Victoria lockdown conspiracy theories rejected by Andrews government
Victoria’s acting leader James Merlino has dismissed claims the state has kept emergency powers and lockdowns a secret during the Covid pandemic, calling the opposition leader a “weak man “during a heated parliamentary debate on Wednesday.
Liberal nationals on Wednesday introduced a private member’s bill pushing for transparency and accountability in decisions made by the government and its director of health which they said had been hidden from the public throughout the pandemic .
It comes after the government extended its state of emergency powers until July 1, giving the state the legal basis to enforce crisis measures, including shutdowns.
The legislation first entered into force in March last year and has been extended 17 times.
In a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Liberal Leader Michael O’Brien asked if the government would release all health advice on decisions to put the state in lockdown.
An angry Mr. Merlino, in response, claimed the opposition was peddling myths and conspiracy theories.
“The public health guidelines are made public,” Mr. Merlino said.
“We have experts every day standing for hours to answer all kinds of questions in terms of the current situation and our response to the pandemic.
“There is a monthly report and briefing to parliament in relation to the state of emergency.”
Mr O’Brien claimed he did not answer her question before replying: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”
During a shouting room, Mr. Merlino said the government “could not be more transparent” about its directions on public health.
“If you want to read them, go to the website and read them,” he shouted.
“I completely and totally reject this pathetic question from the Leader of the Opposition.
“You are a weak man.”
Mr O’Brien laughed as the chamber erupted into screams before Mr Merlino said the state had beaten its second wave.
“All Victorians followed the public health advice of the Chief Public Health Officer and his public health team and that’s what got us through,” he said.
“If we had followed those opposite, Mr. Chairman, we would still be locked out since last year. “
Previously, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Legislative Council Georgie Crozier had backed the bill in the lower house, saying the Victorians had been severely affected by the powers applied by the government.
Ms Crozier said the state experiencing her fourth lockdown had huge ramifications for mental health as well as for children who couldn’t attend school.
“There are freedoms and freedoms that we all enjoy in a flourishing democracy, but one wonders where we are going with democracy in this state when our restrictions limit us so much,” she said.
“It’s a reasonable request that as Victorians we want to understand what’s going on.
“Of course, we have to put in place mechanisms for states of emergency and states of disaster, but this state of emergency is ongoing.
“There is no break with this state of emergency.”