Occupy Melbourne takes council to court

Occupy Melbourne activists wait outside court on March 20. Photo: Wil Wallace

Members of Occupy Melbourne took Melbourne Council to court on March 20 over its attacks on the movement last year.

Occupy Melbourne said: “Hearings commence today at the Federal Court as part of the legal challenge against the City of Melbourne’s response to the peaceful Occupy Melbourne protests held throughout the city since October 2011.

"The legal challenge, filed in November 2011 by Fitzroy Legal Service, will argue that the manner in which the council has been using their powers is incompatible with the rights of all Australians to freedom of political communication.

“The challenge will not only be an important test case for civil rights in Australia, but may also act as an international precedent for how police and local authorities respond to peaceful protests occurring around the world.”

Litigant James Muldoon said: “We are taking the reasonable and responsible path, contrary to the path taken by the City of Melbourne and Victoria Police. The case has been launched by myself on behalf of Occupy Melbourne’s right to protest.

“We are focusing on the council’s enforcement regime during Occupy Melbourne’s time at Treasury and Flagstaff Gardens. We argue that the council was acting outside its powers and in effect stifling political dissent.

“We need to defend the right to protest for all Australians and are hoping the court will determine the foundation of the right to protest. We have received a lot of support from Occupiers and members of the community.”

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