Yesterday Melbourne stood up for human rights:
Controversial Australian Border Force visa checks, Operation Fortitude cancelled
A major policing operation planned for Melbourne’s CBD this weekend has been cancelled after a backlash over plans to include Australian Border Force (ABF) officials in the crackdown.
Victoria Police issued a press release saying Operation Fortitude had been cancelled this afternoon.
Earlier, the ABF had said it would be checking people’s visas on the streets of the city centre as part of the operation, which also involved Victoria Police and other agencies.
The original announcement quoted ABF regional commander for Victoria and Tasmania Don Smith as saying officers would be positioned at various locations around the city and would speak “with any individual we cross paths with”.
The ABF then issued another statement saying: “To be clear, the ABF does not and will not stop people at random in the streets … the ABF does not target of the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity”.
More details were expected to be released in a press conference at 2:00pm, but the event was cancelled after demonstrators began assembling outside Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station to protest against the operation.
The statement about the operation’s cancellation was then issued. …
An operation involving the Australian Border Force that was to target potential visa fraudsters in the heart of Melbourne has been cancelled following a public backlash.
The Abbott government is under pressure to explain why the police-led operation including the ABF involved stopping people for visa checks – a measure independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie compared to East Germany’s Stasi.
Border Force trapped in Flinders St, '…escorted out, after changing into plain clothes, by Victoria Police…' http://t.co/YYA7WshiDu
— Andrew Macrae (@acidic) August 28, 2015
Well done to the people of Melbourne. It’s inspiring to read of people standing up en masse to oppose the abuse of state power. But I must admit that on this occasion I am also left with a slightly uneasy feeling. Would have done it in NZ? In the same position, would we stand up? Given what we let the Key government get away with, I fear that we would not.