Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has faced tough questioning on the mental health ramifications of the state’s extended coronavirus lockdown which Prime Minister Scott Morrison has labelled as “crushing”.
Mr Andrews appeared on Channel 10’s The Sunday Project after revealing his highly-anticipated roadmap out of restrictions.
Stage 4 restrictions will be extended for at least two further weeks while curfew in Melbourne will run for another seven weeks, prompting host Lisa Wilkinson to question what is being done to protect the mental health of the city’s five million people.
“How are you deciding the balance between the COVID health risk, and the mental health risk. Isn’t there a real danger of the mental health cost of COVID leaving a much deeper scar for generations to come?” she asked the premier.
While Mr Andrews said the state had “doubled and re-doubled our efforts” to support those suffering mental illness, he said it wasn’t enough.
“There’s more to do there, no question,” he admitted.
“Across the board we are alive to that issue, it is very challenging and we will have to do more.”
Today @DanielAndrewsMP had the whole country’s expectations weighing on his shoulders as he laid out his plan for Victoria. We spoke to the Premier to find out exactly why these decisions have been made. pic.twitter.com/HJR0sZXiG9— The Project (@theprojecttv) September 6, 2020
‘No time for politics’
Mr Andrews was also pressed on a joint statement from Mr Morrison, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt released in the wake of the roadmap announcement.
The release has been perceived as yet another attack on Mr Andrews by the federal government, which was last week led by Mr Frydenberg who called Victoria’s response to the pandemic the “biggest public policy failure in living memory”.
Sunday’s statement said the roadmap “will be hard and crushing news for the people of Victoria” and “a further reminder of the impact and costs that result from not being able to contain outbreaks of COVID-19”.
Today’s announcement from the Vic Govt to extend lockdown is tough news for Victorians.— Josh Frydenberg (@JoshFrydenberg) September 6, 2020
The Morrison Govt will continue to do everything we can to support Victorian businesses, workers & families.
Joint statement with @ScottMorrisonMP & @GregHuntMP👉 https://t.co/EFjquo1g8G pic.twitter.com/32qGet04nM
“Of course the Federal Government would like to see restrictions in Victoria lifted as soon as it is safe to do so, but at the end of the day these are decisions solely for the Victorian Government to determine.”
Mr Andrews once again tried to deflect from suggestion of a rift between Mr Morrison and his government, insisting there is “no time for politics in this”.
“You’ll need to speak to the prime minister about the words that he chooses in media releases,” he said.
With the earliest possible restart for retail and hospitality on October 26, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce chief Paul Guerra slammed the roadmap as a “road to nowhere”.
Yet Dr Omar Korshid, President of the Australian Medical Association, has hit out at business leaders for “ignoring” the medical advice.
“The fall in daily infections in Victoria proves current restrictions are working. Extending these restrictions best positions the economy for a sustainable long-term recovery,” he said.
Mr Andrews once again stressed on Sunday that he was committed to reopening Victoria for the last time.
"I want to get the place open and I want to keep it open," he said.
"Unless this is done safely and steadily, that simply won't happen."
On Sunday, there were 63 new infections in Victoria.
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