Today’s announcement from the Victorian Government is a crushing blow for many Victorians who believe this delivers a journey of continuing despair rather than a roadmap to re-open the economy.

The extension of lockdown arrangements in metropolitan Melbourne and the severe restrictions in regional Victoria are decisions made solely by the Victorian Government.

It is imperative that Victoria is restored to a COVIDSafe environment as soon as possible. The toll on Victorian businesses, workers, families, seniors and young people is profound; as is the damage to our economy, our freedoms and our mental health.

These emergency restrictions are a further reminder of the hotel quarantine and contact tracing failures in Victoria which have led to such high levels of COVID-19 community transmission.

While health restrictions to combat the spread of Coronavirus are necessary, they must be reasonable and proportionate to the public health risk. I remain concerned about the arbitrary and inconsistent nature of some restrictions. Why did it take a public campaign with Jim’s Mowing to lift the prohibition on sole private gardeners? And why the ‘one size fits all’ approach in regional Victoria? Regional Victorians have every right to be angry about onerous restrictions in parts of the state where there are no or minimal active cases.

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. Victorians have every reason to question whether this reflects an unreasonable elimination strategy which is not supported by expert medical advice.

Victorians also need the confidence that contact tracing is being delivered at the highest level: Premier Daniel Andrews has not provided details of the State’s contact tracing resources nor has he established permanent public health teams across regional Victoria for which I called many weeks ago.

I welcome feedback from regional Victorians about today’s announcement which will be included in our Government’s analysis of the impact of these restrictions.

Our Government’s concern, as always, is to save lives and livelihoods which is why we are investing many billions of dollars in the Victorian economy at this very difficult time.

6 September 2020