Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Victorian Government proposes changes to move-on laws

The Victorian Government has introduced into Parliament proposed changes to move on laws to ensure rights to peaceful protest are protected.

The Summary Offences Amendment (Move-On Laws) Bill 2015 aims to balance different rights and interests between the right of citizens to protest peacefully and the right of police to act against unlawful blockades to ensure people can go about their business.

Under the proposal, Victoria Police will retain powers to respond to illegal protests and their ability to enforce offences such as trespass and obstruction of roads and footpaths.

If passed, this Bill will repeal amendments made in 2014 to give police more powers in this area.

In January 2014 the Commission made a submission on the human rights implications of changes to laws in this area. In that submission the Commission recognised the important policy aims of public safety, allowing people to come and go from premises and allowing business to operate and noted that laws needed to be tailored for their purpose. The Commission submitted that there should be a strong focus on any limitation on rights being the least restrictive option available to meet the public policy aim. The Commission noted the importance in a democratic society of rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, privacy and freedom of expression