Tarwin Valley candidate Rosemary Cousin has been forced off the election hustings by a nutter who accosted her in Leongatha.


By Michael Giles

TARWIN Valley candidate, Rosemary Cousin, had her campaign for election temporarily delayed by a nutter who accosted her outside the Woolworths Supermarket in Leongatha last Wednesday afternoon claiming to be COVID positive.

Thankfully Ms Cousin and her husband have since tested negative.

Ms Cousin had to stop campaigning on Thursday and Friday, apart from participating in the online forum on Thursday night, and lined up for a drive-through COVID test at Lardner Park on Friday.

“Thankfully, the COVID test results for Richard and I were both negative, so could you include a reassurance about that please.

“The incident was a horrible and cruel hoax perpetrated on me, which inconvenienced and instilled fear, not only in me and my husband but many others.”

How did it happen?

“I was talking to some people outside Woollies in Leongatha when this bloke came up to me and grabbed my hand and said, ‘ha, ha, I’m COVID positive’ and then left,” Ms Cousin said.

“I like meeting with people but now I’m going to have to isolate until I get my test result.”

In the wake of Ms Cousin’s experience, there has been reports of new exposure sites in South Gippsland and Bass Coast, yet to be confirmed by the Gippsland Region Public Health Unit.

The case numbers in South Gippsland include 2 new cases, total active cases 12, Bass Coast plus one, total active 11 cases.

Ms Cousins said she hadn’t yet reported the matter to police but noted that she did have a description of the man and some details about the car he was driving and other information that might be of interest to police.

“I was pretty shocked about it really. I mean there’s a lot of it around at the moment.”

She said at the time that “hopefully it was just a hoax but you’ve got to take the necessary precautions.”

Ms Cousin said she had also been in contact with another candidate in Tarwin Valley and had advised that person of the situation.

“I had to attend the Mirboo North and District Community Foundation office to do the forum but I’ve just been at home since then.”

[Please note: Ruth Rogan of the Mirboo North Foundation has asked that the following details be clarified – It was not the Mirboo North and District Community Foundation that was used for Ms Cousin to participate in the zoom ‘Meet the Candidates’ forum last Thursday, but the Co-Space – an area that is available to be booked by members of the public].

“We were in the queue for four hours and got back home at 4.30. The staff at the Lardner Park pavilion were brilliant. Fancy working in car-fumed and COVID-potential environment, wrapped in protective gear for so many hours each day – all to help protect our community. It speaks to me of great selflessness.

“If what happened to me opens people’s eyes to the seriousness of this pandemic, and challenges those who don’t believe, don’t care, or worse deliberately want to spread the disease then it’s been tough but worthwhile.

“I know there’s a lot of lockdown fatigue. The staff at Lardner Park said if everyone would just hold on a bit longer and observe the lockdown rules, we will break the back of the latest outbreak.

“They say, use the next 10 days to get tested and at least have a first, preferably second vax, then we will get through it.

“I don’t think employers should be held responsible for their staff being required to get vaccinated, especially when pharmaceutical companies and doctors are indemnified. If that is the case, then it’s just not equitable.

“From my experience though, I highly recommend that everybody gets tested if they have any doubt, and definitely gets vaccinated. We just need this last great effort so we can open up with greater safety and speed,” Ms Cousins said.