The boss of Jim’s Mowing is preparing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the Victorian Government over its strict COVID-19 lockdown laws.
David ‘Jim’ Penman, who founded Jim’s Mowing, has been battling with the government over the rules preventing cleaners and gardeners in Melbourne from working during the second lockdown.
The lockdown, which was introduced on August 2, has cost about 615 contractors about $3,000 a week, Mr Penman claimed.
The self-made millionaire has now offered to help franchisees seeking $7million in financial compensation by paying for ‘top legal advice’.
David ‘Jim’ Penman, who founded Jim’s Mowing, has offered to help franchisees seeking $7million in financial compensation by paying for ‘top legal advice’
Mr Penman founded the company in 1982 after giving up his dream on becoming an academic
‘We have repeatedly asked the Premier for hard evidence that what my company does contributes in any way to the spread of coronavirus and we have received nothing, just that his decision is based on health advice from experts, but that’s not hard evidence,’ he said.
‘Council workers are doing the same job, and in groups, yet my company and contractors are being prevented from earning a living – there is absolutely a legitimate claim for compensation here.
‘I’m not happy taxpayers will have to pay once we proceed legally, but my workers are being denied a chance to work, earn a living, pay taxes and contribute to the economy as a result of this lunacy – it’s basically $7 million bank-carded out of the Victorian economy.’
His threat for legal actions comes after weeks of publicly battling with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews over the rules.
Last week the lawn-mowing magnate penned an open letter to Mr Andrews where he unleashed fury over the harsh lockdowns.
Melbourne is in Stage 4 lockdown while the rest of Victoria is in Stage 3 as the battle to control the state’s second deadly wave of new infections continues.
Sole business operators were initially permitted to continue working alone at sites under the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services before Mr Andrews abolished the exemption a week after the latest lockdowns were enforced August 2.
Melbourne is in Stage 4 lockdown while the rest of Victoria is in Stage 3 as the battle to control the state’s second deadly wave of new infections continues
Mr Penman has been battling with the government over the rules preventing cleaners and gardeners in Melbourne from working during the second lockdown (pictured: People are seen exercising in a park Melbourne)
Mr Penman asked the Premier why he overturned the expert advice of his own health department and what evidence he has of sole operators with no contact with other workers or the public being serious risk to public health.
‘Your bungled hotel quarantine program has brought the state of Victoria to its knees,’ Mr Penman wrote on Thursday.
‘Small businesses are the lifeblood of Victoria’s economy. You have pushed a knife through their heart.’
‘If you don’t have the decency to provide answers, then you do not deserve to remain as Premier.’
The only response Mr Penman says he’s received from the Premier is a comment made at a press conference that he would not depart from the advice given by experts.
‘But, Mr Premier, this is exactly what YOU have done,’ Mr Penman said.
Jim Penman (pictured left) described Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as ‘the worst political figure Australia has had in my lifetime’
Jim Pennam (pictured at work) has vowed to continue hounding the Victorian Premier
‘Mr Premier, mum and dad businesses may not support your Party with fundraising dinners and union dues, but they are still Victorians who deserve your respect. They deserve your answers.
He ended his letter by urging Victorians to demand answers from their leader.
Mr Penman remains hopeful lockdown restrictions will soon ease and vowed to continue hounding the Premier for answers.
Victoria is to have restrictions eased on September 13, however, it is still unclear how that will happen.
The state government announced on Monday ‘reopening roadmap’ – the plan for the easing of Melbourne’s stage-four coronavirus restrictions and Victoria’s stage-three measures – will be unveiled on Sunday.
Melburnians (pictured on Saturday) remain in Stage 4 lockdown until at least September 13
Melburnians were out and about enjoying the weather on Saturday, despite stage 4 lockdown
Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement about Sunday came as Australia had its worst daily death toll – although the number was not what it seemed.
Monday’s 41 deaths easily eclipsed the previous mark of 25 on August 17.
But the premier said only eight of the deaths were new – the rest were aged care fatalities that had happened before August 27 and were reconciled with the Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday.
Overall, Victoria’s virus statistics continue to trend well, with Monday’s 73 new cases the lowest figure since July 3.
Even so, Mr Andrews continues to give no guarantee that the restrictions’ due date of September 13 is when they will be eased.
‘We can’t rule out settings in two weeks time. It is very difficult to know what those settings will be,’ the premier said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has been accused of destroying livelihoods
‘What we will provide on Sunday will be the plan that we intend to put in place, the plan that, all things being equal, we will put in place.
‘Everything has to have that asterisk next to it. I know that is deeply frustrating. It is frustrating for all of us.’
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton also urged Victorians to stay the course.
‘We are all fed up with it, absolutely fed up with it,’ Professor Sutton said.
‘But holding the course, even as we get down to these very low numbers, is absolutely critical to get that control that we can be confident that we will maintain.’
He hopes new case numbers will be down to 40-50 by the end of the week.
Earlier on Monday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said it was difficult to see Melbourne coming out of its stage four restrictions on September 13, given the current numbers.
WHO IS JIM PENMAN?
David ‘Jim’ Penman founded Jim’s Mowing in 1982.
The company is a thriving business with 55 different divisions in both Australia and New Zealand, 4,000 franchisees and 35,000 customers per day.
Mr Penman started the company after giving up his dream on becoming an academic.
He was studying his PhD in history at Latrobe University but he quickly realised his views were ‘far too radical’ for most universities.
His main interests lay with biohistory, but he also found that the subject wasn’t popular enough to warrant study grants.
Biohistory is the study of how a person’s environment and behaviour can leave ‘marks’ on our DNA that are then passed on to the the next generation.
So Mr Penman decided he would fund his own research, but never predicted that someday he would have the wealth to do so and more.
He was inspired to start something new after his first marriage collapsed, and mowing seemed like the obvious option.
‘I just started mowing lawns, working incredibly hard six days week and doing a great job,’ he told news.com.au.
‘Customers loved me and I got repeat work.’
Life hasn’t been perfect for Mr Penman, however.
He fired his own sister at one point and has not spoken to her since. Despite this, he doesn’t apologise for it and says it was purely a cold business decision that had to be made.