Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015

Legislative Assembly
12 November 2015

Richard Wynne (Minister for Planning) — I rise to make a brief contribution and lend my voice in support of this particularly important piece of legislation, which will bring to an end the, frankly, repugnant and disgraceful behaviour of people who seek to intimidate and harass women who are seeking to access legally available medical supports. It is in that context that I think this Parliament must send a very clear message to the broader community that whilst people do have a democratic right in this country to protest and to lend their voices to particular causes, they do not have the right to harass women, particularly at what are often the most vulnerable times in their lives.

It is in that context that when people are standing outside of these medical clinics, particularly the one in East Melbourne, seeking to put their views in an aggressive and intimidating way, the Parliament ought to say, ‘That is utterly unacceptable’. To put in place this 150-metre perimeter around the clinic is, I think, a sensible and balanced approach. Ultimately I believe that as a civil society, yes, you have to balance the rights of people to express their views, but you certainly do not have a right to impede women who seek to access legally available medical services. It is simply not negotiable.

I applaud the work of Fiona Patten, a member for Northern Metropolitan Region in the other house, who kicked off this bill. It was adopted by the government and refined and modified by my colleague the Minister for Health to make a better bill. Certainly Fiona has worked very closely with us in the formulation of this bill. Ultimately when we work in such a cooperative way across the Parliament, we have the sort of cooperation that we have seen today. I acknowledge the contribution from the member for Brighton, who has been unambiguous in this debate on a number of occasions when we have had these sorts of bills come into the Parliament. This is a good bill because it protects the rights of women. I applaud the bill.