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Local News - Victoria

Victoria Police, IBAC can’t investigate Lawyer X cops, top corruption lawyer says


Mr Drummond, the special prosecutor appointed by the Queensland government to investigate crooked cops exposed by the Fitzgerald royal commission, said investigations into police implicated in the Lawyer X scandal should also be at “arm’s length” from Victoria’s peak anti-corruption agency, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

IBAC examined the Lawyer X saga five years ago and did not find evidence of criminal behaviour on the part of any current or former police.

Michael O'Brien in Parliament last week.

Michael O’Brien in Parliament last week.Credit:Jason South

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien last week asked Attorney-General Jill Hennessy in Parliament whether she would follow the Queensland path and commit to establishing a special prosecutor.

Ms Hennessy said the government would await the recommendations of the royal commission.

Ms Gobbo, a former defence barrister, was a registered police informer who ratted on her own clients. Counsel assisting the royal commission has invited Commissioner McMurdo to find that Ms Gobbo’s police handlers and senior officers who supervised their work may have engaged in criminal conduct. Potential offences included misconduct in public office and conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Both are punishable by jail.

Commissioner McMurdo has decided not to name any current or former police implicated in criminal conduct, noting this could have a prejudicial impact on future legal proceedings.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

It remains unclear, in the absence of the establishment of a special prosecutor and supporting taskforce, how information gathered by the royal commission can be developed into admissible evidence to support criminal charges.

Testimony provided to a royal commission cannot be used against that witness in criminal proceedings.

Former IBAC commissioner Stephen Bryan said the anti-corruption body was the “logical entity” to investigate police, but it would need more resources.

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“Bearing in mind the vastness of evidence gathered to date and complexity of the issues involved, any such task would be substantial and therefore necessitate adequate special funding for IBAC by the Victorian government,” he told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich, QC, submitted to the royal commission that to investigate police implicated in the scandal, it would require a government referral, additional support and, potentially, expanded powers.

“As I have publicly acknowledged in the past, IBAC lacks some of the necessary powers it should have to properly investigate complaints received against police officers, some of which affect its ability to gather admissible evidence,” he said.

“It is in fact the only commission throughout Australia whose investigators do not have the same powers as a police officer.”

Mr Redlich noted that current and former police at the centre of the Lawyer X scandal were previously examined by IBAC during the 2015 inquiry led by former Victorian Supreme Court judge Murray Kellam.

Mr Drummond said a special prosecutor would require its own taskforce and needed to be independent of “political direction”. He contrasted this to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who by law is “responsible to the Attorney-General for the due performance or his or her functions”.

DPP Kerri Judd, QC, rejected this. “Contrary to the statements in Mr Drummond, QC’s, submissions, the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions are, and have always been, carried out independently of Victoria Police and the Attorney-General of Victoria,” she said.

Mr Drummond said the Andrews government had “benefited politically” from its relationship with Victoria Police, which did not pursue charges against anyone involved in the “Red Shirts” scandal involving Labor MP staffers doing campaign work.

“There should not be room for any perception that decisions whether any serving or former Victoria police [officers] should be prosecuted may be subject to political influence keen to ensure continuing police support,” he submitted.

Commissioner McMurdo is due to hand down her findings on 30 November.

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Australian News

NSW Police officer charged with manslaughter after motorcyclist killed


A NSW Police officer has been charged with manslaughter after a motorcyclist was killed in a crash with a police vehicle earlier this year.

The 28-year-old male rider, identified by the Central Coast Express Advocate as Jack Roberts, died in the collision on Blue Haven Way in Blue Haven, on the Central Coast, on April 16.

The officer was taken to Wyong Hospital for mandatory testing and a critical incident investigation was launched by the force after the incident.

Police on Thursday said a 49-year-old male sergeant from the Northern Region had been charged with manslaughter, dangerous driving causing death and negligent driving causing death.

Manslaughter in New South Wales carries a maximum penalty of 25 years behind bars, if found guilty.

The Tuggerah Lakes Police District sergeant was granted strict conditional bail and is due to face Gosford Local Court on October 30.

“The officer’s duty status will be reviewed, as per standard Professional Standards practices,” NSW Police said.

Back in April, police said the officer had seen a motorbike being ridden along the Motorway Link “on the wrong side of the road and without lights” about 2.30am.

“The officer directed the rider to stop, however, he continued onto Blue Haven Way, followed by the officer, where there has been a collision involving the two vehicles,” police said.

Mr Roberts died at the scene after he reportedly came off his motorcycle and was run over by the police vehicle.

“My heart is so heavy and empty! You were not meant to go this way!” Jasmin O’Neill said in a post on Facebook.

“I’ll make sure our babies know exactly the man you were, the kind man I knew, the loving, funniest strong willed!

“You will be forever in our heart. And your beautiful girls and I will love you forever and always Jack.”



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Australian News

Police fines for restriction breaches left unpaid


Less than five per cent of almost 20,000 fines dished out to Victorians caught breaching coronavirus restrictions have been paid in full, new figures have revealed.

The Department of Justice data, released under Freedom of Information laws to NCA NewsWire, showed only 845 of 19,324 infringements handed out by Victoria Police as of August 24 had been paid.

Almost $27.9 million in fines had been issued to Victorians caught breaking the rules since the chief health officer’s coronavirus restrictions were introduced in March in response to the global pandemic.

But as of August 24 only $1.45 million in payments had been received, a little over five per cent of the total value.

Of the 19,324 issued, 1489 had been withdrawn or cancelled, while 1638 were under a payment plan arrangement.

About 18 per cent – 3455 infringements – had been registered with Fines Victoria for enforcement meaning they had reached the “notice of final demand” stage.

It’s understood the remaining 11,897 fines were still yet to be paid, under review or being challenged.

Since August 24, at least another 6322 fines have been issued for breaches of the restrictions but it is not yet known how many of those have been paid.

A State Government spokeswoman said only a “small proportion” of COVID fines had not been paid before time had expired.

“For many recently issued fines there is still time for people to pay,” she said.

She said the fines had played a critical role in sending a clear message that anyone who blatantly and deliberately breached the directives would be penalised.

“Those who don’t follow the directives pose a risk to the broader community – and police will respond accordingly,” the spokeswoman said.

When a fine is issued by Victoria Police a person is given 28-day deadline to pay. If they fail to do so they are issued a penalty reminder notice along with a further 21-day period to pay.

Once that 49-day period expires the infringement is handed to Fines Victoria who issues a notice of final demand to pay within 21 days before the agency can exercise its powers to resolve outstanding infringements.

Those who refuse to pay beyond a notice of final demand period could face a range of additional enforcement measures such as vehicle wheel clamping, suspension of a vehicle’s registration, seizure and selling of personal property and even imprisonment.

Youthlaw advocacy and human rights officer Tiffany Overall told NCA NewsWire the fines system did tend to be very slow and cumbersome.

“A lot of these fines there’s going to be quite a lot of merit to people seeking reviews with Victoria Police so it’s quite understandable a lot are caught in that middle ground just trying to get clarification on their fine,” she said.

“Some of those people fined, it’s a little bit grey and dubious about whether it was an actually breach or whether in their particular exceptional circumstances maybe the police could have exercised discretion to give a warning.”

But she said from their experience helping several dozens of people where they believed there was merit to withdraw the fine, they had found it very difficult to challenge and get it reviewed and hadn’t been successful yet.

Ms Overall said another problematic aspect of the COVID fines was there hadn’t been any adjustment or accommodation for children and the amounts were up to 10 times more than what would normally be processed within the children’s court.

“I just don’t know how you expect them to pay even if they wanted to,” she said.

“It looks like for a lot of young people these COVID fines will stay with them for a long time and that’s really problematic.”

Stan Winford, associate director for the Centre for Innovative Justice at RMIT University, said fines subject to appeals or reviews, or applying for a caution like with speeding tickets, could extend the time take for fines to be processed.

“These are unprecedented so they haven’t had a history building up expertise of whether or not people have an excuse or if they should exercise discretion of whether or not to proceed,” he said.

“A discretion means interpreting things based on variable factors and that can be a tricky thing to do without lots of guidance or precedent.”

jack.paynter@news.com.au



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Australian News

Hotel quarantine inquiry demands more information from Victoria Police


The hotel inquiry has demanded more information from Victoria Police, following the force’s explosive closing submission that former chief Graham Ashton found out private security would be hired within six minutes of texting senior bureaucrat Chris Eccles.

The board of inquiry is understood to have written to police on Friday night seeking further information on who hired private security, and what efforts had been made to obtain Mr Ashton’s incomplete records from Telstra.

However it’s thought the inquiry did not seek further call logs from any police officers, including Mr Ashton, who claims he does not remember who told him private security would be hired, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton, or Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent, who had written an email claiming someone from the Department of Premier and Cabinet had called him late on March 27 to discuss private security. This claim was walked back by Mr Patton.

“We have prepared a response which confirms that Victoria Police does not possess any further information in relation to who made the decision to engage private security,’’ a police spokesman said.

“The (board of inquiry) has also asked for details on our engagement with Telstra about the incoming call records for Mr Ashton.

“We have advised the BOI that this matter was raised with Telstra in phone calls which confirmed our understanding that there was no relevant legal basis on which the call records could be provided to us.’’

The inquiry, chaired by retired judge Jennifer Coate, is resisting intense pressure to re-open public hearings and is instead working behind the scenes to attempt to plug gaps in the evidence the inquiry uncovered in its final two weeks. It has so far failed to uncover who decided to hire private security.

Asked if they would re-open public hearings, an inquiry spokesman said: “The Board’s position is that it would be inappropriate to comment.”

The Herald Sun can also reveal the state’s anti-corruption commission quietly wrote to the inquiry earlier this year detailing corruption risks within the public sector, ahead of crucial hearings which have so far seen Heath Minister Jenny Mikakos and the head of the public service Mr Eccles resign.

In a rare move, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commissioner Robert Redlich QC sent an unprompted letter to Ms Coate, providing information on corruption risks during times of emergency and outlining what would constitute illegal behaviour or misconduct by public servants.

It is understood the commission is watching proceedings closely and will investigate if misconduct is flagged in Ms Coate’s findings, which are due to be handed down by November 6.

An IBAC spokesperson confirmed the commission had contacted the inquiry but said an official submission had not been made.

“As part of IBAC’s role in exposing and preventing corrupt conduct across the Victorian public sector, we have more broadly shared with the inquiry information on a number of investigation and research reports IBAC has produced in recent years.”

“IBAC has also recently published guidance for state and local government on key corruption risks and mitigation strategies during times of emergency or crisis, such as the COVID-19 operating environment.”

A number of other troubling developments have emerged since the inquiry began public hearings, on August 17, including:

MR ECCLES’ sworn evidence that his phone records didn’t show he had called Mr Ashton on March 27. A renewed call for records at the weekend showed he had in fact called Mr Ashton, leading to Mr Eccles’ immediate resignation yesterday;

EMERGENCY Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp forgetting to tell the inquiry he met with Mr Ashton and Police Minister Lisa Neville at 2pm on March 27, and only recalling the meeting after Mr Ashton lodged his statement detailing it;

FORMER Health Minister Jenny Mikakos urging the board to treat “with caution’’ Mr Andrews’ evidence that he didn’t know private security was to be used;

A FAILURE by the board to call any of Mr Andrews’ private staff as witnesses; and,

THE overwhelming evidence that the decision to use private security was made hours before the 4.30pm State Control Centre meeting that counsel assisting the inquiry has suggested settled the idea

Meanwhile Victorian Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee will grill ministers and senior officer holders for a third time over the Government’s COVID-19 response, with Mr Crisp expected to be recalled for evidence.

He last week retracted his earlier evidence, saying although he had regularly briefed Police Minister Lisa Neville as hotel quarantine had been set up, he had in fact not briefed his minister.

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ANDREWS ‘SHOCKED’ OVER PHONE RECORDS AS ECCLES QUITS



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Victoria Police issue fines after partygoers breach lockdown restrictions


A house party has ended in more than $21,000 worth of fines being issued after police found 20 people inside not wearing face masks or socially distancing.

Officers stormed the party at the Bentleigh address in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs about 1.10am on Saturday after receiving complaints of loud music.

Upon entry into the South Rd apartment, several partygoers climbed onto the roofs of neighbouring businesses and fled.

Police also discovered four people hiding on the roof of a neighbouring premises, and they were fined once they came down.

All up, 13 people were fined $1652 each for breaching COVID-19 directions of the chief health officer, resulting in a massive $21,476 worth of fines handed out.

Victoria Police issued a total of 79 fines in the past 24 hours, including seven for failing to wear a face mask and 11 at vehicle checkpoints.

It comes as Victoria chief health officer Brett Sutton warned coronavirus case numbers were lingering in the double-digits largely because of community-based outbreaks.

The Premier revealed a grim lockdown warning for Melburnians after the state recorded 14 more infections on Saturday.

“The tale of this second wave was always going to be stubborn and that is exactly the way it is panning out. I think it unlikely that we will be able to move as fast as we would like to have done next Sunday,” Daniel Andrews said.

“We will take steps next Sunday, and (we) will spend an enormous amount of time this weekend and throughout the week determining exactly what those next steps can be. ”



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Gel blasters declared imitation guns by SA Police following public shootings


Gel blasters will be regulated like other firearms in South Australia from tomorrow, as police crack down on the weapons following a series of incidents causing injury.

All owners and new purchasers of gel blasters will be required to have a licence and store the weapons like regular guns.

The weapons — which can be made to closely resemble assault rifles — will only be permitted to be used in licensed venues including paintball facilities.

SA Police today said a gun amnesty would be extended to include gel blasters until April 2021, for those who do not wish to keep the weapons or apply for licences.

Current owners have six months to obtain a licence but cannot use the weapons until they have one.

Superintendent Stephen Howard said the guns — also known as hydro-blasters — meet the definition of a firearm for the purposes of regulation.

He said there had been more than 180 reports involving the guns in the past two years, including the shooting of a 10-year-old girl at a playground by two men who were never found.

“Not only do they fire a projectile, but they also look like a firearm of a different category or class,” Superintendent Howard said.

two large guns and a small hand gun lay on a grey floor
A man was arrested after allegedly pointing a gel blaster at another car on Augusta Highway.(Supplied: SA Police)

A man allegedly pointed a gel blaster at another car travelling at high speed on the Augusta Highway in the state’s north last month.

Another victim sustained eye injuries when he was shot from a passing car north of Adelaide earlier this year.

Superintendent Howard said SA Police had a responsibility to protect the public from the threat of physical and psychological harm.

“A lot of people say these are toys, but they’re not toys. These don’t meet the definition,” he said.

Superintendent Howard said technical upgrades to gel blasters had made them more dangerous.

He said while the decision would impact retailers, police had foreshadowed today’s move in February this year, when the importation of gel blasters was banned.



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SA Police change rules for imitation firearms


SA Police have cracked down on gel blasters after recording more than 180 incidents with the fake weapon, including one where a child was shot at a playground.

As of Thursday, gel blasters will need to be declared as a regulated imitation firearm and can only be used at paintball facilities.

The changes mean it will be illegal to possess an unregistered gel blaster or have one without a licence, and will see the sale and possession regulated.

Gel blaster owners will need to register their firearm and get a licence within six months, otherwise they must surrender the firearm to police.

The minimum age for a licence is 18.

A person who deals, owns or possesses a gel blaster without the appropriate permit could be committing a crime under the Firearms Act 2015 and Firearms Regulations 2017 and may face prosecution.

Firearms officer Stephen Howard said SA Police were using the same rules that governed paintball to regulate gel blasters.

“The firing mechanism in a gel blaster compresses air to fire a projectile and therefore meets the threshold test to be defined as a firearm,” Superintendent Howard said.

“A gel blaster can easily be mistaken for a real firearm, with potential to cause concern in the community and trigger a police response that could involve the use of police firearms, or other tactical options.

“They’re a non-lethal firearm like paintball. However, they will cause an injury and are sold with safety glasses and you could threaten someone with a gel blaster.”

He said SA Police received more than 180 reports that caused concern over the past two years.

The organisation estimates there are more than 62,000 circulating across the state.

“We recently saw someone pointed a gel blaster at someone travelling at high speed on a highway. If that person took evasive action, that had potential to lead to a fatality or serious injuries,” Superintendent Howard said.

“We’ve had reports of people being shot and little children being shot at a playground, people threatened while going about their normal work … That was the most concerning, when two adult men turned up in a car and shot a 10-year-old girl with a gel blaster and hit her in the head (last year). I don’t think we apprehended them but it’s very traumatic for that child.”

Superintendent Howard said a number of additions could be made to gel blasters to increase the velocity and projectile accuracy.

“They have evolved … (Some) are made with alloy and steel. It’s these improvements which make them more dangerous and concerning from our perspective and the additions and improvements can be done by anyone — there are lots of videos on YouTube.”

Last month, a man was arrested for allegedly pointing a gel blaster at a driver during a road rage incident near Port Pirie.

SA Police allege three people in a Toyota sedan abused the victim and his passengers while allegedly driving aggressively on the Augusta Highway at Bungama.

The 28-year-old Whyalla man was in the front passenger seat when he allegedly pointed the gel blaster rifle in the victim’s direction.

He was charged with aggravated assault and bailed to appear in the Port Pirie Magistrates Court on November 30.

Back in June, 18-year-old Brandon Agostino faced Adelaide Magistrates Court after he was accused of firing a high-powered gel blaster at people as he drove past them in a car, leaving them in need of medical attention.

SA Police said Mr Agostino shot three pedestrians with gel pellets in the space of 10 minutes at Northgate and Lightsview in May.

He was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon and was remanded on bail to face court again in September.



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SA Police frustrated by road fatalities


SA police say it is ‘frustrating’ when drivers or riders die on the roads as they reveal results of a five-day operation targeting five major contributors to serious injury crashes.

Over the long weekend, two people were seriously injured while, in a separate incident, a 19-year-old man from Mount Barker died on Monday night after coming off his motorbike and hitting a tree.

Officer in Charge of the Traffic Services Branch Superintendent Bob Gray said there was a strong association with motorcycle fatalities and speed or drink and drug driving.

“It’s about the way people behave when they get on that motorbike and ride it, he said.

“It’s always frustrating when someone loses their life on our roads, particularly a 19-year-old who had many years in front of him.

“The consequences for families, work colleagues, communities is terrible and I wouldn’t like to see anybody go through that.

“We are urging all motorcyclists to be extra vigilant, and ride to the road conditions.”

Supt Gray said it was concerning that the 15 motorcyclists who have died this year were all males.

“Males are over-represented in road fatalities but particularly with motorcyclists’ accidents and serious injury crashes and a lot of it comes because males make bad decisions and take on risk-taking behaviour.”

So far this year, there have been 15 motorcyclists and two passengers who have died on the roads.

The total number of lives lost on SA roads is 68 compared to 83 at this time last year.

Over the long weekend, SA police launched an operation — which ran from Thursday to Monday — and targeted people not wearing a seatbelt, driving while distracted, drink or drug driving, speeding and dangerous road users.

During that period, 5412 people were alcohol tested with 41 detected under the influence.

One of them was a man at Roxby Downs who returned a positive test of 0.235 early Sunday morning.

He lost his licence for a year and had his vehicle impounded for 28 days and will be summonsed to appear in court at a later date.

A total of 44 people, of the 631 who were drug tested, returned a positive result.

There were 616 people caught speeding, 40 were fined for not wearing a seatbelt and 30 expiations were handed to drivers on their phones.

Supt Gray thanked the majority of road users for doing the right thing but said it was concerning people still continued to make poor choices.

“Drugs and driving don’t mix. Drugs reduce a driver’s mental alertness, vigilance and concentration, physical co-ordination and their ability to react quickly to what is happening on the road,” he said.

“Wearing a seat belt is one of easiest ways of protecting drivers and passengers when travelling in a vehicle. If you are involved in a serious crash, wearing a seatbelt doubles your chance of surviving”



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Local News - Victoria

Police camera ruling ‘denies courts critical evidence’


Robinson Gill lawyer Jeremy King warned of a serious miscarriage of justice without government intervention.

“It is in the interest of plaintiffs, police and the TAC that this gets fixed straight away,” he said.

“There is a massive black hole in the legislation regarding courts being able to access and utilise body-worn camera footage in any civil proceeding. Courts are being denied critical evidence that may determine the outcome of a case.”

Mr King is representing former prisoner Konstantin German, who claims in court documents to have been bashed by prison guards and bitten by a dog during riots at the Melbourne Remand Centre in 2015.

Two of the guards were wearing body-worn cameras, but lawyers for the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office opposed the release of the footage to the plaintiff.

In her judgment on September 25, County Court judge Sandra Davis found there were no specific provisions in the Surveillance Devices Act for the footage to be handed over in civil proceedings.

Liberty Victoria president Julian Burnside, QC, called on the government to change the legislation.

“If this is the law, then it’s wrong. Video footage from these body cameras is precisely the type of evidence that should be available during civil litigation,” Mr Burnside said.

Ms Hennessey said body-worn cameras were an important way to ensure greater accountability and create a safer environment for officers, staff and the community.

“I am aware of this case and will consider the legal implications of the ruling,” she said.

More than 8000 frontline police and protective services officers are now fitted with cameras, which are also worn by some prison guards and Ambulance Victoria paramedics.

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Police claimed the technology helped provide “better and more efficient justice outcomes by streamlining evidence gathering and corroboration” at a a briefing to IBAC in February 2020.

It was also claimed the cameras would encourage “more transparent interactions between police and the community while enhancing member safety,” according to the briefing by Superintendent Jason Kelly.

However, The Age revealed last year that police officers could deactivate their body-worn cameras at their discretion and edit footage before court cases, while the Andrews government had given police the power to deal “in-house” with any potential breaches.

Gregor Husper, principal solicitor at the Police Accountability Project, said the use of body-worn cameras had failed to make police more accountable.

“It’s completely useless to members of the public wanting to allege misconduct by police. You can’t get the footage under freedom of information laws. And now the footage can’t be obtained during discovery in civil cases,” Mr Husper said.

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Local News - Victoria

Melbourne beach closures on the cards as police crack down on rule breakers


In a separate incident that was widely circulated on social media, a woman at Altona Beach was arrested by police and walked off the sand in handcuffs.

As police tried to put a mask on the woman, people filming the incident could be heard yelling, “Why are you arresting her? What did she do?”

A police spokesman said they would not be commenting on individual arrests that occurred at beaches on Saturday, but said a number of arrests were made and fines were issued.

With a focus on public gatherings, police say they will “not hesitate to fine those who clearly and blatantly breach” COVID-19 restrictions.

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“Victoria Police was pleased with the behaviour of the vast majority of Victorians [on Saturday] but disappointingly there were still those who put lives at risk by not adhering to the directions of the Chief Health Officer,” the police spokesman said.

While Melbourne will reach a top of 28 degrees on Sunday, rain is likely to spoil the party for people hoping to soak up the sunshine. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting showers in the late afternoon and evening and the possibility of thunderstorms over the eastern suburbs.

Premier Daniel Andrews warned on Saturday that police could close beaches around Melbourne if beach-goers did not adhere to social distancing.

“Victoria Police have powers. They have a steely determination to make sure people are following the rules,” he said.

A number of bayside council leaders have said they would close the beaches if social distancing was continuously ignored or if instructed to by the state government or police.

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Port Phillip council chief executive Peter Smith said if illegal behaviour continued, the council would have no choice but to repeat their March decision to close beaches, including the popular St Kilda beach.

“Unfortunately, if we have large crowds of people doing the wrong thing, then we will have no choice but to close the beach or park as a last resort,” he said.

“We are trying to prevent closure through a range of measures. However, we will only be able to keep our beaches and parks open if each person plays their part by sticking to the Chief Health Officer’s orders.”

Kingston Council mayor Georgina Oxley called for Melburnians to do the right thing and said closing beaches was “very much a last resort and we don’t want to get there”.

Clarke Martin, mayor of Bayside Council, said he was desperate for Melburnians to stick with restrictions until they are slated to ease on October 19.

“My message to Bayside residents and anyone who wants to come down to the beach is not to. Please, just stay away for another two or three weeks and let this virus eat itself out,” he said.

Data released by Victoria Police shows that at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, the police assistance line received about 100,000 calls during the month of April, 66 per cent more than during an average month.

Nearly four in 10 were people dobbing in other Victorians for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

After calling the actions of those flouting the rules “a bit of an insult to everyone who has done it tough for months”, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has praised those social distancing properly.

In response to a photo of small, separated groups of picnickers at Northcote’s All Nations Park, Professor Sutton said on Twitter he was pleased to see people taking heed of the current restrictions.

“This is great. We can, and should, enjoy the outdoors. Safely. Well done,” he tweeted.

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