The title is quoted from this ABC Online article with respect to the special regulations in force from yesterday until the end of this month that relate to the behaviour of onlookers and protesters to the Roman Catholic World Youth Day event, which takes place over 5 days (July 15-20) later this month. The laws restrict the populace’s expression of free speech and add new offences, whereby any behaviour deemed as “annoying” can attract a $5000 fine. (Previous regulations regarding WYD restrict public movement around various public spaces such as the Opera House forecourt and Centennial Park during the event.)
President of the New South Wales Bar Association Anna Katzmann says she does not understand why the regulations have been brought in.
“They are repugnant for two reasons,” she said.
“First of all the Government has by-passed the normal parliamentary scrutiny that would be available if they were introduced by an Act of Parliament,” she said.
“Secondly they are an unreasonable interference with people’s freedom of speech and movement.”
Coming on top of the amazing amount of taxpayer money being spent to fund this religious event and the way in which public spaces in Sydney are being closed off to the citizens who normally use them (try walking your dog in Centennial Park for the week of WYD, and of course the racing industry is taking another hit with WYD being handed the Randwick Racecourse), these restrictions are truly outrageous. Iemma’s government has totally lost the plot.
I’m sure that the pilgrims coming to the city are well-meaning young people who simply want to have a fun conference reaffirming their joint faith. But why do I and other citizens have to pay for their fun? Resentment by taxpayers of the waste involved in staging this bunfight should not be misunderstood as any anti-Catholic or anti-Christian sentiment per se, although of course there will be the inevitable substream of bigots who jump on the dissatisfaction bandwagon to spew their bile. The point is that we are a secular state, and the state should simply not be in the business of promoting religious events, especially if they promote only one (or a few) but not others.
I’m far from the first to say this, but it bears repeating: does anyone think that the State of NSW would fund a hypothetical Muslim WYD with millions of dollars of public money? Or a Church of Scientology WYD? Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints WYD? Seventh Day Adventists? Assemblies of God? If not (and I think NSW would not), then why are we funding a Roman Catholic event in this way?
Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo has more, and PZ Myers has put up an open thread for venting Australians at Pharyngula.