Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:40:25) — Tomorrow we will celebrate the second anniversary of the implementation of the safe access zones in Victoria. This legislation is something that I think we should all be particularly proud of. It prevents the harassment of clients and staff outside reproductive health service clinics. These clients are often visiting the clinics under difficult and distressing circumstances, and I am very pleased that they are able to do so without fear of harassment. It has been a fantastic success, and I am delighted to note that countries like Great Britain are looking to copy this model and that the Canadian province of Ontario has adopted our legislation just recently.
The legislation has not prevented freedom of speech on this issue. Individuals are still able to express their views and opinions on these reproductive health services. They have the right to protest outside this Parliament, in the streets and via news media and social media. They do not have the right to protest within 150 metres of abortion providers. They have a right to a voice but I do not believe they have a right to an audience.
Unfortunately there are still individuals who are refusing to adhere to this legislation. An individual who accosted a couple outside a clinic is having their case reviewed by the High Court on constitutional grounds. The individual was arrested on the spot, found guilty and fined by the Magistrates Court. This law was created to protect people, who are often in a very emotional and vulnerable position, from being harassed. This type of bullying behaviour must not be supported under the guise of free speech.