Famously described by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the “biggest billboard Sydney has”, the Sydney Opera House is protected by several heritage and advertising laws.
Despite the strict laws, Cannabis activists Alec Zammit and Will Stolk have been vindicated of any wrongdoing for projecting images of Cannabis onto the Opera House back in 2022.
The duo have been fighting a two-year legal battle after the police charged them with breaching a bylaw of the Opera House that asks people not to distribute advertising on the House’s premises.
Police stormed the duo’s hotel room at the Park Hyatt on April 20, 2022 (a date known as 420) where the pair were using the room to project the words “Who are we hurting” and “420” onto the Opera House.
On Friday, the duo won their lengthy legal battle with the police withdrawing the charges. They will also recoup more than $5000 in costs.
Zammitt and Stolk have been on bail for the past 22 months for this fine-only offence. They were each facing a $1,100 fine for their unconventional advocacy, attending multiple court dates as they continued with not-guilty pleas and the ensuing proceedings. Disputing the accuracy of the charges against them, the duo amassed legal fees greater than $15,000.
Zammitt noted that the average person would not be able to afford such high legal costs.
“The cost of proving our innocence would not be afforded by the average person, whilst we do have an amazing legal system, it is not financially sound. We are seeking costs to set further precedent that police harassment and pressure tactics like this will not stand.”
“We’ve always passed the pub test and now we’ve passed in court.”
“The laws we were fined under were never applicable to begin with, no crime took place on April 20, 2022, and it is sad it has taken this long for this to become apparent.”
“The police have used this as a harassment tactic to suppress us and drain our bank accounts; however, we hope they will now be the ones footing the bill.”
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