5th August 2018
Retired senior police officers, victims of crime, social workers and business people say freedom of speech is a right of all Australians and its expression should not be discouraged by financial considerations as might be the situation emerging in Victoria.
The Community Advocacy Alliance’s position follows a recent decision by Victoria Police to charge an overseas social commentator, Lauren Southern, $68,000 for its attendance outside a venue she was speaking at in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs.
Chairman of the CAA, retired chief police commissioner Kel Glare said there was a significant difference between events such as an AFL match where police are deployed to patrol inside the stadium and the Lauren Southern situation where those exercising their right of lawful free speech needed to be protected from protestors outside trying to prevent a private event proceeding through violent direct action which included wilful damage and disrupting hundreds of motorists in the Somerton area through their closure of a major arterial, the Hume Highway
“We accept Police services being charged if an event is intended as a profitable enterprise and policing is required inside a venue. We do however have a problem of police charging for services in a public place and outside a venue irrespective if it’s a commercial activity or not.
“The Alliance has written to Police Minister, Lisa Neville, expressing its concern and the need for a clear separation of powers between Government and Police.
“Victorians already pay for a Police Service whose duties include protecting people attending a lawful event. In two recent cases the organisers of two lawful events in Melbourne have been served invoices for thousands of dollars in contrast to the perpetrators of violent action who escaped any costs but against whom considerable police resources had to be deployed. Under the present Government interpretations Victoria could arrive at the ludicrous situation where Police might charge political parties in this state for holding a political function if it’s the subject of a protest”
The Community Advocacy Alliance is a non profitable organisation which is active in raising issues and initiatives directed at improving law and order in Victoria and making the State a safer place for all Victorians.