Former AFL player Luke Darcy has been praised for a gripping 17-minute interview with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, in which he posed several tough questions about the mental health impacts of the state’s ongoing lockdown.
Andrews announced on Sunday that Victoria would remain under strict lockdown for a further two weeks in a bid to reduce the amount of coronavirus cases in the state, but Darcy suggested he hadn’t given enough consideration to alternatives.
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The Western Bulldogs great told Andrews the stage four lockdown restrictions had taken a heavy toll on his father, who recently passed away.
At the beginning of their interview, Andrews pressed the point that there was no ‘50-50’ call when it came to the right time to re-open the state - but Darcy quizzed him on why the state government hadn’t made more of an effort to explore the alternatives.
“Premier, I must admit I’m astounded to hear you say that it wasn’t even a 50/50 decision and that there is no other way and no other evidence,’’ Darcy said.
“We were looking for nuance and sophistication yesterday, and hope. I wanted to see a plan that said Victoria can live with this virus better than any state in the world.
“Instead we got more barbaric lockdowns, more devastation for people.
“Why won’t you form an independent panel, take on board a broader range of medical advice outside of the chief health officer, get some of these medical people around a table because they are telling you Premier, very clearly, you can do this better, you can do this more humanely, you can open up and they’re not buying that you didn’t have other choices.”
Luke Darcy says lockdown impacted father David
Andrews stuck to his guns, pointing out that countries like Spain are now enduring much worse second-wave outbreaks that what is being seen in Melbourne, largely because they lifted restrictions too soon.
He also made the point that lockdowns were also in place to ensure hospitals weren’t overwhelmed - at which point Darcy brought up his father, VFL great David, who passed away in early August.
Darcy said his father’s quality of life has severely diminished as a result of lockdowns preventing him from running his business and getting out of the house in general.
“I lost my 78 year old father Premier, during this time,” he said. “And you know what happened to him. He was a very similar person to you actually Premier. He loved his golf, he was isolated in his home.
“He wasn’t dying from this, he was dying from the isolation and the loneliness because he couldn’t get to the gym, he couldn’t run his business that he built for his family his entire life so what was happening was the policies were causing harm Premier.
“That was a very big part … no one is more compassionate about the elderly. But we can pivot to actually supporting them in a meaningful way.”
Surprised people are mad about Luke Darcy's interview with Dan Andrews. I thought he did an excellent job of asking the questions a lot of Victorians have in their heads, and I also thought Andrews did an excellent job of explaining the rationale behind of Victoria's strategy.— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) September 7, 2020
There is no doubt there is a perception out there that the Premier does not get asked tough questions by journalists.— Seb Costello (@SebCostello9) September 7, 2020
People often raise this with me, and my answer is that there are people prepared to ask hard questions.
Today, we found out Luke Darcy is one of them.
Andrews though, held his ground.
The premier argued that while he was aware of and sympathetic to Darcy’s points, he had to keep the more far reaching consequences of the virus in mind.
“Of course there are other consequences but you’ve got to make a judgment about which is worse and this running wild across the state is, in my judgment and the judgement of all of those advising us, is that it would be a far worse outcome than a safe and steady opening up and then finding that normal that we can defend and properly lock in,” he said.