SELMA MILOVANOVICJuly 5, 2010
“It reminds me of the KGB,” says Angela Munro, founding convener of the Royal Park Protection Group, of the police refusal to let her see her dossier.
A MELBOURNE retiree is challenging a refusal by Victoria Police to release a dossier compiled by its anti-terror unit on her years as a community protester.
Angela Munro, 67, was the founding convener of the Royal Park Protection Group, which campaigned against development of the hockey and netball centre in the park.
Two years after The Age revealed the police’s Security Intelligence Group had infiltrated activist and community groups in recent years with state government backing, Ms Munro will go to a tribunal to challenge legal amendments made in 2006 to allow police to keep secret all documents created by the unit.
In April last year, Ms Munro asked Victoria Police whether it held a file on her as part of research for her PhD on democratic city governments. In January, the police FOI branch revealed police held a 15-page file but said the dossier was exempt from disclosure as it had been created by the Security Intelligence Group.
Deputy FOI officer Robin Davey wrote that releasing the documents to Ms Munro would be ”reasonably likely to endanger the lives or physical safety of police” and reveal their investigative methods.
He said it would also unfairly reveal personal information about other people.
”Third parties that assist police in an investigation do so with the expectation that their personal affairs would only be released as required for the investigation and later for a criminal trial,” Mr Davey wrote.
Ms Munro said she was outraged when she discovered the file existed and police potentially considered her a threat to public safety.
”I think I’m a threat because I will not shut up,” Ms Munro said.”It’s laughable more than anything.
”For a state or country that purports to be democratic, I think this is monstrous. It reminds me of the KGB.”
Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said two years ago that police had specifically asked the government to implement freedom-of-information changes as part of a new terrorism law in 2006 to stop people asking for information from its covert and intelligence unit.
Ms Munro said she had never been accused of any violence. During the Royal Park protests, she and other protesters were once removed by police from the netball centre building site they had entered through a hole in the security fence. No one was questioned or charged by police.
When her case goes to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in August, Ms Munro will invoke the Charter of Human Rights, which says public interest outweighs all interests protected by exemptions.
She will say police investigative techniques and names of third parties may be deleted from the file.
Ms Munro’s case comes after The Age last year revealed police had made secret files on people protesting against the state’s $3.5 billion desalination project available to the private consortium building the plant.
The recent developments on secret dossiers follow the police files scandal of 1997 when the then Operations Intelligence Unit had gathered information on more than 1200 Victorians.