Jim’s Mowing boss’ brutal open letter
Outspoken Jim's Group CEO Jim Penman has issued a scathing message to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in the face of the state's stage 4 restrictions.
Last week, Mr Andrews said cleaners and gardeners would be prevented from working under Victoria's tough new coronavirus rules - but at the time, Mr Penman claimed his comments contradicted the government's own official guidelines on the Department of Health and Human Services website.
As a result, Mr Penman argued that his franchisees would not be breaking the law if they kept working during the lockdown, offering to pay for any fines that may be issued and urging Mr Andrews to clarify his stance.
Mr Penman has stepped up his attack by slamming the Premier in a two-page open letter posted to the Jim's Group website and on Twitter.
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"Allow people to operate, as in the initial departmental guidelines, so long as they are alone on a site. If necessary, add a rider that they may not approach a customer nearer than five metres, and must take payment electronically," the letter reads.
"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."
Mr Andrews downplayed the letter during Sunday's press conference, which was dominated by news of 17 new coronavirus deaths in the state, making it Victoria's deadliest day since the pandemic began.
That figure has since been surpassed after the state confirmed 19 deaths on Monday.
He told reporters if he agreed to the terms included in every letter he received, there would be more Victorians working in August that during the previous month, before the outbreak worsened.
In the letter, Mr Penman said he fully supported Prime Minister Scott Morrison, other Premiers and Chief Minsters across the country, Victoria Police and even overseas leaders such as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for their handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
But he claimed Mr Andrews had "botched" the hotel quarantine and slammed the decision to allow demonstrators to protest in Melbourne, claiming his "mismanagement" of the pandemic was "sending Victoria into a spiral of deep despair".
Last week, Mr Penman told news.com.au the Premier needed to address his "appalling" mistake and "give us some leadership and guidance".
He also questioned why Melbourne City Council gardeners were "considered essential" and allowed to keep working, while others had been singled out by the Premier, and said he had made the offer to pay for any fines his franchisees may incur because he was "100 per cent certain" it would never happen.
"I have 1300 franchisees in the state and if they were each fined $1000 I'd be up for $1.3 million - as if I'd take that kind of risk. It's absolutely out of the question it would happen," he said.
Mr Penman stressed that he was fully in support of fining those who broke coronavirus rules and vowed to support the law, but called on the Premier to clarify his statement.
He maintains that gardeners and cleaners pose no risk to public health and that social distancing measures can easily be adhered to by the industry.
Originally published as Jim's Mowing boss' brutal open letter