Police are investigating the alleged assault of BayFM journalist Jim Beatson by members of the NSW Premier’s staff during an election campaign event last week.
Mr Beatson, 73, has made a formal police complaint over the incident, in which he was dragged away by security staff while trying to ask Premier Gladys Brejiklian a question during her visit to Brunswick Heads last Wednesday.
‘I was violently pushed, pulled, and dragged away and pushed into Club House behind glass doors
and then held down by the Premier’s staff on a bench away from the media event,’ Mr Beatson said in his statement to police.
‘…[It lead] to a gash on my right arm and severe bruising of my left and right arms and
the left side of my back.’
The Echo, who attended the event, witnessed two members of Ms Berejiklian’s staff block Mr Beatson’s path as he approached her with his question about the destruction of Koala habitat.
When the 73-year-old then attempted to push his way forward to speak to the Premier, the officers and a local lifeguard manhandled him away, pushing him back and dragging him into the clubhouse as Mr Beatson struggled and shouted ‘why can’t I ask the Premier a question?’.
On Monday he made a formal complaint to police, which is now being investigated by NSW Police’s Professional Standards Command, the unit responsible for investigating allegations involving police.
Mr Beatson said the practice of politicians holding photo opportunities where journalists were forbidden from asking questions was ‘an affront to democracy’.
‘I agree that my question to the Premier (see later below) is very long,’ he said.
‘But you have to put it into the context of anybody who watches the ABCs Leigh Sales would know that current affairs journalists on television usually have the luxury of being able to ask quick questions and then have follow-ups to prevent loopholes that slippery politicians try to slip through.
‘Local journalists usually don’t get that opportunity. We are typically limited to one question so you have to try to close off all of the loopholes in your question so that the so-called talent doesn’t take the opportunity to go off on endless tangents.’
On the day of the incident, a police spokesperson told AAP that officers had ‘removed the man from the location to prevent any further breach of the peace’.
This is an issue of etiquette. Journalists have a Code of Ethics so they have a standard of decorum and the meaning of the word “push” needs to be clarified.
Journalists do need to have some “push” meaning some aggression in questioning.
But at a press conference they do not physically push other people, or push other people out of the way to get to an interviewee. If the Premier wants to be protected from people physically then that is her prerogative to do so.
Since when is asking a question, breaching the peace? Why didn’t they remove the Premier’s thugs from the scene to avoid any further breach of the peace? A 73 year old man armed with a question is apparently a very dangerous thing!
“. . . . the 73-year-old then attempted to push his way forward to speak to the Premier . . . .”.
The implication here, is that Mr Beatson was presumably pushing one or more people.
Many nights on the TV news shows reporters shoving their microphones into people’s faces, and often what is not shown, they are deliberately blocking their victim on a public footpath, hoping to get a reaction for their cameraman to exploit.
Not withstanding the no doubt renowned international standing of BayFM journalist/s, it is not on for them to push anybody.
I am not a supporter of Ms Berejiklian, but I respect the right of anybody to call out some apparently self-entitled journo who seems to believe they have a God-given right to make a nuisance of themselves.
(And presumably a headline of “Premier’s Security Staff Assault Journo” makes more political mileage than “Journo Believes He Has Rights Other Members of the Public Don’t”