Terrible laws which elevate the right to walk around certain buildings without seeing something objectionable at the expense of peaceful protest passed the Legislative Assembly of Victoria late yesterday, with barely a dozen MPs opposing.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015 seeks to establish 150 metre exclusion zones around fertility clinics, and to criminalise, not only that which is already unlawful (such as harassment and obstruction of access to private premises) but also prohibits:
communicating in relation to reproductive health services in a manner that is able to be seen or heard by a person accessing, or attempting to access, premises at which reproductive health services are provided
That this restrictive piece of legislation has passed the lower house with such little opposition is a disgrace. Any attempt to argue the laws are reasonable is not credible, as 150 metres is immensely disproportionate to the already illiberal objectives of the bill. The penalties too are disproportionate: section 185B provides that engaging in prohibited activity within a “safe access zone” will result in 500 penalty units (which equates to approximately $75,000 this year) or 12 months in prison.
The Legislative Council should give this bill more consideration than the Assembly gave it, and reject it altogether.
UPDATE: The 13 MPs to oppose the bill were Neil Angus, Richard Riordan, Gary Blackwood, David Southwick, Tim Bull, Murray Thompson, Robert Clark, Bill Tilley, Martin Dixon, Nick Wakeling, Michael Gidley, Graham Watt and David Hodgett.