27 November 2015

The Australian Christian Lobby has today criticised the Victorian Government for sloppy anti-free speech legislation with the passing of the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) bill in Parliament on Thursday night.

The ACL says the legality of the badly crafted laws are likely to be tested by the High Court.

The draconian laws now make it a crime to have pro-life speech or posters within 150 metres of Victoria’s hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and abortion clinics.

ACL Victoria Director Dan Flynn said the law was passed to prevent free speech across much of Melbourne and regional town centres.

“The pro-abortion laws are engineered to take away the rights of expectant mothers to well-informed and balanced pregnancy information,” Mr Flynn said.

“The ACL warned the parliament that the laws were confusing and in need of a rewrite.

“We were grateful to the common sense shown by a number of parliamentarians but it is very concerning that the Government disregarded the sound warnings.

“The Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos cannot, and will not, reveal where the zones are located, claiming this is private information.

“So we now have a situation where someone might be breaking this strange law and not even know it.

“Sensible amendments, designed to make a bad law better, were all defeated. It was pointed out by Liberal MLC Inga Peulich that Victoria’s universities have clinics providing the abortion pill RU486 and so on-campus pro-life discussion may now be a crime.

“Sadly, a large number of Coalition members mistakenly accept the false narrative that those who seek to offer alternatives to abortion cause harm. In fact, these pro-life counsellors’ compassionate activities usually result in 12 live births every year.

“This free speech ban is now destined to be tested in the High Court in the likely scenario that a compassionate pro-life advocate seeks a consensual conversation with a young mother outside one of Victoria’s abortion clinics.”