- Footage from a Bunnings in Victoria has shown a woman invoking her human rights after being refused entry because she wasn’t wearing a mask.
- The mandatory mask order, Australia’s first, was implemented earlier this month to combat the rising number of coronavirus infections.
- The customer’s impassioned defence that she wasn’t required to wear one has been criticised by legal experts.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Australian DIY-culture might be a source of national pride but, shockingly, it’s not a form of legal immunity.
Over the weekend a Bunnings, the country’s secular church, became embroiled in a dispute with one of its flock.
Staff at the store in Melbourne’s south-east were filmed in an altercation with a woman, predictably designated the name Karen by the internet, who was refusing to follow the state’s mandatory mask order.
Wait til this Karen finds out about 'no shoes, no shirt, no service'. pic.twitter.com/2dvLE90dOa
— cam smith (@sexenheimer) July 25, 2020
In the footage, shot by the shopper herself, she makes vague legal allusions in her effort to break the mask order, in place since last week, and go shopping.
“That’s discrimination and I can sue you personally for discriminating against me,” she said, going on to invoke the 1948 charter of human rights.
“It’s clear I don’t [have a mask] and you are not authorised to ask me or question me about it.”
Bunnings staff display incredible patience as she goes on to make the claim that “as a living woman I have the right to do whatever I want”, despite even a modicum of lived experience suggesting she cannot.
Senior law lecturer at the Australian National University (ANU) Dilan Thampapillai told Business Insider that the shopper has “no leg to stand on”.
“As long as you have the terms and conditions displayed at the entrance of the store where customers can see it, it’s a contractually binding agreement and a lawful condition of entry” Thampapillai, who specialises in contract law, said. “You can mandate that people wear a mask in a confined space simply because it directly gets to the health issue and the fact that there’s a government law in place.”
“In this case, it’s Bunnings’ interpretation of what the Victorian law is and it’s bang on the money.”
Nor does she possess a right to do “whatever” she wants, in this or any other instance.
“You can forget the Magna Carta on this, and it doesn’t have any direct effect on Australian law anyway,” Thampapillai said.
It was a legal analysis shared by Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, who criticised those “standing in the car park of Bunnings reading whatever nonsense you have pulled up from some obscure website”.
“Seriously, one more comment about human rights – honestly. It is about human life,” he said.
In other words, Karen’s legal argument is complete bullshit – excuse the French.
But in a story about Bunnings, surely we can call a spade a spade.