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Pregnant Ballarat mum blames ‘bimbo moment’ for lockdown protest

“I thought in Ballarat we are in stage three lockdown and I suppose I had a bit of a bimbo moment and I actually didn’t realise it wasn’t ok,” she told radio station 3AW.

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“I thought that if we social-distanced and wore masks it was ok. Obviously now I realise that it’s not ok.”

She said she believed “some good” should come out of the situation.

“I’m not regretful for going live. It might be a bit of an eye opener of the human rights I’m trying to stand for and people realising just how out of control things are getting.

“I’m not a criminal person and that was very extreme, if the police had of just called me and told me to remove the post I would have done so, I didn’t realise I was doing something wrong and thought it was very extreme under the circumstances, that my children could be exposed to stuff like that.”

She said she had organised the protest as she believed lockdowns are too harsh and should be eased.

“I understand that I should be very remorseful and my heart does go out to anyone who has passed away from COVID and people are getting sick. I don’t believe it’s a hoax, I’m not a part of a cult or anything like that,” she said.

“I am someone that has a strong opinion, I’m glad my opinion is getting out there. You know if lockdowns are eased and it’s just little old me that managed to make a difference, I’m glad about that.

“The protest never happened, no-one was actually harmed, restrictions weren’t broken, or anything like that so I guess I’m not remorseful.

“I feel like [Premier] Daniel Andrews is the one that should be feeling remorseful to be honest.”

Mr Andrews said that he had not seen the video of the incident and how it was handled was a matter for Victoria Police.

“The key point here is, now is not the time to protest about anything. Because to do so is not safe,” he said.

“Protests are not smart, they’re not safe, and they’re not lawful. And that’s been my consistent view, regardless of what you’re protesting about. And I’m not making a comment about the worth or otherwise or whatever someone is protesting about.”

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said police were doing as they had flagged they would in taking action against people who organised protests.

He said police were satisfied that the treatment of Ms Buhler was appropriate in the circumstances.

“It’s never going to look good, the optics of arresting someone who’s pregnant is terrible,” he said, adding that the use of handcuffs was guided by a risk assessment process which had been correctly followed in the treatment of Ms Buhler.

“This wasn’t some casual encounter. This was our members, attending our premises to execute a search warrant.”

“I’ve seen the footage and in my assessment the members have conducted themselves entirely reasonably, they’ve been polite and professional.”

He said formal letters had been sent to other people “at risk” of attending a protest and they would be arrested if they attended a protest on the weekend.

The decision to promote the Shrine of Rembrance as a location for Saturday’s proposed protest was “completely inappropriate”, he said.

“Don’t be selfish, stay at home, protest online,” he said.

“We share the frustration that is shared by the whole community, but the key piece here is that leaving home to protest under the current conditions, is absolutely not on.”

“If however you do take the selfish option, and leave home for protest, we’ll be ready for you. We’ll be ready for you no only in the city, but we’ll be ready for you when you leave home and hop on public transport or use other means to come into the city.”

He said there were hundreds of police ready to respond including mounted police and highway patrol officers.

Opposition Police spokesman David Southwick said the treatment of Buhler had “deeply concerned” Victorians and contrasted it with the handling of the Black Lives Matter and construction union protests.

“Victoria Police continue to perform an outstanding job in difficult circumstances yet the community rightly expects consistency of enforcement and everyone to be treated equally before the law,” he said.

“This incident has demonstrated an unacceptable inconsistency in the enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions and Daniel Andrews must now answer why it is one set of rules for left-wing and union protesters and another set for anyone critical of his government.”

In another social media post from earlier this week Ms Buhler responded to news that the Victorian parliament had extended government powers to enforce measures such as lockdowns writing: “Corona will go down in history as the biggest hoax on earth.”

Mr Andrews said Victoria Police had made judgements on how to handle “historic matters”.

“We can’t change that. But we can certainly try and change the behaviour that anybody might exhibit over the weeks and months to come,” he said.

Asked what her message would be to people planning on attending an anti-lockdown protest on Saturday, she said she couldn’t comment on it due to her bail conditions.

Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said the officers, who had a warrant and read the woman her rights, were simply doing their job.

“Members were simply doing their job. We don’t have a choice, we’re all in this struggle together. The government has given us a job to do and there’s an expectation police will do their job,” he told ABC.

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