House debates

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Statements by Members

Tasmania: Anti-Protest Laws

1:42 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I have repeatedly raised concerns that the federal government is turning Australia into a police state. Now it seems the states are just as bad. Today the Tasmanian parliament is debating anti-protest laws that include heavy penalties—a jail term of up to 21 years—for protesters who interfere with business operations or just threaten to do so. Less draconian legislation previously did pass the Tasmanian parliament but it was ruled invalid by the High Court, who said the law 'exhibited Pythonesque absurdity and was broad, vague and confusing'. Tasmanians are protesting about a lot of things—better health care, the protection of our unique World Heritage Areas, climate change and animal welfare. Now they need to protest for the very right to protest. The right to protest is an integral part of democracy. It gives the public the opportunity to stand up to politicians and say what they want. That is something politicians really should appreciate and listen to. The alternative is the stuff of a police state. Australia is a strong and proud democracy but that's slowly being chipped away and eroded by our governments. I urge the Tasmanian parliament—in particular, Madeleine Ogilvie and Sue Hickey—to vote against these laws and throw them in the trash where they belong.