Australia Daniel Andrews is blasted for double standards over fine measures
Fewer virus cases keep Melbourne on track
Victoria's daily infection rate is on track towards the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions come September 28, with more anti-lockdown protests expected.The state recorded 21 new cases in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, its lowest figure since June 24.
Premier Daniel Andrews has come under fire for 'toxic double standards' after refusing to fine five families behind a COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne while punishing protesters as Victoria's case numbers continue to fall.
Victoria recorded 14 new cases and five deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily increase since June and the tenth day in a row the state has recorded a daily infections increase below 50.
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Five households in Clyde, Cranbourne North, Hallam and Narre Warren South are linked to 34 active cases, with the families believed to have sparked the cluster by breaching coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Andrews has come under fire for defending his decision not to penalise those at the centre of the outbreak while anti-lockdown protesters were fined and arrested during rallies in Melbourne on Saturday.
Opposition leader Michael O'Brien has slammed the move as 'hypocrisy'.
Daniel Andrews accused of distraction technique by moving briefings
The inquiry into the quarantine scheme, which failed to contain the virus and sparked the state's deadly second wave, begins at 10am each day when key witnesses are questioned.On Monday and Tuesday this week the premier held his briefing at 10am, an hour before the usual time of 11am.
'Andrews shouldn't be protecting those who spread the virus while fining others … Labor's double standards are as toxic as this virus,' he told the Herald Sun.
'It’s a disgrace that Labor has locked up innocent Victorians under a curfew while those who break the law and spread the virus get off scot- free.
'This is the same Andrews hypocrisy that saw teenagers fined for learning to drive while 10,000 Black Lives Matter protesters were ignored.'
Victoria Police issued 21 fines and arrested 16 demonstrators as up to 150 people clashed with officers during rallies in Elsternwick and Elwood, 11km from Melbourne's CBD, on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Mr Andrews told reporters at a press conference fining the families linked to the cluster in the city's southeast may prevent them from being co-operative during contact-tracing interviews.
'I’m happy to concede that might seem a counter-intuitive point. Perhaps we would all feel a bit better if they got slapped with a fine, but the value of the information that allows you to take one test result and then find the 33 other people who’ve got it, is much more than $1652,' he said.
What Dan Andrews' body language really says
The premier apologised for his government's decision to use private security guards at coronavirus quarantine hotels as he faced the inquiry into the embattled program on Friday.The premier apologised for his government's decision to use private security guards at coronavirus quarantine hotels as he faced the inquiry into the botched program on Friday.
On Saturday, Victoria recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19 and a further seven deaths.
Daniel Andrews urged covidiots not to gather at planned protests on Saturday across the city or 'do anything to undermine' its progress with tackling COVID-19.
Protests were announced by rally organisers about 10.30am - half an hour before kicking off at the State Library, and a second closely following at 12pm.
Law enforcement teams circled Elsternwick Park included officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit, Air Unit and Highway Patrol.
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Jenny Mikakos says she will step aside from her duties as minister and will also resign from the Parliament in the wake of the hotel quarantine inquiry.There had been mounting calls for her to step aside after her appearance at an inquiry into the program.
Shouting about Premier Daniel Andrews and coronavirus restrictions was heard throughout the disjointed protests, which were described as 'chaotic'.
One photographer said there was 'a lot of running and not much protesting.
It comes as Mr O'Brien last week introduced a motion of no confidence into parliament in a bid to oust the Premier, arguing the Andrews government had lost support of Victorians over its handling of the pandemic.
Lower house MPs will vote on the proposal next month.
Metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day average has plummeted and now sits at 39.3 as the state moves to a COVID normal. In regional Victoria, the 14-day average is at just 1.9.
Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown - limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew.
Multiple rallies have taken place in Melbourne the past few weekends.
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Victoria Police have responded with a heavy presence - handing out dozens of fines and making arrests.
'Let's not lose sight of the fact that this week we have seen, day after day, not the 725 cases we had five and a half weeks ago - we have made very significant progress,' Mr Andrews told reporters on Saturday.
'We've got regional Victoria opening up. People should be positive and optimistic this strategy is working, and therefore, let's not any of us do anything to undermine that.'
A surge of cases in the Casey and Dandenong area, on Melbourne's southeast rim, has been linked back to five households in the Afghan community.
As residents in the city are still under strict Stage Four lockdown, it is thought the infected group may have breached the stay-at-home orders.
Public health authorities are racing to stop infections growing in the two council areas, which now have 90 active cases.
'Members of those households visiting other households,' Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said.
'It is that limited amount of contact, relatively infrequent contact between these five households that has now meant that we have 34 people in five houses experiencing or living with a very real threat of the coronavirus.'
The cluster in the city's southeast first emerged on September 4, with cases now having spread to Dandenong Police Station and a number of industrial work sites.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday said the actions of the family's involved in the cluster was 'disappointing'.
Melbourne restrictions to ease further as city 'ahead of schedule' in second wave fight
Melbourne's curfew will be lifted from 5am on Monday morning as coronavirus restrictions are eased in Victoria. Limits on shopping, outdoor gatherings and visiting patients in hospitals are among further changes to come into effect for Melbourne residents from 11.59pm tonight.However, there remains only four reasons to leave your home and that stays in place until Melbourne moves to Step three.
'Five kilometres is one thing and visiting others is the real issue here,' he said.
'The rules are in place for a reason and anyone who undermines this, undermines the entire strategy and it means the rules will be on for longer.'
'I know many Victorians, when you see examples of people not following the rules, that's disappointing, it makes you angry,' Mr Andrews said.
'You need to look at the bigger picture here.
'We don't want a situation where people don't have a sense of confidence and indeed, you know, the sense they're obliged to tell us the full story as quickly as possible. That's what we need.'
Despite the new cluster, Victoria's overall case numbers are continuing to decline.
Andrews wants power — yet more power — without accountability .
The Andrews government has no right demanding additional powers over its citizens when it can't responsibly exercise the powers it already has.That responsibility for key decisions in the hotel quarantine debacle remains diffused through political, bureaucratic and operational levels, with no person or persons seemingly having made decisions that led to a massive disease outbreak and hundreds of deaths, defies common sense and the basics of public accountability.