Penthouse Australia publisher Damien Costas has accused the Home Affairs Department of leaking to the ABC that they had denied a visa to Canadian internet television personality Gavin McInnes for his Australian tour late Friday afternoon. McInnes was reportedly denied a visa on character grounds despite having no criminal record and having a successful media and business career.
When the story broke on the ABC website at 5.41pm AEDT Penthouse had not heard such news themselves. The decision by the Home Affairs Department was emailed to the McInnes/Penthouse legal team at 5:23pm AEDT. Costas believes the ABC was tipped off in advance as he believes they could not turn around this story in such a narrow window “The ABC would have you believe that within the space of 18 minutes a journalist learned of the decision to deny McInnes a visa, wrote, edited, fact checked, submitted for approval and published a story online. I don’t think so. As a publisher, I can assure you that is the equivalent to walking on water”.
Penthouse as their next course of action have directed their legal team to refer the Department of Home Affairs to the Australian Federal Police alleging a blatant breach of privacy and policy. Penthouse is alleging that by disclosing McInnes’ visa denial to a third party Department of Home Affairs has breached the Privacy Act, the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and section 70 of the Crimes Act.
Costas argues that if the major parties are willing to pass ‘Assistance and Access Bill’ to allow government access to all encrypted messages on a citizen’s digital device, the public needs to know that this leak is isolated incident and that the Department of Home Affairs can
assure Australians it is able to stop its own people from leaking confidential information. Costas urges the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to “get your own house in order before you start spying on the citizenry, we deserve better”.
McInnes was touring Australia with Penthouse along with British anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson and right wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos billed as the Deplorables Tour. McInnes was originally going to tour Australia solo in November this year, then it was rolled into the Deplorables Tour with Robinson added to the lineup in December, then the tour was moved to February 2019 with Yiannopoulos then added to the lineup.
Yiannopoulos was previously scheduled to tour in December with Ann Coulter with new events company Australian Events & Media, but the tour was cancelled in November. Yiannopoulos’ has since had a very public falling out with Australian Events & Media operators Ben and Dan Spiller who have released sensitive documents and personal information related to the cancelled tour.
McInnes’ visa denial followed an intense campaign by Australian leftist activists to have him banned from Australia which was triggered by the Proud Boys, the western fraternal men’s organisation he founded in 2016, after 9 members in its New York chapter were criminally charged after a physical confrontation with Antifa outside a McInnes speaking event in October. Since then McInnes has quit the Proud Boys.
An 81,000 signature petition was delivered to Parliament House by Sudanese-Australia lawyer Nyadol Nyuon and indigenous activist Marcia Langton calling on McInnes to be banned on the Thursday before the Home Affairs Department decision. It already had the support of Labor and the Greens.
Tommy Robinson who has multiple criminal convictions has not yet applied for an Australian visa, but his ability to obtain one is in doubt. The Deplorables website still bills McInnes has part of the tour with Penthouse not conceding just yet, pursuing this legal avenue with the Australian Federal Police referral.