Too many politicians don’t tell it how it is, but one politician in Melbourne who’s been outspoken for a number of years is the Liberal MP for Kew, Tim Smith. He joins me now. Tim, you must be absolutely ropeable at what the Victorian government is doing to its own people, aside from politics, just the personal trauma being inflicted here.
Good evening, Chris. The honest answer is this is yet again another human tragedy, the impact of lockdown’s on business, on families, on those who work so hard is profound. The mental health angle of this is enormous. And then we had this appalling, absolutely appalling situation in Warrnambool today where the family of an eight-year-old boy who tragically drowned at school camp last week.
This is a cougar on yet. And we talked about it at the top of the program. And I mean, this exemption was rejected. I literally find it difficult to comprehend how other human beings could make this decision when the risk is virtually non-existent.
I want to make it very clear that I’m in no way, shape, or form politicizing this young boy’s death, but I am so. Utterly disgusted and outraged with the callousness. And just the lack of humanity that could have provided this family with an exemption so they could have had a funeral with more than 10 people being vulnerable is 250 kilometers from Melbourne. To the best of my knowledge, there are no exposure sites where there’s no cover in that part of country Victoria.
Surely someone could have just said yes to this poor family and I mean the deputy, the acting premier, or the chief health officer. Surely someone could have intervened to ensure that this family had had a funeral for their son. I just it’s just I can’t I just can’t believe it.
Look, it is gut-wrenching. And you don’t want to catch up in partisan politics. But to me, it just goes to the core of how as a society, we’ve lost our way here. We’ve had exemptions for tennis players, exemptions for protests. We’ve had all sorts of rules bent when it suited people. It’s just we must have lost the plot because we’re talking about four new infections today at a time when most people in aged care are vaccinated.
We know more about the disease than we’ve ever known before. And as you say, there was no covered in water. But what’s happened to us that our society can deliver a decision like this?
Well, I don’t think society has to live with this decision. I think. I think if you asked any fair-minded Victorian in the street tonight whether or not this family should have been given a funeral with more than ten or ten days, I would, of course, said yes. This is this weird obsession that the Andrews Labor government and the Victorian bureaucracy have it focusing on all of the wrong things and none of the right things to stop the spread of covid.
So. Why 14 months on, do we still have such a substandard contact tracing team? Why has it taken till today for Victoria to have a universal QR code login system? I was in Adelaide three weeks ago. You get off the plane, you are at Adelaide Airport by health officials who help you download the app. And literally in Adelaide, you can’t go into a cafe or a restaurant or a bar without someone checking that you’ve logged in.
And my 06 day was six months behind New South Wales. I mean, it’s been operating for a year here. Just look at that. Tell me one thing here. I’ve been quite critical of oppositions, both liberal and labor oppositions. The Labor opposition, for instance, and in South Australia has been pathetic and liberal oppositions elsewhere, you and your colleagues have failed to call out directly some of the decisions. Do you say we put on the record now that this lockdown should not have been called?
There’s not enough reason for a lockdown to be in place in Victoria today.
So, Chris, I will disappoint you this evening. Back in February, I made it very clear that I thought that lockdown was utterly stupid, utterly stupid, and unnecessary because our contact tracing has been so abysmal and because I literally have no idea where this virus is gone. And clearly, neither does the government. I’m not in a position to say tonight that I think that this lockdown is wrong. I think it’s disproportionate. I think the idea of wearing masks outside on your own is ridiculous.
I think that forcing school children to work to learn from home is unnecessary. And I think there are massive inconsistencies where, for example, the construction industry is permitted yet so contractors working outdoors are not. And I think there are some massive inconsistencies, which I think are wrong, and lockdowns in Mildura and in the that in Mildura, etc., in Gippsland East, etc are wrong. But let’s just be cautious here tonight, because I say again, this government totally messed up contact tracing of one case, of one case, and it spread quite a lot across Melbourne, I hope.
And I expect by Monday we’ll be able to say, well, look, you know, we’ve got single-digit cases still. It’s I mean, at the end of the day, a lockdown is proof that government policy and government systems have totally failed. If this was Sydney, we wouldn’t be in lockdown, no doubt about it, because Gladys Berejiklian has the best contact tracers in the country. It has been a data-driven, digitized model from the outset, unlike the paper pens and shemozzle as we’ve seen in Victoria throughout this pandemic.
So I know you probably have a crack at me for sitting on the fence here. But given that this virus has spread very quickly without the government’s knowledge that they stuffed up the initial contact tracing, they failed to ring-fence the first case. Their only response, because they are that hopeless, is the sledgehammer approach.
And let’s see, in a couple of days, hopefully, as you say, we’ll see, you know, a lot more on Monday. Thanks for joining us, Tim. I appreciate it.