Jim Penman, Jim’s Mowing founder, has vowed to defy stage four restrictions on Victoria in order to keep his company going, saying he will pay the fines of any contractors caught.
Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton said it was “disappointing to hear someone saying they’re going to deliberately flaunt the directions”.
“We’ll deal with every incident on a case-by-case basis when we become alerted to it through the police assistance line,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“We get lots of reports of breaches in terms of mass gatherings, personal breaches. But … if that was to occur, we will take the enforcement action the public would expect us.”
Later on, Mr Penman argued that he did not allow others to ignore the laws – and that the edict of Prime Minister Daniel Andrews was “against his own department ‘s advice.”
“I would totally agree with the Police Commissioner, that nobody should flout the rules,” he said.
“When we were shut down in New Zealand a couple of months back, we stopped working entirely, we told all our franchisees to stop work. We suspended all fees and we absolutely abide by the law – but the law at the moment is what’s given to us by the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Mr Penman said the DHHS website made it clear “building and grounds maintenance, cleaning and pest control” businesses could continue.
“So we are abiding by the law,” he said. “The problem is that the Premier said something which is against the advice of his own department.”
“The point I’d like to make, though, (is) there’s nothing that’s really more safe than going out and mowing lawns, for example, because you don’t have contact with the public, we have electronic payments, you’re not seeing people, you’re not with people, you’re not near people,” he said.
“Our people travel by car from one job to another. There’s no reason for them to come within 10 metres of any member of the public in what they’re doing. So there’s no lack of safety.”
“I have 1300 franchisees in the state and if they were each fined $1000 I’d be up for $1.3 million – as if I’d take that kind of risk. It’s absolutely out of the question it would happen,” he said.
Mr Penman emphasised that he was completely in favour of fining those who violated the rules of coronavirus and pledged to uphold the law, but he called on the Premier to make his point clear.