Coronavirus Victoria: 'Furious' premier clashes with Today host over virus decision

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has been blamed for the state’s coronavirus crisis in a tense exchange with Today show host Karl Stefanovic.

Stefanovic criticised the premier for blaming Victorian residents for the state’s surge in coronavirus cases, saying it was his decision to allow a private company to manage hotel quarantine.

Outbreaks from mishandled returned travellers, who reportedly had close relations with security guards, have been accused of contributing to the virus’s second phase in the state.

There have subsequently been nine public housing towers placed into a hard lockdown and 31 local government areas subject to a six-week stage three stay-at-home order.

Photo of Daniel Andrews in an appearance on Nine's Today program on Wednesday.
Daniel Andrews avoided finger pointing, instead telling Today "we're all in this together". Source: Nine/Today

Mr Andrews on Wednesday, before announcing another 134 cases, defended his stance on finger pointing, arguing “it's not about blaming Victorians” and that “all of us have a part to play”.

“All of us have to be focussed on those things we can influence. The things we can change. If you're sick you can't go out. If you're sick you have to get tested. The rules are there to protect us,” he told Stefanovic.

Hotel quarantine security decision criticised

The host had pressed Mr Andrews on what he called an “unbelievably catastrophic bungle” that unfolded as a result of the Victorian government’s decision to hire private security for returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

“How could you blame Victorians yesterday [Tuesday] for the outbreak when it was your government's decision to employ an incompetent private security force to guard those in quarantine,” he asked.

The premier said he, undoubtedly along with the residents of Victoria, was “furious” at having to enforce a second round of lockdowns after 191 new cases were recorded on Tuesday.

“People are furious. I'm furious, but we can't change what has occurred. We simply have to respond to our circumstances. This is a tough measure. But this will pull it up, we know this will work. But only if all Victorians stick together and stay the course on this,” he said.

While he accepted criticism and conceded that some of his decisions were unpopular, Mr Andrews insisted he would continue to reject calls for his resignation and “stay the course”.

“I'm about staying the course and getting the job done. Critics that's fine...This is a pandemic and I'm getting on with the job I need to do. It's not popular,” he said.

Photo of Today host Karl Stefanovic on Wednesday as he confronted the Victorian premier.
Karl Stefanovic pressed the premier to take responsibility for the hotel quarantine bungle. Source: Nine/Today

“They're very, very difficult calls to be made. They have to be made to keep Victorians safe. We have to stay the course on this. No-one is pleased to be in this position.

“I don't have the luxury nor does any other Victorian to pretend the reality we face is real, it is. That's why we have done this.”

Premier fears coronavirus outbreak could lead to ‘ugly scenes’

He added there were “very difficult” days ahead for individuals and businesses, who recently returned to a semblance of pre-virus life, only to be thrust back into lockdown.

Photo shows returned travellers entering hotel quarantine in Melbourne.
Travellers shown arriving at hotel quarantine in Melbourne in March. Source: AAP

If those measures weren’t taken however, he said “thousands” would end up in hospital and many would die.

“If this gets right away from us then we will see some very ugly scenes. Great tragedy. We will see thousands of people in hospital. And many, many people dying.

“We have to do everything we can to avoid that. That's the reality we're in and those are the decisions I have made.”

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