Sunday, March 18, 2007

Attempt to silence our modest protest

Rob and I have been holding a weekly stall for about three months now. The stall consists of a fold-up table and two fold-up chairs. We have a petition for people to sign supporting a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time.

About three weeks ago, Seantor Jan McLucas came out of her office to ask us to relocate as people might confuse our campaign with her own policies (God forbid !). I explained to Jan that we were here because we were located ouotside the Family Court, but that we might consider moving six metres further along (outside the offices of a law firm which carries out Family Law cases).

The next day I went to visit Jan. She was good enought to see me without an appointment. I explained to her that we were not targeting the Family Court so much as Federal members and Federal Senators (such as herself) as they are the law-makers, and they need to introduce a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time.

We talked about the issues. Jan mentioned her own case where she has custody of her daughter. Her daughter plays piano and it would be impractical to have mid-week contact woth her Dad. She also used the computer - she couldn't lug this between homes.

I pointed out that in such a case, the Dad may be willing to buy a keyboard. Also, the Dad's house is also likely to have a computer (students at the private Trinity Anglican School are issued with their own laptop which they take to school each day. I would bet my bottom dollar Jan's daughter attends TAS).

I said that if Jan was prepared to continue this dialogue (I want to prepare an information kit for Fedral Senators and Federal Members) we would be happy to relocate to the adjacent office for the time being (there is actually a walkway one metre higher separating us from these offices and out table located in the street).

Ironically we had just renewed our Police Permit (for the next six months) when we were approached by an officer from the Cairns City Council telling us they had received a complaint and we would have to shut down the stall.

I suspect the complainant was McDonnell's Solicitors who felt no need to even try to negotitate. Rob and I went immediately to Cairns City Council to discuss the matter with the relevant official.

She advised us to relocate on private property where the Council would have no jurisdiction. She offered all sorts of reasons to put us off - ie we were touting (but the touting legislation refers only to commercial businesses) and obstructing the footpath (which is five metres wide and has light pedestrain traffic).

Our modest petition table attended by only two people, was a held for only two hours once a week. But this has been deemed unacceptable by the Council bowing to the wishes of one person making a complaint.

I am seeking legal advice and I will be challenging this.

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