Page 21 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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Petition No 8-16 states that the legislative amendments introduced by the Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment ACT 2015 seek to ban pro-life actions in designated areas near an abortion clinic, including praying. The petition further argues that these provisions trample on basic human rights involving freedom of expression which are essential in a democracy such as Australia.

I am confident that the Act does not impinge on basic human rights as the legislation was developed in consultation with key stakeholders, including the ACT Human Rights Commission and ACT Policing. The intention of the Act is to strike a balance between a woman’s right to access safe and legal health care and the rights of protesters to voice their opinion.

The former ACT Attorney General undertook a compatibility assessment between the Act and the Human Rights ACT 2004, particularly in relation to the right for the Freedom of Movement and Peaceful Assembly. The limitations on human rights in this Bill were found to be proportionate and justified because they are the least restrictive means available to ensure that Canberrans can access these particular services without the potential for intimidation or harassment.

The ACT Government’s focus when delivering health care services remains with the patient at the centre of care. In this way, the ACT Government recognises the principles set out in the Australian Charter of Health Care Rights, that everyone has the right to access health care in a way that respects the patients, their cultural beliefs, values and personal characteristics.

The Government’s primary intention is to ensure access to care by preventing the behaviours which may act to increase emotional distress or prevent women from accessing legal, medically recognised health services. The Act does not limit the ability to protest in other settings, such as the ACT Legislative Assembly or other public areas.

It is my belief that the repeal of the legislation provisions referred to under Petition No 8-16 is not warranted.

Thank you for allowing me to provide a response to this petition.

The following response to two petitions was lodged by Mr Ramsay, Minister for the Arts and Community Events, dated 14 November 2016, in response to two petitions lodged by Dr Bourke on 11 August 2016 concerning funding for the Belconnen Arts Centre.

Belconnen Arts Centre—e-petitions 4-16 and 7-16

Thank you for your letter of 11 August 2016 regarding petition numbers 4-16 and 7-16 lodged by Dr Chris Bourke MLA and received by the ACT Legislative Assembly on 11 August 2016.

I understand the petition brings to the attention of the Assembly the proven success of the Belconnen Arts Centre since stage 1 opened in 2009 and the anticipation of signatories, of the completion of stage 2 of the Centre as an essential part of Belconnen’s community and culture.

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