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Premier, give Victorians the freedom to work and see their family

On Sunday, the Premier must abandon his disastrous roadmap and unlock Victoria.

From the time it was announced on 6 September 2020, I have been speaking out about the economic and jobs disaster this would impose. (See In my statement at the time, I said:

While health restrictions to combat the spread of Coronavirus are necessary, they must be reasonable and proportionate to the public health risk. … Given the requirement that Melbourne’s economy won’t fully re-open until there are no new cases across the state for 14 days, I fear that many cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops will still be closed at Christmas.

This week’s employment numbers show the shocking impact of Victoria’s prolonged lockdown – over the past two months while 172,000 new jobs were created across the rest of the country, in Victoria 73,000 jobs were lost. Victoria’s effective unemployment rate is 14 per cent compared with 7.7 per cent in NSW and a national average of 9.4 per cent. Victorians comprise 26 per cent of Australia’s population but now make up of 40 per cent of Australia’s effectively unemployed.

This is the tragic cost of quarantine failure, inadequate contact tracing and disproportionate restrictions.

Regional business including in Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong which depend so heavily on the Melbourne economy are also suffering.

The mental health toll is also profound. Maree, of Sam’s Café in Geelong, has not seen her three sons who live in Melbourne for more than three months. She is distressed and today called on the Victorian Government to ease restrictions. She said: “… they’re [my sons] going crazy and I am going crazy.”

With Victoria well below the Commonwealth threshold of 10 new cases a day, it is time the Premier gave Victorians the freedom to work and see their family.

16 October 2020

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