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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 13


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (10:49): I'm actually not inviting you to do that at all, Minister. I'm putting a very specific circumstance to you and asking whether that circumstance would actually clear the bar that you have advised this committee exists? But, Minister, your response actually comes to the nature of the Greens' concerns, and the chilling effect that this legislation will have on participation in our democracy. That is because you're trying to now avoid answering entirely reasonable questions on this legislation on the basis that you don't want to start speculating about how a court might rule.

Imagine how a citizen is going to feel, Minister, when they ask themselves, 'Should I actually participate in this blockade of a live sheep export? What legal risk am I exposing myself to?' How are they supposed to understand where the bar is set if you won't place it on the record in this committee? You refusing to answer these entirely reasonable questions is actually compounding the problem, because citizens who want to participate in our democracy, who want to express their justifiable abhorrence about the live sheep exports that your government so cruelly supports, are going to ask themselves the question: 'What is my legal jeopardy here? Am I likely to be charged with sabotage under espionage provisions simply because my actions actually carry a substantial risk that they will impact on Australia's economic relationship with another country?' I mean, can't you understand the terrible situation that you are placing people in here and, more broadly—and actually more importantly for our democracy—do you accept the chilling effect that these laws will have on public participation, including engaging in peaceful protest action, whether it be lawful or unlawful?