By Brendan Rees
Footage has emerged of a woman who refused to wear a mask at Bunnings Fountain Gate store on Friday 24 July.
The three-and-half minute video, which went viral on social media, shows the woman being stopped by a staff member inside the store and asked whether she had a face mask.
“Well it’s clear I don’t and you are not authorised to ask me or question me about it,” she says in the video.
The woman is then directed to speak to a manager, who informs her she would need a medical certificate.
“I actually don’t need a medical certificate,” she says. “You’re discriminating against me.”
But the insistent woman snaps back: “You’re not authorised by the Australian Government to even question me about it.”
Another manager then intervenes, telling her it’s a condition of entry to wear a face mask.
“It’s an unlawful condition of entry, therefore that exposes you, personally and Bunnings to being sued for discrimination because it is in breach of the 1948 Charter of Human Rights to discriminate against men and women,” she says.
Despite the repeated requests to stop filming, the woman refuses saying “this is my evidence against you”.
When the managers asked if that is all, the woman filming says: “No, no, no, we’re going to have a wander”.
Another video posted online showed the woman berating with police in the carpark after the incident in store.
Deb Poole, chief operating officer of Bunnings said she was proud of the way her staff handled the matter, labelling the customer’s behaviour as “completely unacceptable”.
“We won’t tolerate abuse against our team members and we have security at all metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire stores as support. Our team will also alert the police should they encounter any difficulties,” she said.
At a press conference on Monday 27 July Premier Daniel Andrews took aim at those flouting strict coronavirus rules saying their behaviour was “appalling” and their views “have no basis in science or fact”.
“Seriously, one more comment about human rights – honestly. It is about human life,” Mr Andrews said.
This was echoed by Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner of regional operations Rick Nugent who slammed anti-maskers and described those not following coronavirus rules as “childish” and “completely unacceptable”.
“My message to anyone planning to break the rules is simple: no one has a human right to infect other people and place the entire Victoria community at risk,” he said.
Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre said the order to wear masks was not a breach of human rights.
“It’s a very small limit on personal freedom for a very good reason; saving lives and protecting public health,” he said.