4th October 2010
Jan Beer, Plug The Pipe spokesperson and environmental activist in opposition to North-South Pipeline, is taking legal action against Government Agency Melbourne Water for alleged infringements of her right to privacy over a 2 year period.
Mrs Beer was photographed, video-taped and followed whilst the pipeline was being constructed. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard this morning that over 100 documents exist detailing the monitoring of Ms Beer by Melbourne Water.
“At no time during this period was I informed who the people collecting my information were employed by, why they were collection my information, and what it would be used for" says Mrs Beer.
“I felt harassed, persecuted and along with other opponents of the pipeline have been branded a “quasi-terrorist” by a Minister of the Victorian Government. In fact I feel as though I have been treated like a dangerous terrorist that needed to be silenced” said Mrs Beer “ It is like living under a dictatorship, rather than a democracy, where people have the right to peacefully protest.”
A Memorandum of Understanding is in place for the North-South Pipeline, similar to that for the Desalination Plant, between Melbourne Water and the Victorian Police. It is possible that the information collected on Ms Beer has been transferred to other parties pursuant to the MoU.
“The sheer volume of information collected on my client is astounding” said Elizabeth McKinnon, solicitor at the Environment Defenders Office. “At issue in the proceedings is whether Melbourne Water attempted to comply with the Information Privacy Act in relation to the management of protest activity at the site”.
The next hearing in this matter will take place in February 2011.