On 14 November 2019 the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Amendment Bill 2019 (Tas) (“the Bill”) was introduced into Tasmania’s House of Assembly (“Assembly”) by Minister for Primary Industries and Water, the Hon Guy Barnett.
The Bill proposes amendments to the Workplaces (Protection From Protesters) Act 2014 (“the Act”), with the object of the amendments to “ensure protection for lawful business activity in Tasmania”.
As outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (“EM”), the proposed outcome is to be achieved by:
Some of the substantive amendments to the Act include:
Proposed penalties outlined in section 6(4)(b)(i) and (ii) provide for a first offence of “a fine not exceeding 60 penalty units or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 18 months, or both; or”, while a further offence could attract “a fine not exceeding 60 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 4 years, or both”.
Commenting on the Bill in a, the Minister said:
In the Minister’s Speech to Parliament, he said:
In January 2016, environmentalist and former Senator Bob Brown was arrested for being on a public road in Tasmania's north-west while he was trying to take video footage of loggers.
The legislation allowed police tobefore they had started if they were on a business premises or an access area, and allowed on-the-spot fines for protesters as well as gaol time for second offences.
The charge against Mr Brown was eventually dropped, but he argued the laws violated the “implied freedom of political communication”. He challenged the laws, and in 2017 the High Court of Australia found they were at “odds with the implied right to freedom of political communication”, with their Honours noting at [paras 152-153] of the judgment (Brown v Tasmania  HCA 43 (18 October 2017)):
In a recent, CEO of the Australian Forest Products Association (“AFPA”) Ross Hampton, welcomed the introduction of the Bill, commenting that:
It is reported theis confident the proposed changes are constitutional, but some legal stakeholders are highly critical of the proposed legislation.
Speaking to, University of Tasmania Senior Law Lecturer Brendan Gogarty said the legislation “amounted to a bill of rights for companies with no equivalent for citizens”. Mr Gogarty commented:
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Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Amendment Bill 2019 (Tas) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service.
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