ALBURY councillor David Thurley last night rolled out two community-led solutions to subdue the furore surrounding an exclusion zone being created around the Englehardt Street abortion clinic.
His suggestions of a box containing information distributed by pro-life group, Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, each week be set up at the clinic’s two entrances and protesters be restricted to the southern side of Englehardt Street came up at the council’s planning and development committee meeting.
The committee unanimously agreed to “note” the report prepared by planning and environment director Michael Keys, which concluded that the NSW government was the appropriate body to lobby for legislative amendments regarding the issue, which has flared since January.
Cr Thurley tabled the petition of 5500 signatures calling for changes to council by-laws regarding an exclusion zone at the March council meeting.
He said his two circuit-breaker moves could be achieved with “community goodwill” and no involvement of the state government.
But he said it was based on the premise the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants were sincere in their belief they wished to help people.
“If those who want information could take it,” he said.
“It would contain contact details where they could seek advice, counselling, support, help, whatever.
“Those who don’t wish to take the information can simply enter the clinic.
“That solution could be achieved by the people in our community without recourse to the law and without recourse to what would be contentious state legislation.
“It hasn’t proven successful in other places and would be a very difficult call here too.”
The report was moved by Cr Alice Glachan and seconded by Cr Thurley, with the latter being the only councillor to speak on the issue.
Cr Darren Cameron, who has been a vocal supporter of the pro-life group, elected not to respond.
Mr Keys’ report said the request to restrict protesters’ activities outside or near the clinic was out of its hands.
“The request for council to utilise a local policy to control the protesters is also inadequate for a combination of reasons, including the inability to create a policy contrary to the Local Government Act,” he said.