Victoria lockdown conspiracy theories rejects by Andrews government

Victoria’s acting premier has gone for the jugular during a heated debate with his main political rival about the state’s lockdown powers.

Victoria’s acting leader James Merlino has knocked down claims the state has been secretive about emergency powers and lockdowns during the Covid pandemic, calling the Opposition Leader “a weak man” during a heated parliamentary debate on Wednesday.

The Liberal Nationals introduced a private members’ Bill on Wednesday pushing for transparency and accountability of decisions made by the government and its chief health officer that they claimed had been kept from the public throughout the pandemic.

It comes after the government extended its state of emergency powers to July 1, giving the state the legal grounds to enforce crisis measures, including lockdowns.

The legislation first came into effect in March last year and has been extended 17 times.

During a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Liberal leader Michael O’Brien asked if the government would release all health advice about the decisions to plunge the state into lockdown.

An irate Mr Merlino, in response, claimed the opposition was peddling myths and conspiracy theories.

“The public health directives are made public,” Mr Merlino said.

“We have got experts every day that are standing up for hours answering all sorts of questions in terms of the current situation and with our response to the pandemic.

“There is a monthly report and a briefing to the parliament in relation to the state of emergency.”

Mr O’Brien claimed his question wasn’t answered before retorting, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

Over a shouting chamber, Mr Merlino stated the government “could not be more transparent” about its public health directions.

“If you want to read them, get on the website and read them,” he yelled.

“I completely and utterly reject that pathetic question from the leader of the opposition.

“You’re a weak man.”

Mr O’Brien laughed as the chamber erupted into shouting before Mr Merlino said the state had beat its second wave.

“All Victorians followed the public health advice of the chief health officer and his public health team and that’s what got us through,” he said.

“If we had followed those opposite, speaker, we would still be in lockdown from last year.”

Earlier, deputy leader of the opposition’s Legislative Council Georgie Crozier supported the Bill in the lower house, claiming Victorians had been severely impacted by the powers enforced by the government.

Ms Crozier said the state experiencing its fourth lockdown had huge ramifications for mental health as well as for children being unable to attend school.

“There are liberties and freedoms that we all appreciate in a thriving democracy, but one wonders where we are going with democracy in this state when our restrictions so limit us,” she said.

“It is a reasonable request that as Victorians we want to understand what is going on.

“Of course we need to have mechanisms in place for states of emergency and states of disaster, but this state of emergency is ongoing.

“There is no break to this state of emergency.”

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