Flat White

Danandrewstan: where journalists now get arrested

21 February 2021

2:18 PM

21 February 2021

2:18 PM

The nation has had enough time over the past 12 months to form a clear impression of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews — and the politicisation, corruption and incompetence of Victorian police have been on display in their conduct during the pandemic, the Lawyer X case and the Bourke Street Massacre and subsequent coronial findings.

This latest outrage, however, takes the cake — and deserved the widest possible audience:

A Sunday Herald Sun journalist and photographer were arrested while reporting on the protest against the coronavirus vaccine.

Reporter Olivia Jenkins and senior photographer Jake Nowakowski were handcuffed and escorted from the protest after being caught in a group of anti-vaccination protesters at Fawkner Park.

Jenkins and Nowakowski were wearing their Sunday Herald Sun accreditation cards around their necks and identified themselves as journalists but were detained by police and then given a notice that they may be issued with a $1652 fine for failing to comply with the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

That’s the outline, but wait until you read the detail:

Nowakowski said: “Police started clearing protesters from the park.”

“We found ourselves in one of these police encirclements,’’ he said.

“Once we presented to police we were media they let us out.

“Almost immediately afterwards we found ourselves in another cordon with a handful of protesters. There wouldn’t have been more than seven of us.

“Specialist police started coming in and arresting individuals. At no time were we given the option to leave.”

Nowakowski added: “The police knew we were media. We had our identification out.”

“Olivia and I were the last left in that cordon,’’ he said.

“They just came in and arrested us. They handcuffed us and they took us away for processing.”

In other words, police were “kettling” protestors, realised they had trapped two members of the media, let them out, only for other police to come and detain and handcuff the pair — and threaten them with fines — despite the fact that they were clearly identified as journalists. Such competence.

And PC Plod’s response, according to The Sunday Herald Sun?

Victoria Police advised it was looking into the incident, including reviewing body-worn camera footage, and had not issued any fines over the matter.

As we’ve learnt, in Danandrewstan, sorry is the hardest word.

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