In an interview with Rebel News' Avi Yemini, the Deens, who live in the outskirts of Melbourne, recalled how a simple supply run turned into a so-called offense, leaving the family to pay an exorbitant fine. The couple said that their family was “just living” -- and that the fine levied to them is better suited to those who have committed criminals acts and not a family just trying to “replenish their supply of vitamins.”
The Deen family went out early this month to buy supplies. On their way home, Joshua stopped to buy food so their children could eat as they drove. Suddenly, Joshua said that a “COVID cop” pulled them over to ask what they were doing outside. The couple explained that they were simply running an errand, but they were told that they would both be fined a thousand dollars.
To their surprise, the fines they received in the mail amounted to $4,957 each. Ailes shared that her heart jumped, while Joshua lamented how heartless the authorities to add these fines to the family's existing worries about the pandemic and how they can continue to put food on the table.
The police insist that the shocking fines were for breaching the regional border.
According to current laws on coronavirus restrictions in the region state, individuals can only leave the metropolitan area for a handful of reasons, which includes buying necessary goods.
But the fine was issued to the Deen family on Sept. 19, while Melbourne was in an even stricter lockdown. During this period, residents weren't allowed to leave their homes except for permitted work, caregiving, exercise, or essential shopping. Crossing the border from the metropolitan area into regional Victoria was forbidden, while an additional five-kilometer travel limit was also enforced.
Joshua noted that they were so close to the regional border that they had no choice but to travel across it. On the day they were fined by the police, he was turning left when he was pulled over on the very road that leads to his street.
Even though there was an almost $5,000 fine for crossing the border, there were no clear indications of where the border was. Ailes could do nothing but say that no one can afford a ten thousand dollar fine, especially during the pandemic where countless workers have lost their jobs and businesses have had to close.
Yemini did his best to reassure the couple, saying that others with kind hearts will help them pay for the fine through FightTheFines.com.au. He also said that the unreasonable fines go against “all logical behavior.”
“Where is the common sense? Where is the discretion of the police officers? Surely someone in the state of Victoria can see that fines like this aren’t just irrational — they’re devastating to real families,” added Yemini. (Related: MEDICAL POLICE STATE: Melbourne authorities turn to drones to enforce coronavirus restrictions.)
Madeline Smith, a lawyer from Melbourne, has offered to help the Deens with their $10,000 fine. Smith thinks that the police have been harsh with the fine. “Police have a discretion when issuing infringements and the community is entitled to expect that they exercise that discretion appropriately. $10,000 is a significant penalty for a young family…obviously well beyond their capacity to pay,” shed explained.
Joshua encouraged other citizens who have received similar fines to “stand up for yourself, stand up for your rights, and if you know you’ve done the right thing, speak up.” He concluded that doing so is the only way to survive the hard times ahead.
Residents who cross borders aren't the only ones being slapped with exorbitant fines.
Victoria has enforced harsh restrictions amid the pandemic, with the Victorian government facing “three class-action lawsuits over the lockdowns…with potentially thousands of plaintiffs seeking damages.” On Oct. 11, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told Melburnians that restrictions on Melbourne apply to them when they travel to regional Victoria.
Andrews announced that businesses in regional Victoria must take all reasonable steps to determine when customers come from. If shoppers are unable to "satisfy the shop owner, the default position will be that the Melbourne rules apply to them."
Anyone traveling to regional Victoria from metropolitan Melbourne without valid reasons must pay fines amounting up to $4,957. Additionally, shops in the regional area who don't check if customers are from the metropolitan area may face a fine of $9,913.
According to the government website, non-compliance with travel restrictions can result in a fine of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses. Those not wearing a face mask without a legitimate reason will also face a fine of $200.
The government has already sent 2,000 soldiers to patrol the streets of Victoria and to enforce these oppressive laws during the coronavirus pandemic.