Conference slams anti-protest legislation

THE state government's anti-protest legislation has come under fire at the ALP state conference in Launceston.

Among aspects of the policy to attract the most scorn were giving police powers to arrest individuals at protest sites on suspicion they may commit an offence, and allowing officers to issue protesters fines of up to $2000.

Delegates also slammed measures to impose mandatory jail terms on second- time offenders and plans to enforce "reasonable" walking speeds on people passing businesses during processions, marches or events.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green was first to take aim at the proposed laws.

In his maiden speech as state Labor leader at the conference, Mr Green said the government's policy was a poorly written attack on fundamental rights of Tasmanians.

"This is the single biggest affront to all the values we uphold in the Labor Party," Mr Green said.

"Labor will rally to ensure this legislation is thrown out of the upper house ... if it is not thrown out, I certainly promise you that under a Labor government, it will be."

The Forest Industries Association has welcomed the legislation, but the forestry workers' union yesterday condemned it.

Scott McLean, of the CFMEU, said the laws would drive environmental protest action underground.

Tasmanian University Union president Isaac Foster said while the laws had been framed as a fight against environmental protesters, the legislation would have much wider ramifications.

"Our communities will be smaller, they will be darker, and they will be more afraid if this legislation makes it through the upper house," Mr Foster said.The legislation is yet to be debated in the upper house.

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