Stan takes legal action against Senator Dastyari's abusers

Syd Zygier as Maeve, Lily Sullivan as Petra and Tysan Towney as Danny in the 2017 Stan miniseries Romper Stomper. Photo: ben king
Syd Zygier as Maeve, Lily Sullivan as Petra and Tysan Towney as Danny in the 2017 Stan miniseries Romper Stomper. Photo: ben king

Streaming media group Stan is taking legal action against a group of men who racially abused Labor senator Sam Dastyari, after it was revealed that the far-right group took their name from Stan's upcoming drama series Romper Stomper.

The men from the group Patriot Blue surrounded the Senator while he was sitting down in a Melbourne pub to tell him to return home to his birth nation of Iran, while one man shouted "You terrorist, you little monkey", which they filmed and later posted on their Facebook page.

Stan and Roadshow Productions issued a statement condemning the men's actions and instructed law firm Gilbert and Tobin to seek legal action against the men over the infringement of the Patriot Blue trademark, and use of the Stan name on Facebook.

"Stan and Roadshow Productions would like to clarify that while our series does refer to a purely fictional group created for the series called Patriot Blue, there is no association between our organisations or the Romper Stomper production team and those involved in yesterday's incident," the joint-statement said.

"We strongly condemn the actions of this group and racial discrimination in all its forms.

"Romper Stomper is a story that reflects contemporary issues from multiple view points and focuses on the alienated and fractured members of modern society.

"The incident with Senator Dastyari highlights that this is the right time to have an important national conversation about these issues, in a respectful and constructive way."

Senator Dastyari is considering whether to report the matter to police, but firstly hopes "to properly process it all and talk to my family".

He said he would likely make a decision by the end of the week and if he did decide to lodge a formal complaint, it would be because he wanted to help protect others from similar abuse.

"I worry more about the 15-year-old girl getting the school bus home today having to get this kind of abuse than a politician that's lucky enough to have the some support structures around him," he said. "I've got a voice but a lot of people don't.

"I'd never want to be a martyr for these kinds of racists and Islamophobes, but at the time you also need to send a signal that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable."

Romper Stomper was first released as a skin-head film starring Russell Crowe in 1992, but has since evolved into a post-Donald Trump narrative for the Stan six-part miniseries.

"With the rise of Trump a lot of right-wing groups have been emboldened to walk in the daylight, and take on certain airs and details that might enable them to pass as beings of the mainstream," director Geoffrey Wright says. "In healthier times, they might have been seen as being off the radar, but not any more."

In this new era, the right has traded "swastikas for the Southern Cross", says Lachy Hulme, who plays Blake Farrand, the leader of a patriots' group who "fancies himself a true Australian" but is really no more than "a tin-pot piece of shit".

"We want people to look and go, 'That's Romper Stomper?'," Hulme says. "Because what these guys have done, what the right has done, is monetise their organisation. It's all about the media now."

- with Karl Quinn

Stan is jointly owned by Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment.

This story Stan takes legal action against Senator Dastyari's abusers first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.