Call for Vic curfew decision doc release

·2-min read

Victorian opposition MP David Davis is fighting to have a three-page email chain discussing the implementation of Melbourne's coronavirus curfew released publicly.

The state government has refused a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal MP so now he's taking them to VCAT in a fight he says is about transparency.

An 8pm to 5am curfew was introduced in August 2 last year under the state's coronavirus lockdown measures. It was eased by an hour to begin at 9pm from September 14 and was lifted on September 25.

Mr Davis says he was told in November that his September application had identified one document relevant to his search for anything involved with or which informed the decision to impose the curfew, but that access was refused.

"These are the documents that relate directly to the decision to put Melbourne under a curfew and the reality, in our view, is there is little reason the documents should not be in the public domain," he said, representing himself in a hearing on Monday.

There are unlikely to be issues of "cabinet in confidence" given the curfew related to public health and wellbeing legislation, which is separate to cabinet, he said.

The department's solicitor Michelle Roland said the document was being withheld on three grounds, including that the entire document contains legal advice and is protected by legal professional privilege.

Mr Davis told AAP he didn't know the document was an email chain until Monday's hearing, but expects it includes weighting of issues and decisions around how the curfew would be implemented.

"We're happy to have this fight - I think the government should be proactively transparent on this," he said.

The decision making behind the curfew has already been examined in a Supreme Court case brought by aspiring Liberal MP and Mornington cafe owner Michelle Loielo, who claimed it infringed on her human rights.

Associate Professor Michelle Giles - who signed off the curfew - told that court in October that the curfew was backed as part of a package of restrictions and that she'd considered its impact on finances, mental health and effects for people in domestic violence situations.

"I wish I could do that without having any of those other negative impacts ... but I just can't see how we could bring the coronavirus pandemic under control without making these difficult decisions," she said.

Ms Roland agreed to a confidential conference with Mr Davis - where the VCAT presiding member has access to the secret document - to discuss the issues, but Mr Davis raised concerns about how long the process was taking.

"It is a single document - it may just be a single decision has to be made by the tribunal," he said.

"It's just hard to see why this has been strung out for so long."

A conference is expected to be scheduled for May, but the case will return to VCAT for an administrative hearing next month.