: Mandatory sentences for protesting? The Workplaces (Protection from Protestors) Bill 2014

Mandatory sentences for protesting? The Workplaces (Protection from Protestors) Bill 2014


The new Liberal state government has put to Parliament a Bill that seeks to curb protesters from interfering with workplaces. Its policy objectives seek to:

  • deter protests that seek to intentionally shut down and harm Tasmanian business’ capacity to build commercial enterprises through new offences and robust penalties;
  • ensure Tasmanians can go to work and run their businesses in a safe manner free from interference and disruption; and

protect and support the continued right to free speech and the right to protest.

In the Second Reading Speech it was said that the Bill makes specific reference to ensure that business premises include areas where mining, mining operations or the exploration for minerals occurs, as well as also forestry land where forestry operations take place.

Apart from entering a business or obstructing entry or exit from a business, it will also be an offence for a protestor to do an act on a road, footpath, public place or another area of land which would obstruct, hinder or prevent access or transport of goods. It is also an offence to threaten an act that would damage the business-related object.

Police will be empowered to issue minimum ‘on the spot’ fines of $2000 for failing to move on, and if protestors go to court and are found guilty — a $5000 fine and a conviction must be recorded. A court will have the capacity to fine up to $50 000 or a possible five-year imprisonment term to individuals as penalties for the offence of causing, or threatening to cause damage to a business premises, or a business-related object.

Finally, the Bill establishes that the court must impose 
mandatory penalties of not less than 3 months imprisonment up to a term of two years where individuals are convicted of a further offence.

The target of this Bill is clearly for those protesting against mining and forestry activities in Tasmania, but the broad wording of some terminology means that someone could be imprisoned for protesting against a parking official writing up a fine.


(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 199
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