Politics

May 10, 2017

Incarceration of speech: denying the right to protest in Australia

Bob Brown is challenging the constitutional validity of Tasmania's protest laws -- a subject the guardians of free speech in parliament and the media have had little say about.

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis

Journalist

Bob Brown Protest laws

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.

Tasmania

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?

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