Written by Sarah Pritchard
In the wake of Nelson Mandela’s’ death, protesting rights everywhere are being lost. In Tasmania well-founded fears surround the Liberal parties’ proposals concerning anti protesting laws in relation to forestry.
If they are successful in next year’s election, they will cause new, stricter laws to come into place. Cutting the red tape around logging native trees and revoking the status of World Heritage listed Areas.
On a human level and a business one, if Will Hodgman becomes Premier, he intends to put business first and introduce on the spot fines of us to $10,000 for protesters that are deemed to have disrupted them.
Taking it further, repeat offenders will incur mandatory jail time of at least 3 months. These offenses will be deemed indictable and criminal and become their criminal record.
Liberal’s forestry minister Peter Gutwein says it’s not about free speech, as protesters will be allowed to continue in agreed public places. Unfortunately this means they could be less effective once removed from the source of their protest.
Other areas of protest could also be affected if they fall under these laws. Jenny Weber of the Huon Valley environment Centre raises concerns that farmers could be negatively affected should they want to protect their land, as well as indigenous persons protecting their heritage through protest.
Furthermore Jenny Weber’s group intends to continue protesting, regardless of the possible future laws.
Other concerns come from the law society’s president Anthony Mikail who raises objections to mandatory sentencing. This will prevent judges from basing decisions on a case by case basis. Consequently undermining a fair law system.
As the current Premier Lara Giddings has pointed out, there are other ways through the current forestry difficulties using existing laws.
Fortunately, should Liberal be elected, they will have to convince Upper House to pass these strict new laws.
Sarah Pritchard is a new Canberra writer. She has recently completed a Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and she now writes for a few online magazines including her own blog called Girl House Problems. Sarah is always interested in improving living conditions for animals.