Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has denied some of his lockdown measures, including the state’s controversial curfew, were “captain’s calls”.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Premier said he did not need chief health officer Brett Sutton to endorse all of his ideas but denied he was acting alone.
Mr Andrews came under fire earlier in the day over Victoria’s curfew, with the state’s opposition leader describing it as a “captain’s call”. Mr Sutton denied any involvement in the decision, and Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton said he was not consulted before it came into play.
The Premier appeared to distance himself from the chief health officer as he fought back against the claims he’d acted alone, angrily pointing out a government did not need the permission or advice of the CHO to make decisions that were administrative or to address enforcement issues.
“No, see, this is not the thing. This is not the issue,” he said.
“The notion that the Government can’t do anything whatsoever unless the chief health officer provides it in detailed advice, that doesn’t make any sense.
“That’s not the principle that operates here, or New South Wales, or any other Australian state, or at a national level.
“If you want to put it to the Prime Minister, has he ever acted beyond, in any sense, the advice that Brendan Murphy or Paul Kelly have given him, I think the answer will be he has.”
Mr Andrews went on to say the decisions made by the Government were based on advice, discussion and consultation with experts, but ultimately, he was accountable.
“The Government is not there just to follow on the advice of others. We are elected, we are chosen by the community to get the job done,” he said.
“The chief health officer is not the government,” he added.
“The chief health officer and the deputy chief health officer support it in the way it limits movement.”
There were 51 new cases of coronavirus and seven deaths announced on Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll to 701.
Of the seven deaths, there were four men in their 70s, two women in their 80s and one man in his 80s.
Thirty-one of Victoria’s new cases are still under investigation, and there were no new cases in regional Victoria overnight.