to have mandatory minimum fines and jail sentences which was omitted from the final bill. Click here for more: abc.net.au/news/
The highly contentious nature of the new legislation which was roundly criticized does give room for it to be challenged in the high court. Constitutional law expert professor Adrienne Stone said that narrowing the bill to specifically target opponents of mining, agriculture and forest industry ”will provide an additional argument for those who wish to challenge the law”. Click here for more: theguardian.com/politics/
The arrest of Bob Brown at Lapoinya may be the perfect platform to challenge these laws in the high court and who would be a better figurehead for a potential class action than former Greens Leader Bob Brown? For those of us who avidly follow politico-environmental news the possibility of a high court challenge may be answered on March 15 2016 when Bob Brown appears at Burnie Magistrates Court. As Bob Brown has been arrested for protesting previously he may be facing up four years in jail under the new laws.
We have seen a variety of laws that on the surface seem to protect society as a whole such as the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) legislation enacted in Queensland. But on a closer examination the unfortunately named VLAD legislation may be unconstitutional and could certainly be used to curtail the civil liberties of everyday Australians. To read more: theconversation.com/
Some of the original amendments proposed in the Workplaces (Protection From Protesters) Act 2014 effectively disallowed any protesting in any place that may have adversely affected any business. The later amendments tailored the legislation to focus on primary industry and effectively criminalise any protesting on forestry and mining matters.