Freedom to ‘annoy’ but not to ‘inconvenience’
Tuesday July 15th 2008, 8:40 pm

Rachel Evans - ABC TV

Rachel Evans, NoToPope Coalition
(image: ABC-TV)

The High Court’s decision to strike down the ‘annoy‘ provision of Iemma’s draconian anti-WYD protest laws is certainly welcome- truly free speech is never subject to prior restraint.

[NoToPope activist] Rachel Evans said, “We want to call on all Sydneysiders and defy what the State Government has tried to do in quelling our freedom of expression”

Important stuff. Major pat on the back to the NSWCCL for running this case.

A better case for a constitutional bill of rights would be hard to find. Bob Carr and other anti-bill of rights advocates insist that a bill of rights would encourage an excessively litigious society. Frankly, if we had a bill of rights, the case to challenge the WYD protest laws wouldn’t have been necessary. The government would have recognised the folly in enacting such laws, knowing they would not survive a court challenge. A bill of rights will in fact reduce litigation. However, a useful bill of rights has to be part of the constitution, not statutory, where politicians can rejigger it at will, along party lines.

Regrettably, the language proscribing ‘inconveniencing’ WYD attendees remains:

Premier Morris Iemma says the Government will not be appealing against the court’s decision. He says police still have adequate powers.

“Two words have been struck out – the words ‘and annoyance’,” he said.

“‘Inconvenience’ is still there and they can still achieve the same objective, and that is to ensure that people who do want to make a point in a protest can do so without disrupting the pilgrims or the events.

Mr Iemma says a court decision to invalidate World Youth Day annoyance laws will not affect the ability of police to carry out their duties.

“That’s the law, we obey that, and the event proceeds, the police have got the powers to ensure that it is not disrupted,” he said.

No wonder Iemma’s satisfied; ‘inconvenience’ is as broad and nebulous as ‘annoy.’

However, if as Mo sez, the police retain sufficient authority to manage the event, what was the purpose of the excessively authoritarian laws in the first place? Sure didn’t do much for the popularity of the Iemma government, did it?


3 Comments so far
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Doesn’t look too promising, being annoyed is pretty inconvenient alot of the time.

Fun Fact!Rachel Evans was the 5th most popular candidate in Parramatta for the 2007 Federal Election. (Perhaps because she appeared first on the ballot, perhaps.)

Comment by Liam 07.18.08 @ 10:31 am

Nah, she was 5th most popular because there were 5 on the ballot. 😉

Comment by weez 07.18.08 @ 10:58 am

Actually, I’m kidding a bit. There were 10 candidates. Evans did come in 5th as the Socialist Alliance candidate. The SA are annoyed often. 😉

Comment by weez 07.18.08 @ 11:01 am

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