Could Clarence by-law stop dog owners having a voice?
Photo: Dog owners protested against a Clarence City Council proposal to ban dogs from Bellerive Beach in 2007. Dogs have since been banned from this section of Bellerive Beach. Trying to stop bans has involved a lot of lobbying by the Hobart Dog Walking Association and dog owners.
Recent media reports about the Clarence City Council By-Law banning public gatherings are concerning.
Would the new Public Places By-Law stop such rallies by dog walkers?
In 2007, the Hobart Dog Walking Association (HDWA) organised a rally on Bellerive Beach (pictured) against the Council’s proposal for a total dog ban on Bellerive Beach.
The Director of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust, Peter McGlone, recently wrote that the Council’s General Manager, Andrew Paul asked councillors to vote on a new By-Law that grants him extraordinary powers to suppress free speech, rights of assembly and civil liberties.
Section 38(b) of the By-Law makes it an offence for a person in a public place to ‘organise or participate in an assembly, rally, public speaking or similar activity’.
Section 33 (c) deals with an offence relating to giving out pamphlets etc in a public place. There is no provision for a permit for a community group to display signs or distribute pamphlets.
If the By-Law means people cannot assemble or distribute pamphlets, it is vital dog owners join a group like the HDWA, form a Clarence Dog Walking Association, or be active in Facebook groups in order to disseminate information, and keep informed.
The ABC reported on 20 September 2018 that Peter Edwards, of the Rosny Hill Friends Network described the by-law around public assembly as "over the top".
"They are trying to crack down on protests, because there have been four or five major rallies on the Eastern Shore recently," Mr Edwards told the ABC.
The Clarence City Council will review its dog management policy after the Council elections. Councils are required under the Dog Act to review their dog management plans every five years.
Dogs are now banned from the section of Bellerive Beach where the rally was held in 2007. In 2008, the Council made the section of Bellerive Beach from First Bluff to parallel with the toilet block on-lead only. Five years later dogs were banned from the section of Bellerive Beach from First Bluff to the Beach Street Access.
Under the Dog Act, Councils are required to review Dog Management Plans every five years.
For more information visit the ABC website