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NEWS: Clinic safe zones inadequate: MP

August 12, 2021

Mining and Pastoral MP Wilson Tucker has questioned the wisdom of a rigid 150m exclusion zone outside WA’s abortion clinics, saying it might not adequately protect vulnerable women and staff from future advances in technology.

Speaking during the second reading of the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2021 in the Upper House on Tuesday, Mr Tucker said he was supportive of the proposed legislation.

But the Daylight Saving Party leader asked whether the 150m rule was flexible enough.

The former software engineering manager for US tech giant Amazon pointed out technological innovation moves quickly, hinting that advances in cameras and lenses, and the ability to broadcast and identify people electronically, could pose problems in the future.

The Bill seeks to prevent harassment and protect the privacy of women accessing abortion clinics as JUwell as protecting the staff working at the services from harassment and intimidation.

Mr Tucker yesterday told the Kalgoorlie Miner the ACT legislation had an inbuilt head of power clause offering the option to extend the safe access zone and he would like to see WA follow suit.

“It allows for a bit of customisation, a bit of scalability depending on the environment,” he said.

“Otherwise if we find in the future it’s not for purpose for WA then you really have to go back and do an amendment to the Bill which is obviously not ideal and takes up time and energy.

“There was a recommendation in the health report that 150m was adequate to ensure the privacy from technological means and future intrusion from technology, which I thought was very vague and also not potentially future-proofing as well.

“We know technology moves quickly and you can look at advances in cameras and lenses and the ability to broadcast and identify people electronically and you can’t really cater for all those future use cases.”

Mr Tucker said “anything that helps vulnerable women in the community” struck a chord with him and he was otherwise supportive of the Bill’s purpose.