Self-made millionaire and the founder of Jim’s Mowing has issued a scathing attack on Daniel Andrew’s handling of the coronavirus crises, calling on the Victorian premier to resign.
In a stinging open letter, Jim Penman accused the premier of ‘thrusting the knife into the economy’ of Victoria and sending the state into ‘a deep spiral of despair’.
His letter followed a week of rising tensions over whether his franchisees were allowed to keep working under Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne.
‘You, far more than any other Australian, are personally responsible for this COVID disaster,’ he wrote.
‘You botched the hotel quarantine. You permitted thousands of demonstrators to fill the streets of Melbourne.
‘You permit people to refuse tests and leave home even when infected.
Jim Penman (pictured) posted an open letter to his Twitter account on Thursday calling for Premier Daniel Andrews to step aside
Premier Andrews (pictured on Friday) shut down the idea of gardeners working in lockdowns saying: ‘They are not permitted workers unless they were providing emergency work’
‘You are weak when you should be strong. And now, with your careless words and thoughtless actions, you have thrust another knife into the economy of our wonderful state.’
He had previously argued there was ‘nothing more safe than going out and mowing lawns’ and claimed guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services allowed this.
After a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Andrews shut down the idea saying: ‘They are not permitted workers unless, of course, they were providing emergency work.’
‘For instance, if a tree fell, then they might be able to go and do that work. But I’m afraid lawns are not getting mowed, people are not getting haircuts,’ the premier said.
This prompted Mr Penman to appear on a television interview saying the premier was ‘ruling like a tyrant’ but nevertheless wrote to his employees saying they should down tools.
In the scathing letter, the tycoon challenged the premier ‘or anyone else’ to find an example of where a worker in this type of situation had contracted or passed on the virus.
The mowing tycoon is one of many business leaders who have criticised Dan Andrews’ Stage 4 lockdown (pictured, police patrolling Melbourne on Saturday)
Mr Penman (pictured) previously argued there was ‘nothing more safe than going out and mowing lawns’ and claimed guidelines from health officials allowed this
He accused Mr Andrews of ‘casually’ shutting down the entire cleaning and gardening industries, saying he was stopping ‘mum and dad businesses’ from earning income.
‘I have no doubt you made a genuine mistake in not knowing your government’s regulations, but instead of having the guts and integrity to admit it, you chose to throw tens of thousands of decent, hardworking people out of work,’ he wrote.
‘You permitted thousands of demonstrators to fill the streets of Melbourne. You permit people to refuse tests and leave home even when infected.
‘Mr Premier, show some compassion for the people you have so needlessly hurt.’
He called for the premier to make a ‘simple change’ to improve the Victorian economy by allowing people to work alone on a site.
Melburnians were put under strict Stage 4 lockdowns on Thursday leaving the city mostly deserted (pictured on Friday)
Police are seen checking permits in front of Flinders Street Station Saturday (pictured) as Dan Andrews faced further criticism over the draconian lockdown
‘If you cannot allow such a simple change to breathe life into our failing economy and provide people with the ability to get back to work and put food on their tables, then step aside, and let someone else take over,’ he said.
‘More than ever, our state of Victoria needs strong leadership. We need someone with the ability and resolve to manage the crisis while also maintaining a sensible and thoughtful path forward.’
He said Mr Andrew’s actions had sown confusion with many of his franchisee telling him they had spent hours on the phone with government representatives trying to get clear direction.
‘Does this add to our health and safety? Does it support the small business sector which is the heartbeat of our economy? Does it unite the population behind clear guidelines? It does not.’
The usually packed streets of Melbourne were sparse on Thursday (pictured) following implementation of Stage 4 restrictions
Melbourne was plunged into Stage 4 lockdown on August 2, with another 466 cases on Saturday and 12 deaths (pictured, police patrolling the city on Saturday)
‘What makes it worse is the total inconsistency, that council workers in groups can do the same jobs, that solo business operators cannot.’
He went on to say he ‘applauds’ the leadership of the other premiers, chief ministers, and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern but could not bring himself to applaud Mr Andrews.
Melbourne was plunged into Stage 4 lockdown on August 2, with another 466 cases on Saturday and 12 deaths.
On Wednesday night, the rest of Victoria entered Stage 3 lockdown, with people only allowed to leave for essential reasons, such as grocery shopping or medical appointments.
Melburnians are now required to carry permits to go to work, and need to carry a piece of paper signed by their employer when outside of their homes.
From midnight on Wednesday, a string of non-essential businesses were forced to close with the retail sector being the hardest hit.
WHAT MELBOURNE’S STAGE FOUR LOCKDOWN MEANS FOR YOU
State of disaster: Increased police powers to enforce the lockdown. Cautions will no longer be issued, only $1,652 fines or court summons
Curfew: No one allowed outside 8pm to 5am except for work, medical, caregiving – no shopping or exercising
Distance limit: Shopping and exercise can only be done 5km from home
Exercise: All recreational activity is banned and you can only exercise, with one other person, for one hour a day
Partners: You can visit a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t live with you, even if they live more than 5km away
Shopping: Only one person can go shopping per household per day
Cafes and restaurants stay open for takeaway, as do supermarkets, etc
Schools: All students learning from home from Wednesday unless they are vulnerable or parents are essential workers. Kindy and childcare close on Thursday (same exceptions apply)
Funerals: No change to funeral limits, but only 10 mourners can leave Melbourne to regional Victoria for one
Weddings: Completely banned
Public transport: Slashed after 8pm and cancelled late at night
Community sport: All community sport across Victoria is now banned. Only exercise is allowed within the permitted public gathering limits of two people.