Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown (along with forestry activist Jessica Hoyt) has brought what's being called a "landmark case" before the High Court, challenging Tasmania's "anti-protest laws" as being unconstitutionally restrictive towards free speech. Brown was arrested and charged under the laws at an anti-forestry protest in January 2016 . Obviously, his argument is nonsense -- our media and our politicians and our parliamentary committees (and our media again and our politicians again) keep a rigorous eye on issues around free speech, and they've said nary a word about protest laws in Australia. Let's check in on a few states and satisfy ourselves that while free speech is definitely under threat -- from PC culture, Islam, 18C, Gillian Triggs in particular, the left, identity politics -- this issue is just Bob Brown, as ever, having a total whinge. These are the three states in Australia where protesting could come with a jail sentence.
A pedant might say the law in Tasmania is aimed at stifling protest, given it covers any acts that are "in furtherance of, or for the purposes of promoting awareness of or support for an opinion, or belief, in respect of a political, environmental, social, cultural or economic issue" and is called Workplaces (protection from protesters) Act. But it's just aimed at making sure hardworking Tassies can make a living without being impeded and threatened by greenie extremists. Which is why it applies to public and private land. Wait, what?
Protesters who do not leave a "business access area" when directed by police face penalties of up to $10,000 each . Causing or threatening damage or risk to the safety of a business could result in a fine of up to $250,000 for a body corporate and a $50,000 fine or five years’ imprisonment for an individual. When the bill was before the Tasmanian upper house, United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye urged Tasmania to refrain from implementing the measures, saying: