‘Hypocrisy’: Photo sparks heated debate
A lone gardener has been spotted mowing the lawns outside a Labor MP's office, despite the Premier not allowing sole gardeners to operate under COVID-19 restrictions.
But no one can pinpoint who contracted the gardener to do the work after both the local council and state government denied any involvement.
An eagle-eyed pedestrian snapped the photo of the gardener mowing the lawns outside Labor MP Chris Brayne's office in McCrae, off the Nepean Highway.
The photo taken on Sunday afternoon was then sent to Jim's Mowing founder Jim Penman.
The mowing magnate - who has been vocal about the lockdown and how the harsh measures preventing cleaners and gardeners from working had devastated the industry - said the image appeared to highlight a "political hypocrisy".
Council gardeners are allowed to work under the restrictions, however Mornington Peninsula Shire Council confirmed to NCA NewsWire the gardener pictured was not one of its service providers.
A government spokesperson said the Labor MP also did not contract the gardener.
"Neither the Member for Nepean nor the Department of Parliamentary Services is responsible for maintenance outside the electorate office, and neither has contracted any work," they said.
Regardless, Mr Penman said the fact council workers could mow lawns but franchisees couldn't was unfair.
"Council workers are doing the same job, and in groups, yet individual franchisees are being prevented from earning a living," he said.
"This just highlights politics over health and that these things don't matter when it comes to privilege.
"It's outrageous that sole gardeners who have no contact with anyone when doing their jobs are being prevented from working."
Under the city's lockdown rules Melburnians caught breaking the chief health officer's guidelines can be hit with a $1652 fine.
People leaving their homes for work under stage-four lockdown restrictions need to show a permit if pulled over by police.
Mr Penman said if franchisees were fined he would pay it - and challenge it legally with the state government.
State Liberal MP for Eastern Victoria Region Edward O'Donohue said: "The fact that it is even controversial for an independent lawnmower to be cutting the grass in front of a Labor MP's office just further demonstrates the confusion and inconsistency about the Andrews Government's punitive lockdown measures."
Victoria Police said it could not comment on specific breaches, and referred anyone with concerns to the hotline on 131 444 or online at police.vic.gov.au
Labor MP Chris Brayne was contacted for comment.
Originally published as 'Hypocrisy': Photo sparks heated debate