: Anti-Protest Legislation

Anti-Protest Legislation

The Tasmanian Committee
Tasmania

The Workplace (Protection from Protesters) Bill 2014, passed earlier this year by Tasmania’s Lower House (the House of Assembly), raised significant community concern with its broad scope and mandatory sentencing, including three months in jail for a second offence for protesting or inciting others to protest that resulted in workplace disruption.

An urgent appeal prepared by Community Legal Centres Tasmania to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights resulted in three UN Special Rapporteurs calling on the Tasmanian government to rescind its Bill saying the passing of the legislation could silence legitimate and lawful protests.

A retired Supreme Court Judge, Pierre Slicer also expressed his concern at the legislation, particularly the unintended consequences and the harshness of mandatory sentencing. In a briefing with the Tasmanian Upper House (the Legislative Council) Mr Slicer noted that the proposed laws contained potentially even harsher penalties than terrorism legislation and rejected mandatory sentencing.

While the Legislative Council has since passed the Bill, significant amendments were made including the rejection of mandatory sentencing for a second offence. In its place, maximum sentences for repeat offences have been increased to four years imprisonment rather than the current two years imprisonment. As well, maximum fines have been significantly increased.

The Bill will be returned to the House of Assembly where the amendments are likely to be accepted, in which case the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 could be in place in the very near future.

THE TASMANIAN COMMITTEE

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 276
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