Australia

‘Playing politics’: Daniel Andrews hits back at Scott Morrison

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has returned to serve over Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to reopen the economy faster warning the dangerous option would simply plunge Melbourne into a third lockdown.Warning the COVID-19 battle will not be won by “playing politics”, Mr Andrews pointedly declared it was up to others to judge if this was…

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has returned to serve over Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to reopen the economy faster warning the dangerous option would simply plunge Melbourne into a third lockdown.

Warning the COVID-19 battle will not be won by “playing politics”, Mr Andrews pointedly declared it was up to others to judge if this was what the Prime Minister was doing.

“There’s just no place for politics in this. This virus will not be defeated by playing politics,’’ Mr Andrews said.

“I’d say to the Prime Minister the worst case scenario is being open for three or four weeks and then closed down again.

“That’s the worst case scenario. Absolutely that’s the worst case scenario and I’ll continue to work closely with the Prime Minister and his team.”

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On Monday, the Prime Minister issued his toughest criticism of the Victorian lockdown to date urging the state to re-open the economy faster by improving COVID-19 contact tracing.

“Lockdowns and borders are not signs of success in dealing with COVID-19. And so it’s important that we put ourselves in a position where they do not feature in how Australia is dealing with COVID-19 on a sustainable basis,” Mr Morrison said.

“What I can’t help but be struck by is that, under the thresholds that have been set in that plan, Sydney would be under curfew now. Sydney doesn’t need to be under curfew now. They have a tracing capability that can deal with outbreaks.”

But Mr Andrews insisted there was “no comparison” with the situation in NSW or the targets for when the economy should reopen.

“I’ve seen some of that comparison. I saw some comparisons that I don’t think are helpful or accurate in any way,’’ he said.

“The notion that New South Wales would be in certain settings if our rules applied to them. Well, of course, our rules don’t apply to them. They’re New South Wales and we’re not in the same situation as them.”

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Mr Andrews said the only way forward was in “safe and steady steps.”

“We’d all like to be able to open everything up tomorrow. We could do that and there’d be 15 minutes of happiness and then we’d be back locked down and arguably facing an even worse situation than we face now,’’ he said.

The Victorian Premier confirmed he was in the talks with the Morrison Government over the plans to reduce the JobKeeper wage subsidy from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight.

Thousands of Victorians will have their pay reduced by $300 a fortnight even though Melbourne remains in lockdown and millions remain confined to their homes and unable to work.

“There are JobSeeker arrangements that remain in place – they do change but they’re there for some weeks to come before they go to a lower level,’’ Mr Andrews said.

“I’ll put it to you this way … If there’s criticism of that it’s not for today, it might be in the days to come.”

YOUR SAY: What do you think of Daniel Andrews’ lockdown roadmap plans?

Earlier, Health Minister Greg Hunt urged the Victorian Government to release all of the details of the modelling driving the roadmap out of lockdown.

“This situation is longer than Wuhan. Melbourne’s lockdown is four weeks longer than Wuhan. I am sure we can do better,’’ Mr Hunt said.

“What we would like to do is offer more people, if they would like to accept, it for contact tracing but also the ability to have a really integrated system to look and compare with no sense of pride or concern or state parochialism, the way that New South Wales is carrying out their full public health response.”

Mr Hunt said Victoria should also publish a list of sites where cases have been discovered.

“New South Wales everyday will indicate that whether it’s on a particular public transport, whether it’s at a particular restaurant, a particular shopping centre, whether it’s a gymnasium or elsewhere,’’ he said.

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