Labor faces crunch time on COVID fines

THE State Labor Government will have a chance to prove they have some integrity by agreeing to refund or revoke COVID-19 fines with the tabling of an e-petition by Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto next week.

Mr Dametto, who started the parliamentary e-petition following public outrage that no mass gathering fines were issued by police at protests in June, called on the House to revoke or refund fines handed to Queenslanders who already breached COVID-19 rules “as a matter of principle”.

“Many Queenslanders were rightly infuriated by the actions of thousands of protesters gathering in early June, which had the potential to put in jeopardy the hard work done to combat COVID-19 by flattening the curve of infection rates,” he said.

“No matter the cause of the protests, people who have previously received fines for relatively minor breaches of the COVID-19 rules have every right to feel short-changed. That’s why I started this petition.

“If thousands of protestors can get off scot-free for not following the rules and making a mockery of the restrictions in place, then anybody who has been issued a fine should not have to pay it or be refunded if they have already.

“Even after these rallies, the government decided to go after the low hanging fruit and fine outback pubs thousands of dollars for minor breaches of the COVID restrictions. This will send those pubs broke and all because it was easier to do than break up protests. It makes my blood boil.”

Mr Dametto said his office had been inundated with dozens of phone calls from residents in the aftermath of the protests who were furious at the “selfishness on display”.

“We do not want to end up in a situation like Victoria who are dealing with a massive spike in new cases at the moment. Anybody considering joining a future protest or mass gathering needs to realise that we are far from free of this virus yet and it is imperative we all continue to take the necessary precautions to avoid a second wave,” he said.

“But I have to ask – what is the point of handing out fines at all if they are not enforced consistently?”

Once tabled, the e-petition will be assigned to the relevant government Minister after which they have 30 days to respond.

The petition closes on Monday. To view, click here.

Nick Dametto MP