Media Release – 29 October 2014

Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Bill 2014

 

The President of the Law Society of Tasmania, Matthew Verney, today briefed the members of the Legislative Council on the Society’s position in respect of the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Bill 2014.

Even though the Government has proposed amendments to the Bill, the Law Society remains opposed to the Bill.

At today’s briefing, Mr Verney said the basis of the Law Society’s position remains as follows:-

  • The Bill remains overly complex, difficult to interpret, and will be difficult for the Courts to apply and for the community to understand;
  • The scope of the Bill (whilst narrowed to some extent by the Government’s amendments) remains too broad with the “catchment” of the Bill still likely to include benign protesting behaviour. This is beyond what we understand to be the Government’s originally stated and intended scope of the Bill. This is directly related to the Government’s retention of all Government Business Enterprises being protected even if they fall outside the 5 protected industries (manufacturing, mining, forestry, construction, agriculture);
  • The alternatives posed within the amendments between “summary” (prosecution in the Magistrates Court) and “indictable” (prosecution in the Supreme Court) places too much discretion in the hands of the DPP resulting in the prosecutor having a determinative role as to the penalty that offenders will receive;
  • The Bill retains penalties which are disproportionately harsh and unlikely to deter offending (on the basis that harsh penalties in the past have been shown to be ineffective in deterring protests);
  • The Bill retains mandatory penalties and the amendments impose further mandatory penalties which if applied result in a “one size fits all” approach to sentencing which will results in likely injustices.

Matthew Verney
President
0438 248 708
29 October 2014