Coronavirus Victoria: Law firm's backflip after controversial face mask post

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·4-min read

A law firm that encouraged Victorians to challenge the $200 fine for not wearing a face mask has retracted its earlier “free legal advice”.

G&B Lawyers, based in Sydney’s CBD, shared a post saying “free legal advice to all Victorians” to Facebook on Sunday.

“Don’t wear a mask. Get a $200 fine then elect to have it determined in court. Every single one of you 6.359 million Victorians can challenge the fines in court,” the post, which has since been deleted, read.

“The Victorian government won’t fight you in court. It is far too expensive for them to do so.”

Photo shows Nathan Buckley from G&B Lawyers. He advised Victorians to challenge fines for not wearing a face mask.
Nathan Buckley from G&B Lawyers in Sydney gave "free legal advice" encouraging Victorians to challenge fines for not wearing a face mask. Source: Facebook/G&B Lawyers

The firm’s post came after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that from midnight on Wednesday people in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire found not wearing a mask would be fined $200.

After facing widespread criticism, the firm’s partner Nathan Buckley posted another comment on the Facebook page late on Monday afternoon saying the original post was an expression of his personal beliefs, and “was not the provision of legal advice”.

“I take full responsibility and accountability for the post that has made media attention worldwide. It was not the provision of legal advice. It was the expression of my own personal political beliefs,” Mr Buckley wrote.

“As a citizen of Australia I have an implied freedom of political communication which is protected by the constitution.”

Mr Buckley said he removed the original post at the request of the NSW Law Society.

He maintained his position that mandating the wearing of face masks was “unlawful and in breach of the constitution”, adding his belief is not an expression of law and should not be considered legal advice from G&B Lawyers.

Mr Buckley is no stranger to controversy, currently leading a charge to have South Australia’s “No Jab No Play” policy - a law to improve vaccination rates among children - overturned.

He has also spearheaded a campaign calling for Australian lockdowns to end, arguing it is “a breach of all Australians’ fundamental freedoms”.

Following his offer of “legal advice” on Sunday, the Facebook page for the law firm was inundated with nasty reviews, which saw people labelling the advice “irresponsible” and “abhorrent”.

One man called on the firm to “stick” to their “knitting”, and pointed out they were “lawyers, not medical professionals”.

The law firm's since deleted post on Facebook. Source: Facebook
The law firm's since deleted post on Facebook. Source: Facebook
Photo shows two men walking across a street wearing face masks.
The wearing of face masks in Melbourne is mandatory from Thursday. Source: AP

Following the initial post, the firm shared another post advertising for a “criminal lawyer based in Victoria” with “experience in challenging fines in courts”.

It said the firm was expecting “six million or so fines against individuals for not wearing a mask”.

Another subsequent post requested that people who like the page write a positive review of the business on Facebook and Google as there were “too many trolls dragging us down” following the “free legal advice” post.

Premier urges Melburnians to wear masks

Encouraging Victorians to not wear a mask goes directly against public health advice, which states the benefits of wearing a face covering far outweigh the consequences.

Photo shows Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews entering press conference wearing a face mask in Melbourne.
Premier Daniel Andrews wears a face mask ahead of a press conference on Monday. Source: Getty Images

Mr Andrews addressed some people’s resistance to wearing a mask on Monday, telling reporters: “I don't think it is too much to ask Victorians to wear a mask so they don't finish up in hospital.”

To demonstrate the difference a mask can make to the spread of germs, a US research lab has executed a variety of tests revealing the drastic difference a face covering can make.

Yahoo News has contacted G&B Lawyers and Mr Buckley for comment.

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