The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said he is still in “shocked disbelief at the sheer arrogance of the acting Premier and his head health honcho and their combined defence of Victoria’s never ending COVID mismanagement”.
He said when rightly asked how he could defend Victoria’s contact tracing program, Professor Brett Sutton went on the attack and said “false narrative” could damage the mental wellbeing of people.
He said for him, that was the last straw because there is no plan for recovery here; this is simply a fear campaign to distract you from the total lack of a plan.
“For example, I’ll bet this lockdown has taken your mind off the billions of dollars the Andrews Labor Government has blown over its budget for major infrastructure projects in Melbourne.
“I would also be pretty confident in saying don’t be surprised if the people directly responsible for all our failures up to this point decide seven days won’t cover their backsides and they stretch it out a bit longer. I would be just as confident those donuts in Mr Andrews’ drawer are getting pretty stale and unsavoury by now.
“When your elected politicians are just puppets for the union movement, when socialist disdain for private enterprise is working overtime to achieve its pathetically Utopian dream you get what Victoria has today – a government with no concept of how to fix the current mess beyond spending your money and mine.
“And if we can ‘t trust this government to fix the mess, who in their right mind would trust them with fixing the recovery?
“The real story is there for all to see, etched in stone – and blood,” Mr Walsh said. “That representatives of this government have the hubris to stand before its shell-shocked citizens being pitched into another lockdown and claim it is doing a ‘gold standard’ job is a travesty beyond comprehension.
“Victoria is now in its fourth lockdown; more than any other state – that’s not planning,” he said. “Victoria represents 26.1 per cent of Australia’s population but has accounted for 90 per cent of all COVID deaths – if there was a plan it failed.
“We have tier one exposure zones finding out about that from newspaper reports, not the tracers. Even Victoria’s testing chief Jeroen Weimar, has told media ‘we’ve got a number of locations where we just don’t think we’ve got hold of all the people who were in those venues’. That is seriously poor planning.
“Victoria, under the Andrews Labor Government, has become Australia’s debt capital. Its net debt is expected to hit $87 billion this financial year on its way to $155 billion by 2024. Its nearest rival in the borrowing stakes, NSW, is forecasting net debt of $53.2 billion this year rising to $104 billion in three years – who’s got the better plan here?”
Mr Walsh said the economy would drive Victoria’s recovery and the Liberal Nationals plan to give it the support – more importantly the confidence – to make its own plans.
He said the parties have started to roll out details of their massive overhaul of the state taxation system – to boost business, not give it another belt around the head.
“The Andrews Labor Budget is trying to tax its way to financial recovery; the Premier wants the private business sector to prop up his bloated public service and foot the bill for its litany of failures,” Mr Walsh explained.
“Now is the time you cut taxes, you give business an environment in which it can grow; in which it can employ more people; and which will provide opportunities and incentives for the generations to come,” he added.
“We will deliver 50,000 new lots of land across rural and regional Victorian councils – more new homes mean more Victorians with a roof over their head and we can fix the worsening housing shortage.
“When it comes to the long-term management of COVID – and I think we need to accept here this virus will be with us, in one form or another, for some time to come – we will use association, not arrogance, to best manage it.
“That means we will work with other states, see what has been successful and work with them to replicate those successes here. We plan to make COVID management a clean slate. There are lessons to be learnt everywhere, the power is in sharing the load, not hiding behind a very faceless ‘best medical advice’ or refusing offers of assistance from Canberra and/or neighbouring states.
“Our plan will be to work with, not against, the rest of the country, unlike acting Premier James Merlino’s go-to message in his government’s latest ‘crisis’
“A message to blame everyone – it’s Canberra’s fault, it’s the public’s fault, not wearing masks on trams and trains, retailers not doing the policing of the public with a flawed QR campaign – it was everyone’s fault but the Victorian Government’s.
“We have shut down the whole state – and its already shattered economy – because cases have got away from our contact tracing. Yet despite 47,000 tests in the past 24 hours, just four new cases have been found,” he said.
“Do we need to get more people vaccinated, and get it done faster, absolutely.
“But this Andrews Labor Government is using fear to keep you distracted; so you don’t take a serious look at what it is botching in the other direction; that’s why we are in this unplanned statewide lockdown.”
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 3 June 2021.