UPDATED 12/4 - NSW police have issued 19 more fines to drivers defying public health act order not to gather in public place
Highway Patrol officers from three commands were called to the Stockrington Conservation Area west of Newcastle, NSW, and saw up to 40 vehicles gathered within a closed area.
Police allege that drivers attempted to leave the scene when police arrived; however, 19 vehicles were stopped, with the rest escaping into surrounding bushland.
Police allege the group had gathered for the purpose of street racing and burnouts, with two cars brought to the site on trailers.
Nineteen people will now be issued with $1000 fines for breaching the Public Health Order, with 13 of those also being fined for being in the Conservation Area unlawfully.
The total amount of fines will exceed $25,000.
The presence of three children in the group will also result in police contacting child protection services.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Command’s Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said this was exactly the kind of incident his officers had been working to prevent.
“Gatherings of virtually any kind are breaching the current Public Health Order but gathering to conduct street racing and burnouts in a park is illegal, irresponsible and beyond my understanding,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.
“I am appalled at the fact that up to 40 drivers were willing to put themselves and others at risk on so many levels.
“And I am even more appalled by the fact three children – who have no choice in the matter – were also exposed to risk; my officers will be alerting the relevant authorities to the actions of their parents and caregivers."
The incident follows a similar event in Queensland last week./Tim Robson
Queensland police say they are ‘disappointed and frustrated’ after handing out a staggering 58 coronavirus fines totalling more than $77,000 to a group of car enthusiasts last Saturday night after officers attended a south Brisbane car meet that was deemed illegal under recent crisis restrictions.
Attending officers weren't able to apprehend and issue fines to all of the estimated 150 people who allegedly attended the impromptu car show, but a total of $77,372 of fines were still slapped on the 58 who held their hands up.
Some participants had tried to flee the event which had been arranged in a dead-end street but became bogged in the surrounding grasslands.
For the others, police simply waited at the cul de sac exit and systematically issued fines to those in the orderly queue.
“it is inexcusable what happened at Rochedale [on Saturday] and such blatant disregard for the lives of Queenslanders will not be tolerated," said Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski, the state’s disaster coordinator.
Gollschewski explained that the fines were intended to protect the lives and welfare of the public and to enforce regulations that are designed to limit the spread of the potentially deadly virus, and not merely targeting hoon behaviour.
“This is all about safety. About saving lives. About stopping the spread of COVID-19. We all, every single one of us, must do our bit. We are in this together," he said.
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