Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014
The passing of the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 introduced some of the harshest penalties for protesting in Australia with maximum penalties increasing from two years to four years and significant fines being able to be imposed. The Act, which came into effect last year, fulfilled an election promise by the government to address illegal protests in Tasmanian workplaces. Recently, four people including Bob Brown, the former leader of the Australian Greens, were arrested under the new laws for protesting about the logging of the Lapoinya Forest in North West Tasmania.
The charges will be heard in the Magistrates Court later this year and are likely to result in convictions although an appeal on the grounds of incompatibility with the Australian Constitution’s implied freedom of communication regarding governmental and political matters remains a possibility with a large number of community groups, commentators and lawyers continuing to express their concerns with the Act.