The ongoing Frankland Forest vigil – Pic Ted Mead
First published Feb 21
Desperate times call for desperate measures! This is the egregious Hodgman government’s mantra at the moment as they just recently announced their intention to draft another legal bill to prohibit workplace forestry protests. History shows us that with politicians consistent desire to suppress dissent, then this is destined to be another protracted and draconian process, which will probably be challenged all the way through the courts again!
In 2016, Bob Brown and Jessica Hoyt were charged under the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 after they were arrested in a protest at Lapoinya ( http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/lapoinya-what-a-waste-/ ) in northwest Tasmania. Although the Lapoinya protest charges were later dismissed, the defendant’s chose to challenge and nullify the Workplaces Act 2014.
Late last year the High Court challenge from Bob Brown and Jessica Hoyt defeated the Tasmania’s workplace laws.
The High Court emphatically struck down Tasmania’s anti-protest laws as unconstitutional — describing them as overly broad, vague, confusing and exhibiting “Pythonesque absurdity”.
The High Court ruled that the laws breached the implied freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution.
Billed by the Government as the toughest anti-protest laws in the country, the Workplaces (Protection from Protestors) Act was passed through Parliament by the Hodgman Government in July 2014 in a bid to stop protests disrupting forestry operations. The laws carried fines of up to $250,000 and five years’ imprisonment.
These anti-protest laws are now unenforceable!
So how are the Tas Liberals going to re-bill and redefine a state law that will undermine our national constitution?
The High Court’s decision frames the fundamental right of Australians to peaceful protest. This historic precedent will permeate throughout the country to other national issues such as the proposed Adani mine project, which will be subjected to mass protests if it proceeds!
Meanwhile the protests regarding the logging of high conservation forests in Tasmania will continue.
Currently the Liberal caretaker government has no enforceable law, and now remains impotent to prosecuting protesters in a workplace environment. The police may have the authorisation to move protesters on from a workplace site, but with the inability to lay charges it would seem that without bail release conditions there is nothing to stop protesters returning to a disputed site immediately.
In the unlikely case of another law being pushed through the houses of the Tasmanian Parliament, there will almost certainly be a challenge mounted by a very astute legal team that doesn’t have the desire to stand in front of bulldozers to protect our magnificent forest, though would be willing to present before the High Court again if needed.
Success for the Tasmanian Liberals for new anti-protest laws seems unlikely, and their arrogant desire to do so will cost taxpayers a fortune again! - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-19/anti-protest-law-to-be-attempted-again-by-hodgman-liberals/9461252
The logical and simplistic solution for the Liberals is to withdraw from logging the remaining high conservation forests in Tasmania and display that they have the leadership qualities to unite Tasmanians whilst displaying responsibility and protection of the island’s environment for the future.
Conservative politicians it seems, have a never-ending desire to polarise and divide the community because they know that, once we as a community are united, then they have little control and dominance over their ultimate agendas!
United we stand, divided we fall – Aesop (ancient Greek storyteller)
*Ted Mead has been involved in peaceful protests regarding the protection of the environment in Tasmania since the early 1980s. In that period Ted has witnessed numerous protest laws enacted, enforced and defeated with very little hindrance to environmental campaign successes. No matter whatever the government’s stance is, there will always be those who are willing to stand up in defence of the unnecessary and unjustified destruction of our natural environment, and fortunately because of those defiant people, Tasmania is a far richer in natural heritage than it would have been if we had lost all of our campaigns.