Liberals' protest bill narrowly defeated

Opposition workplace relations spokeswoman Michelle O'Byrne
Opposition workplace relations spokeswoman Michelle O'Byrne

THE government has vowed to push on with its controversial anti-protest legislation despite MLCs refusing to send the bill to an inquiry.

Legislative Councillors yesterday narrowly voted down a government motion to refer the bill to a committee, with many arguing the proposed laws were too "poorly written and deeply flawed" to fix through possible amendments.

The proposed legislation would hit individuals who disrupt workplaces with $10,000 on-the-spot fines and threaten repeat offenders with possible mandatory jail time.

The bill has been criticised by a range of stakeholders who argue its unforeseen consequences would stretch far beyond workplace protests.

Most MLCs agreed with the intention of the government's policy, but some said the legislation required a "total rewrite" before proper consideration.

Opposition workplace relations spokeswoman Michelle O'Byrne said the government should abandon its bill.

"The Legislative Council has sent a very clear message that it will not clean up the government's mess through a committee," Ms O'Byrne said.

"The government knows that if it was to bring on the bill now it would be soundly and rightfully rejected."

But the government said it remained committed to bringing on the bill for debate following the budget sessions.

The Liberals blamed the Opposition for the inquiry being rejected, with Labor MLC Craig Farrell among those who voted the motion down.

"Consideration by the committee would have allowed the bill to be properly understood and for the community's concerns to be addressed," Resources Minister Paul Harriss said.

Greens justice spokesman Nick McKim said the outcome was a major embarrassment for the government.

"Paul Harriss has got egg all over his face," Mr McKim said.

"He has introduced sloppily drafted legislation that would have prevented ordinary Tasmanians from freely expressing a political opinion and the upper house has seen straight through him."


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