8 April 2020

Tim Quilty calls on Police Minister to stop the issue of 'overzealous' social-distance fines

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty is calling on Police Minister Lisa Neville to stop the issuing of any more frivolous social-distance fines.

Mr Quilty believes Victoria Police will lose public goodwill and become a laughing stock if overzealous officers continue to issue fines to people who are doing nothing wrong.

“First we had the retraction of the fine to a teenage learner driver, and now we have another retraction, a fine given to a man driving with his bike to get to a suitable riding venue,” Mr Quilty said.

“In both instances the recipients of the fine had been observing the appropriate rules and did not believe that their daring to go outside was breaking the rules.

“Both cases maintained isolation – driving lessons with a young woman and her mother, and a man alone driving to a bike trail – and I fail to understand what the police were thinking when they were handing out these fines.

“During a 24-hour frenzy starting on Sunday, Victoria Police issued more than 300 social-distancing fines. In NSW, there were just 15. Tell me – are NSW Police lazy or are Victoria Police crazy? It seems likely there are a lot more than just the two fines that need to be retracted.”

Mr Quilty has long been a critic of social isolation rules where they are applied indiscriminately and where people are demonstrably not putting others at risk.

“We can tolerate police issuing fines where people are wilfully creating situations where the virus can be transmitted. I don’t like it, but I understand the need,” Mr Quilty said.

“But if a 17-year-old and her mum are isolated in their car for a lesson, or a man is alone in his ute and driving to a place where he will enjoy exercise, alone, on his bike, that is well and truly past where I draw the line. The police are either revenue raising, drunk on power, or both.

“This shows a complete lack of leadership in Victoria Police and underlines the fact that they don’t really know what they are doing.

“I call on Police Minister Lisa Neville to change direction, take a firm grip on the reins and advise Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton that he is not only making Victoria Police a laughing stock, he also losing any remaining public goodwill.”

Mr Quilty believes that this abuse of restrictive powers is already an overreach by the Andrews Government, and that Victorians will not tolerate much more of it.

“None of us is enjoying being cooped up at home but we are doing it for the greater good. If that sacrifice is not being recognised by the police, more and more people will start wondering why they are bothering to observe the rules at all,” Mr Quilty said.

“I am not suggesting that there should be an uprising, I am pointing out that human nature will run its course.

“We have long enjoyed our hard-won freedoms, and we will only tolerate their suspension for a short period.”

For more information, contact Graham Springett | 0408 208819