A Jim’s Mowing franchisee is filing a compensation claim against the Victorian government, claiming he was unfairly forced to stop working during the state’s strict COVID-19 lockdown last year.
Franchisee Steve Thompson will reportedly file a claim against the Department of Health and Human Services in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, claiming he lost $24,000 during the lockdown period.
Thompson will argue he was “unfairly put out of work”, a News.com.au article suggests.
As he is a sole trader and worked outside, there was no need for him to stop working, he is expected to claim.
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“There was no contact with the public, that’s the key issue here,” he reportedly said.
He also said the financial stress put pressure on his relationship and ultimately led to him and his wife separating.
Jim’s mowing founder Jim Penman is backing Thompson, and suggested this will act as a test case. If Thompson is successful, Penman said some 615 franchisees could also come forward, claiming for the loss of between $2,000 and $3,000 for each week they couldn’t work.
“After Steve’s case is heard I will be telling all of my franchisees and sole operators to make a claim for compensation,” Penman said.
“We’re talking about millions of dollars — this is a heavy claim against the government,” he added.
“The government cannot just shut down a whole industry without reason … If someone is put out of work they deserve justification.”
Penman was vocal in his objections to Victoria’s tough lockdowns as the state grappled with its second wave of COVID-19 infections.
At the time, he wrote an open letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, calling for restrictions to be eased for sole traders, and calling for the Premier’s resignation if he refused to budge on the issue.
“Compared to mowing someone’s lawn, there is far more risk walking the streets for exercise or entering a bottle shop,” he wrote.
“But there are other consequences. Apart from financial ruin and increasing cost to the taxpayer, lockdown brings misery.”