Tasmanian officers could boycott workplace protest laws: police association

tasmania police patch

The Tasmania Police Association has called on the State Government to amend its controversial anti-protest legislation, or risk police not enforcing it.

Key points:

  • ‘Teething problems’ led to charges being dropped
  • Police Association wants legislation changed
  • Officers could refuse to police the law
  • Greens want ‘dud’ law repealed

On Friday police announced they would not prosecute four people charged under the laws for an anti-logging rally in the state’s north-west earlier in the year.

It comes after charges against former Greens leader Bob Brown were also dropped.

They were the first five people to be charged under the new laws designed to crack down on activists disrupting forestry and mining activities.

Police Minister Rene Hidding said it was a problem with the enforcement of the laws, not the legislation.

“The application of the laws on this one occasion has had a teething problem, but I am assured that won’t happen again,” he said.

“This was a small matter, a teething issue, the Government’s resolve hasn’t changed and neither has Tasmania’s police’s.”

Law needs amending, Police Association says

The Police Association’s Pat Allen argued the legislation was far from easy to interpret.

“Police are not judges of the Supreme Court, they don’t carry surveying tools for a living, and that’s what you would need to actually interpret that law,” he said.

Mr Allen called on the Government to amend the laws to make them easier for police to enforce.

“Well that would be sensible otherwise I would be calling on members not to police that law, they could themselves into trouble if the laws not clear,” he said.

The controversial laws passed Parliament in late November of 2014, but as yet no-one has had charges continued against them.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor seized on the decision to drop the charges to again argue against the legislation.

“These laws are not only draconian and designed to stifle dissent, but they are an absolute joke,” she said.

“The Liberals really should just wake up and repeal this law, because it really is a complete dud.”

Mr Hidding said there were no plans to amend or repeal the laws.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown is still planning to challenge the laws in the High Court, with the Government seeking to have the challenge thrown out.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-04/tasmania-police-could-boycott-workplace-protest-laws/7477936