Cr David Thurley fights for a clinic compromise

David Thurley believes he might have found the solution to protests outside the Englehardt Street abortion clinic. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL
David Thurley believes he might have found the solution to protests outside the Englehardt Street abortion clinic. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

DAVID Thurley reckons that an idea he floated with fellow Albury councillors this week could end conflict outside an abortion clinic.

He wants pro-life group Helpers of God’s Precious Infants to put information leaflets in a box outside the Englehardt Street clinic.

Cr Thurley yesterday said the leaflets could contain advice, names of counsellors and other contact details.

But all protesters would have to stay on the other side of the street for their regular Thursday prayer vigil.

“I accept they are sincere in their aims to help people at a troubling time,” he said.

“But, of course, some people who use the clinic feel intimidated and harassed.

“The only way out of it that I can see is for people of goodwill being prepared to reach a compromise.”

Cr Thurley said the council had done everything it could to solve the impasse between protesters and Rights to Privacy Albury, which petitioned for an exclusion zone.

He said the council could do nothing other than point out any lobbying should be directed to the NSW government, given it had the power to make such changes.

Cr Thurley said the council’s report made it clear its options were “almost non-existent”.

“I thought we could wait for the NSW Parliament to introduce legislation — which it probably won’t do — then it would get struck down anyway in the High Court because it’s probably unconstitutional to do it,” he said.

Cr Thurley said he was more than willing to meet either group if they felt his idea had any merit.

“I’m happy to sit with both of them, but I’d suggest, of course, that they can make an arrangement to go to the council,” he said.

“The council has mediated in the past with the police and both parties about different matters regarding this.”

Cr Thurley described his plan as a “simple, easy solution”.

“I can’t see why it compromises the position of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, because they’re still able to hold their prayer vigils and they can give advice and help people having trouble about their decision.”

Cr Thurley said he knew the protesters were legally entitled to be there, “but our whole legal system is predicated on compromise”.

He said compromise was sometimes needed in the interest of peace and harmony.

“If you get 5500 signatures on a petition, that means there are people concerned,” he said.

“There’s a lot of assertive and sometimes aggressive stuff happening online, and the last thing we need to see down there outside the clinic is an assault.

“Having a box of leaflets means those who want to can take one, those who don’t can walk freely into the clinic and go about their business.”