State Government ban on pollies meeting at housing estates lifted

THE STATE Government has scrapped its ban on political meetings on housing estates after the threat of legal proceedings.

671458-atherton-gardens-flatsLast month the Department of Human Services brought in bans on political meetings in common areas, doorknocking and political messages on noticeboards.

But the DHS spokeswoman Ruth Ward confirmed the guidelines were now being revised.

“In the interim, there is nothing restricting external parties from holding meetings in community facilities on estates,’’ Ms Ward said.

Ms Ward did not specify whether the government would remove bans on doorknocking and messages on notice boards.

The reversal comes after the the Human Rights Law Centre took action on behalf of two tenants of the Fitzroy Housing Estate.

Law centre executive director Hugh de Kretser wrote to the DHS and Housing Minister Wendy Lovell saying the bans unlawfully limited human rights.

“There is a strong case that aspects of the policies breach residents’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly which are protected under Victoria’s Human Rights Charter,’’ Mr de Kretser said in a statement.

Socialist Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly welcomed the revision of the rules, which he said were brought in following a successful community campaign against development of private housing on Richmond and Fitzroy Housing Estates.

“This was an outrageous attempt to stifle political dissent. We need a Minister who will work with tenants to improve public housing, not work against them,’’ Cr Jolly said.

State Labor member for Richmond Richard Wynne has also been a strident critic of the ban.

Ms Lovell has been approached for comment.

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