‘We were treated like terror suspects’: Human rights activist Drew Pavlou responds to AFP’s expulsion claims

A human rights activist who was sensationally kicked out of Parliament House has ridiculed the Australian Federal Police’s attempt to deny the event occurred.

Drew Pavlou was eating lunch with a friend in the public area of Parliament House when he was suddenly surrounded by several officers of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) who asked him to leave the building.

“We were being treated like we were terror suspects,” Mr Pavlou told Sky News Australia’s Andrew Bolt.

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“No one understands why I was designated high risk.

“I was literally just having my lunch with two friends in between meetings with members.”

While acknowledging his record of protesting the actions of the Chinese government, Mr Pavlou said this did not justify designating him as high risk.

I think it’s just absolutely terrible, terrible for our democracy if someone can be flagged as high risk… simply because they have previously attended a protest,” he said.

“There are people that go into Parliament all the time to meet with MPs, they might be environmental activists, they might be union activists, they might be activists for all sorts of issues.”

“I don’t understand… why the red line suddenly appears when it comes to protests against the Chinese government.”

In a statement to Sky News the AFP denied Mr Pavlou had been banned from Parliament House.

However, in footage of the incident recorded by Mr Pavlou, the AFP officers can clearly be heard saying if he did not leave they could remove his “tacit consent to be here”, and if he continued to remain he would be charged with trespass.

Mr Pavlou’s response to the AFP’s apparent backtracking was to compare the situation to Schrödinger’s cat.

“I commend them Australian Federal Police on somehow managing to bend the laws of physics… I was banned but at the same time not banned,” he said.

“There must be must be amazing physicists inside Australian Federal Police HQ to somehow discover these new laws of nature.”

Mr Pavlou had been invited to Parliament House to meet with Labor MP Peter Khalil and Liberal Senator James Paterson – the current and former chairs of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Asked for his response to Mr Pavlou’s expulsion, Senator Paterson said that the AFP have an important job protecting Parliament House, but they had made the wrong decision.

“I find it very difficult to understand how he was a high risk yesterday but is permitted to return to the building today. He can’t be both of those things,” Senator Paterson said.

Mr Paterson also said he had spoken to AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw and they would be carefully examining this issue and reflecting on whether they had made the right call.

Mr Pavlou returned to Parliament House today and was permitted entry without incident.

“Yesterday I was expelled from parliament. And yet today I’m allowed to walk freely inside the parliament as any member of the public should be able to do,” Mr Pavlou said.

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