Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed his disbelief over his government being blamed for the arrival of scores of international travellers in the state despite rejecting the newly-introduced travel bubble scheme.
Mr Andrews said he had informed Prime Minister Scott Morrison the state did not want to be involved.
At Monday’s daily press conference, Mr Andrews said his government, as well as Tasmania’s and Western Australia’s, were unaware of the impending arrival of New Zealanders into their states, and took a swipe at the federal government as his developing feud with Canberra intensifies.
“We didn't want to be in the bubble [but] it seems like the bubble applies to every part of our country, not just those that said yes,” he said.
Mr Andrews hit out when one reporter suggested Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was aware of a decision to allow New Zealand visitors into the state.
He said the decision whether to be included in the bubble was ultimately his and was communicated between himself and Mr Morrison.
“I think it is completely unreasonable, completely unreasonable to be putting it to me that somehow it's my fault or the Victorian government's fault that when you are invited to participate in an arrangement and you say no, that somehow people turn up,” he said.
“That is not on the Victorian government or the Victorian Chief Health Officer, or the Victorian deputy Chief Health Officer.”
Premier slams ‘stubborn’ federal government
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge insists Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton was at the meeting where authorisation was given for individuals who arrived in Sydney from New Zealand to then travel to Victoria.
But a defiant Mr Andrews rejected his stance.
“Apparently, the Commonwealth defence to these arrangements is that not just the Victorian Chief Health Officer and deputy did not raise a concern, neither did the Western Australian neither did the Tasmanian, who else?”
“We are in this discussion because the Commonwealth government stubbornly refused to accept that this is not what was signed up to.”
Professor Sutton, who throughout the pandemic has embodied a sense of calm, appeared angered when pushed on why he could not initially remember whether he was present when the matter was discussed at the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee meeting last Monday.
“I have a calendar that has 12 meetings a day, excuse me, and to be put on the spot about which part of the day I might be and any one location...” he said.
Andrews says surprise arrivals can’t happen again
Mr Andrews said 55 of the people who had arrived had been tracked down and informed of the health advice in the state.
He said the state would now accept that they are part of the scheme, but said it was vital a situation where authorities were unaware of arrivals and should never happen again.
“Are we in the bubble? Yes we are, not because of a decision we have made, but that is what has happened,” Mr Andrews said.
“Now we need to work through this, provide the best information to people when they arrive and we are confident that will happen, and seriously there is nothing more to this than the fact that we were asked a question and be answered, the result was very different.
“But that is happening now, I can't stop it by closing our border, and I don't think that is an appropriate thing to do.”
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