Page 3902 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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As set out in the explanatory statement, the bill seeks to be the least restrictive possible to achieve the desired outcome. By originally setting out a disallowable instrument approach the ACT Greens were focused on ensuring that the minister’s declaration of an area must be in direct relation to the site of the current and any future facility.

However I will be supporting the amendment to my bill circulated by Mr Corbell, based on what I understand is advice from the Health Directorate regarding ease of communication and enforcement of the zones. While I still believe that the tabled bill represents the more nuanced approach I am comfortable that the implementation will be the responsibility of the Health Directorate and that their input is therefore important and welcome.

I believe that the amendment circulated by Mr Hanson would make the legislation highly subjective, in that anyone seeking to enforce the legislation would be required to assess the impact of the protest on an individual and make a determination on that protest’s effect of harassment or intimidation on an individual. This contrasts with the approach I have taken, which is to create a simple and clear model which is highly limited and very specific in its application.

Let us be clear about the intention of those who are protesting. For many years there has been a small but dedicated group of people who have gathered out the front of the ACT’s abortion clinic to express their opposition to and judgement and views on the matter. While this is certainly not as serious as the ugly protests we are witnessing in Victoria and New South Wales, the group are clearly seeking to deter, if not actually stop, a woman having the procedure. Placards, pamphlets, and signs have been seen over the years and are clearly designed to impact on a woman's choice.

I expected that Mr Hanson—and he did go there today—would touch on my previous roles outside the Assembly as an example of the importance of public protests. And certainly I have been well known to take part in a few. In short, my response to this is equally simple: I have never sought to stop people accessing medical treatment. I cannot think of any other examples of issues that have been raised with me on this matter that occur in any other health domain. While I respect an individual’s right to hold strong views on the matter of reproductive rights and choices I cannot believe that we would countenance this kind of behaviour relating to any other procedure—not one. And nor should we for this treatment.

It is also worth reflecting on the fact that there are other restrictions on protesting. Right across this city there are limits on one’s ability to protest. If we think of Parliament House: you are not allowed on the roof of Parliament House. You are not allowed on the forecourt. You are required, if you want to stage a protest—and you are free to do so—to go to the area of Federation Mall to stage your protest.

We can think of other examples around the city of places where regulations constrain particularly where one can protest and sometimes how that protest can be undertaken. This is no different from that. This is not saying that you cannot protest this issue if you have a strong view. It is simply saying that there are limits on how, where and

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