FIAT backs Libs' protester plan

Tasmania's peak forest industry body has welcomed the Liberal Party's plans to crackdown on illegal protesters and reverse defamation laws.

 As environment groups and the Law Society of Tasmania condemn the proposal to hit protesters with mandatory jail sentences, Forest Industries Association of Tasmania has issued a statement in support.

 FIAT represents Malaysian timber company Ta Ann Tasmania which has been the target of the majority of protest action and anti-logging market campaigns.

 FIAT chief executive Terry Edwards said illegal protests were not victimless crimes.

 ''There are real and potential consequences for contractors, employees, companies and customers and therefore a reasonable deterrent is warranted.

'' The Liberals have vowed to change defamation laws to give companies the right to sue for defamation of the company name.

 Protesters who engage in illegal action on work sites would face $10,000 on-the-spot fines and a mandatory three months in jail for a second offence.

 Yesterday, the Law Society of Tasmania warned the proposed changes as a ''chilling effect on free speech'' while environment groups say they will not be stopped.

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