How reality TV wannabe became Melbourne anti-vax leader arrested by police


It seems like Monica Smit always wanted to be famous.

In 2017, the 33-year-old from Pakenham in Melbourne’s outer southeast suburbs auditioned for Survivor after a 10-year career in sales, designing and selling houses.

She got through to the second round of casting but failed to make it onto the show.

In her audition video, which was posted to YouTube, the reality TV wannabe said she “didn’t hate being the centre of attention”.

On Tuesday this week she made headlines across the country — just not in the way she may have planned back then — when she was arrested in Brighton and later charged with two counts of incitement in relation to protests held in Melbourne on August 11 and August 21 during Victoria’s sixth lockdown.

One of the events was described by Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton as “one of the most violent” demonstrations in 20 years and resulted in nine police officers being hospitalised.

Ms Smit launched the Reignite Democracy Australia movement last year against what she called the “Victorian government’s catastrophic handling of the Covid pandemic”.

Police told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday that “Reignite Democracy Australia, and as such the accused, is one of the largest encouragers of the protests” being held in breach of lockdown restrictions.

Ms Smit was offered bail when she appeared in court on Wednesday but refused to sign a document to secure her release in protest of the strict conditions she would be placed under.

That means she remains in custody.

Her parents claimed she was a “political prisoner” in a video posted to the Reignite Democracy Australia platforms.

In another message on Friday, Ms Smit said she “would rather be in prison, with no rights, then (sic) willingly sign them away”.

WHO IS MONICA SMIT?

Ms Smit’s initial forays into coronavirus on her social media channels were positive, posting videos of how to shout a nurse a coffee and about a young boy starting his own business while locked down at home.

But by the time the deadly second wave hit the city in mid-2020, Ms Smit was championing a different view, and had become a vocal critic of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and his tough lockdown measures.

PROTEST MELBOURNE
Camera IconMoncia Smit claims to be a journalist but has spoken to large crowds at multiple anti-lockdown rallies. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia

She shot to prominence in October 2020 when she sponsored a bus that drove around Melbourne calling for Mr Andrews to be sacked.

When the vaccine arrived in Australia early this year it didn’t take long for her to voice her opposition to that either.

She has interviewed a number of medical professionals and politicians, including outspoken independent federal MP Craig Kelly, who has become somewhat of a regular on her social media.

Ms Smit describes herself as a “journalist” but her Reignite Democracy Australia group, which has also made moves to establish a political party, is, at heart, an activist movement.

Ms Smit’s Reignite Democracy Australia Facebook page was taken down by the company in August for “spreading misinformation” but the group has several back up profiles under the same name still operating.

Ms Smit is alleged to have encouraged people to attend the protests through authoring and transmitting posts on the encrypted Telegram app, prosecutor Anthony Albore told the court on Wednesday.

“I suggest wearing masks to any events this weekend. Wear them until you’re in a big group then take them off. It’s not cowardice, it’s smart,” one message sent to the chat group on August 18 said.

Police allege Ms Smit shared a photo of the Melbourne protest location for August 21 and urged followers to “come with a friend or two”.

“We’re not just protesting lockdown, we’re celebrating freedom. Let’s have a party, bring something that makes noise,” one of the posts shared ahead of it said.

She currently remains in custody with her next court appearance scheduled on November 10.



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Author: Shirley