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Rally opposes move-on laws that would hurt the vulnerable and limit the right to protest

 
Tuesday 18 February 2014 – for immediate release.
 
Expanded police move-on and exclusion laws now before State Parliament could be passed by the Legislative Assembly this week and will be opposed by a rally to be held in Melbourne from 10am this morning.
 
State peak for legal centres, the Federation of Community Legal Centres, says the proposed laws will hurt the vulnerable, limit rights to democratic protest and should not proceed in their current form.
 
“The Summary Offences and Sentencing Amendment Bill 2013 could pass the Legislative Assembly as early as today, but we call on the government to withdraw the Bill and conduct a full consultation to address the serious concerns of legal, human rights and community groups,” said Liana Buchanan, Federation Executive Officer, today.
 
The proposed laws expand police move-on powers introduced in Victoria in 2009, wind back protest exemptions, and introduce new exclusion orders that can apply to specific locations for as long as 12 months, and could result in a sentence of two years imprisonment if breached.
 
Advocates argued overwhelmingly in submissions to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC) that the Bill places unacceptable limits on human rights, is an unnecessary addition to existing laws that already cover protest behaviour or criminal conduct, and will impact on vulnerable groups, including the homeless.
 
“If enacted, these laws will impact people with mental health or substance abuse issues, or acquired brain injuries. They threaten to criminalise and imprison the vulnerable as they struggle to survive – as they seek shelter, respite from extreme heat and cold, or access to services. These are people that community legal centres help every day,” Ms Buchanan said.
 
She said the proposed new laws could also be used to stop a broad-range of protests that Victorians would recognise as essential to positive social change.
 
“These laws could easily be used to stop legitimate, peaceful protests about family violence, working conditions, or even the sort of public protest we saw following the death of Jill Meagher.
 
“We do not believe these laws are needed to protect good order and public safety given the extensive powers already available to police. On the other hand, the potential for them to be misused is significant,” Ms Buchanan concluded.
 
The Federation of Community Legal Centres is the State peak for 51 community legal centres in Victoria.
 
Links to the Federation’s submission and to other submissions can be found with further background and rally details, here:
 
 
Media contacts
 
Liana Buchanan
Executive Officer
Federation of Community Legal Centres
0407 189 221
 
Darren Lewin-Hill
Communications Manager
Federation of Community Legal Centres
0488 773 535
 

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