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.
“We are taking the reasonable and responsible path, contrary to the path taken by the City of Melbourne and Victoria Police,” said litigant James Muldoon.
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.
Fitzroy Legal Service will be assisted by the Human Rights Law Centre and Emrys Nekvapil and Nick Wood of counsel, while former Federal Court Judge, Ron Merkel, QC, is acting on behalf of the litigant from Occupy Melbourne.
Nick Carson, of Occupy Melbourne’s Media Team explained; “We hope to see this challenge succeed and the courts uphold the right of all Australians to be in a public space and exercise their right to political expression.”
Hearings are scheduled for March 21-23 and will begin each morning at roughly 10am. There will be a ‘Free Lunch for Free Speech’ held in neighbouring Flagstaff Gardens for supporters and well-wishers.