Australian journalist Avi Yemini has secured an expedited hearing in his lawsuit against officials at the Victorian government for denying him a media pass to the Parliament of Victoria.
Avraham Shalom Yemini, the Australian Bureau Chief of Canadian media Rebel News, argued that the trial date, which was scheduled in September next year, should be brought forward since he can’t do his job as a journalist.
A directions hearing has now been scheduled for March 9 in the Victorian Supreme Court.
Yemini was ejected from a public press conference by Victoria Police on Feb. 17 after a request by a personal staff member of Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier.
He has recruited high profile media lawyers for his legal team, including Justin Quill and barrister Will Houghton QC, who recently successfully challenged Victoria Police’s ban on aerial protest telecasts.
Will Houghton QC, representing his client, said in a hearing on Wednesday that an urgent judicial review of the matter is needed, considering the upcoming state election next year.
“We can’t stress highly enough that next year will be a big year for political news leading up to an election in November,’ he said.
“Certainly, members of the public in Victoria are well served by the mainstream media, but there is always room for an alternative voice and that is not currently being heard because of the prohibition on the ability of my client to enter the [parliamentary] precinct.”
The court was told that Yemini applied for a media pass in March and had followed up a number of times. In July, he received a response telling him that his application was not approved, saying “we only move media passes to employees of accredited media organisations.”
“We are quite strict about to whom we provide media passes. We have only limited space in our press gallery, and we are obviously a building that requires stringent security protocols,” reads the email to Yemini.
Glyn Ayres, representing three parliamentary officeholders sued by Yemini, rejected by saying that it didn’t impact Yemini’s ability to report.
“He’s still entirely able to report on and comment on proceedings of parliament—he’s able to approach members of parliament if he wishes to attempt to speak to them.”
Yemini told The Epoch Times that his team is expecting the case to be heard in March as opposed to September.
When asked about the defendant solicitor’s comment, he replied: “If what Glyn was arguing had any merit, then why do any media outlets need passes? It was just another poor attempt by the state to keep Rebel News out of the Parliament press gallery.”
Judicial Registrar Martin Keith agreed that it was important that the matter be heard quickly and ordered documents to be filed by both parties before February.