As the second wave of COVID-19 infections forces Victorians into a strict lockdown and keeps leaders of the states and territories on constant alert – Victorian Premier, the Hon Daniel Andrews MP, continues to lead the charge against the virus as he seeks to end community transmission in Victoria.
The Nexus team has analysed the background of Premier Andrews and presents our critical insights on the impact and aftermath of Victoria’s severe second wave.
STATE OF DISASTER:
On 2 August 2020, due to recording 671 new infections and being unable to stem the growth of the virus, Premier Andrews declared a State of Disaster and a move to a stage 4 lockdown in greater Melbourne. Melbourne residents will be subject to an overnight curfew for the next six weeks and are prohibited from travelling more than 5km to go shopping or to exercise.
Further restrictions imposed due to the State of Disaster declaration include:
- Exercise outside the home is limited to a maximum of one hour per day.
- One person per household may go shopping per day.
- All schools — regional and metropolitan — will return to remote learning.
- No weddings will be permitted in the Melbourne metropolitan area.
- Regional Victoria will move to stage 3 restrictions from midnight on Wednesday.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, likened the curfew and stage 4 restrictions to “shock and awe” tactics. This phrase was used during the US invasion of Iraq. Mr Sutton went on to say that “In part, there’s shock and awe here for people to genuinely understand that it’s a super challenging phase that we’re in.”
As the public face of Victoria’s COVID-19 response, Premier Andrews is placing a significant amount of time and resources into ending the present second wave. Premier Andrews has a history with health policy, serving as Victorian Minister of Health for three years under former Victorian Premier the Hon John Brumby. Notably, during his tenure as Victoria’s Health Minister, Premier Andrews was responsible for the state’s response to the 2009 swine flu outbreak.
Colleague and fellow minister, the Hon Jacinta Allan MP, stated that Premier Andrews “Loved being health minister” and that “He had a great depth in the portfolio, he visited every hospital and knows the difference between a ventilator and a CPAP machine.”
Premier Andrews is currently Australia’s longest-serving Premier, having formed government after Labor’s victory in the 2014 State Election. Andrews is a member of the Socialist Left faction of the Labor party, which is the genesis of his involvement in the Victorian Labor Party. Andrews first worked in politics as an electorate officer for former Federal Member the Hon Alan Griffin, who was also engaged in the Left of the ALP.
In response to the ‘shock and awe’ of Victoria’s announcement of Stage 4 restrictions, Federal Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, has declared Victoria is “at war” with the virus – as the Morrison Government considers additional economic support to mitigate the economic impact of new restrictions. Due to the restrictions, the Treasurer stated that the effect on Australia’s economy would be more significant than the initial $3.3 billion cost estimate for the first six-week lockdown.
The Morrison Government is considering extending eligibility for JobKeeper wage subsidies and has introduced paid pandemic leave for Australian citizens, with the Treasurer emphasizing that some major employers had already introduced pandemic leave and that JobKeeper in its current form would continue until the end of September.
Nevertheless, federal sources have stressed that impending changes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker would apply nationwide and that the Victorian government would have to help fund any specific assistance for that state over and above any changes to the programs. Shadow Federal Treasurer, Dr Jim Chalmers MP, stated based on economic assumptions in the budget update that were too optimistic, the Government should have “another look” at the tapering off of JobKeeper benefits.