Daniel Andrews has given no indication he will scrap Melbourne’s controversial 5km radius rule despite demands from the opposition to get rid of the harsh measure in another fiery Question Time.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien asked: “Yesterday Labor MPs voted to keep the 5km limit, leading epidemiologists … the Liberal and National parties don’t support the 5km limit and most Victorians don’t support the 5km limit. Why wont the Premier scrap the 5km limit?”
It triggered a cheeky response from the Premier: “And most Victorians don’t support the Liberal Party.”
Mr Andrews maintained he would listen to the advice of the chief health officer ahead of an anticipated easing of restrictions on Sunday and would not engage in “toxic and cheap politics”.
It comes after the state opposition on Tuesday night attached an amendment to the Andrews government’s coronavirus omnibus bill, which sought to remove the city’s 5km travel limit.
But the bid was knocked back after failing to attract enough support from crossbench MPs.
Mr O’Brien then asked the Premier if he would allow small businesses “hanging by a thread” to reopen after Sunday.
“I will not be following his advice (Mr O’Brien), I will be following the advice of the chief health officer,” Mr Andrews replied.
CONCERN OVER SHEPPARTON VIRUS CLUSTER
Between 10-12 days have passed since a COVID-positive Melburnian who spread the virus to Kilmore and now Shepparton disclosed he had visited those regional communities, it was heard in parliament.
State independent MP for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed revealed the disturbing development during question time on Wednesday while quizzing the Health Minister on the government’s response.
“As I speak, up to 2000 people in Shepparton are queuing to be COVID tested at two separate clinics,” she said.
“I’m told that about 10-12 days passed since the spreader of the virus disclosed he had come to Shepparton, and there are likely to be many contacts throughout the community. People will be anxious and will want to be tested as soon as possible.
“Will you send more assistance from Melbourne and other regional clinics you’ve already established to Goulburn Valley Health to get this testing done and assure test results are made available as quickly as possible to reach and every person who is submitting themselves to those tests?”
The Department of Health and Human Services announced three positive cases in Shepparton late on Tuesday night and said more infections were expected as a result.
It is the first time in several weeks cases were recorded in the region.
“Extensive contact tracing has commenced by local authorities. We expect as part of that effort, further cases will be discovered,” DHHS testing commander Jeroen Weimar said.
In response to Ms Sheed’s question, Health Minister Martin Foley assured more resources were planned to help Shepparton fight its new coronavirus outbreak.
“I can give every assurance and the wider community of Shepparton … will be supported by all the necessary resources to make sure we identify this virus and respond to it in the most timely way,” he told parliament.
The current high-risk locations in Shepparton are:
• Central Tyre Service, Welsford St – Wednesday, September 30 to Tuesday, October 13;
• Bunnings Warehouse, Midland Highway – October 2;
• McDonald’s Shepparton North, 175 Midland Highway – Saturday, October 3;
• Mooroopna Golf Club members’ bar – Sunday, October 4; pro shop and members’ bar – Sunday, October 11;
• Shepparton Market Place Medical Centre, Midland Highway — Thursday, October 8;
• Lemon Tree cafe, Fryers St;
• Thai Orchid Restaurant, Nixon St — Wednesday, October 7, 7pm to 8.30pm;
• Bombshell Hairdressing, Fryers St — Wednesday, October 7, 9.30am to 10.30am;
People who have attended any of the “high risk” sites on the dates listed are considered coronavirus-positive close contacts and are required to isolate, get tested and self-quarantine.
NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE FAILS
A no-confidence vote against Mr Andrews has failed to pass through Victorian parliament.
The motion was defeated emphatically 44 to 23 following a lengthy debate that ran into Tuesday evening.
Mr O’Brien introduced the no-confidence motion, citing government “failures, cover-ups and lies” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the move was always destined for failure with Labor holding a commanding 11-seat majority in the house, and the Greens Party and independents declaring their support for Mr Andrews amid the fiery debate.