Andrew Bogut Threatened by Victorian Electoral Body for Opposing Daniel Andrews’ C0VID Law – But Basketball Great Says He Won’t Be Silenced
By Brett Lackey
Former NBA basketball star Andrew Bogut is fuming after receiving a letter from the Victoria Electoral Commission warning him not to advocate select politicians be voted out of office.
Bogut, who is not connected to any political party, on Monday shared the letter he received about a post he made to Instagram in October that was critical of the Andrews Government.
He said he was ‘deeply concerned’ that the VEC – who threatened to prosecute him if he ignored the formal warning – could target citizens for speaking out against the government.
VEC spokesperson Ruth Murphy said fines of up to $26,640 apply under a little-known and rarely-observed law which prevented citizens from commenting on electoral matters without authorisation.
The athlete said he sought legal advice over the letter which his lawyer said was ‘laughable’.
Former NBA and Australian Boomers basketball star Andrew Bogut (pictured) has been critical of the Andrews Government in recent years
The athlete posted a screenshot of the letter he received from the VEC
‘I’m not a political party. I’m not promoting any political party. I make that clear, I don’t trust political parties,’ he told the Herald Sun.
‘My whole play is to vote them out at all costs, and I really don’t care who gets in.’
Bogut has been critical of the Andrews Government’s handling of Covid and restrictions which saw Melbourne become the most locked down city in the world in 2021.
His post in October referenced the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment being voted on in Victoria’s parliament – which was subsequently made law.
A screenshot of the post Bogut shared critical of the Andrews government in October
He said no government should be given ‘permanent pandemic powers’ and said if independent crossbenchers Fiona Patten, Samantha Ratnam and Andy Meddick gave their support they should be voted out.
The post also directed viewers to a ‘vote them out’ website address which has since been taken down.
‘[My laywer] said this letter is a scare tactic. You’re essentially on a list, they want you to know they’re watching you and they’re going to mess with you if you do anything else. That’s the advice I got,’ Bogut said.
He added a number of other people had shared the post but only he had been given the warning letter.
Liberty Victoria president Michael Stanton said the letter was ‘heavy-handed’ and the athlete should not be targeted because of his profile.
Mr Stanton also said the Electoral Act needed to be update to take into account new methods of political debate including published posts on social media.
Bogut made millions playing in the NBA for Milwaukee and Golden State (pictured in 2020 playing for the Sydney Kings)
On Thursday, Victorian Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately issued a statement addressing the warning letter and saying he ‘strongly refuted’ the VEC was attempting to silence Bogut.
‘The purpose of authorisation is to ensure that the public knows and understands who is providing that commentary,’ Mr Gately said.
‘Mr Bogut has not been targeted or treated any differently to anyone else. If we receive a complaint we respond,’ he said.
‘It’s quite simple really, all he needs to do is to add his name and an address, which can be a business address.’