24 November 2022
Danny Lim is a regular at many protests. He is a very kind and gentle man, and his protests are quite individual and idiosyncratic with very humane values. He would never harm anyone, and the way he was thrown face first onto the tiled floor at the Queen Victoria Building by the Police is frankly a disgrace.
As the gap between rich and poor widens with neo-liberal policies and a welfare system which is starved of funds, the level of social frustration rises. Many times in Parliament I was asked to pass legislation which simply increased Police powers, mostly in response to an item in the media where some crime had occurred. There was never any question as to why the crime occurred, there was simply an increase in Police powers and usually the maximum fines or sentences. The Police Service was re-named the Police Force, presumably to reflect the same philosophy. No one ever asked if this would actually work.
I have formed the view that the defence industry increasingly uses the Australian War Memorial as a temple of militarism. A couple of years ago, Nick Deane of the Marrickville Peace Group asked me to help him hand out leaflets on Anzac Day that said, ‘Honour the Dead by Working for Peace’. So I dressed in suit, wore a discrete sign with the slogan on it and went to the edge of the public area in the Hyde Park ceremony and started handing out his leaflet. People took it, and most agreed that it was reasonable.
After a while a Police sergeant came and told me to move 150 metres away as I was ‘offending people’. I said that no one had been offended, (not that there is a law against offending people in any case) and I was not going to move, as I had a right to stand there. He said words to the effect of, ‘You will do what I tell you or you will be arrested and charged’. I told him that he was there to enforce existing laws, not make them up, and if he charged me he would merely be told by the Magistrate that he did not have a case. I agreed to move about 2 metres so he could save face. He was furious, and went off asking to find someone who was offended. He came back and we had a second altercation. I really thought that if I had not been in a suit and told him I was an ex-MP, I would have been thrown down and roughed up. It was a line ball as it was.
The Police are there to keep us safe, not remove people harmlessly expressing opinions, and certainly not to do so roughly. They must obey laws of reasonable behaviour the same as we should. Clearly pressure on them needs to be maintained. The presence of cameras on every phone will help in this- no longer will stories of people ‘falling over’ be believed.
Fortunately Danny has come out of hospital and seems OK, but the video below leaves little doubt that he was assaulted by Police.