William West / AFP
A 26-year-old female police officer was assaulted on Tuesday night by a woman refusing to wear a face mask. This occured in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston, where it’s currently a finable offence to appear in public without a mask.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton told a media conference that the police officer and her partner had approached the 38-year-old woman, who had failed to put on a mask or show identification.
"After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle," he said.
It was during this scuffle that the policewoman had her head slammed repeatedly into a “concrete area on the ground." She was left concussed.
Chief Commissioner Shane Patton admitted the perpetrator was eventually detained and charged with "significant offences" but was given bail because she had no previous history of criminal activity.
Australia’s southern state of Victoria has been hit by COVID-19 in the past month, going from transmission rates in the single digits to a national record of 721 on June 30. Some of the world’s toughest restrictions have since been leveled to symie the numbers, but Commissioner Patton admitted a small but concerning demographic of anti-askers "don't think the law applies to them".
"We've seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address," he said. "On at least four occasions in the last week, we've had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details because they weren't adhering to the Chief Health Officer's guidelines, they weren't providing their name and address."
He described such people as self-proclaimed "sovereign citizens."
At the same conference, the beleaguered Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced that a new $4,659 on-the-spot fine would apply for people in breach of self-isolation orders, while "particularly selfish behaviour" could attract a $20,000 penalty.
"That behaviour is nothing short of fundamentally disgusting," Andrews said, referring to the assault on the 26-year-old officer. "Police are out there, putting themselves in harm's way, they run towards the danger when the rest of us wouldn't."