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$300,000 fines for ‘superspreader’ Melbourne engagement party

·3-min read
Image of Melbourne engagement partygoers with faces blurred and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews
Partygoers of an illegal Melbourne engagement party have been slapped with hefty fines of around $5,500 each. (Source: ABC, Getty)

Dozens of attendees who attended an illegal engagement party during Melbourne’s lockdown have been slapped with more than $300,000 in penalties.

Of the 69 attendees, 56 were adults, who were each dealt with a $5,452 fine.

The engagement party was held in Melbourne’s Caulfield North a fortnight ago, and with the total sum coming to a total of $305,312.

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A video of the event showed unmasked people listening on and laughing as a man joked about the gathering being “clearly a legal event” as a “group therapy session”.

It’s been reported that at least two medical professionals went to the engagement party.

Victoria Police told Yahoo Finance it had issued 56 fines at $5,452 each to every adult who attended the party.

“The remaining party guests were children and will not be fined,” a spokesperson said.

“Victoria Police is satisfied all guests have been accounted for and the investigation has now concluded.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week confirmed that COVID-19 had spread at the engagement party and could be a potential “superspreader event”.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Victorian premier Daniel Andrews speaks during a press conference on August 21, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Premier Daniel Andrews has announced regional Victoria will enter a lockdown from 1pm today. Victoria recorded 61 new positive cases in the last 24 hours, with only 22 of those cases in isolation during their infectious period. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews condemned the event. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

The event would now see contact tracers, who were “working their guts out for all of us”, have to spend “literally thousands of hours” tracking where the attendees had been and who they had come into contact with.

"It shouldn't have happened. Some of the commentary in the video is just blatant," Andrews said.

"What makes me really angry about it is there are 69 people at that event and no matter what you're told or what you read, the fact is there has been transmission at that event.

"The only question is whether it will be a superspreader event — it's already a transmission event.

“It is all entirely preventable.”

Victoria Chief Police Commissioner Shane Patton had predicted the fines for each of the attendees and said it was looking to be “an expensive engagement party”.

It’s understood that the gathering consisted of some prominent members of Victoria’s Jewish community, with Victoria Jewish Community Council president Daniel Aghion saying he was disappointed by the news.

“We too feel the immense frustration at the current situation, and are focusing our support on significant efforts being made to contain the virus.”

Former Labor MP Philip Dalidakis, who identifies as Jewish, last week condemned the event as “appalling” and said he recognised people in the video.

“Small pockets of our Orthodox & ultra Orthodox community need to see this event as an opportunity to reset and reflect on just how dangerous & selfish their behaviour has been,” he said.

A screenshot of Philip Dalidakis's Facebook post condemning the event.
Philip Dalidakis made a Facebook post condemning the event. (Source: Facebook/Yahoo Finance screenshot)

“I am genuinely shocked at the brazen disregard for our laws. Not one person in the video should be there, not one person in the video is using masks, not one person in the video is considering the selfish impact their behaviour is now having.”

ABC revealed that friends of the family that hosted the party had received death threats since the event became publicly known.

Australia’s two most populous states of NSW and Victoria are currently grappling with the Delta outbreak.

Sydney is in its ninth week of lockdown, and is recording daily case numbers in the 800s, while Victoria’s case numbers are steadily climbing.

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