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‘That looks like a copycat to me’: The trend that is infiltrating our political discourse

A security consultant and former political adviser for Labor heavyweights fears an alarming increase in physical violence against our elected leaders is the result of a copycat mentality.

And he’s worried it could become worse.

Allan Behm, who worked with Senator Penny Wong, told 3AW Mornings politicians had long maintained a community presence in order to ensure accessibility, yet “the threat and embarrassment is not a price our politicians should have to pay”.

“When we watch footage from around the world, particularly the United States, people assume that is how you do it,” he said.

“That’s not how you do it.

“But it has become normalised.”

Mr Behm fears an American influence is risking the “balance between accessibility and protection, that Australia has worked hard to maintain”.

Following the most recent egg attack on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 3AW Mornings fill-in host Tony Jones questioned if politicians may now revert away from public appearances.

Jane Garrett was attacked on the street in Carlton in 2016.

Since then, Sam Dastyari and Labor MP Tim Watts have both been physically harassed at a pub by political extremists.

Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt was attacked on the street and glitter-bombed.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was hit in the face with a pie.

Fraser Anning was egged, and now our Prime Minister.

“There would be strong resistance [from politicians] to being hermetically sealed from the public,” says Mr Behm.

Mr Behm rejected claims there was a lapse in security in Albury, asserting the speed in which they responded was “indicative of a high level of vigilance.”

“It would have been very hard to pick that woman, she didn’t seem a violent person in her beret,” he said.

“Security are watching all the time and are seeking to maintain that balance.”

Whilst the latest egg attacker has been charged, Mr Behm fears making an example of her will have a counter-productive consequence.

“It should not be in the interest of anybody to single this person out or give them a semi-hero status,” he said.

“They will be more diligent with the risk of this copycatting.”

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