Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I am very pleased to speak on the Summary Offences Amendment (Move-on Laws) Bill 2015. I will be supporting the bill, which repeals laws that are not only essentially discriminatory but also create greater social exclusion. In its few short years the Australian Sex Party has always fought for freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and most importantly freedom of expression.
As a newly elected member this is one of the few bills that I have read and will now speak on. As I read it, I was struck by the fact that the bill contravenes articles 9, 15, 19, 21, 26 and more of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I also consider it to be at odds with our own Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. The moveon laws silence legitimate protest. I say legitimate because they have never silenced the people who protest outside abortion clinics and who intimidate, harass and threaten with violence the women and staff entering those clinics. In raising that issue, a number of people have said to me, ‘If you say there should be freedom of speech, how can you try to stop those people?’. I have no problem with those people protesting however they want to protest — on the front steps and at the driveway of Parliament and in my office, for example — but not when they harass, vilify and intimidate the people going into those centres and clinics. I note also that the move-on laws were never used to move on those protesters, so they were not effective in that area.
More importantly, the laws are discriminatory, particularly towards young people, sex workers, people with mental health issues and drug users. The Federation of Community Legal Centres noted that the move-on laws involve:
… granting police powers based on subjective predictions of future behaviour by individual officers.
Suspicion is a very low ground on which to base using the move-on laws. This reminded me of Tom Cruise.
Ms Shing interjected.
Ms PATTEN — Yes. Not that we want him to move on — or maybe we do! I do not know whether members recall the film Minority Report. In it Tom Cruise ran the precrime unit and had psychic ‘precogs’ that lay in water and would predict crimes. They could arrest people before they committed a crime because they were precogs and psychic and had the knowledge that people were going to commit a crime. I do not believe that Victoria Police or even the Victorian government have precogs floating in a sink somewhere, so we are relying on suspicion, which has I have to say a pretty low bar.
In supporting the bill, I note also that the police have other existing move on powers. They can move on persons breaching or likely to breach the peace, persons who are endangering or likely to endanger the safety of another person and persons whose behaviour is likely to cause injury to a person or damage to property or who are otherwise a risk to public safety. They are pretty wide powers to protect the public and property.
Other laws also offer tools for the police to protect the public and to govern public spaces. They can be applied in prohibiting property damage and in situations of people causing the obstruction of roads and footpaths; using obscene, threatening or indecent language; disorderly conduct; begging; loitering with intent; being drunk in a public place; or being drunk and disorderly. All those laws provide tools for police to keep our public and our public spaces safe.
Rather than move on laws, we need to look at the laws around drugs. The police also talk about using move on laws particularly when dealing with drug users. That is not because people are carrying drugs or breaking the law in any other way. It is because there is a suspicion that they are doing something that is immoral or that the police do not like. I would like us to move on drug law reform. I support the repeal of the move-on laws.