On Friday the Victorian Labor Government demanded a blank cheque, a free pass, to extraordinary powers that they say are needed to deal with COVID-19.
I said no.
So did my colleagues in the lower house of the Victorian Parliament.
We say enough is enough.
These State of Emergency powers have become a tool of fear, it has allowed the Labor Government to shut down this state without justification, without providing any factual evidence to the wider community or even those who have been given the privilege to sit in the Parliament.
The Premier has had these powers for more than 12 months already and what have they done with them? Well they have seen us in a gruelling lockdown for 111 days last year and again snapped into lockdown just last Friday. They created the New Year’s Eve Border chaos.
Victoria’s lockdown record is appalling, three times the number of days of that of NSW.
But this is too simple a measure to truly reflect the impact on our region.
This past week alone my office has had hundreds upon hundreds of calls, emails and social media contacts from people with a litany of horror stories, stories of fear, oppressions and despair.
The would-be-mum whose IVF treatment has now been on hold for 12 months, a cancer patient denied a final test by the lockdown, the primary school mum who says her Year 1 child has never known consistent schooling, the lawnmower man who has no avenue for compensation – resigned to another week of no income, the young business couple whose dream has become a nightmare, the tradie fined for working on Monday, the Wodonga couple forced to drive 7 hours straight to get back to the Border by midnight Friday.
The stories are endless.
The theme consistent.
They ask why? Why when we haven’t seen a case since this all began, why when NSW didn’t lock down its state in a similar circumstance, can we see the evidence behind these lockdowns, why is this happening when we have a “gold standard” hotel quarantine system, why when the Premier says the buck stops with him?
Well let’s shine the light of truth on this.
We were plunged into chaos and despair last Friday by a blunt tool that says Labor’s only weapon of defence is a statewide lockdown, it can’t set up a ring around Melbourne, it can’t keep the virus in hotel quarantine and it certainly can’t take responsibility.
The facts are NSW has processed 125,000 returned Australians; Victoria, 35,000. NSW has had 4900 COVID cases; Victoria, 20,456. Victoria, tragically, has had 820 deaths; New South Wales, 56. Yet the Premier tells us that Victoria’s hotel quarantine system is the envy of the nation, that it is the envy of other states, that it should be copied. Less than two weeks ago the Premier described it as the gold standard and yet by Friday week ago, the state was locked down again because of the incompetence at hotel quarantine.
My colleague Tim Smith was more eloquent than I in describing the Premier’s assertion that the UK strain has somehow grown horns, a pulse, can walk around corners, walk on water perhaps and do cartwheels. We agree it is a variant of the original Wuhan strain. Sure it is more infectious, but as the member for Kew said if you have a sensible infection control measures in place at hotels, at hotel quarantine, the virus cannot leap out the window and infect the rest of the community.
People have had enough. They are tired of Labor’s politics of fear. They no longer trust the Premier’s defence of it’s based on so called best medical advice.
Like me, they have never seen this advice … the only thing that is highly infectious in their eyes is the hyperbole from a Premier who knowingly spreads fear with his rhetoric without detail.
I say show us the evidence, help Victorians understand.
Help the people whose family members are dying alone. The businesses closing their doors after generations of operation, the mums and dads home-schooling their kids.
Don’t just ask that we sign over our lives for another 10 months of torment.
Give us something back in return – on Friday, I called on the government to accept some reasonable amendments. If you have this power show us the evidence that demands these lockdowns, take a targeted approach to any outbreaks and talk to other states who have a far better record of managing COVID-19.
This bloody-minded government said no. No to me. No to you. And no to all the people, businesses, families and workers who will live life on the edge for the rest of this year.