Bob Brown’s challenge to Tasmania’s draconian anti-protest laws may at least alert Australians as to how paltry and precarious their rights really are in the absence of a bill of rights, unique among developed democracies. Brown reportedly will have to rely on the implied “freedom of political communication” that the High Court found in the 1990 Lange v the ABC, an unsuccessful 1990 defamation suit filed by the NZ PM against the ABC. The Tasmanian Government is confident that it can reply on the sovereign powers of the state government, subject only to Commonwealth powers where they are in conflict.
The facts that the new legislation prescribes penalties wildly disproportionate to those with similar economic impacts elsewhere, and inexplicably protects a heavily subsidised industry which chronically haemorrhages both public money and environmental capital, will not be recognised as issues in the case. Despite the Paris Climate Agreement, Brown can expect little support from a Tasmanian Opposition which is almost as hostile to conservation as is the Government.
– John Hayward, Tasmania (originally published in The Saturday Paper)