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Press conference opening statement - Emily Howie

The key issue in this case is our ability to freely share political information.

This is a bedrock democratic principle that needs defending – without free political communication how can Australians be expected to make an informed choice on election day?

The Tasmanian law goes too far and unreasonably targets political communication and protest in broad and vague terms. It could effectively prevent people from expressing their views, even in public spaces & even for a few minutes, if that would “hinder” business activity.

Governments can’t just sell off our democratic rights in order to protect business interests. This Tasmanian law is completely unbalanced; it puts business interests way ahead of our rights as individuals.

Unfortunately, these laws are part of a clear and worrying trend of state-based laws that restrict the ability of Australians to stand together and speak out on issues that they care deeply about.

This case is important because it gives the High Court the chance to determine the extent to which all of our rights’ to speech and protest rights are protected under the Australian Constitution

(This is the opening statement Emily Howie delivered at the doorstop press conference before the High Court case of Bob Brown v Tasmania on Tuesday 2 May 2017. Read the related media release here.)