Anthony Mundine faces court over Bunnings mask breach allegations: Covid-19 restrictions

Retired boxer Anthony Mundine was back in court on Wednesday over allegations he entered a Bunnings store without a mask.

Retired boxer Anthony Mundine has appeared in court over allegations he breached public health orders by flouting mask rules at a Sydney hardware store.

“The Man” was in July fined for allegedly entering a Bunnings store in southwestern Sydney without wearing a mask and refusing to scan a QR code at the store’s entrance.

Mr Mundine claimed that he had an exemption to not wear a mask and made a purchase before leaving.

Detectives attached to Campsie Police Area Command launched an investigation after they were called to the Bunnings Kingsgrove store on July 20.

Officers then visited a home in South Hurstville where they spoke to Mr Mundine and issued him a $1000 fine for breaking Covid rules.

He was charged with not complying with a noticed direction and his matter was briefly mentioned in Bankstown Local Court on Wednesday.

Mr Mundine did not appear in court and his lawyer John Giang appeared via videolink and was granted a six-week adjournment.

No plea was entered on Mr Mundine’s behalf.

Mr Mundine was fined three times by police during July for allegedly breaching public health orders.

The high-profile and outspoken former athlete was first slapped with a $1000 fine for allegedly flying from Sydney to Ballina on July 9 during the citywide lockdown.

“Officers from Richmond Police District issued a 46-year-old man with a $1000 penalty infringement notice after inquiries revealed he travelled from metropolitan Sydney to Ballina without a reasonable excuse on Wednesday, 7 July, 2021,” NSW Police said in a statement at the time.

The same month Mr Mundine appeared at a Sydney anti-lockdown rally and was issued with a court attendance notice for allegedly breaching the public health order.

Mr Mundine has been outspoken on social media about his anti-vaccination views and has in the past posted links to so-called “freedom” rallies.

“My people don’t get conned in getting the shot,” he wrote on Facebook earlier this year.

“Do your research it’s a death wish.

“F–k the travel for now we fight that sh-t in court it’s all fear mongering.”

Originally published as Anthony Mundine faces court over Bunnings mask breach allegations

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Police Minister David Elliott reveals fines for public health order breaches in NSW Covid outbreak

The NSW Police Minister has revealed how many people copped fines for breaches of public health orders, but says officers didn’t like handing them out.

NSW residents have racked up an eye-watering number of fines under the state’s public health orders since the start of the pandemic.

Officers were given extraordinary powers to enforce Covid-19 restrictions under amendments to the NSW Public Health Act, which saw people fined for a range of alleged rule breaking from straying too far from home, through to protesting at violent anti-lockdown rallies.

Police Minister David Elliott said on Friday that to the first day of October, 51,642 people had been issued infringement notices for public health order breaches and 15,294 slapped with fines for not wearing masks.

Under the orders, 5691 court attendance notices and 2346 youth cautions were handed out and 296,897 businesses were inspected by police, Mr Elliott said.

“That says to me the tempo of the operation was at a level that I don’t think the police are going to see for quite some time,” he told a budget estimates hearing.

The NSW police force has faced criticism from those who say officers took a heavy-handed approach to Covid-19 compliance, while the often-changing restrictions caused confusion in the community.

Mr Elliott said on Friday it was the legitimate role of a sworn police officer to ensure the public health orders were enforced, even if they weren’t always comfortable with doing so.

“From a policy point of view, it’s not as if we could get nurses and doctors out enforcing these health orders,” he said.

“Did they like doing it? No, they didn’t like it. You don’t have to be an expert in policing to know that.

“Many of them were very, very conscious of the fact that the community was at a heightened state of anxiety, and the inability of people to understand the orders from one day to the next.”

Earlier this week, the NSW Bureau of Crime and Statistics released figures showing NSW Police issued an “extraordinary” 36,597 Covid-19 public health order breaches in July and August this year amid the delta-variant outbreak.

A BOCSAR study found police disproportionately issued fines in western and southwestern Sydney during this period, with 37 per cent of breaches detected in the local government areas “of concern”.

The Berejiklian government introduced more severe restrictions in 12 LGAs in a bid to curb rising infection rates in certain parts of the city.

These LGAs are home to 28 per cent of the state’s total population, but accounted for 78 per cent of new Covid-19 infections recorded in NSW in July and August.

“Interestingly, the study suggests that compliance was greater in LGAs of concern, possibly because the Covid-19 risk was higher or possibly due to more enforcement,” BOCSAR executive director Jackie Fitzgerald said on Wednesday.

Originally published as NSW Police Minister David Elliott faces questions over Covid compliance

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More than 100 people join legal fight against Victorian vaccine mandate

Authorised workers, employer groups and healthcare workers have joined a mass legal action against the Victorian government’s mandates on vaccines.

A legal challenge to Victoria’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate has been taken up by more than 100 people, some authorised workers, amid concern the order is forcing businesses to close and people to lose work.

The state’s vaccine mandate, believed to be the strictest in the world, has forced millions of authorised workers including lawyers, politicians, real estate agents, teachers and taxi drivers to take the jab or risk losing their income.

The matter has also linked in with Victorians’ access to greater freedoms out of lockdown, with now only double-vaccinated people allowed to work in and attend hospitality and retail settings.

But some have opted to fight back, with an originally small legal challenge, initiated by a teacher and her husband, now expanding to include more than 100 complainants across multiple industries.

The original action was filed by relief teacher Belinda Cetnar and her horticulturalist husband Jack Cetnar, concerned they would lose their jobs in schools if they declined to get vaccinated.

Fresh documents filed in the Supreme Court showed 112 plaintiffs have since joined their case, including 52 authorised workers, more than 20 employer groups and 17 healthcare workers.

The group is accusing chief health officer Brett Sutton and other senior health bureaucrats of breaching the state’s Human Rights Charter when they imposed the mandates.

Several nurses, a police officer, a Department of Justice bureaucrat and a surgeon have been named as plaintiffs.

One plaintiff is currently employed by vaccine manufacturing company CSL in Melbourne and worked on the production of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Such a legal challenge is the first in Victoria, with previous legal challenges to the same public health orders across Australia being largely knocked back.

Mr and Mrs Cetnar claimed in court documents earlier this month the mandatory policy was an “extreme measure” and inconsistent with human rights provisions.

In a statement of claim, Mrs Cetnar argued the directives for mandatory vaccinations were not a proportionate response to the pandemic and questioned the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine.

“They do not uphold a citizen’s rights to autonomy and informed consent in medical treatment and procedures,” she wrote.

“The blanket mandate approach does not consider the human rights of those it is imposed.”

A trial was originally set to begin on October 21, but has now been adjourned to a later date as more people join the action.

The Victorian mandate has hit dozens of industries and is believed to be affecting around 1.25 million workers across the state.

Melbourne man Munna Hill, who worked for Amazon, lost his job as a delivery driver when the mandate came in on October 15.

Mr Hill said he had chosen not to get the vaccine due to concern about the potential short-term and long-term side effects and the current lack of long-term safety data.

In the days since, he has struggled to find employment.

“I have no idea what I’m going to do, to be honest,” he said.

“I’ve been making a few phone calls to my mates, but so many industries are following the guidelines, even cash in hand jobs are really hard to find.

“I’m really struggling to pay my bills, even buying groceries every week and paying loans for property.

“I’m just draining my savings account; I think maybe in a month I won’t be able to do it anymore.”

Employment Law expert with the University of Sydney, Dr Giuseppe Carabetta, said the important difference between Victoria and the other states was Victoria had a Human Rights Charter.

“Human rights law allows for limitations on human rights where necessary to protect public health and the fundamental right to life. However, such restrictions must be necessary and proportionate to the risk and balanced against individual rights,” Dr Carabetta said.

“What the courts will ultimately have to address in determining the validity of a health order is whether any interference with individual rights is justified for the protection of the community.”

She said the courts would likely examine how coercive the mandates are, whether they allow for exemptions, how serious sanctions are and what interests are at stake.

“While mandates for high-risk sectors such as health or aged care are likely to be upheld, the question will be a more interesting and more complex one when it comes to mandates for less high-risk settings.”

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Originally published as More than 100 people join legal fight against Victorian vaccine mandate

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