Activists who impede farmers or forestry workers in Tasmania will face up to four years’ jail and fines as high as $10,000 under proposed anti-protest laws dubbed the toughest in the country.
The state Liberal government tabled the legislation in parliament on Thursday after a similar bill was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court last year.
“These laws are needed following an upsurge in business disruption caused by organised actions across the country, much of it unfairly directed at farmers,” Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said in a statement.
“People should be able to earn a living without trespassers interfering with their work, threats being made in an effort to shut down their business.”
Corporations involved in impeding businesses could face fines up to $100,000 under the amended bill.
The legislation comes after the High Court in October 2018 ruled similar proposed anti-protest laws invalid after a legal challenge from former Greens leader Bob Brown.
The state government said the new legislation addresses the High Court decision and only applies to actions which affect or have the potential to affect the lawful rights of others.
The Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) and Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association back the laws.
Several protesters have recently been arrested and charged after blocking loggers in the state’s remote Tarkine rainforest.
“The TCCI supports absolutely the right of people to protest lawfully, but not to conduct economic terrorism,” TCCI boss Michael Bailey said.
“We have seen vegan protesters invade abattoirs, forest protesters chained inside machinery. (It is) dangerous for both the protesters and those workers trying to extricate them.”