By Mimi Becker
A Melbourne tradie who was fined $1652 for breaking lockdown laws while travelling to get butter chicken says he will contest the fine.
Noel Atkinson, 48, says he didn’t know he was breaking the rules when he travelled 32 kilometres from Werribee in Melbourne’s west to pick up his meal in the CBD earlier this month.
“I thought you could travel for food. The rules aren’t specific. They need to be more black and white, not grey,” Mr Atkinson told A Current Affair.
“I travel over 100km every day for work, so 30km to the CBD is like a hop, skip and jump to me. It’s not that far at all.”
The concreter was pulled over by police just metres from his destination where he was handed an on-the-spot fine.
“It’s a bit hefty. I’m going to contest it. Have my day in court and hopefully I can get the magistrate to waive the fine,” Mr Atkinson said.
“I didn’t realise I was (breaking the rules). If I knew I was, I wouldn’t have done it. I would have stayed home.
“I’m aware now that it was wrong. I think everyone else was too.”
He has learnt a tough lesson, saying he now, “goes to work, comes home and stays home”.
Mr Atkinson has been offered a free year’s supply of butter chicken from the restaurant as consolation.
“I was appreciative that’s for sure. It made the fine a little bit easier to swallow.” Mr Atkinson said.
Desi Dhaba, the restaurant Mr Atkinson was travelling too, has extended their delivery routes to keep customers happy.
They’ve also posted ads saying, “Don’t risk a fine, we’ll deliver butter chicken that’s divine.”
Amit Tuteja, the co-owner of Desi Dhaba, says he felt he owed the hard-working tradie, but does not condone his actions.
“We do not agree with the fact that anybody should be travelling 30km to get their food.” Mr Tuteja said.
“There are local restaurants they should be getting their food from, but we feel special that he chose our butter chicken over anyone else.”