Victoria Police has been brought into disrepute lately by unfortunate bureaucratic decisions with tragic political consequences. At first gradual and perhaps unnoticed, the perception that they are ignorantly or obediently now incentivising the violence of Antifa has reverberated around the world.
My company organised the Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux tour of Australia in July. When hundreds of Antifa affiliates published their intention to violently protest tour events, Victoria Police gave my company, Axiomatic Events, a verbal ‘quote’ for $150,000 to keep the peace. I believe they hoped this would change our minds about holding the event in Victoria.
Victoria Police sent a written ‘quote’ just two days prior to the event, and have since invoiced Axiomatic and sent a statement confirming the amount they claim it owes.
In the fortnight following the tour’s completion, I was speaking with a colleague from another state who was planning a conference on a political topic and he mentioned to me that they had changed their plans specifically to avoid a $68,000 invoice from police. This is alarming because it documents the chilling effect on free speech and political debate that even the threat of the invoice from Victoria Police has already had, before it’s even been paid.
This is the precise outcome the violent leftist thugs who organise these ‘protests’ hope for. Their brilliantly simple strategy has just three three parts.
One: to announce their intention to violently protest any public event they fear may be popular or effective, and to enlist support for their cause from lazy and incurious ‘journalists’ as well as disaffected and radicalised students from local universities.
Two: to inspire fear on the part of conservative event organisers that the safety of volunteers, participants and attendees may be at risk and cannot be guaranteed without police protection.
Three: to rely upon police to either not attend or to put little effort into attending or, most effective of all, to impose such enormous financial penalties upon organisers that events get cancelled altogether — or not even get organised in the future.
Antifa and other ultra-leftists have absolutely no interest in democratic discourse or freedoms of speech and peaceful assembly. Their preferred strategy is simply to demonise their opponents and avoid debate altogether. It is deeply troubling that Victoria Police are apparently willing accomplices to this strategy, for surely it cannot be political ignorance that facilitates their cooperation with the lawless thugs’ goals.
I found a YouTube video uploaded after the event in Sydney by an apparent Antifa ring leader urging people to join the planned mayhem in Brisbane. He gleefully boasted of his success in manipulating Victoria Police to punish Axiomatic for daring to host an event discussing unapproved opinions.
‘They’re all f—ing animals. They deserve to be abused. If I helped contribute in any way to the big bill that Axiomatic Entertainment [sic] scored from their Victorian leg of this Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux tour then I’m f—ing ecstatic. I wish it was more. I wish it happened to them in every state, ya know. Statist shill or not — be damned! I’m glad that it cost them some money. F— them, ya know. Anything you can throw at these animals to stop this s–t.’
Frequent targets of the thugs’ veto, the Australian Christian Lobby, doesn’t get bills from the police. They just don’t get police. Some may turn up, but they are so outnumbered that the thugs’ veto is supported by police inaction.
An event with Eric Metaxas saw violent leftists blockade the venue entrance and abuse any attendee brave enough to go along. According to managing director Martyn Iles, police barely showed up, and then they gave up. He tells of many, many more such occasions where police passivity rendered them impotent and law- abiding citizens defenseless and deprived of their common law rights.
The Victorian government led by Daniel Andrews and Victoria Police led by police minister Lisa Neville have in effect rubber-stamped the ratcheting up of thuggery and violence in Victoria by the fascistic leftists who are determined to end all debate and democracy that doesn’t go their way. Now Antifa have a template for future success, chilling national discussions before they’ve even started.
A crippling fee is inconsequential compared to the vandalising effect on the debate of important public issues. So, after much expert legal counsel since the tour’s conclusion, I have written to Victoria Police and advised them that not only will I refuse to pay the ‘invoice’, but I will vigorously fight it as a matter of public importance, and am forming the Australian Free Speech Coalition to do so.
I’m advised that the use of a delegated regulatory power to impose fees for a purpose that radically undermines the practical exercise of common law rights and freedoms is highly likely to lead the courts to remind Daniel Andrews and his political police that, according to the Victoria Police Act (2013), ‘The role of Victoria Police is to serve the Victorian community and uphold the law so as to promote a safe, secure and orderly society.’
Does blaming the victims of violence ‘promote a safe, secure and orderly society’? Mr Andrews might enjoy effectively censoring those pesky political debates freedom-loving Australians used to enjoy, and so the fight for basic political freedom is on — yet again.
The chilling effect upon political speech in Victoria if the lawless conduct of far-left agitators can result in police imposition of massive financial penalties upon those whose free speech is attacked may well provide the ideal test case in the High Court of whether the implied freedom of communication protects against executive interference by police.
In 1940, France surrendered to invading fascists and lived under that dictatorship until liberated by a courageous coalition which was willing to actually fight for their freedom. It is cowardice to surrender when so much is at stake, even though fighting may cost us dearly.
Capitulating to those most willing to be violent and lawless has an inevitable trajectory for any society. Victoria Police must refuse to cooperate with them any longer. We all must recognise and refuse to surrender to the thugs’ veto. This is the price of liberty — eternal vigilance.
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