The Victorian Government will today introduce chilling new laws to restrict the ability of Victorians to freely spend time together.
The proposed laws, the detail of which has not been revealed by the Government, would give Victoria Police the power to issue ‘anti-association’ notices to children as young as 14.
Community groups from across Victoria—including the Federation of Community Legal Centres, Human Rights Law Centre, Victorian Council of Social Service and Fitzroy Legal Service—are calling for the laws to be abandoned.
Melanie Poole, Director of Engagement at the Federation of Community Legal Centres, said they represent dangerous overreach by the Victorian Government.
“People should be free to have a BBQ, go to the movies, talk online, play football or socialise with whoever they choose,” said Poole.
“If introduced, these unfair laws will affect the freedom of all Victorians.”
“These laws will introduce ‘guilt by association’ into Victoria,” added Poole.
Similar laws were introduced in NSW in 2016. They were investigated by that state’s Ombudsman and found to be used in a racially discriminatory way. They were also challenged in the High Court.
In QLD, the Newman Government was defeated after attempting to introduce similar laws in 2015. Those laws sought to expand the definition of ‘gang’ so broadly that unions would have been included.
Ruth Barson, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the laws are rushed, dangerous and excessive.
“If we want a community where all people are treated fairly and decently, then these laws must be scrapped,” said Barson.
“If these laws pass, the rights and freedoms of all Victorians will be affected. Nobody wants to live in a police state," added Barson.
For interview with Melanie Poole or Ruth Barson call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519