A senior Victoria Police officer has delivered a graphic response to plans for more lockdown protests in Melbourne over the weekend.
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius on Friday slammed “selfish” protesters he advised could expect fines and charges if they breached laws restricting the spread of the coronavirus.
“As I’ve previously said, as was repeatedly said, it is at the moment unlawful to leave home to engage in protest activity,” he said.
Asked if he was “frustrated” to again be facing the media to issue this warning, the long-serving cop did not hold back.
Camera IconAssistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius says continually dealing with anti-lockdown protesters breaking the law is ‘incredibly frustrating’. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett
“To be honest I feel a dog returning to eat his own vomit,” Mr Cornelius said.
“It goes without saying, yes, it’s incredibly frustrating. And if people were less selfish and a bit more grown up, we wouldn’t have to keep doing this.”
Mr Cornelius made national headlines last month for calling protesters the “tin foil hat brigade”, describing them as “batsh*t crazy”.
His fresh warning follows small protests last week and comes as hundreds of Facebook users declare they will attend a “freedom walk” at the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Tan track this Saturday.
Organisers described the event on Facebook as a “legal walk, allowing citizens to come together, get healthy and talk about getting our freedoms back”.
Camera IconPolice contain protesters at Albert Park Lake in Melbourne last weekend. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Daniel PockettCamera IconA man is marched away by police. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett
The original page was taken down by Facebook after gaining more than 1500 potential participants.
Public gatherings and protests are unlawful both in metropolitan Melbourne, which is under stage 4 lockdown, and regional Victoria.
Mr Cornelius said he had no issue with “keyboard warriors” who were “creative” in venting their frustration about the strict regulations, as long as they didn’t promote public demonstrations.
He said he too longed for the day when curfews and lockdowns were lifted, but that needed to happen when it was safe to do so.
“Bring on the day I say, but please – please – don’t leave home to engage in an activity that can spread this deadly virus and keep us locked up longer,” he said.
Camera IconProtesters have been warned to expect fines or worse. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett
On Thursday police in Melbourne arrested a 43-year-old Middle Park man and charged him with two counts of incitement regarding planned protests on Saturday and Sunday.
Mr Cornelius said he did not want to give oxygen to the man’s activities: “I’ve got no comment … stay at home and don’t listen to this nonsense.
“If people are engaging in incitement, if people are advancing a desire to attend protests, we will do everything we can to identify them, speak to them and urge them not to break the law.”
There would be a significant police presence at the protests, and anyone found to be flagrantly breaking the law can expect to cop fines of $1652, Mr Cornelius said.