Late on Friday, as the protesters who thwarted the Australian Border Force’s Operation Fortitude dispersed around the city, photos appeared on social media of City of Melbourne officers fining pedestrians for littering, and they were heard to be asking people “how long have you been in the country?”. While the City of Melbourne isn’t among the agencies promoted as part of the ABF’s failed operation with Victoria Police, Yarra Trams and Metro Trains, locals were on high alert after the Australian Border Force press release stating “ABF officers will be positioned at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with”.

We asked the City of Melbourne about the pictures and were told that it was a standard question for officers to ask people how long they had been in Australia to make sure they were aware of local laws. We also asked if the council had been made aware of Operation Fortitude, and were told that the council found out from the same press release that started all the controversy.

Peter Fray

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