Protest action in Tasmania will now face tough controls
designed to minimise interference with business activity,
particularly mining and forestry projects.
Businesses in Tasmania, specifically including mining and
forestry, may soon have significant protection from protest
activities, with the passage through the Tasmanian Parliament's
Upper House of the Workplaces (Protection from Protestors) Bill
Following amendments in the Upper House, the Bill will return to
the Government-controlled Lower House for confirmation in the new
year, where it is anticipated it should be passed.
The Bill imposes criminal sanctions for a range of protest
related activities, and is specifically intended to protect
economic activity. It breaks new ground in Australia, and may
provide a significant precedent for governments around the country
which are concerned about the effect of protest activities on
Broad scope of the prohibition
According to the Second Reading Speech for the Bill, it
"regulates protest activity to ensure that where protesting
starts to unduly interfere, interrupt, obstruct or hinder the
ability of business to develop and operate productive, job creating
ventures and for workers to go to work and do their jobs safely and
productively then that protest action is going too far".
The Bill prohibits a person from entering or remaining on
"business premises", or doing an act on business
that action "prevents, hinders or obstructs the carrying
out of a business activity on the premises by a business occupier
in relation to the premises"; and
the person knows, or ought reasonably to be expected to know,
that that action is likely to have that effect.
The key terms in this prohibition are very broadly defined:
"protest activity" includes activities which 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
"business premises" includes vehicles used for
"business activity" includes activities for
profitable purposes, activities by government business enterprises,
and other activities by occupiers of "business
The prohibition extends to a "business access area",
which is an area of land outside of the business premises used to
enter or exit the workplace.
The Bill imposes various other prohibitions, which cover (among
other things) acts on roads, footpaths and other public places,
causing damage to business premises or "business-related
objects", and threats of damage to business premises, and
various forms of incitement to take prohibited action. The Bill
also gives police strong powers to require persons to leave
"business access areas" and remove obstructions.
The prohibition does not include participation as a bystander,
participation with the consent of the relevant "business
occupier" or "business operator" (in the case of
workers), various forms of industrial action, and other activities
prescribed by regulation.
The Bill allows police officers to issue "on the spot"
infringement notices to persons whom they reasonably believe have
committed or are committing an offence, with penalties of $2,000
Otherwise, offences in the Bill are taken to be indictable
offences, and some offences carry minimum fines of $5,000 and, in
the case of repeat offences, minimum gaol terms of 3 months.
The Bill also empowers the Court to make compensation orders
against a person convicted of an offence.
The strong stance in Tasmania against illegal protest activity
may cause other State and Territory governments to consider
protections from protest activity.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
This review has abstracts of recent developments relating to pollution and contaminated land in Australian jurisdictions.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).