Police in Melbourne Arrest Political Commentator for ‘Incitement’

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
October 13, 2021 Updated: October 13, 2021

Police in Victoria, Australia, arrested outspoken political commentator Topher Field for “incitement” on Oct. 13.

Field live-streamed his arrest in Melbourne after police showed up at his home while he was with his family. The video shows two officers standing with him outside his home as they announce his arrest.

One officer tells Field that they are arresting him for “incitement” and that they have previously notified him of the intended arrest via a phone call.

“I didn’t want to do it in front of your kids that’s all, out of respect for you and that kind of thing,” the officer says.

Field tells the officer that he needs to go and tell his wife that he is being arrested and proceeds to walk back into his home before telling Facebook live viewers, “Police here to take me down to the station, so I am going to head down with them and have a chat and see what they have to say.”

“Apparently [they are] telling me that I have been ‘inciting’ so … so we will see what the bail conditions are, that’s really what’s going to set the tone for what happens here going forward,” he continues.

“If the bail conditions are reasonable, then I might be out today. If they are unreasonable, then I may very well not be, so we’ll see.”

He then asked viewers to “spread the word” about his arrest and “make sure everyone knows the police have now come and arrested me.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Victoria Police for comment.

Field announced Oct. 14 he was released from police custody.

An update on Facebook reads, “Yes I’m home! I slept in my own bed and slept very well. Thank you everyone for the outpouring of support and love, it is massively appreciated. I’ve been given 4 charges, 2 for incitement and 2 for breaching CHO orders, court date on Jan 19th. Police were courteous, bail conditions are minimal and won’t affect the documentary.”

Field is making a documentary about recent events in Melbourne amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To those that would like to support my legal defence, please instead support the making of my documentary Battleground Melbourne,” he wrote on Facebook. “This documentary is more important than what happens to me. Please help ensure I can finish and release it before my court date!”

Field, who refers to himself as an “unapologetic believer in personal liberty and personal responsibility” has been vocal in his opposition to the Victorian government’s health mandates. He is currently working on a documentary to highlight the treatment of freedom protesters by Victoria Police.

Multiple people have recently been charged with incitement in relation to “anti-lockdown” protests in the state.

The Victorian Crimes Act defines incitement as, “where a person in Victoria or elsewhere incites any other person to pursue a course of conduct which will involve the commission of an offence by either the person incited, the inciter or both.”

“If the inciting is acted on in accordance with the inciter’s intention, the inciter is guilty of the indictable offence of incitement,” the act states.

Following Field’s arrest, citizen journalist Rukshan Fernando—who has been documenting the COVID-19 protests across Melbourne—took to Facebook where he said the incident highlighted that, “this is what our country has come to.”

“This is what Australia, particularly in Victoria, has come to, where we are seeing more and more people being arrested for political reasons to be shut up, to be given ridiculous bail conditions,” Fernando said in a video posted on Wednesday.

“And we continue to see this, we continue to see our country go down this path and it’s not healthy. We’ve seen it in Victoria previously with the arrest of Monica Smit.”

Smit, who runs an anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine group, was pulled over by police while driving in Melbourne’s south east on Oct. 5. Officers arrested her following an investigation into “incitement.” She also live-streamed her arrest on Facebook.

A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed to 7News that a woman had been charged following an investigation into alleged online incitement, encouraging others to breach health orders.

Epoch Times Photo
Police arrest a protester during an anti-lockdown rally at St. Kilda in Melbourne on Sept. 25, 2021. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)
Anti-Lockdown Protesters Defy COVID-19 Restrictions To Rally In Melbourne
Protesters are seen marching holding banners in Melbourne, Australia, on Aug. 21, 2021. (Getty Images)

“She held her ground, she stayed in prison and she got her bail conditions changed, and now she’s able to freely speak” Fernando said.

“You’re finding again, with this arrest of Topher Field, they’re [the police] coming after people who are being vocal, who are talking about these issues, who are raising questions that some of the media will not cover,” he said.

“The police and the government want you to believe that everyone is on side, that everyone shares the same single view, they do not want political dissent, they do not want criticism, they definitely don’t want protest,” Fernando added.

Field’s arrest comes as the Victorian government has been taking a hard line against protests over COVID-19 mandates, while lockdown restrictions continue to remain in place across metropolitan Melbourne and parts of regional Victoria.

Earlier this month, Australians took to the streets in Melbourne after the government announced a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all “authorised workers.”

Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced on Oct. 1 that everyone with a job on the state’s “authorised worker” list must have a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15, and a second dose by Nov. 26 to keep working on site, lest they risk losing their job.

The requirement covers a vast range of professions spanning 1 million to 1.25 million people in Victoria. The vaccination deadline is separate from another deadline that’s being imposed on those working in aged care, health care, construction, education, and freight.

Victorian residents marched along Southbank Boulevard in downtown Melbourne and the track around the Royal Botanic Gardens. Participants carried a large white banner with the word “Freedom” and voiced their dissent against vaccine mandates, lockdowns, and the current state government.

The state continues to urge people to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and has promised to ease restrictions once 80 percent of people are fully vaccinated.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.

This article has been updated with the latest details.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.