EXCLUSIVE: Labor backs Bill

THE Tasmanian Labor Party is preparing to backflip in its opposition to the Government’s workplace protest law.

The new position will mean the Bill, which the Government has tried to get passed by Parliament several times since 2014, will finally become law.

The Derwent Valley Gazette understands Labor’s new position, to be revealed in coming weeks, is the result of pressure to realign the party with its traditional grass roots supporters, which it could be argued will be beneficiaries of the protest laws.

Given an opportunity to either confirm or deny the Labor Party would support the workplace protest legislation, ALP workplace relations spokesperson Sarah Lovell was cautious.
“We are yet to see the final Bill but it is clear that Resources Minister and Lyons MP Guy Barnett is more interested in the politics of this issue than actually protecting workers.”

Ms Lovell did not answer the direct questions.

According to Mr Barnett, the Bill will protect Tasmanian businesses, workers and families from illegal threats, disruption and ongoing disruption from “extremist’’protesters.

“This Bill won’t stop legal protests outside hospitals, schools or climate change protests in streets or on footpaths,’’ Mr Barnett said.
“The Tasmanian Government makes no apology for trying to ensure Tasmanians can go to work and run their businesses in a safe manner free from threats and disruption.
“Tasmanians have had enough of radical extremists invading workplaces and threatening and endangering staff.
“Our Workplace Protection Bill will complement legislation already passed in the Federal Parliament where it received bi-partisan support.
“Labor governments and oppositions across the country have supported similar legislation and it is time that the Tasmanian Labor Opposition finally threw its support behind Tasmanian workers rather than standing side-by-side with the Greens and the Bob Brown Foundation.’’

Mr Barnett said the Bill was not about stopping Tasmanians from protesting.
“The Government respects the right of every Tasmanian to express their views and protest lawfully,’’ he said.
“We have listened to industry and workers which is why we will bring our Workplace Protection Bill legislation back before the House in coming weeks.
“If Labor really wants a fresh start then it’s time to support this Bill and send a clear message that workplace invasions and disruptions have no place in this state.’’

Previous Bills have included fines and jail for illegal protests.