| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Australia deputy PM fined for not wearing mask in breach of COVID-19 rules

Australia’s deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was fined for not wearing facemask in a service station in violation of COVID-19 prevention measures, the authorities said on Tuesday, the country’s most powerful person to face repercussions for non-compliance.

Joyce, who returned as leader of the Nationals coalition partner a week earlier, was seen by a member of the public paying for fuel without a facemask in his electorate about 500 kilometer (310 miles) north of Sydney on Monday, the police said.

The person called Crime Stoppers, an emergency hotline, and officers went to the service station where “inquiries revealed a 54-year-old man was not wearing a face mask while in the store”, New South Wales state police said in a statement.

Joyce, who was not identified in the police statement, was fined $151 for violating a public health order by not wearing a “fitted face covering when in indoor area of retail/business premises.”

A spokesman for Joyce was not immediately available for comment, but the outspoken country member confirmed the incident in an interview on Monday with News Corp-owned cable broadcaster Sky News.

He said he was on his way to the airport, realized he had forgotten to buy fuel for his partner, “fueled the car up with fuel, went in, 30 seconds later $151 it cost me because I didn’t wear a mask,” he told the broadcaster, according to a report in News Corp newspapers.

“That’s life,” Joyce added.

  • Reuters