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Tas Liberals promise jail for protesters

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Environmentalists who take their protests into Tasmanian businesses will face mandatory jail terms if a Liberal government is elected in next year’s state election.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman has announced a hardline stance against green groups who disrupt business operations, including a mandatory three months in jail for second and subsequent offences.

On the spot fines of $10,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations also will be introduced, Mr Hodgman said.

“For the forest industry to prosper, it is vital that businesses and the jobs of Tasmanian workers are protected from illegal and dangerous protests,” he said.

Offenders will need to pay for damage or loss caused by protest actions.

Preventing disruption to the timber businesses was at the heart of Tasmania’s forests peace deal between environmentalists and the industry.

The Liberals, riding high in opinion polls ahead of an election expected in March, have promised to rip up the agreement and reboot the ailing forestry sector.

The opposition says it will also crack down on groups spreading “false and misleading information” about a company, a move aimed at green groups who have met with Asian customers of the state’s timber industry.

Tasmania’s deputy premier Bryan Green accused the Liberals of dishonesty over forestry.

“The forest industry is fully supporting the agreement yet the Liberals are effectively saying `no, we don’t support you’,” Mr Green said.