By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A Pakenham anti-lockdown campaigner has been remanded in custody after refusing to sign “onerous” bail conditions.
Monica Marie Smit, 33, was charged with two counts of incitement and three counts of breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions after being arrested in Brighton on 31 August.
The following day, Ms Smit refused to consent to bail conditions granted at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, such as shutting down her group Reignite Democracy Australia’s website and social media accounts.
She was also required to no longer incite opposition to the CHO directions.
Ms Smit was charged with inciting people to disobey stay-at-home directions in Melbourne and “other places” on 11 August and between 18-21 August.
According to a police summary tendered at court, Ms Smit was an “extreme unacceptable risk” to Victorians and Australians by attempting to encourage “mass unlawful gatherings” of thousands of people in close proximity.
Ms Smit allegedly incited supporters on encrypted-message app Telegram to attend an anti-lockdown night protest at Flinders Street station on 11 August and a nationwide rally on 21 August.
She had a following of 63,000 email subscribers and 21,000 Telegram followers, as well as thousands on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, police stated.
The summary described Ms Smit as “dogmatic in her beliefs and believes she is doing nothing wrong legally or morally”.
She was “unlikely to abide by bail conditions”, had continued to defy CHO directions and been “labelling herself as a journalist to avoid police action”.
Ms Smit was unemployed outside of her “business” RDA, which relies on selling ‘Freedom Fighter’ merchandise, donations and membership.
The “super spreader events” put Victorians and Australians at risk, police stated.
“To date worldwide there have been approximately 121 million Covid-19 cases, with 4.46 million deaths. The amount of people left seriously unwell is also of concern.”
The 11 August protest of about 90 people was in response to the State Government that morning announcing an extension to lockdown due to 20 new Covid cases, police stated.
More than 400 police attended at “substantial cost”, arresting 73 people. Police stated 69 were to be charged or issued fines.
After the protest, the RDA Telegram group posted there were “thousands of police running around the city like lost puppies. Maybe that’s a win.”
Ms Smit was arrested by Springvale Divisional Response Unit members while live-streaming video from a car in Brighton about 1.10pm on 31 August.
Police stated they seized two phones, anti-lockdown placards and documents, a ‘Reignite Democracy’ jumper and pamphlets from the car.
Her Pakenham home was raided, with computers, hard-drive, NBN modem and a router seized.
After the hearing, RDA posted that her solicitor described the bail conditions as “some of the most onerous conditions he had ever seen and some may have even been unconstitutional in their effect”.
“Be assured that the RDA team are committed to keeping the website going, as it’s more important now than ever.”
Ms Smit was remanded in custody to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 10 November.