Law Society defends CLC Tas against attack by Minister

September 10, 2014

A Law Society of Tasmania media release today defended the actions of CLC Tasmania in writing to the United Nations Human Rights Office outlining potential violations of international human rights law. The press release read as follows:

The following can be reported as comment from the Law Society of Tasmania President:
In a release issued from the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva yesterday, three of the UN’s special rapporteurs expressed their concerns about the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Bill 2014.
Minister for Resources Paul Harris responded yesterday by unfairly attacking Community Legal Centres Tasmania.  The minister was quoted as saying “it appears the critique is based solely upon misinformation being peddled by the Community Legal Centres Tasmania”.
Community Legal Centres Tasmania was one of the community groups that recently wrote to the UNHRO raising concerns about the impact on human rights obligations if the bill is enacted.
The letter to UNHRO contained the opinions of those organisations including Community Legal Centres about the effect of the proposed law which were well reasoned and truly held.
I condemn the minister’s unwarranted attack on Community Legal Centres Tasmania, and the skilled well-motivated lawyers that work in that organisation and its community legal centre members.
The special rapporteurs came to their conclusions by reading the bill and considering the application of human rights law to it.  A briefing from the government would not have assisted them because it is the words of the proposed legislation that are determinative.
The minister must understand that If the bill is enacted, Courts would have to apply the legislation as it is written.  As written, the laws will require the Courts to mandatorily impose disproportionate penalties on people behaving in a manner that would not currently constitute an offence.