August 7th, 2016
Victoria’s Joint Counter-Terrorism Team has laid charges after raids on three properties linked to a man affiliated with anti-immigration group Reclaim Australia.
Phillip Galea, 31, was arrested at a property in Ballarat Road, Braybrook, on Saturday afternoon.
He was charged with intentionally collecting and making documents connected with preparing for a terrorist act, and between September 20 and August 6, 2015, committing acts in preparation for a terrorist act.
“I will be fighting these charges and they are part of a conspiracy against the patriot movement,” Mr Galea told Melbourne Magistrates Court during a brief appearance on Sunday.
Unrepresented in court, he appeared with unkempt long hair and a full beard, and was wearing a navy polo top.
He was refused bail and will next appear in court on Tuesday.
Phillip Galea is led from a house by police during a terror raid in Braybrook. Photo: Craig Sillitoe
Properties in Bacchus Marsh and Tatura, near Shepparton, were also searched on Saturday. Police said a search of the Braybrook property would continue on Sunday.
They have confirmed the charged man had “affiliations to different organisations”.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday there was no imminent threat to the safety of Victorians in the wake of the raids.
“We take the threat of terrorism very seriously … and I will be very careful not to run too much of a commentary on this particular case, but there’s no imminent threat,” he said.
A police officer outside the house raided in Braybrook. Photo: Craig Sillitoe
“The allegations laid against him do not relate to an imminent threat. However, at no point would we ever take for granted that you’ve got to be vigilant.
“There is no change to the threat level as it is, and there’s no impact on the challenges and threats that Victoria faces.”
Police outside a house on in Braybrook. Photo: Craig Sillitoe
The Shepparton News reports that up to seven unmarked police cars arrived at the property in Tatura just before 3pm on Saturday.
Neighbours of the Pyke Street residence said that a middle-aged man was helping police with investigations.
They said the man was strange, kept to himself and was rarely seen in public.
At 7pm on Saturday night, police were still at the house investigating.
Victoria police counter-terrorism command Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther said on Saturday that earlier this year police had received information that suggested there were people or an individual looking at either advocating harm or producing documents that might lead to the harm of people in Victoria.
“I’m very pleased to say I think we’ve interrupted something that could have been quite serious in terms of harm to our community,” he said.
Mr Guenther said he was not in a position to confirm the location of the terror threat. “I’m satisfied that the threat more broadly would be in Victoria,” he said.
“I can say that the threat was specific enough to cause us alarm in terms of what the risk represented to the community. So whether or not that would be something that put one person at risk or several people at risk, I can’t say at this point in time.”
A worker in the Braybrook area, who wished to remain anonymous, said a large police truck had arrived and there were officers wearing combat gear.
He said there was a lot of traffic around Ballarat Road as curious passers-by were stopping to see what was happening.
Another witness described the scene as chaotic, with officers “everywhere” and what he thought looked like a police SWAT team.
The Australian Federal Police confirmed one person was in custody.
Mr Guenther would not comment on what police had seized, after four Victorian properties were searched on Saturday.
“I’m sure that will be coming out over the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.
He said the Braybrook man in police custody was a “person of primary concern” and over the next 24 hours there may be more people implicated and more properties searched.
When asked whether the man was affiliated with Reclaim Australia, he said: “I’m not in a position to confirm that, but I can say that the person in custody has a number of different affiliations to organisations.”
– Deborah Gough, Emily Woods, Chris Vedelago and Hayden Thomson