Two women have been charged with affray after a fight over toilet paper broke out at a Sydney supermarket.
Police were called to the melee at a Woolworths in the Sydney suburb of Chullora on Saturday after reports a 49-year-old woman had been assaulted.
Footage of the incident showed a group of women pushing, yelling and fighting over a jumbo packet of toilet paper amid panic buying caused by the coronavirus.
One woman yells: “I just want one packet.”
Another woman replies “No, not one packet”, before two supermarket workers intervene to break up the argument.
When your usual grocery shopping @woolworths turns into a toilet paper fight in the supermarket aisle. Yikes. #toiletpaperpanic for the #coronavirus has taken a whole new level. pic.twitter.com/aKJ283I20C
— Adella Beaini (@adellabeaini) March 7, 2020
NSW Police acting inspector Andrew New said such violence “won’t be tolerated”, comparing the latest supermarket confrontation over scarce stocks of toilet paper to the Thunderdome arena from the third Mad Max movie.
“It’s just bad behaviour by people that are panicking, and there is just no need for any of that panic because there is sufficient supplies,” Mr New said.
“It’s not the Thunderdome, it’s not Mad Max, we don’t need to do that.”
The assaulted woman was not seriously injured and no arrests were made, however police still hope to identity the other two women involved in the altercation.
“At this stage, police are going to continue to investigate the matter,” Mr New told reporters.
“We will not tolerate violence of any kind from our customers in our stores and we are working with police who are investigating the matter,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.
Woolworths, Coles and Aldi have all imposed limits on the sale of toilet paper after shelves were stripped by shoppers this week amid panic buying over the coronavirus.
On Thursday, a man was reportedly tasered after a violent confrontation over toilet paper at a Tamworth shopping centre in regional NSW.
The 50-year-old man was taken into custody after the alleged assault ,The Northern Daily Leader reportrd.
Police were called to the Big W store in the shopping centre after reports a staff member and a customer had been assaulted by a man.
The newspaper said the argument was over toilet rolls.
‘Selfish’ panic buying
Victorian Council of Social Service CEO Emma King said the panic buying of toilet paper and cheap staples like beans was “inherently selfish”.
“By buying a trolley load of toilet paper or 40 bags of oats, you’re stopping people who generally don’t have any. People who actually need it,” Ms King told The New Daily.
Low-income earners such as pensioners or people on Newstart Allowance were being hit hard, she said.
“These people manage their income really, really carefully, and now they’re turning up to grocery stores and finding things they need like toilet paper and oats are off the shelves,” Ms King said.
There are special groups of people in our community who do not have the ability to shop on a regular basis, & when they do, they really need the essentials, like toilet paper to be available. Yes, stock up on 2 weeks worth of essentials, but not 3 or 4 months. #bekind pic.twitter.com/bjBNTiYapX
— Foodbank Australia (@FoodbankAus) March 4, 2020
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged the public to remain calm, saying there were no issues with toilet paper supply in NSW and no need for bulk-buying.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he was “disturbed” to see footage from the altercation.
“This is a time for calm. This is a time for Australians to pull together, to work together, to respect their fellow citizens,” he told reporters in Melbourne.