Tasmania: infringement of freedom of speech

The Tasmanian Parliament has passed a bill (Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013) which bans free speech within

a radius of 150 metres from premises at which terminations are provided

but could be far further since ‘prohibited behaviour’ includes

a protest in relation to terminations that is able to be seen or heard by a person accessing, or attempting to access, premises at which terminations are provided

A person exercising his or her right to freedom of expression and prosecuted under the bill could be fined up to $65,000 and / or imprisoned for up to 12 months.

This provision could well conflict with section 46 of the Tasmanian Constitution which states:

Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen.

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58 Responses to Tasmania: infringement of freedom of speech

  1. The fascist tendency declares itself further.

  2. Yeah, letting people see their doctor in peace without being badgered by religious fanatics. Fascists.

  3. Bazza

    Emily’s List has a lot of power in this country

  4. Blogstrop

    Then, yobbo, let them do the same for those who protest and impede legitimate businesses.

  5. Happymonkey

    Then, yobbo, let them do the same for those who protest and impede legitimate businesses.

    Ahem. Allow me.





    Just sayin’.

  6. It hasn’t passed yet, and given the current track record, is unlikely to pass the LegCo.

  7. Jim Rose

    Free speech for me but not for thee! If this was applied to Code Pink, occupy Wall Street, Greenpeace, Sea Shepard or PETA, there would be outrage.

  8. Eyrie

    How do you get this conflicting with the constitution?

    “Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen.”

    See the public order bit?

    Screaming abuse, getting in people’s faces in a public place, picketing, intimidation, obstructing free movement etc would seem to be offences against public order. I think they ought to be covered by that wonderful all purpose charge used by the Russians – Hooliganism. Up to 5 years in the slammer.

  9. Jim Rose

    does that law oulaw the pie throwing that became popular for murdoch etc?

  10. John

    Eyrie,

    I think you read The Age too much.
    Try this for some balance.

  11. lem

    I have to say, as a health professional, that people standing outside health facilities abusing women going in to seek medical care that is perfectly legal, goes beyond freedom of speech into the realms of harassment, and should be condemned. After all, nobody is standing outside psych facilities abusing them when they check in for their meds…

  12. blogstrop

    Does anyone know what pathetic fine was imposed on the two women who damaged a crop at the CSIRO research facility in Canberra?

  13. Jim Rose

    lem, a lot of non-violent direct action is harassment.

  14. blogstrop

    How big a fine did these guys get for chaining themselves to the coal feeder to Bayswater power station?

  15. JC

    Screaming abuse, getting in people’s faces in a public place, picketing, intimidation, obstructing free movement etc would seem to be offences against public order. I think they ought to be covered by that wonderful all purpose charge used by the Russians – Hooliganism. Up to 5 years in the slammer.

    That describes most of the union movement.

    I hope this law is turned around when the Tasmanian libs return to government and ban all the green filth picketing that goes on down there.

    With slammed time.

  16. blogstrop

    I’ve been looking for the vicious fines imposed on those who over many years have obstructed legal logging operations in Tasmania … not much turning up so far.

  17. Ivan Denisovich

    I have to say, as a health professional, that people standing outside health facilities abusing women going in to seek medical care that is perfectly legal

    That’s been happening in Tassie?

  18. Jim Rose

    seek medical care that is perfectly legal

    logging, whaling, and animala experimentation are or were perfectly legal.

    some protesters want to outlaw them; others want to impose their will on the majority without the delay of petty details such as fighting and winning elections

  19. Chris M

    Nothing excites lefties more than protecting whales, having homo sex and killing babies.

    They absolutely won’t tolerate any opposition to these pursuits.

  20. Ellen of Tasmania

    If those protesting the killing of the unborn are abusing people, then we already have laws to deal with that.

    The real abuse is happening inside the abortion clinics.

  21. Tintarella di Luna

    If those protesting the killing of the unborn are abusing people, then we already have laws to deal with that.

    The real abuse is happening inside the abortion clinics.

    “The child must be protected before and after birth” while our academics propose ‘after-birth abortion” and Planned Parenthood in the US gives this evidence

  22. Pickles

    We need the same law in every state. Just add construction site, chocolate shoppe, coal loader, mine, gas field, defence installation and forest where necessary. This sort of legislation can really help the nation.

  23. Infidel Tiger

    When they said keep 150m from a Tassie abortion clinic, I thought they were referring to parliament.

  24. JC

    Nothing excites lefties more than protecting whales, having homo sex and killing babies.

    They absolutely won’t tolerate any opposition to these pursuits.

    They love this stuff, don’t. Leftie heaven is a pile of dead kids, whale sitings and gay marriage.

  25. Ivan Denisovich

    They absolutely won’t tolerate any opposition

    This bill reflects the Emily’s Listers determination to deny women full information. “Pro-choice” at work:

    http://www.newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=5229

  26. Robbo

    This is the sort of thing that you get when you have Labor and Greens in coalition. They know what is best for you so just shut up and go away.

  27. dover_beach

    Of course it’s an outrageous restriction on free assembly. But, look, I can understand why an industry that is the modern equivalent of antebellum south slavers would want special protection.

  28. dover_beach

    That last sentence is not an exaggeration. Each attempt to pass abortion legislation involves – not only an attempt to make abortion on demand for whatever reason at any stage of pregnancy legal – a section intended to make public disapproval of such practices where they occur through peaceful protests illegal.

  29. Gab

    a protest in relation to purveyors of chocolate that is able to be seen or heard by a person accessing, or attempting to access, premises at which chocolates are provided…

  30. Driftforge

    It seems that for the left, the greatest social crime is to inflict shame or embarrassment on someone.

    A inevitable outcome of rejecting there being absolute right and wrong.

  31. Not one protest I have ever been on outside an abortion clinic has involved screaming, threats, abuse and harrassment of clients or clinic staff or anyone else BY THE PROTESTORS.

    We have, however:

    – been attacked by screaming people who don’t agree with us;
    – been the target of vile verbal abuse by passers-by who slow down their cars and deliver a dose out the window;
    – been threatened, abused and harrassed by people going into and coming out of the clinic;
    – had a car driven by an angry male partner of a woman client up the kerb and over our displays;
    – been harrassed by clinic staff, even though every aspect of our silent and peaceful protest has police approval and permission;
    – had things thrown at us;
    – been photographed without our consent;
    – endured police arrival and inspection of the protest at the demand of clinic staff (but thankfully the police have always taken our side and told the staff we are there with permission and that we are not breaking the law in any way).

    This is what you get for trying to exercise freedom of speech without even speaking.

    This is what you get for trying to offer women – in often dire situations – some positive alternatives that will save them physical and mental harm and turn their lives around for the better.

  32. So is it all a waste of time? Of course not. This legislation contains this clause precisely because silent, peaceful protests that offer information about alternatives – on signs and brochures that people can see or ignore as they choose – are WORKING.

    We had the annual Rally for Life on the evening of 21 May, attended by nearly a thousand people outside Parliament House, and ignored by almost every mainstream media source in Perth. (See the photo? Look to the right of the large banner to see the small sign ‘Jesus Heals and Forgives’. That’s me holding that! But you can’t see me, as I am only 5 feet tall).

    A representative from Pregnancy Assistance in Perth reported that their clientele had increased significantly in the past 12 months, we believe in response to a stepped-up silent presence outside just one or two abortion clinics in Perth.

    Many women want alternatives to abortion, but are under so much stress and pressure – from parents, partners and employers – that they often don’t know where to start to find them. Sometimes the place they find them is at the eleventh hour outside the clinic.

    This actually HELPS a woman make a FREE CHOICE. Isn’t that what all this pro-choice thing is supposed to be about? You actually need choices if you’re going to make a choice.

  33. lem

    I have just got back to the thread, and read your posts Phillipa, and having given it much thought, I defend your right to protest peacefully outside abortion clinics. I imagine that you would not abuse anyone. Your being there MIGHT offend people accessing the service, but then again if they are determined to do so, they just have to ignore you I suppose, since there is no law that I know of against causing offence (close call that one!). If on the other hand your being there has helped someone to access alternatives that have improved their lives, so much the better. It is a complex issue, I think, because it deals with abortion, and the rights to privacy of individuals accessing legal health services, who may not wish unsolicited advice. I haven’t read what caused the Tasmanian Government to introduce this legislation, so have no special knowledge of what behaviours go on outside abortion clinics in that State.

  34. Tintarella di Luna

    I haven’t read what caused the Tasmanian Government to introduce this legislation, so have no special knowledge of what behaviours go on outside abortion clinics in that State.

    Well lem for a start the Premier of Tasmania is an Emily’s Lister and Emily’s Listers are well known for their belief in abortion right up to 24 weeks and if there is a possibility that the child is disabled then right up to the moment just before birth – wouldn’t want to risk an after-birth abortion.

    lem you need only read the Hansard of the Parliament of Victoria when the disabolical Abortion Bill as debatedto know the scope of the Emily’s Listers belief in abortion as an absolute right.

    The people who argued most strongly against it were the men who believed in the sanctity of life while the harridans of Emily’s List unleashed their worst. Professor Graeme Clark leader of the team that developed the cochlear ear was absolutely appalled. But now this is another low Act of Parliament.

  35. Chris M

    It would be interesting to test the limits of what constitutes a protest in TAS. Is is like Communist China where they can ban a small group just silently standing there on the footpath for example? Or walking up and down the road?

  36. lem

    Bon soir TDL, I am aware of the Emily Lister’s of Gillard fame, but since Tasmania already has legislation that allows abortion, I can only imagine that the new legislation is a backdoor anti freedom of speech thing, since surely other laws would cover more threatening behaviours than a simple peaceful protest such as Phillipa describes? (We have been discussing this a lot at home tonight).

  37. It is a complex issue, I think, because it deals with abortion, and the rights to privacy of individuals accessing legal health services, who may not wish unsolicited advice.

    lem, no one is invading these people’s privacy. These clinics are on residential streets, surrounded by houses with people out the front pruning their hedges (and shouting abuse at us as well, which is interesting – apparently we’re the ones lowering the property values, not the presence of an abortuary).

    You drive in, walk across a car park in full view of anyone who happens to be passing, and in you go. It’s all legal, as you say. I may as well carry on about my ‘right to privacy’ being violated because my GP’s clinic is opposite the Leopold Hotel, which is always busy, and blokes out having a smoke across the road can see me walking in and out.

    We do not speak to people. We do not obstruct their entry to the car park or the clinic or anything else. We are allowed to have signs up showing the developing baby, and phone number of services that can help any women who have changed their minds.

    If any client chooses to approach us for any reason, a designated person on each demonstration will hear them out and then try to engage with them. There are no slanging matches. We never respond to abuse from anyone in any circumstance.

    And yet the clinic staff HATE us being there. We’re not actually doing anything except praying, but their hatred is palpable sometimes.

    Turnarounds can and do happen as a result of women approaching a demonstration. What’s more usual, though, is that the woman simply leaves and goes away and thinks more about it, decides to access a support service, and then we hear about it much later, sometimes after the baby is born!

  38. PS If anyone is interested in seeing what I’ve been doing, it’s 40 Days For Life. But I’ve gone at other times as well.

    The website hasn’t been updated with this year’s results, but I think about 9 women turned around from this one clinic in a five-week period and went on to have their babies.

  39. dover_beach

    And yet the clinic staff HATE us being there. We’re not actually doing anything except praying, but their hatred is palpable sometimes.

    They hate the silent witness you and others provide because the service they engage in is morally objectionable and they know it.

  40. The activities against the Abortion bill down here have been pretty significant as far as these things go. Young friend of mine who work at the local newspaper has been pivotal in much of it. Silent protests at both ends of the state, as well as a drawing a public declaration out of a goodly proportion of the local churches against the act (which for anyone who has worked with multiple different church groups is not always simple to achieve)

    I actually rocked up to the silent protest in town; first time I’ve ever done something of that nature. A bit odd, but good to support those involved.

  41. Good for you, Driftforge. Enjoy your freedom of non-speech while it lasts!

  42. Good for you, Driftforge. Enjoy your freedom of non-speech while it lasts!

    Heh. As mentioned earlier, the Leg Co has been pretty solid in dismissing most of the crud the Alliance has put up down here. I don’t expect anything different with this either.

  43. dover_beach

    Driftforge, does that declaration start with an S?

  44. Driftforge, does that declaration start with an S?

    Yes?

  45. dover_beach

    Thought so. If I ask Sinc to pass on my email to you would you pass it on to your friend? I’d like to have a chat with him/her.

  46. C.L.

    Turnarounds can and do happen as a result of women approaching a demonstration. What’s more usual, though, is that the woman simply leaves and goes away and thinks more about it, decides to access a support service, and then we hear about it much later, sometimes after the baby is born!

    Great work, Philippa.

  47. Sure. Send through something I can pass on.

  48. Eyrie

    Yes JC my only objection to the bill is that is too narrowly focused. Abortion is a thing between a woman and her conscience. The rest of the loonies here can fuck off.

  49. Driftforge

    Keep saying that if it makes you feel better.

  50. Tintarella di Luna

    Abortion is a thing between a woman and her conscience.

    Do you mean all women and their conscience? Because Philippa is responding to her conscience, as have countless others responded to their conscience when matters of what is right and wrong. If that were not the case there’d still be slavery in the West, there’d still be women treated as chattels.

    Noted is the abuse automatically hurled at those who believe a baby is a human being from the moment of conception.

  51. Peter Martyr

    Ah Tasmania, every election the rapidly aging voting population votes for an increased rate of mendicancy. Apparently their desire to ruin all activity on the island that may actually produce something now extends to the production of human life. Eschewing anything so greenhouse gas producing as “the sheep’s back”, perhaps they are anticipating a recovery via a pile of infant corpses?
    Would standing, silently praying constitute a protest?

  52. Driftforge

    That style of statement shows a deep lack of substance.

    It is a cop out so that rational discussion of the issue is forestalled.
    It exists so that the women it describes do not have to engage their consciences.
    It’s blatantly false. If I leave a pet with someone for a period and they ‘terminate’ it, that it between them and their conscience? The concept is laughable.

  53. Tintarella di Luna

    That style of statement shows a deep lack of substance.

    That’s because it’s comprised of the usual weasel words that eschew thinking and designed to shut down discussion.

  54. dover_beach

    Abortion is a thing between a woman and her conscience.

    In much the same way that slave-holding should only be a thing between a master and their conscience?

  55. Tintarella di Luna

    All other moral wrongs then are a matter of the perpetrator and their conscience.

    Say, mothers of certain cultural backgrounds holding down their little daughters while they have their genitalia removed.

    Perhaps that explains the silence of the banner-bearers of women’s liberation when it comes to honour killings and the like?

  56. Saying that abortion is ‘a thing between a woman and her conscience’ conveniently avoids the real issue, which is that there are actually three people involved: the child, the child’s mother, and the child’s father.

    The ‘thing’ between a woman and her conscience is actually called a ‘family’, whether you like it or not.

  57. Tony Martyr

    Hey, Pip – give me a call next time you’re going.

    Driftforge – great work. You are never alone.

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