Wednesday, January 18, 2012

$625 fine for speaking out in Perth! WTF?

Readers are aware that on December 17, the Perth City Council and police attempted (unsuccessfully) to close down a Bradley Manning speak-out in the Murray Street Mall.

Then on January 6, one of the participants in the action - Alex Bainbridge - received $625 worth of fines levied by the Perth City Council. The fines were for: setting up a table without a permit ($400); causing an obstruction (i.e. the table again) ($125); and failing to obey the directions of an authorised person ($100).

Bainbridge immediately elected to have the matters dealt with in court instead of paying the fines.

"The issue is one of freedom of speech," Bainbridge said. "Activist groups should be able to set up campaign tables and hold speak-outs in the Perth CBD unhindered by by-laws and council rangers."

On January 9, the Perth City Council returned the materials that were seized at the December action. The video below details precisely what was seized by the council.

Activists responded by holding a free speech campaign stall on January 12. The council was notified about the stall - which was similar to the original speakout in concept, just at a smaller scale - by phone and email. One council ranger attended but took no action to close down the stall. This was considered a victory by the activists involved.