Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has acknowledged the negative impact Daniel Andrews’s ambiguous and inconsistent COVID-19 restrictions have had on community safety in today’s Parliamentary hearing into COVID-19.
Chief Commissioner Ashton had admitted there “was a lack of clarity for a while” amongst Victoria Police over COVID-19 restrictions that had led to a number of fines being unfairly issued to Victorian individuals and businesses.
These comments echo concerns recently expressed by Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton – who stated the “inconsistent approach” when enforcing COVID-19 rules was “eroding public confidence in Victoria Police”. Whilst following the easing of restrictions on May 11, a Victoria Police spokesperson stated that “Victoria Police recognises there may be some genuine ambiguity from the community and police members alike regarding the interpretation of the new directions”.
Despite the confusion caused by these rules amongst the community and Victoria Police themselves, 5,604 fines for COVID-19 breaches amounting to over $8 million have been issued to date. Of these fines, 337 have been withdrawn or cancelled and a further 437 are being reviewed, with only 165 – or around 2 per cent of all fines – having been paid.
Daniel Andrews’s failure to provide a clear set of rules during COVID-19 has left Victoria Police second guessing themselves and the community paying the price for Labor’s ambiguous and inconsistent shutdown rules.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Police and Community Safety, David Southwick:
“What hope do ordinary Victorian have of following the rules when Victoria Police describe them as ambiguous and inconsistent?
“With so many fines being wrongly issued, Daniel Andrews needs to make sure no one is left out of pocket for simply being caught out by his confusing rules.”