Lisa Wilkinson slams Bunnings ‘Karen’

 

Lisa Wilkinson has slammed the "Karen" who went viral for refusing to wear a mask inside a Victorian Bunnings and praised Bunnings staff for being "extraordinary, professional and polite" in the face of a pandemic denier.

Wilkinson's comments came after an interview on the Sunday Project where a leading epidemiologist said face mask deniers like "Karen" who berated Bunnings workers for enforcing the rule should have their "oxygen" cut off.

The woman, dubbed "Bunnings Karen" on social media accompanying the now viral video, threatened to sue the store, was briefly handcuffed by police and claimed her human rights were being violated.

After watching the clip, Wilkinson replied: "You can only shake your head", while describing the situation as "a waste of time and energy".

"Most of us have seen that footage of the pandemic denier having a very strong discussion - mostly on her side - with the staff at Bunnings.

"We have to say first up, those staff at Bunnings were extraordinary. They were patient, polite, they were professional, they never lost focus the whole time".

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Bunnings Chief Operating Officer Deb Poole described the woman's behaviour as "completely unacceptable" and said the safety of customers and staff was the chain's highest priority.

"We won't tolerate abuse against our team members and we have security at all metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire stores as support," she said.

It came as Victoria recorded 459 new coronavirus cases and 10 deaths on Sunday, with a man in his 40s one of the latest casualties.

Wilkinson offered advice over Australian law to those faced with deniers like "Karen".

"Australian law says that private land owners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property.

"So it would be legal for business including cafes and supermarkets to make it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands.

"End of story. They have every right".

It came after the Project desk interviewed Professor Marylouise McCaws of the University of NSW who Wilkinson asked how it was possible to get people like "Bunnings Karen" to do the right thing.

Professor McCaws conceded it was "very difficult in any public health campaign".

Professor McCaws, a long time face mask advocate, said: "We either need to

address those people's concerns about individuality accurately or take the oxygen away from a group that are just not getting on-board".

"It's always difficult. So at one stage people were reticent to wear a seat belt and eventually it became the social norm," she said.

"We need to make sure that the majority are accepting the message of masks."

Professor McCaws is a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for coronavirus.

Wilkinson said most people who had seen the Bunnings footage of the "pandemic denier" were now "having a very strong discussion".

 

The ‘Bunnings Karen’ outside a Melbourne store where she challenged staff about the face mask rule. Picture: Twitter
The ‘Bunnings Karen’ outside a Melbourne store where she challenged staff about the face mask rule. Picture: Twitter

The so-called "Bunnings Karen" confrontation occurred at Narre Warren Bunnings store in southeastern Melbourne on Friday, and video of it was posted on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday.

The woman's defiance of the law came just a day after the Victorian government made wearing face masks in public mandatory for people in Melbourne and in the Mitchell Shire north of the city.

Further videos posted on Twitter show the woman in a heated debate with police officers outside the store.

Dubbed a "Karen" online, the woman's protest began as she walked into Bunnings without a face mask on.

Audio of a worker saying "excuse me" can be heard and then the woman turns her phone camera on three different employees who challenge her.

The first says: "Excuse me, you need a mask on".

The woman turns and storms towards a female worker in a Bunnings uniform and says: "I beg your pardon?"

The woman holds up the phone close to the worker's face.

"It's all right," the female worker replies, "I was just asking if you have a mask."

The woman replies: "Well it is clear I don't, and you are not authorised to ask me or question me about it."

The worker asks if the woman wants to speak with the manager, and takes her over to see her boss.

The manager tells the woman she needs a medical certificate to enter the store without a mask.

This sets the woman off on a rant about how she is being discriminated against and a claim that Bunnings' policy is illegal.

"Actually I don't need a medical certificate," she says and refuses a request to stop filming.

"No, I am allowed to do this and you're discriminating against me."

The manager replies: "We are not discriminating against you, we are just all trying to be in this together. And we all just need to wear a mask."

 

The woman retorts: "All in what together? You are not authorised by the Australian government to even question me about it."

When a male Bunnings worker told her wearing a mask was a condition of entry, the woman retorted that was "discrimination and I can have you sued personally for discriminating against me as a woman".

When he told her the store was not discriminating against anyone, she replied, "You are.

"It is an unlawful condition of entry."

"Therefore that exposes you personally and Bunnings to being sued for discrimination because it is in breach of the 1948 Charter of Human rights to discriminate men and women."

After leaving the store, the woman was filmed being handcuffed by police in the car park.

Police then removed her handcuffs and she handed the officers a certificate purporting to prove she was medically exempted from wearing a face mask.

She then told police her arrest was unlawful and had not been approved by the Queen or voted in by Australians.

"That legislation is fraudulent. It doesn't apply to me," she said.

"Legislation and acts can't apply to living humans. They only apply to dead people."

The officer in charge tells her: ""That's your opinion of the law, that's not necessarily how it works in the state of Victoria."

He then explains to her what an offence is and she constantly interrupts him and he grows impatient.

He explains: "That's your personal belief, but that is not the law we work under," he said.

"I am not going enter into an argument about what you believe the law is. That is a conversation between you and the judicial system."

He goes on to say that she has allegedly committed a contravention of legislation brought in which means there is reasonable grounds to believe she has committed an offence.

"If you don't provide your name and address that power kicks in to arrest you," he says.

The woman avoided being fined $200 under the new mask laws.

candace.sutton@news.com.au

Originally published as Lisa Wilkinson slams Bunnings 'Karen'



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