‘Handled terribly’: Q&A unleashes on Victoria

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    Many Victorians still feel the impact of the state’s latest Covid-19 lockdown, particularly those living in Melbourne. The decision to impose a fourth lockdown on the state was not popular and left many Victorians seething, with that anger clearly evident during ABC’s Q&A episode on Thursday night.

    On May 27, all of Victoria was plunged into a seven-day “circuit breaker” lockdown, with residents given just five reasons to leave their homes. The virus’s rapid spread then led authorities to extend the lockdown for Melbourne, which ran until June 10. There are still some restrictions in place for both regional and metropolitan areas.

    The issue of Victoria’s approach to dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks was brought up during Q&A when an audience member asked a question about the impact the latest lockdown had on small business owners.

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    This then opened the flood gates for the panelists to lash the state’s strategy, with businesswoman Susan Alberti saying Victoria having four lockdowns “should not have happened”. “I ask the question all the time about what is the medical evidence? I want to know the real story. I want to know why we have to shut down. Epidemiologists all vary in their opinions, and I just don’t know what’s the correct answer. I can’t seem to find an answer to it,” she said.

    Victoria

    Ms. Alberti said small businesses are being “crucified” by these lockdowns. “It’s up to the powers – the governments – to step up and do this and help our economy, help Victoria. Victoria is in a mess, a huge mess,” she said. Another viewer then asked is why Victoria can’t handle outbreaks like NSW, which has been able to deal with previous episodes without multiple statewide or citywide lockdowns. 3AW radio host Tom Elliott said unique places like NSW and Queensland have “handled (Covid-19) better”. “We have handled it terribly in this state,” he said.

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    Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester added to this, pointing out the difference in Victoria’s strategy compared to other states. “I can’t understand, as a Victorian, why we’ve had 140 days of lockdown, and the average across other states is six. Obviously, we’ve got a different risk profile in Victoria, or we’re not prepared to accept any risk among the health authorities in Victoria, compared to other states,” he said.

    “NSW – when it’s had a few cases – has acted to lock down small parts of those areas and encouraged people to make the right decisions, to get tested, to do all the right things we expect in terms of social distancing and wearing masks where required. “Victoria goes straight to lockdowns. But we’ve not just locked down metropolitan areas, but regional areas which are 500km and 600km away from Melbourne.”

    Mr. Chester said the Victorian government needed to reassess its current attitude towards risk and accept the occasional Covid-19 case in the community. “(Lockdowns) have to be a last resort. They have been the first choice for Victoria on too many occasions,” he said. It seems many Victorians agree with the sentiment around lockdowns, with new data revealing residents are leaving the state in droves.

    Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal the southern state has lost 30,700 people since March last year to interstate migration. Property Council of Australia executive director Danni Hunter said the slump should warn how the state is governed. “Victorians are on the move, and Victoria is no longer the place to be,” she said.

    “We’ve seen it across our state with the devastating impact to business, families, jobs, and our CBD and Victorians are voting with their feet.” There are concerns the trending data could hurt the state’s post-pandemic recovery.

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