... and I don't even live in Sydney. However, I am gobsmacked by the latest stupidity of the bunch of thugs that calls itself the NSW government. My learned colleague the president of the NSW Bar Association obviously shares my concern:
World Youth Day regulations undermine our basic rights
The president of the New South Wales Bar Association, Anna Katzmann SC, has condemned the Iemma government’s World Youth Day regulations as a direct affront to freedom of speech and assembly.
‘To make something that causes inconvenience to people the basis for a criminal offence is both unnecessary and repugnant.
‘It is difficult to understand the need for, let alone the wisdom of, such a law’, said Ms Katzmann.
Creating a criminal offence by regulation bypasses the same level of parliamentary and public scrutiny that would be given to an Act of parliament.
‘Who required this? Why are the existing laws good enough to regulate conduct at, say, the Mardi Gras parade or the Rugby World Cup, but not on this occasion?’ Ms Katzmann said.
To make matters worse, the terms of the regulation are vague, its operation uncertain and it does not at least require the conduct to be disorderly or insulting.
In this last respect it is in stark contrast with existing laws governing crowd behaviour at Mount Panorama or the Sydney Cricket Ground.
‘The mere presence in the vicinity of a person wearing the apparel or insignia of another religion might be annoying or inconvenient to a participant in a World Youth Day event. So, too, the presence of a protestor.
‘If I were to wear a T-shirt proclaiming that “World Youth Day is a waste of public money” and refuse to remove it when an officer of the Rural Fire Service asks me to, I would commit a criminal offence. How ridiculous is that?
‘Why should participants in a World Youth Day event be the arbiters of good taste and behaviour and why should their sensitivities or those of a police officer, an SES member or a member of the Rural Fire Service dictate the behaviour of other, law abiding members of the public?’ Ms Katzmann concluded.
Here’s the relevant regulation:
7 Control of conduct within World Youth Day declared areas
(1) An authorised person may direct a person within a World Youth Day declared area to cease engaging in conduct that:
(b) causes annoyance or inconvenience [my emphasis] to participants in a World Youth Day event,
(2) A person must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to comply with a direction given to the person under subclause (1).
Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units.
(3) A person is not guilty of an offence under this clause unless it is established that the authorised person warned the person that a failure to comply with the direction is an offence.
(4) In this clause, authorised person means:
(a) a police officer, or
(b) a member of an SES unit (within the meaning of the State Emergency Service Act 1989) or a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service, but only if the member is authorised by the Authority in writing for the purposes of this clause.
So what is a World Youth Day “declared area”? See Schedule A:
Event sites [47 of them…]
Sydney Adventist College Activity Centre
Barangaroo site as defined in section 3 (1) of the World Youth Day Act 2006
Hyde Park Barracks
St Mary’s Cathedral
Pilgrim Walking Route (as shown on the map entitled “World Youth Day – Pilgrimage walking route” prepared by the Authority and dated 29 May 2008 and deposited in the office of the Authority)
Barangaroo Walking Route (as shown on the map entitled “World Youth Day – Main event walking routes: Tuesday to Friday 15 to 18 July 2008” prepared by the Authority and displayed on the Authority’s website)
Royal Botanic Gardens
Royal Agricultural Society Showground
The University of Sydney
Art Gallery of New South Wales
State Sports Centre
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Olympic Park
Hyde Park, between Elizabeth and College Streets
Legion of Mary
Maunsell Wickes at Barry Stern Galleries
Mary MacKillop Place
National Trust Centre, Observatory Hill
The University of Notre Dame Australia (Darlinghurst Campus)
Our Lady of the Rosary
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Jewish Museum
King Street Gallery on William
St Collumcilles Woolloomooloo
St Joseph’s Catholic Church Edgecliff
St Paul’s Catholic Chapel East Sydney
St Peter’s Catholic Church Surry Hills
St Scholastica’s Chapel Glebe
St Scholastica’s Trixie Forrest Hall, Glebe
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia
Paddington Uniting Church
Wynyard Railway Station, Barangaroo site, Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, The Domain, Hyde Park,
Central Station, Darling Harbour, Centennial Parklands, Randwick Racecourse and Mary MacKillop Place as shown on the map entitled “Map of key World Youth Day venues and facilities in and around Sydney City” dated Monday 23 June 2008 prepared by the Authority and displayed on the Authority’s website.
Then there are (wait for it) 584 “Accommodation and Catechesis sites” – predominantly schools (and not just Catholic ones, either), and 35 “Transport sites”, mostly railway stations, plus a few bus interchanges and terminuses.
I’m sorely tempted to visit Sydney on this ridiculous occasion, wearing the most offensive t-shirt that I can lay my hands on, and see if I can get arrested.
And – here’s a pleasant thought – just think what fun Chaser should have with this inanity.