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Animal Liberation Tasmania resoundingly condemns the push by the Tasmanian Liberals to reintroduce draconian anti-protest laws that have the potential to see concerned citizens face jail times usually reserved for criminals convicted of crimes such as murder.

Under the proposed legislation, individuals will face the prospect of 18 months imprisonment for a first offence involving protest that impedes workplaces, with fines of $10 000 and jail terms of four years for a second offence. Liberal Minister Guy Barnett has also stated that for protests that involve intrusion of workplaces jail sentences could be as lengthy as 21 years dependent upon the circumstances.

However of grave concern are the provisions under the proposed legislation that target non-disruptive rallies and actions on public land which relate to specific businesses and/or industries, which could result in fines of up to $5000 dollars.

Whilst this legislation is ostensibly to curb the activities of environmentalists, animal rights activists and unions (though vague exemptions have been allowed for industrial actions), thus appealing to public animosity towards activism, they are a direct attack on the rights of concerned citizens to engage in protest and on the democratic process itself. We are all of us at risk of being unable to express criticism or dissent through protest as regards the actions of government or industry.

These laws are extraordinary in their draconian and undemocratic nature, given there are already provisions under the law which address trespass, theft and property damage.

Rallies, protest and non-violent direct action have long been utilised as a means to affect necessary changes within the community; they are a fundamental part of our democratic system. The Tasmanian Liberals seek to erode and suppress these mechanisms in order to protect inherently unethical and unsustainable industries and business practices.

We will oppose the implementation of these anti-democracy laws to the fullest of our abilities.