Melb Tram Cops Blasted For Forcing Foreign Student To Cough Up Bank Details

Public Transport Victoria‘s head honcho has issued a very rare public lambasting of a pair of their ticket inspectors after anecdotal evidence from a commuter suggested they’d pressured a foreign student into opening her netbank app in front of them in order to access her details.

Confirming what the majority of Melburnians already know to be true – that they city’s fleet of public transport “authorised officers” parade around like they’re in Rambo and engage in overt bullying and intimidating behaviour at will – PTV chief executive Jeroen Weimar asserted he would “never defend” conduct from officials that try to forcefully access commuter’s personal information and data.
Earlier this month commuter and lawyer Rob Corr spoke to ABC Radio, detailing the incident in which ticket inspectors targeted a foreign student who clearly spoke limited English just one stop outside the Melbourne CBD’s Free Tram Zone.
Corr explained that he overheard one of the inspectors asking the student who she banked with, at which point a suspicious Corr intervened:

“I thought that was a little bit unusual, and I said to her, ‘You don’t have to tell him who you bank with,’ and he got a little bit pushy with me and said he wasn’t going to continue until I’d moved away.”

“The inspector was trying to talk to her about her bank account and he told me to move on, and said he wouldn’t continue until I left. I said that was fine, I could wait. There was a bit of a stand-off.”

“And then his colleague said that I wasn’t allowed to listen because of the Privacy Act. I’m also a lawyer as well as a teacher – the Privacy Act has no relevance to this.”

“She was really worried that she would lose her visa. She obviously thought she was dealing with the police and it was a really serious matter.”

Today, the unnamed inspectors were put on blast by PTV, with Weimer confirming that PTV had investigated the incident, and had told the AO’s involved that they were not permitted to “touch, use, or access people’s information.”

“Under no circumstances would an AO be taking somebody’s phone, holding somebody’s phone or trying to get into any of their applications or personal data.”

“I would never defend that.”
Weimer asserted that ticket inspectors were entitled to ask anyone suspected of fare evading to provide identification, but it was up to the individual commuter as to what form of ID they provide.
Weimer also asserted that complaints against AO’s had dropped some 60% ever since the controversial and legally shaky on-the-spot fines were scrapped by the Victorian Government in May of last year.
PTV did not confirm if the inspectors in this latest incident had been disciplined in any way.

Source: ABC News.
Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty.