Media Release 30 April 2017
The High Court hearing of a challenge to Tasmania's 2014 draconian anti-protest laws will begin in Canberra on Tuesday morning at 10am.
Former Greens leader and senator Bob Brown and Hobart nurse Jessica Hoyt, both of whom were arrested for peaceably protesting and recording the logging of the Lapoinya Forest near Burnie on Tasmania's northwest coast in January last year, have mounted the challenge. The two maintain the Tasmanian Hodgman government's laws which provide for mandatory arrest, large fines and potential jail sentences for peaceful political protest, infringe Australian's constitutional rights to effective peaceful political protest.
After Brown and Hoyt took their challenge to the High Court, police dropped the charges against them. Brown maintains that the new laws threaten reasonable protest and, had they been in place before the peaceful Franklin dam-works blockade by thousands of citizens in 1982-3, would have ensured the iconic Franklin River would now be dammed from end to end. Ecotourism in Tasmania has become a far bigger job provider than logging.
'We are concerned by government moves around Australia to take aim at environmentalists in particular because logging, mining and other resource extractors know they cannot win their argument fairly and squarely on the merits,' Brown said.
The Commonwealth and all state governments except Western Australia's have intervened in the case to support the Tasmanian government. The Human Rights Law Centre is supporting the Brown-Hoyt challenge.
'In a world of rapid deterioration of the biosphere's ability to maintain life on Earth, this challenge is to reassert the right of Australians to document environmental loss and protest about it as a core part of our democratic tradition. The stakes are high,' he said.
Further information: Jenny Weber 0427 366 929