The founder of Jim’s Mowing, Jim Penman, has slammed Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews as “incompetent” following the release of the government’s path out of lockdown.
“He is an utterly incompetent. He has stuffed the quarantine, he’s stuffing the contact tracing, he’s stuffing the testing,” Mr Penman said on Today this morning.
“The only thing he’s good at is trashing the Victorian economy especially industries like mine which are no threat to public health.”
In an open letter to the Premier this week, the 68-year-old mowing magnate told Mr Andrews that he would “have blood on his hands” over his refusal to lift restrictions upon business.
On Today he stood by his assertion that the extension of a lockdown would seriously compromise the mental health and wellbeing of Victorians.
“It’s true. Because our industry is no threat to public health at all.”
“A lone operator working alone in a garden is no threat to health but when you throw tens of thousands of people out of work without need you talk about mental health issues, suicide, drug addition, child abuse, domestic violence and the rest.”
“I know there are independent operators out there who are on suicide watch, so yes, people will die as a result of the Premier’s actions.”
Mr Penman said he had asked some “very simple questions” of the Premier and had not received answers.
“I have asked some very simply questions to the Premier – why did you change your own regulations, your own expert advice, that sole operators could operate safely? Why did you change that?”
“How can council operators work in groups when our people can’t alone? The Premier has flatly refused to answer even the simplest of questions.”
Mr Penman said he believes the Premier should stand down as leader of the state.
“He should step down. He should be tossed out by his own party.”
Mr Penman said about 700 contractors across the state were losing about $3000 a week since the introduction of workplace restrictions that prevented cleaners and gardeners from working.
“When these regulations were changed, I advised all affected franchisees to cease work, and we suspended their fees. Even though feeling the restrictions unfair and wrong, they agreed to do this for the six weeks. This extension has filled them with despair,” Mr Penman wrote in Monday’s letter.
“I appeal to you once more to drop this senseless measure, to put human welfare before the cynical pursuit of political advantage. Sole operators on a site are no risk to public health, and should be allowed to work – regardless of whether they are part of the Jim’s Group or not.
“This applies to all sole operator and mum and dad businesses across the state who have no voice.”
The Premier announced on Sunday that Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown would extend until 28 September.