Albury privacy campaigners in state drive to endorse clinic zones

State support will be sought for clinic exclusion zones. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
State support will be sought for clinic exclusion zones. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

ALBURY campaigners for statewide exclusion zones around abortion clinics will seek support from across the state.

The Albury Right for Privacy group has already flagged its intentions with a dedicated Facebook page.

But it will not release the petition for a couple of weeks while it gets legal advice to ensure it meets NSW Parliament requirements.

The hope is to get 100,000 signatures over a 12-week campaign.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said last night in Albury he supported the right of people to protest.

“The right to protest is essential to who we are, but it has to be legal,” he said.

“It is the only restriction I put around that issue.”

In March, the Albury group handed a petition with 5500 signatures supporting an exclusion zone to Albury Council.

The petition aimed to rid Englehardt Street of protesters from the group the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, who gather outside an abortion clinic every Thursday.

But the council said there was nothing it could do as only the state government had the power to pass laws introducing exclusion zones.

Group spokesman Pieter Mourik said it was accepted a whole new start had been made to the campaign.

Dr Mourik said signatures on the previous petition could not be re-used — these would have to be sought again.

“We’re incorporating the whole of NSW because this is not just about Albury,” he said.

“But the special thing about Albury is we have local people attending a local clinic being observed by other local people.”

Dr Mourik said many women chose to drive all the way to Melbourne to have the same doctor do the same procedure.

“But it costs them 650 kilometres or more plus overnight accommodation all because they don’t want to be recognised by one of the protesters, because it might be a teacher at one of their schools,” he said.

“This is about medical privacy — that’s the crux of the issue.

“It’s not about protesting, they can protest wherever they like, but they shouldn’t be able to interact with the women who use the clinic.”

Dr Mourik said the group would like to see “a tsunami of signatures” so politicians could see it was a big issue for the whole of NSW.

The intention is to approach large organisations such as schools, universities, TAFE colleges, women’s health groups and the CWA.

Dr Mourik said these groups did not have to endorse the petition, “but as long as their members can read it and make their own decisions whether to support it”.