I Want to Become A Victorian

This evening (September 21st) I have received a very interesting email from Bill Rowlings, who is the Secretary of Civil Liberties Australia (CLA).

He has told me the following: “In the ACT and Victoria, people already have the chance to argue their case for the right to take photos under human rights legislation. The issue has not yet arisen in these jurisdictions, but it will.  Note that both Acts give ACT and Victorian residents rights ‘regardless of borders’ and ‘whether within or outside Victoria’. Under Australian law, NSW is obliged to respect the laws of Victoria.”

And on that basis, Queensland has to respect the laws of Victoria as well. I recently had a friend from Melbourne who told me that she would (technically) need a permit to publish images from a bushwalking trip that she was doing in central Queensland. Given that the bushwalking trip she was undertaking was going to last six days, she would have had to pay the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (QPWS) in excess of $150 to publish these images if the QPWS had decided to enforce their bizarre regulations.

Anyway, this is the relevant section of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006

15. Freedom of expression

(1)     Every person has the right to hold an opinion without interference.
(2)     Every person has the right to freedom of expression which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, whether within or outside Victoria and whether –
(a)     orally; or
(b)     in writing; or
(c)     in print; or
(d)     by way of art; or
(e)     in another medium chosen by him or her.
(3)     Special duties and responsibilities are attached to the right of freedom of expression and the right may be subject to lawful restrictions reasonably necessary –
(a)     to respect the rights and reputation of other persons; or
(b)     for the protection of national security, public order, public health or public morality.

I sincerely doubt that the “lawful restrictions” that can be imposed upon freedom of expression would extend to the right of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service or certain local councils in Sydney to act like modern-day bushrangers.

Advertisements

About rossbmedia

Journalist ... interested in the truth not public service spin.
This entry was posted in Australia, National Parks, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to I Want to Become A Victorian

  1. Geoff Rehmet says:

    This certainly presents an interesting path of attack. Out of interest I took a look again at Park’s Victoria’s photography guidelines.
    It is interesting to take a look at the document http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/resources/16_0701.pdf, and specifically the sections about who requires a permit:


    Who Does
    • A company, institution, group or individual conducting filming or photography as part of a trade or a business requires a permit in areas managed by Parks Victoria. Permits may also be required for some student productions. Contact Parks Victoria to determine if a permit is required.
    Who Doesn’t
    • Amateur photographers or people taking film or video for personal or hobby interest do not require a permit. However, if photographs are used for publication or public display purposes a permit may be required.
    • News or current affairs programs do not require a permit but producers should liaise with Parks Victoria staff.
    • Wedding and portrait photographers do not require a photography permit. However, a special event permit or booking may be required. This may involve a fee. See http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

    This is so riddled with inconsistencies, especially when viewed against the right to freedom of expression. The requirement for an amateur who wishes to display photos seems to be a direct attack on freedom of expression. Does this mean I require a permit to share my photos of the 12 Apostles on Facebook? (More reason to ressurrect my personal website!)
    A further inconsistency is that wedding photographers do not require a permit – that would seem to mean that if my wife puts a bride and groom in the photo it is okay, but if she shoots it just as a landscape without them it is not?

    There must be a lawyer who is also a keen photographer, who would be keen to get involved in a challenge here?

    There seems to be enough in here

  2. chris tangey says:

    Ross,

    re the headline “I Want to Become A Victorian”. No you wouldn’t.

    As somebody born there but has now proudly spent much longer out than in, I can
    assure you that these, perhaps illusory, freedoms are definitely the exception.

    Victoria is a Police state, and has been for decades. Trouble is, Victorians actually like it that way. With the course Australian bureaucracy is taking I’m beginning to wonder if our nation isn’t going down the same road. There are many reasons for the demise of empires throughout history. I think the Australian one will disappear up its own fundamental in triplicate.

    • rossbmedia says:

      Hi Chris – you mean I should take a “rain check” on this idea?

    • Geoff Rehmet says:

      Chris,

      after growing up in Apartheid South Africa I have to say I am nothing short of horrified by some of the laws in Australia – applies to almost any state. For instance, “Move On” laws are reminiscent on the kinds of restrictions on freedom of movement under grand apartheid.
      A ridiculous example was the case of German friends of ours getting hauled up by federal police at Brisbane airport for walking outside an area designated for sale of alcohol with glasses of wine in their hands – to Germans, that concept is incomprehensible, since beer and wine are treated pretty much as foodstuffs there.

  3. rossbmedia says:

    Hi Geoff – I have been in touch with Parks Victoria this year because of an article I am writing for A********* P********** magazine. One of the questions that I put to them was in relation to how their photographic policies stacked up vis-a-vis the adoption of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in 2006. Those questions were sent to David Petty, the Senior Communications Officer for Parks Victoria, on May 17th. The only response I have had so far was an email on May 27th telling me that the policy was under review at that stage and that he would get back to me when that process had concluded. Another Parks Victoria officer contacted me in August to tell me that the review process was to be finished by the end of that month. And today I have written to David Petty again – asking him in effect … “what the hell is going on?” There is no response as of yet.

    As you can see the wheels of bureaucracy take a very, very long time to turn.

    • Geoff Rehmet says:

      Ross,

      I am mulling over whether it might be worth my while to contact Parks Victoria, and press them on the issue, and if I don’t get a satisfactory response, contact my local member, raising this as a concern in the context of the upcoming election in November. If you are able to provide contact details of the people to contact, that would help. You can contact me at grehmet (at) gmail dot com.

      I am thinking of this as a run up to a letter to my local federal MP, the hon. Julia Gillard.

  4. Geoff Rehmet says:

    Thanks Ross, it’s time to start writing a letter, I guess.
    One interesting point I missed earlier in the PDF I referred to above is that the AIPP and ACMP are listed as contacts on the document. What is concerning is that those references would seem to imply endorsement, by those bodies of the permit policy, which I am certain they do not do.

  5. rossbmedia says:

    Hi Geoff – I think the document refers to the two organisations because they were either bludgeoned into submission on the basis of “we (Parks Victoria) will make it a lot worse if you don’t sign off on it”, or they were involved in some early discussions and then were totally ignored thereafter. Also I think at the stage that this policy was first drafted (2002?), both of those organisations hadn’t quite twigged that the right to take photographs was a civil liberties issue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s