Long-time champion of workers’ rights, Aboriginal justice and the environment, Greens MP David Shoebridge, has criticised Labor and the LNP’s approach to policing music and culture festivals.
Mr Shoebridge, a former barrister whose political portfolio includes planning, justice and local government, says he has major issues with the extreme measures taken by the government and police forces to establish a presence at festivals, citing the “shakedown” of Bohemian Beatfreaks as an example of “heavy-handed” tactics.
“[As the police justice person for the Greens] I’ve been actively campaigning against the heavy-handed police presence at events where young people go,” he said.
“Given so many of the problems are caused by the authoritarian excess of police, it’s entirely natural that when we saw what was happening at Bohemian Beatfreaks we, once again, called it out.”
“This mindset is the world is so full of danger people can’t have fun.”
Mr Shoebridge believes that, in their effort to clamp down on the use of drugs at music festivals, the government adopted a much too simple-minded approach.
“When [Labor and LNP] see a problem with illegal drugs, their only response to it is ‘tougher laws, more police’ – as though history doesn’t matter, as though that bankrupt solution is a viable public policy response,” he said.
Further fears over the risks of holding festivals outdoors and in rural areas only compound the authorities’ previous shortcomings, Mr Shoebridge believes.
“The other thing about BBF is that a lot of the response from the police was so extreme in terms of the risks of having a music festival in a country setting that it potentially makes any similar rural music festival non-viable.
“If that’s applied across the state the only spots left will have fire trucks and concrete,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“This mindset that the world is so full of danger that people can’t have a fun time – I think that’s also part of it.
“Yes, if you run around in the bush you might fall over a log and get bitten by a snake, but we live in Australia – that’s part of the deal,” he said.
“If I am being mercilessly attacked by The Australian, the police commissioner, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley, then I’m probably on to something,”
In the past, Mr Shoebridge and his party, The Greens, have come under fire from both conservative media outlets and other political organisations – something the father-of-two doesn’t fear.
“If I am being mercilessly attacked by The Australian, the police commissioner, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley, then I’m probably on to something,” he said.
“[T]he best response is not to hide but to proudly show what I stand for.”
In his eyes, this stance also makes for a good bit of advice for aspiring young politicians.
“Knowing where you stand on things and feeling good about yourself and your own life journey – that’s a really reassuring starting point for a career in politics.”
Mr Shoebridge also encouraged young people to get involved in politics, instead of waiting for their “own personal nirvana”.