Prime Minister Turnbull,
In 1986 you said: “The public interest in free speech is not just in truthful speech, in correct speech, in fair speech …… The interest is in the debate.”
My rights to freedom of speech and participation in democratic debate have been denied to me in my home of Maribyrnong by misuse of police services from within the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
Seventy three years ago, in the first week of July, 1945, over thirty thousand Australians, including my father, landed at Balikpapan, Indonesia, in the final major battle of World War Two. 229 died.
In 2015, after a series of successful tree plantings in Indonesia, I lobbied all elected members of the Maribyrnong Council about memorial tree planting and reaching out in friendliness to Indonesia.
Subsequently, I was arrested for the alleged crime of sending two many electronic communications to Councillor (Cr) Sarah Carter of the ALP. Victoria Police treated me as a potential sex criminal till December that year. I now suffer PTSD as a result.
Two open letters about this, the first written to Cr Carter last November and the second to Victorian ALP Premier Daniel Andrews this February remain unanswered. So I now write to you.
As recently as February the 2nd this year, Maribyrnong City Cr Martin Zakharov of the ALP has written to me that the action against me was “unnecessary and unjust”.
I have created art displays in Indonesian places important to four heads of governments. I wanted to share this in Maribyrnong and I was arrested by the police.
In 2015, the mayor of Maribyrnong, Cr Nam Quach, viewed a selection of my art works and wrote, “Thank-you for the opportunity to view your exhibition.
Having spent some time working and living in Indonesia, I can say that I found it to be a deeply rich and fascinating culture which, has been often misrepresented in decades gonepast. My impressions of your artwork was that it provided a unique expression of Indonesian humanity, history and culture, with the underlying theme of an appreciation for the Indo-Australian relationship. The Bahasa phrases used, referring to ‘kesatuan’ and ‘keragaman’, certainly reflect the strength and unity found within diversity, striking a chord to the spirit and values we share here in the City of Maribyrnong.”
Cr Quach’s political career, based on providing an independent alternative to the Australian Labor Party, came to an end some time after he “was picked up and “body slammed” to the floor and kicked, leaving him dazed and nursing a cut lip.” (Herald Sun November 18, 2015) by an angry citizen at a council meeting. I believe this attack may be what another independent Councillor was referring to when warning me not to speak up about my loss of democratic rights. This other independent said; “I know what they can stir up.” I still wonder who “stirred up” the violence which this Indonesia-literate man, Nam Quach, suffered prior to his departure from local government.
Prime Minister, can you acknowledge my patriotism better than the ALP and Maribyrnong City Council have done?
I call on you, Prime Minister, based on the civic rights of our British heritage and on the human rights the world declared universal in response to World War Two, to make sure freedom of speech and open debate are protected at all levels of government in Australia.
Bill Shorten has ignored what happened to me in Maribyrnong. In his own backyard.
Do you care more about our democracy, Mr Turnbull?
Geoff Fox, Jakarta, Indonesia.
3rd of July, 2018