Lawler quits FWC; tough new anti-protest bill

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Lawler quits FWC; tough new anti-protest bill

Vice-president Michael Lawler has resigned from the Fair Work Commission and NSW plans to get tough on illegal protests.

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Vice-president Michael Lawler has resigned from the Fair Work Commission and NSW plans to get tough on illegal protests.

Crisis at FWC averted


The resignation of vice-president Michael Lawler from the Fair Work Commission has averted what was shaping up as a major issue for the commission and the federal government.

Lawler had taken more than 12 months of sick leave over the past 18 months. There were suggestions he was assisting his partner – former HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson – with her legal issuses.

Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women, received a report by former Federal Court judge, Justice Heerey about Lawler's sick leave. Lawler had been given a deadline ending last week to respond to the inquiry’s findings.

A vote by both houses of parliament to remove him would have been required if he had not resigned.  

See also: FWC Vice President Lawler to be investigated

NSW to get tough on illegal protests


Legislation will be introduced in NSW Parliament to increase enforcement powers on illegal protests. 

The government argues that safety of workers, protection of communities and lawful business activity are the drivers behind the legislation. 

Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said the reforms enabled police to take a more proactive approach to managing and prosecuting illegal activity. The minister noted the government makes clear its support for the right to legal protests conducted in accordance with the Summary Offences Act 1988.

The proposed Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 creates the offence of ‘aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands’, with a maximum penalty of $5500 under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901. It includes amendments relating to illegal protests which occur on mine sites; and extending the meaning of ‘mine’ to include petroleum workplaces, in connection with the existing indictable offence of intentionally or recklessly interfering with a mine under the Crimes Act 1900.

The proposed legislation is similar to Tasmanian legislation introduced last year. The Tasmanian Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Bill – known as the “anti-protest” Act – was introduced as part of the government’s intention to “rebuild Tasmania’s forestry industry”. 
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