When I first saw the video of Zoe Buhler’s arrest, my first thought was ‘this has to be a fake’. When I realised it wasn’t, my second thought was this – ‘This is not the Australia I know’.
And I know that you agree. This is not the Australia we know. Zoe’s case is not something that should be happening in any country purporting to be a liberal democracy.
That’s why I’m delighted to tell you that the great Andrew Cooper and our friends at LibertyWorks have set up a page to help fund Zoe’s legal defence.
You know the video I’m talking about. It starts with a troupe of masked police officers rampaging through the house and ends with a pregnant woman in handcuffs as her children watch on. The phone recording the whole incident is confiscated, along with every other phone, computer and tablet in the house.It’s the kind of treatment we usually see for drug dealers, suspected terrorists, or child pornographers. But Zoe’s alleged ‘crime’ was none of these things. Zoe was arrested, detained and eventually charged over a Facebook post.Zoe had posted days earlier about a peaceful gathering in Ballarat in protest against Melbourne’s lockdown. She encouraged mask-wearing, asked everyone to adhere to ‘social distancing’ guidelines, and, in what is now a sad irony, stressed that it was to be a ‘peaceful protest’ so that ‘we don’t get arrested’.For this, Zoe has been charged with ‘incitement’ to breach Victoria’s ‘public health orders’, and now faces the threat of a criminal conviction and a fine of up to $19,000.
IN AUSTRALIA, HAVING YOUR SAY SHOULDN’T PUT YOU IN HANDCUFFS – Support Zoe’s legal defence fund here
As I said to Andrew Bolt the night after the video, it’s not just that Zoe’s arrest was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Australia – it’s that I never thought such a thing would or could ever happen in Australia.
From Andrew Bolt to Bill Leak to Calum Thwaites to Peter Ridd, we have seen some shocking attacks on free speech over the years. But even in my wildest paranoid nightmares I would never have imagined that we would see a pregnant woman handcuffed in front of her own children over a Facebook post.
It is a terrifying new low. It is not something that we should be seeing in any country purporting to be a liberal democracy – and it’s something we must never, ever see again in Australia.
The night Zoe’s arrest hit the internet, IPA Executive Director John Roskam and I were on the phone until late. By the next morning, we had already put Zoe’s family in touch with Stuart Wood QC, Stephen Andrianakis, and several other top barristers and solicitors. And following a barrage of abuse and death threats, we helped move Zoe to a secure location and engage private security.
Since that time, I and the IPA have received many, many emails from our members who are just as proud as we are to be involved in Zoe’s fight, and know just as well as we do what it means for our fundamental freedoms and Australia’s future. We all know that Zoe’s arrest is about much more than just one woman’s Facebook post, and that what happened to her could happen to me or you or any other Australian if we don’t stand up for our rights.
And we all know that what happened to Zoe has been, in a way, a long time coming. We’ve seen how Victoria Police have become deeply politicised, how they’ve gone from being trusted community protectors to henchmen for the bureaucratic-managerialist state.
We need only look to what happened when 10,000 protesters gathered in the centre of Melbourne just months ago for the so-called ‘Black Lives Matter’ rallies. Not only was nobody arrested, but Victoria Police indicated that they ‘supported the right to protest’. When asked about the double standard recently, Victoria Police indicated that they let the rallies go ahead because there was a risk that protesters would ‘turn violent’ if police tried to stop them.
If Victoria Police are telling the truth, then they’re basically admitting that they’ve given in to mob rule – that the threat of violence effectively supersedes the rule of law.
And if they’re lying and Victoria Police never really had a problem with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ rallies to begin with, then we have reached the situation in which the police are picking and choosing which political protests get to go ahead, and which don’t. Which political speech is acceptable, and which can get you arrested for ‘incitement’.
That’s why we need to fight – and why Zoe needs your help.
Defending a charge like this is not easy, nor is it cheap. Zoe’s lawyers have estimated that, even at a heavily discounted rate, she will need almost $300,000 to fight these charges.
All funds will be sent directly to Zoe’s lawyers’ trust account, and any money leftover will be donated to a youth mental health charity of Zoe’s choice.