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  • Melbourne tram inspectors caught restraining fare evader
  • By Tom Minear
  • Herald Sun
  • 07/11/2013 Make a Comment (10)
  • Contributed by: MrNatural ( 18 articles in 2013 )
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THERE will be a full investigation into tram inspectors who forcefully restrained a fare-evading university student, pressing a knee to his throat as they held him under a bench, Transport Minister Terry Mulder says.

The dramatic arrest marks a change of tactics for authorised officers on Melbourne's tram network, after they were told earlier this year that they must not detain offenders.

Michael Liu, 20, said he was traumatised and struggling to sleep after he was confronted by several inspectors at the Lincoln Square tram stop on Swanston St last week.

He admitted he was fare-evading as he travelled just two stops to Melbourne University, but he said he was shocked by what happened next.

"They grabbed my arm and that really scared me. Maybe they thought I was going to run, and I said to calm down," he said.

Mr Mulder admitted that the confrontation "was not a good look", but also defended the ticket inspectors.

"I still point to the fact that if you're stopped by an authorised officer on public transport and you're asked to provide your myki then you just need to comply to that and nothing will escalate," he told 3AW radio today.

Mr Liu said he was not carrying a driver's licence, but Yarra Trams spokesman Adam Woolcock claimed Mr Liu had refused to provide his name and address.

"He then attempted to leave the scene before the report could be completed. He continued to walk away and an officer then took hold of him and reminded (him) that he was under arrest," Mr Woolcock alleged.

Mr Woolcock said officers called the police when the student allegedly started "pushing officers violently with his hands".

Mr Liu was restrained on the ground under a bench as witnesses including Nathan Tonkin ran to the commotion.

"They told me to back away but I thought it needed to be filmed," Mr Tonkin said.

"One of the guys had his knee pressed against his neck, another one of them had his arm wedged up against the seat, like they were trying to snap his arm."

Mr Liu screamed that he couldn't breathe and he said his left wrist was severely bruised, making it difficult for him to prepare for his university exams.

*** Following in brown was added on 8 Nov 2013 as story updated ***

Public liability lawyer Dimi Ioannou said Mr Liu could have a right to sue the inspectors over his treatment.

"Inspectors must know the difference between restraint and excessive force and appreciate that they don't have the same powers as Victoria Police," Ms Ioannou said.

Her firm Maurice Blackburn represented Tim Vivoda in a case earlier this year where he was awarded almost $130,000 after he was punched in the head by a police officer at a station.

Ms Ioannou said Mr Liu could have a similar claim if he could "prove that the actions of the ticket inspectors were an intentional act designed to cause injury".

"This disturbing video footage confirms there needs to be further training implemented for ticket inspectors in order to handle fare evaders in a way that does not leave them injured," she said.

"The State Government has in the past been criticised for not taking an active role in overseeing the system and public transport operators are criticised for failing to report incidents. It's time for action on this now."

Herald Sun readers are divided over the incident.

Jamie said: "Those inspectors need to face disciplinary actions. They went way too far!"

Vilo agreed, saying: "I think you need to reread the article people - knee to throat for $2.20.

Let's be realistic in a modern day western world. Knee to throat for $2.20? What next we going to start throwing fruit again at the stocks??? Evolve already."

But Brian was on the side of the tram officers, saying: "Oh, boo hoo. Just pay your fare."

Chris agreed: "If he had paid the fare he wouldn't be in this position, only got himself to blame. No sympathy for people who break the law then play the victim."

In March, authorised officers received a memo saying that "an arrest must be an absolute last resort".

"Authorised officers must not block the path of, or attempt to physically detain a person who attempts to walk/run away," the memo said.

"(They) must not surround or corral any person being spoken to regarding an offence."

Mr Woolcock said that memo was in response to "a spate of serious injuries sustained while they carried out their duties".

He said the policy was regularly reviewed and officers were reminded in July that they had a legal right to make an arrest if required.

Fare evasion costs about $60 million each year and Mr Woolcock said Yarra Trams was committed to catching offenders.

One authorised officer was taken to Epworth Hospital for treatment after he injured his hand.

Mr Liu could be charged by the Transport Department after they receive a brief of evidence on the incident from Yarra Trams.


    10. By:Simon from Vic, Austrlia on November 13, 2013 @ 7:32 am
    Disgraceful and appalling whatever way you carve it up.
    Just because this stuff happens elsewhere around the would doesn't imply that Australians will accept this abuse here, by anyone.
    By:Magic Mike from Sth Aust, Australia on November 10, 2013 @ 5:38 pm
    Two wrongs don't make a right. A reminder for all those in positions of service.
    By:Rambo from NSW, Australia on November 10, 2013 @ 9:29 am
    trapped under a seat with glass behind, a knee on your throat making it difficult to breathe and all for not giving your name and address cos you didn't pay $2.20 for having to travel 2 stops on a tram! You've got to be kidding! What's wrong with these robot inspectors and government?

    And all after a Yarra Trams internal memo in March 2013 had instructed inspectors that they amongst other things, "Must not block the path of, or attempt to physically detain a person who attempts to walk/run away".

    Although a Yarra Trams policy review was made in July in relation to arrests which would shed even greater light on this incident and conduct, this review has not surfaced yet. We look forward to it doing so sooner than later.

    As for the tone of the minister of transport's comment "I still point to the fact that if you're stopped by an authorised officer on public transport and you're asked to provide your myki then you just need to comply to that and nothing will escalate", this is also a joke and breaching human rights and civil liberties.

    What is this 'do as your told' tyrannical brainwashing tone from the ministers mouth defending the ticket inspectors and some huge state corporate deal with no doubt a few bucks in his back pocket like other ministers throughout these sell off public assets and corporate deals. Very slippery Mr Mulder. Whilst some may want a return of Nazi Germany and the Russian cold war, the rest of us strive to maintain a free country and fair go!

    Why didn't onlookers pull these gorillas off? People have gotta wake up and get more involved in the safety and welfare of others like this cameraman did, regardless of the consequences!
    By:BigJoe from VIc, Australia on November 8, 2013 @ 10:29 am
    The golden rule is to ascertain whether people, police, courts or trumped up wanna be authority figures like Yarra Trams Inspectors and Metro Train Inspectors, are there to HELP you or HINDER and HARM you.

    If it's to HELP you, well of course you talk to them.

    If it's the latter you don't need to tell or give them anything. Just ignore them as they weren't there. Not always easy but with practice you will get better at it.

    These public servants are servants to the public, not the other way round.

    As MrNatural said in his lengthy but accurate appraisal of this disgusting abuse, they (authorities) have no power over you unless you CONSENT to them having power over you.

    Power up men, there just may come a time when you will have to face this abuse head on so be ready.
    By:Dale Thompson from Victoria, Australia on November 8, 2013 @ 7:32 am
    That MYKI system is a joke. It robbed me of so much money i don't pay anymore either.
    By:Bruce Soding from QLD, Aust on November 7, 2013 @ 7:10 pm
    I say sue the bastards!!!!
    By:Cheryl Keller from Victoria, Australia on November 7, 2013 @ 6:44 pm
    I certainly won't be paying either from now on after seeing what they did to poor Michael Liu. Let them try that little stunt with me & see what happens. At the very least Yarra Trams owe Michael and all Australians an apology for their abhorrent behaviour.
    By:BillyB from Vic, Oz on November 7, 2013 @ 3:43 pm
    Didn;t sound like the minister was to concerned for the welfare of the student Liu just not a good look, simply amazing and heartless.
    By:bazza from vic, aussie on November 7, 2013 @ 1:22 pm
    public transport should be free anyway. we already pay enuf in taxes. maybe if all the money wasn't squandered or funneled into the pockets of the mega rich scams we could have a free & fair public transport system
    By:MrNatural from Vic, Australia on November 7, 2013 @ 11:34 am
    The Minister for Public Transport Mr Mulder, Yarra Trams' Communications Officer Adam Woolcock and the Yarra Tram's thugs on the Victorian Public Transport System had better wake up to themselves otherwise they will have plenty to deal with from the citizens of Australia who won't tolerate this type of Nazi Germany type attack on decent citizens and students, no matter what petty excuse the Mr Mulder, Mr Woolcock and the PTO want to trump up to justify their torture and bullying tactics.

    Let's get something straight here and now for all those public officials who think they are in authority over the people.

    Firstly, you are NOT!

    You have absolutely NO power or jurisdiction over anyone save yourself. Exerting force over another is off limits and will be dealt with harshly by way of far bigger forces than can be imagined.

    Secondly, if someone does not want to give their name they don't have to consent to anything. You have no authority over another sovereign and supreme being. Period!

    It doesn't matter in the slightest if you are referred to as "Authorised Officers". This means 'diddly squat'! Are you getting the picture?

    If that person is found trespassing on another's 'property' (ie. train, tram etc) the worst that that should happen is they are requested to leave the so called 'premises'. (ie. hop off the train or tram at the next available stop). In other words have the owner of the train/tram revoke their consent to that user at that time. If the user refuses to do this, or they get violent and so forth, well this becomes a separate matter.

    A big well done Mr Tonkin for filming this disgusting abuse by our Public Transport officials. Everyone needs to get as much on film to show this filth up for who they are.

    As for the Herald Sun saying its readers are divided over the incident, you've got to be joking. Media such as this loses credibility everyday with rubbish statements like that.

    Well done Jamie and Vilo for their outstanding comments, clearly Brian and Chris are immature in their thinking, no doubt from all the abusive fear mongering propaganda that is shoved down people's throats everyday on mainstream media. Hopefully Brian and Chris will awake sooner than later.

    I wonder which part of the memo the Yarra Tram monkey brigade could not understand? How bout we send them back to school starting with 2+2=4 and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - KJB Mark 12:31

    Ahh, maybe the truth and root of the problem is that these Yarra Tram's people don't love themselves.

    "One authorised officer was taken to Epworth Hospital for treatment after he injured his hand." What about Michael Liu, did he get to go to hospital too for a checkup?

    Mr Liu could be charged by the Transport Department, Huh,,, what a joke! What needs to happen is the foreign owners of Yarra Trams need to not only be fined but have their contract with the state of Victoria rescinded, yes, made Null and Void, with the Transport System Ownership being placed back into the hands of the Victorian and Australian people. Capiche!

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