Canadian right-wing commentator Lauren Southern has been granted a visa for her Australian tour and a visa waiver to enter New Zealand.
Both Southern and fellow Canadian Stefan Molyneux who she is jointly touring Australia and New Zealand with had applied for an Australian Temporary Activity Visa (subclass 408). This visa category covers those working in the entertainment industry and those who are here at the invitation of an Australian organisation.
The tour organizer Axiomatic Events and their spokesperson Luke Izaac stated that the pair had appplied for these visas 10 weeks ago and normally only take 10 days to process. Based on legal advice Axiomatic received Southern applied for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa which would allow her to come to Australia provided she did no paid work while her 408 visa application was still pending.
Yesterday Southern was informed her ETA application had been denied and suggested she apply for a tourist visa instead. The fact that this separate ETA visa had been applied for led some to assume that Southern had applied for the wrong visa.
— Ross Cameron (@RossCameron4) July 8, 2018
The news of the denial of the ETA and the delay in the approval of her 408 visa sparked concern that Southern would be denied entry to Australia because of her views on immigration and Islam. Southern had been denied entry to the United Kingdom earlier this year for planning to distribute ‘Allah is gay’ and ‘Allah is trans’ flyers in the English town of Luton.
As a result, many of her Australian supporters contacted the Office of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and other members of parliament to express their view that the principle of free speech should permit her to come to Australia. Both Southern and Molyneux it was confirmed by Axiomatic Events today had their 408 visa applications approved.
There is no evidence however that Australian immigration authorities planned to deny Southern entry based on her views or were influenced by any lobbying from her fans or opponents. Neverthless Stefan Molyneux recorded a thankyou message for the Australian Government and the people for allowing his and Southern’s tour to proceed and free speech being upheld.
Over in New Zealand, the planned Auckland venue cancelled Southern & Molyneux’s event largely thanks to the Labour Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff declaring that any council venue would not be permitted to host the pair. Goff’s decision has already led to the creation of the Free Speech Coalition NZ which has already raised $50,000 NZD for a legal fighting fund to challenge this decision and to ensure that such government censorship cannot occur again.
As for Southern being granted entry into New Zealand she had initially been denied an automatic entry visa due to her UK ban. However, she was later advised by New Zealand Immigration Border Operations that her UK ban would not affect her plans to travel to New Zealand as she is eligible as a Canadain citizen to enter under the visa waiver program. The search continues for an Auckland venue now.
After a tumultuous few days, it would appear that Southern and Molyneux’s Australia and New Zealand tour is back on track. The main concern now is ensuring the safety of the pair and attendees given the planned counter-protests by far-left organisations at whichever venues they end up speaking at.