Australian State Premier Daniel Andrews is facing scrutiny from Victoria’s right-leaning Liberal party ministers after he pointed to “families” as the main reason the state is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases, while not mentioning the impact of recent protests.
In the last week, Victoria has seen the number of cases of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as coronavirus, increase. Andrews announced on June 20 an extension for Victoria’s state of emergency, scaling back on the previously promised easing of social gathering restrictions.
Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien, who has been critical of the way Andrews has handled the pandemic, expressed dismay that the impact of thousands of people taking to the streets to protest was not mentioned in the premier’s announcement.
The state’s chief health officer, Professor Brett Sutton, said on June 21: “We know these restrictions are frustrating, but we can’t get complacent and let the virus get away from us.
“It’s vital we follow these directions to keep our community transmission numbers low and protect more Victorians.”
O’Brien said in a media release that Andrews had inadvertently encouraged Victorians to protest two weeks ago by declaring that no fines would be administered for protesters who breached social distancing orders at rallies.
“For Andrews to fail to mention the impact of his 10,000 people protest on the spike in COVID-19 cases demonstrates his culpability,” O’Brien said.
He goes on to highlight that the decision by Andrews to “backflip” on lifting restrictions will cost jobs and “will kill small businesses that will never recover.”
“It will ruin many families’ plans to safely gather at home.”
So far, there have been 1,836 cases of the CCP virus in Andrews’s state, with the majority coming from the capital city of Melbourne and its neighbouring suburbs.
“Regional Victoria, where there are hardly any COVID-19 cases, is being unfairly punished by Labor’s Melbourne-centric focus. There is again a strong case for an easing of restrictions in country Victoria that enables people to safely get back to work,” O’Brien said.
Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Police and Community Safety, David Southwick, who slammed Andrews on June 3 for keeping heavy fines in place for “having an extra person over for dinner” but not for protesting, again raised the consequences of an alleged double-standard.
In a Twitter post criticising the Premier, he cited the protests as being the point where Victorian’s stopped taking Andrew’s restriction orders seriously.
“While at the same time Daniel Andrews is busy telling off families, he also allows protestors to run amuck without consequences. No wonder people aren’t listening to him,” Southwick said.
Daniel Andrews blames familes for not doing the right thing he doesn’t mention protestors. While at the same time Daniel Andrews is busy telling off familes, he also allows protestors to run a muck without consequences. No wonder people aren’t listening to him. #springst
— David Southwick (@SouthwickMP) June 20, 2020
The first leftist Black Lives Matter protests in Victoria occurred on June 6, organised by the Australian Communist Party.
Since June 10, new CCP virus cases in Victoria have overtaken all other states and territories, with 19 recorded on June 22 alone compared to 6 for the rest of the nation.
Victoria’s second virus wave accounts for 82.4 percent of all new cases nationwide for the week commencing June 21. The volunteer-collated COVID-19 website shows that Victoria has 121 active cases as of June 22.
Police to Enforce Extended State of Emergency
A squad of 500 police officers will enforce the extended restriction measures, a media release announced, with powers to conduct spot checks of venues and homes to ensure compliance with the restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of the CCP virus.
The extension will be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on July 19.
On the spot fines include up to $1,652 (US$1,128) for individuals and up to $9,913 (US$6,783) for businesses.
“While many Victorians are doing the right thing, there are still some who are ignoring the restrictions.” Victoria Police Minister Lisa Neville said.