NSW police officers were handing out more than twice as many Covid fines to western Sydney residents than to those who live in the city and the eastern suburbs — even before the crackdown in the city’s west and southwest began.
Figures obtained exclusively under freedom of information by NCA NewsWire show that only seven fines were issued in the Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command between June 25 and July 8, even though the outbreak was initially concentrated in Bondi and Double Bay.
In this time period – which begins on the day of the eastern suburbs lockdown and ends the day before NSW police launched a controversial “high-visibility operation” in Sydney’s southwest – police issued 251 penalty infringement notices to people living in the council areas of Sydney, Woollahra, Waverley and Randwick.
In the western suburbs they issued 572 PINS.
Sydney City had the most fines, 119, followed by Parramatta with 79 fines, Fairfield with 75, Liverpool 73, and Blacktown 71.
Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour said he wasn’t surprised by the figures.
“We’ve felt the government didn’t do enough when the outbreak began in the eastern suburbs.
“We think it’s important everyone does the right thing, and the police presence should be across the city — it shouldn’t be a tale of two cities.
Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou said his community had felt they were “targeted” by police.
“Western Sydney inherited this, and now it is obvious western Sydney was targeted even when Covid-19 was spreading in the eastern suburbs,” he said.
“Eastern suburbs residents are more affluent, more wealthy, and hold positions of influence, whereas western Sydney residents are not in the same category.
“Western Sydney residents are more vulnerable, have lower socio-economic status and are often migrant families – they don’t have the same power to make noise and really worry these politicians, they’re an easy and vulnerable group to target.”
The officer responsible for the operation, deputy commissioner Mal Lanyon, denied police would treat the people in those areas any differently than those in the affluent eastern suburbs.
“This is not about discrimination. This is not about racism. This is about enforcing the health order and we will do that fairly and we will do that in a balanced way,” he told Channel 9 on July 9, the day the operation began.
“We’ve had a very visible presence right across Sydney since the health orders came into place and the lockdown of Sydney took place approximately two weeks ago.”
Greater Sydney went into lockdown on June 26, the day after the eastern suburbs and the CBD.
NSW officials first identified the council areas of
NSW Police acknowledged the fine numbers, but declined to comment further.
TOP 10 CITY POLICE AREA COMMANDS BY PINs ISSUED
25 June to 8 July
Sydney City – 119
Parramatta – 79
Fairfield City – 75
Liverpool City – 73
Blacktown – 71
St George – 69
Cumberland – 49
Mt Druitt – 42
Nepean – 40