Department of Home Affairs tells far-right provocateur it may reject his application on the grounds of ‘the character test’

The far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos has been warned he could be denied an Australian visa due to an unpaid $50,000 bill he owes Victoriapolice for policing his events, and his own comments that he is a “troll” who “gets off … when people are yelling in the streets”.

Despite claims, including from the One Nation senator Pauline Hanson, that Yiannopoulos had been banned entirely by Australia – the letter, published by the Australian, only says the Department of Home Affairs is considering denying his visa.

Yiannopoulos most recently toured Australia in 2017, and was even hosted in Parliament House as he conducted a series of speaking engagements around the country. And just last week he appeared via video link on the ABC’s Q&A program asking a question.

But the department wrote on Tuesday it was considering rejecting his latest application on the grounds of “the character test” – and has given Yiannopoulos 28 days to respond.

Under the Migration Act, the immigration department has the power to deny visas if it perceives there is a risk the person will commit crimes, harass people, vilify a segment of the Australian community or incite discord in the Australian community.

In their letter to Yiannopoulos, the department said protests at his 2017 Melbourne event “involved violence” and injured five police officers.

“Victoria Police issued Mr Yiannopoulos with a bill of $50,000 for the cost of policing his event in Melbourne,” it said. “Mr Yiannopoulos was reported in July 2018 to have not paid the Victoria Police bill.

“Mr Yiannopoulos was reported as saying ‘I love it when protestors turn up to my shows … when people are yelling in the streets, it gets me off’. Mr Yiannopoulos states he is ‘a troll’ and that ‘one of the purposes of trolling is to generate as much noise and public outcry as possible’.”

The Australian government has previously denied visas under the same character grounds to Chelsea Manning, the former US intelligence analyst turned whistleblower, and British conspiracy theorist David Icke, who believes the world is run by giant shape-shifting lizards and has said Jewish people funded Adolf Hitler.

In the appendix to its letter, the department attached a long list of articles about Yiannopoulos, with titles like: “PayPal suspends Milo Yiannopoulos over Nazi-based trolling of Jewish journalist”, “Milo Yiannopoulos resigns from Brietbart over child sex comments” and “In his latest bid for attention, Milo Yiannopoulos says ‘Islam is AIDS’”.

The department said in a statement: “Any application lodged with the department by visitors who may hold controversial views will be considered, balancing any risk they may pose with Australia’s well-established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs.

“Where the department is considering refusal of a visa, applicants may be issued with a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal, giving them 28 days to respond. If the applicant chooses to respond, the department will assess this information before finalising a decision.”

In December, documents published by Yiannopoulos’s former tour promoters said he was more than $2m in debt.

Last year, he promoted a proposed December 2018 tour with conservative commentator Ann Coulter, known as “Milo and Ann LIVE”. The tour went so far as to sell tickets to Australians, but was then cancelled at the last minute – with no refunds.

According to leaked text messages sent before his tour was cancelled, Yiannopoulos said he was “less financially secure, more panicked and stressed, and more miserable than when we started”.

“I am really seriously considering a move to Australia in the next year or two,” he wrote. “The political environment in the US is insane. So pulling this off well really matters to me.”

Last year Yiannopoulos was banned from PayPal after he sent a Jewish journalist the exact sum of $14.88, a number used by white supremacists as a code for anti-semitic messages.

The number 14 is associated with a slogan known as “The 14 words” (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) and 88 refers to “Heil Hitler”, because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

According to the letter, Yiannopoulos made the visa application in Feburary this year.

On Wednesday, he responded to the letter on his Facebook page, saying “I can’t improve on Pauline Hanson’s assessment [that] ‘Milo and Tommy [Robinson] have not called for violence. They have been the victims of violence.’”

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