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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sydney Harbour Bridge Protest

One man, a highly trained former elite soldier, shut down Sydney yesterday morning. Just after 5 am, Michael Fox 38, from Narrabeen, drove onto the bridge in a hire ute and stopped. He took a ladder out of the ute, easily scaled the security fence and quickly climbed to the top. Once there, he unfurled two protest messages “Please help my kids” and “Kids first”. He left a note in the truck “You’ve taken my kids - I’ve taken your bridge” and warned police not to send anyone after him.

So they closed the bridge to everyone - pedestrians, bikes, trains and cars - and one solitary man brought the city to a standstill. He is one of hundreds of desperate, distraught fathers who have been denied access to their children. He rang Alan Jones, Sydney’s No 1 radio personality. Jones promised Fox that if he came down, he would personally see the Minister and DOCS and anyone else who could help his cause. On hearing this promise, he quickly abseiled down into the waiting arms of police. Michael Fox had achieved his goal but 40,000 motorists and thousands of train commuters were furious and got to work 2 hours late.

Mr Fox, a veteran of Iraq, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was charged with minor offences of obstructing traffic and climbing or jumping from buildings. ''This is not the act of a desperate man; this is the act of a determined man,'' he told the court. Outside court he apologised for the disruption he had caused. When his marriage broke down, his wife was given custody of their three children and he hasn't been able to see them for 70 days. He blames police and welfare authorities for his situation. He was granted bail and thought it was "disgusting" when told he was not to contact his wife or children.

New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell immediately ordered more security for the bridge. We are so laid-back in this city, we only had one security guard on duty at one of our most famous landmarks.