Friday, January 20, 2012

Perth Voice reports Free Speech fight

The Perth Voice has reported on the campaign by activist groups to defend free speech rights in the Murray St Mall and other parts of Perth City under the headline: "See you in court".

The issue involves opposition to the $625 worth of fines the Perth City Council is trying to impose over their unsuccessful attempt to close down the speak-out in support of Bradley Manning in December.

Socialist Alliance member Alex Bainbridge explained to the Voice that if the council took measures that, in practice, prevent campaign groups from setting up tables and speaking out on important social issues, then that is a violation of free speech rights.

The Council CEO, Frank Edwards, told the paper that it cost $140 per day to set up an authorised stall in the Murray Street Mall on top of a $60 application fee. Edwards confirmed that the application fee is non-refundable (that is, even if the application is denied). However said that council officers tried to give groups an idea about whether or not an application would be successful prior to the application being made.

Edwards also told the Voice that the Council is "considering its options" in view of the decision by Bainbridge not to pay the fines but to have them instead dealt with by the court.