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Unions speak out against the Victorian anti-protest laws being debated this Thursday by parliament

The Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022 (Vic) will have its second reading in the upper house in Victoria on Thursday August 4th, 2022. However four unions, including the MUA, have signed a letter to the Hon. Gayle Tierney, MP Ingrid Stitt, and the Hon. Daniel Andrews asking for the bill’s withdrawal.

In the letter it states: “The Bill wrongly locates workplace risk in the democratic right to protest. Any stripping away of the right to protest eventually finds its way to further limiting workplace action. Already Australia has some of the most restrictive laws around industrial action in the world. In the context of a climate crisis, the right to protest must be advanced not diminished.

The founding basis of these laws are around workplace risk, but to date no hard data, including reports to worksafe, have been provided to substantiate their introduction. These laws are part of a national trend targeting climate and environmental organisers and have seen laws passed in Queensland, NSW, and are currently in progress in Tasmania for the fourth time. 

In terms of the Victorian laws they introduce new powers to search vehicles, confiscate personal belongings, and ban people on the mere suspicion of an offence at native forest logging coupes. They expand prohibited items to include PVC and metal pipes (used for lock-ons) and anyone found using one of these can be fined up to $21, 000 or 12 months jail term. 



“The right to protest must be protected. In the union movement we have seen it chipped away for years. In the context of a climate crisis we need to defend that right for the benefit of everyone, including workers.”

Shane Stevens, Branch Secretary MUA Victoria

Media contact: 0498 291 340, [email protected] 


This draft law is unnecessary and undemocratic. Any law that threatens to chill the fundamental democratic freedom to protest must be necessary, proportionate and subject to sufficient safeguards and oversight. The proposed law does not meet these criteria and should not become law.”

Keiran Pender, Senior Lawyer, Human Rights Law Centre

Media contact: Evan Schuurman, Human Rights Law Centre, 0406 117 937, [email protected]


“Protest is an important and accessible tool to effect change. It’s led to critical outcomes for communities and forests. In the context of the devastating State of the Environment report, this bill must be withdrawn. Our right to protest the acceleration of ecosystem collapse must be defended.”

Tuffy Morwitzer, Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO)

Media contact: Tuffy Morwitzer, [email protected] , 0493 524 913

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