29 January 2015

Council laws help street preacher spread the word

Preacher Man: Pastor Cameron Guy
preaching his religious beliefs in the Ipswich
 Mall after arriving with a trolley load  of
his display materials.

A SELF-styled pastor and street preacher claims Ipswich City Council is preventing his right to freedom of speech.

Cameron Guy, who once tried to set up his own church, says the council won't let him preach on the street in Ipswich.

Pastor Guy said he had a permit to preach on the streets of the Gold Coast but Ipswich City Council wouldn't give him a permit.

He has recently started living in Brassall and has tried to preach in the Ipswich Mall.

"The council is impinging on my freedom of speech," said Pastor Guy, who has lived in Wacol.

"With the Gold Coast City Council, they have accepted everyone is entitled to have fun.

"There should be more buskers in the mall. There could be more public speakers."

He said when he went to preach in the mall last Thursday, a security guard told him: "It's private property, get out.

"I went up to the top of the mall and two police cars with five officers pulled up. They said: 'We know who you are; the inspector emailed us about you.'

"When I spoke to the sergeant, he said: 'Cameron, you don't need a public assembly permit; you're only one person.' I don't understand passing the buck to the police; it's a waste of their time."

"One of the police said the café was complaining about me. Where's the tolerance? At Surfer's Paradise people are more tolerant. I've got hundreds of people around me. You shouldn't need a licence to preach the word of God. I'm not asking for money."

Pastor Cameron Guy preaching his
religious beliefs in the Ipswich Mall.
Council response

THE official word is Pastor Guy can't preach in the mall because the council regards preaching in the same category as spruiking - and that isn't allowed in the mall.

Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully emailed Pastor Guy, throwing him what appeared to be a lifeline.

"My reading of Section 6 of Ipswich City Council Local Law 7 (in relation to a "permit regulated activity") and the provisions of the Queensland Peaceful Assembly Act 1992 is that no permit is required in the City of Ipswich for a person to speak or preach, in accordance with those provisions," Cr Tully said.

"There is a Pastor in my Division 2 who regularly does this at Queen St Goodna without any complaint. He has been doing this lawfully for a number of years, without a permit, but in accordance with the above local and State laws."

But the Ipswich Mall and surrounding areas are a different matter, as a council spokesman explained to the Queensland Times.

"All forms of spruiking, touting and hawking are prohibited in the Ipswich Mall, Union Place and d'Arcy Doyle Place under council's Local Laws," the spokesman said.

"These laws protect and promote business and commercial activity in the mall and enhance and foster the free access, movement, enjoyment and use of the mall by residents and visitors.

"It is not possible to obtain a permit to engage in spruiking, touting or hawking in the mall. Such activity is a prohibited.

"For the record, preaching is included in the definition of spruiking."

It is possible to apply for and be granted a permit to engage in busking in the mall. This is considered by the council to be a different activity to spruiking, hawking or touting.

"No busking permits are currently in operation or on issue," the spokesman said.

"Alternative sites that do not require a council permit for preaching may include local shopping centres provided the relevant centre owner approves.

"We believe Mr Guy's spruiking locations on the Gold Coast were in privately owned shopping centres."

It is not the first time a council has clamped down on Cameron Guy.

In 2011 Horsham Council in Victoria told him his new church, the Church of Perissos - Faith and Restoration, could not operate without a planning permit.

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