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Daniel Andrews has again refused to reveal where the idea for the state’s strict nighttime curfew originated, saying he would not reverse the decision despite senior health and law enforcement officials stating they had not asked for the policy.
Victoria reported 43 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, with 16 of those connected to known outbreaks or positive cases. The state also recorded nine new deaths, including seven linked to outbreaks in aged care.
But the Victorian premier continues to face pressure over the controversial curfew, after both the state’s police chief and chief health officer previously said they were not responsible for the policy.
On Thursday, The Australian reported that Liberal Party MP Tim Wilson had written to the Human Rights Commission, urging it to examine the curfew on the basis that “citizens’ rights and freedoms [are] being limited based on the ease and efficiency of the powers of the state against the rights and freedoms of Victorians”.
Wilson has asked the commission, which he once headed, to examine whether it had grounds “to take action in light of the significant limitation on the rights and freedoms imposed on Victorians by the curfew for the ease of government interests”.
But Andrews dismissed that complaint on Friday, saying the curfew was “not about human rights. It is about human life.”
“That is my answer to Mr Wilson. And what he chooses to do with his time is a matter for him. Police need rules they can enforce,” Andrews said.
“This strategy only works if we limit movement [and] if we want our police to be spending all their time having to move people on from Maccas car parks, where there are pop-up social gatherings that are not lawful – I’m going to have police wasting their time doing that. There are very few legal reasons to leave your home.
“The curfew doesn’t change that. It simply means police have an easier job. Given the year that Victoria police has had, and the sterling work they’re doing, we ought to do everything we can to make their job just a little bit easier.”
Andrews has refused to say where the idea for the curfew originated, saying only that there were “cabinet records of all decisions”.
“Anyone who finds fault with that measure [can] find fault with me,” he said.
“Every decision ultimately is something that I’m accountable for as the head of the government. Let me be really clear with you – the curfew position at the moment will not be changing. Because it is working. It is working. And if you don’t limit movement, you won’t limit the number of cases.”
Andrews on Friday released traffic data which he said showed there had been “an immediate and pronounced and sustained drop in road use” following the curfew.
The premier had the day before been grilled by reporters about data to justify the need for a curfew, given it was not a policy recommendation from either the chief health officer or Victoria police.
There are now only 74 active cases of the virus in regional Victoria, an overall increase of two. Despite one of those being a mystery case from the town of Echuca, Andrews said it was possible some regional restrictions could be lifted as early as next week.
“Let’s deal with that Echuca issue and be in no doubt there is a significant amount of work going on to understand that and whether there is any more virus in that community,” he said.
“And we are poised to be able to take not just one but potentially two steps as early as next week.”
Elsewhere on Friday, New South Wales recorded 10 new cases of Covid-19 overnight, with four linked to known clusters.
Two of those were linked to the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club, taking that cluster to five, while one was a close contact of a case connected to Liverpool hospital’s emergency department.
The hospitals cluster remains at 14 cases, after a previously confirmed case in a worker from Concord was excluded following further investigations.
NSW deputy chief health officer Jeremy McAnulty said contract tracers in the state were still working with the eastern suburbs club to determine who was at the venue during the outbreak.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Daniel Andrews dismisses human rights complaint over Melbourne Covid curfew | Australia news