The Victorian opposition has seized on a government admission that Melbourne's coronavirus curfew was not recommended by health officials to call for the controversial policy to be dumped immediately.
Since moving to a stage four lockdown, Melbourne residents are forbidden from leaving home between the hours of 8pm and 5am. The 8pm curfew start time is due to be stretched by an hour on Monday.
After Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Monday said it was not his call to implement the curfew, Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday was unable to say who precisely had suggested the move which was designed to limit people movement.
"I don't know exactly which person at what moment said that, but there's ongoing discussions [and] lots of different people talking," Mr Andrews said.
"It's not a matter for Brett [Sutton], that's not health advice, that’s about achieving a health outcome. His advice is 'do whatever you can to limit movement'. Police then say 'we need rules we can enforce'.
"It needs to be as simple as possible. We can’t stop every car, but if everyone who’s out (that shouldn’t be) knows they will get caught, and they’ve got no lawful reason to be outside, then all of a sudden you will limit movement.
"These are decisions ultimately made by me."
Mr Andrews said that the curfew also stopped "people sneaking around" and helped police enforce restrictions.
"There is no denying that it has limited movement and the movement that it has most limited is movement that is not lawful," Mr Andrews said.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien accused Mr Andrews of making a "captain’s call" that was not rooted in health advice.
"It wasn’t a Brett Sutton [Chief Health Officer] call, it wasn’t a medical evidence call, it was a captain’s call by the Premier who wanted to keep Melbourne in curfew," he said.
Mr O'Brien said it was unfair for Victorians to be unable to walk their dog at 8.30pm, for example, without health advice.
"The curfew should go," Mr O’Brien said. "When you consider how extreme a curfew is – in wartime we haven’t been subject to a curfew.
"This is an extraordinary infringement on the rights of the people of the state, and for the Premier to do it without any medical advice, without any scientific advice, to make a captain’s call, shows you that the power has gone to this bloke’s head, and frankly we deserve better than that."
Mr O'Brien said the government's actions were at odds with its claims to being guided by medical advice.
"Well what right does Daniel Andrews have to ignore public health advice? What right does Daniel Andrews have to keep Melburnians locked in their hopes between 8pm and 5am because he thinks it’s a good idea?," he said.
"This is the premier who says on all these decisions ‘I base it on the advice, I base it on the evidence. Well this time the premier made the call himself and Victorians have got to ask, why should we be locked up under curfew because Daniel Andrews thought it was a good idea and the medical and scientific advice wasn’t backing it?"
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