Anti-CCP activist and political commentator Drew Pavlou has formally appealed fines issued to him by Brisbane City Council for protesting outside the Chinese Consulate-General's office.
Appearing before Brisbane Magistrates Court on Sept. 12, he fought multiple fines for supposedly disobeying directives of a local council employee.
The ordeal began on May 17 last year when Mr. Pavlou took to the consulate to demonstrate against the Chinese Communist Party’s prolonged record of human rights abuses and suppression of free speech.
He brought two signs, one satirically referencing the CCP’s concealment of the Tiananmen Square massacre from the Chinese public, and another promoting his campaign for a position in the Senate for the Katter Australia Party (KAP) at the time.
In response to complaints made by consular officers on the day, a security guard from the Brisbane City Council promptly issued Mr. Pavlou a $300 fine for advertising without a permit.
Mr. Pavlou believes the fine was issued on spurious grounds, considering it was not made in relation to his campaign sign but to his sign referencing Tiananmen Square.
“The charge for unauthorised communication of advertising material wasn’t given to me for the sign that said, 'Vote Drew,' it was given to me in relation to the fine that said, 'Nothing happened on June 4 1989,'" Mr. Pavlou told the Epoch Times.
“How can a sign that says, ‘Nothing happened on June 4, 1989,’ a comment about the Tiananmen Square Massacre, be considered advertising material?”
“They say that my protest sign was advertising material and we all know that it’s just basically because they don’t want anyone to criticise the Chinese Communist Party outside the Chinese Consulate. It’s basically a way to stop people from protesting,” he claimed.
Fine for Political AdvertisingAfter refusing to vacate the premises, Mr. Pavlou was then issued a $697 fine for defying the directives of the ranger.
“If I lose the case and the judge says I did use advertising material, I have to pay them $1,000 for the initial fines they issued me plus another $1,500 to pay for their lawyers,” Mr. Pavlou said.
“It’s designed to make people scared to take it to court. They wanted me to pay the $1,000 fine and I refused on the basis of wanting to defend myself. Then they tried to scare me by telling me if I took it to court and they won, I’d have to pay an extra $1,500 on top of the original $1,000.”
The Epoch Times has contacted Queensland Police and the Council for comment.
City Council Has Tough Restriction's on AdvertisingAccording to The Advertising Devices Local Law 2021 which pertains to Brisbane City Council’s jurisdiction, all advertising requires approval from Council.
The law defines advertising as any temporary or permanent signs and their supporting structures designed to disseminate or promote certain information, regardless of whether it’s for commercial usage or not.
The Permitted Advertising Devices Rule which falls under Council law, further states that election signs may not be displayed in a green space environment or in malls at any time.
Considering that Consulate's office is situated directly within Queen Street Mall premises, it is likely local officers determined that Mr. Pavlou was in breach of local advertising regulations on these grounds.
Mr. Pavlou is a prominent student-activist who became prominent in 2019 after organising protests in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and their opposition to the city's former Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s proposed extradition bill.
He organised a number of rallies on the University of Queensland’s (UQ) campus that saw him attacked by mainland Chinese students.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court has adjourned Mr. Pavlou’s case until Oct. 3.