Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has hit back amid finger-pointing between the state’s top cop and chief health officer over who suggested the controversial curfew.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Andrews again dodged questions over exactly who came up with the idea – but said he rejected the notion that “the only decisions the government can ever make about any matter are those that have been advised by the chief health officer”.
“The government reserves the right to make decisions to operationalise advice from the chief health officer,” he said.
“The notion that the government can’t do anything whatsoever unless the chief health officer provides it in detailed advice, that doesn’t make any sense.”
It comes after Police Commissioner Shane Patton told ABC Melbourne radio host Virginia Trioli this morning that it was Brett Sutton’s decision to implement the curfew, despite Prof Sutton saying otherwise on Tuesday.
“Decisions are made by groups of people,” Mr Andrews said.
“And I can’t necessarily pinpoint for you the exact individual and the exact moment that it was suggested that we put a curfew on. What I’m saying to you is, anyone who’s displeased with that or doesn’t think that’s a proportionate measure, well, that’s a decision that I’ve made.”
At one point during the combative press conference, a journalist asked, “Premier, can you see how members of the public, though, would see this? That, hey, Brett Sutton has said this, but you’re now saying this – how can we trust you and follow the rules?”
Mr Andrews replied, “What I’d say is that we’ve got a clear strategy, numbers are falling, the strategy is working, limiting movement is a critically important part of that, and our approach to that will not be changing.”
The Premier appeared dismissive of the impact of the curfew.
He said even if it were removed tonight, “the only change would be potentially that you could jog at 11pm, you could maybe go shopping at 11pm tonight if the supermarket were open”.
“That’s not been the case. Supermarkets, whether there was a curfew or not, have limited their trading hours. That’s a decision for them. But ultimately having the curfew simply makes the difficult and critically important job of Victoria Police ... much easier.”
Mr Andrews said there were only a small number of “lawful” reasons to leave home anyway.
“That can only happen within curfew hours,” he said.
“So that means going to the supermarket at 8.30pm or 10.30pm or 2am, that’s not an option. So that’s a down side. You wouldn’t be able to go for a jog at 8.30pm, 9.30pm, 10.30pm, midnight. OK, that’s also a down side.”
But Mr Andrews said the down side of “not being able to do those two things in the dead of night is far outweighed, in my judgement, by the fact that we are seeing case numbers fall”.
He added, “The term ‘curfew’ is rather loaded but at the end of the day, it is effective.”