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Claims Victoria’s Covid-19 lockdown is ‘sheer madness, politically motivated’

Victoria’s fifth Covid-19 lockdown is ‘sheer madness, politically motivated and causing more deaths than the virus’, former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett has claimed.

In a column for the Herald Sun, Mr Kennett said the latest lockdown was ‘absolutely unnecessary’ but imposed to boost Premier Daniel Andrews’ popularity.

He accused the government of being too scared to manage the virus with contact tracing and instead taking the ‘easy option’ to lock the state down. 

Victoria’s fifth Covid-19 lockdown is ‘sheer madness’, former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett has claimed. Pictured: Residents in Melbourne on Wednesday

Victoria went into lockdown on July 15 after 18 cases of the highly infectious Delta strain were recorded. 

With the outbreak expanding to 107 cases on Wednesday, the shut down has been extended for another week until July 27.

The Premier and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the early lockdown was essential to stop the spread of the deadly disease and prevent a longer shut down.

‘If we leave it smouldering at low levels… then there’s every chance that we are back here, locked down again,’ Mr Andrews said on Tuesday. 

Victoria’s fifth lockdown comes a year after the state’s devastating three-month shut down over winter 2020.

Mr Kennett claimed the lockdowns are so detrimental to livelihoods and mental health that they are causing more deaths than the virus itself. 

‘I am sick and tired of being told we are saving hundreds of lives by having these lockdowns,’ Mr Kennett wrote. 

Businesses are left closed in Melbourne on Wednesday as lockdown is extended for another week

Businesses are left closed in Melbourne on Wednesday as lockdown is extended for another week

‘If our contact tracing is up to scratch, we can manage this virus. What we can’t do is have these rolling lockdowns.’

Mr Kennett, who led Victoria from 1992 to 1999, did not present any evidence to show lockdowns are causing more deaths than the virus.

In 2020 there was a 40 per cent spike in calls to mental health hotlines and 698 Victorians took their own lives – but this number was 20 fewer than in 2019, before the pandemic.

Mr Kennett said 120 drivers have been killed on Victoria’s roads this year and flu kills hundreds every year – but the state does not lock down to prevent these deaths. 

Covid-19 is much more lethal than flu and has killed 820 Victorians, with a mortality rate of 3.9 per cent. 

The former premier said there were two main reasons why the government was favouring lockdowns, even though businesses are being ‘killed’ and families assets are being ‘destroyed’. 

The government – burned by last year’s tragedy – is afraid of losing control of the virus and believes the lockdowns are broadly popular, Mr Kennett claimed.

 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday night shared an alarming map showing how there are now hundreds of residents directly exposed to the virus across the state

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday night shared an alarming map showing how there are now hundreds of residents directly exposed to the virus across the state

‘The government is afraid of making a mistake for which it will be held responsible. 

‘Or our politicians have no confidence in themselves, the people they have charged to manage the pandemic, or the [tracing and testing] systems they have in place. If they did, we would not be in lockdown,’ he wrote.

The former premier claimed the lockdown is a ‘political exercise’ and cited a report in The Australian which said the government had spent $2million on ‘a large-scale program at the height of last year’s Covid-19 crisis to monitor Victorian’s reaction to lockdown restrictions and score the government’s performance out of 10, including its leadership, in tackling the pandemic’. 

Mr Kennett urged the government to give Victorians a vaccination rate target for when lockdowns can stop.

Australia is now bringing in one million Pfizer doses per week. Under 40s are expected to become eligible for the jab in late September. Pictured: The Sydney Homebush vaccination hub

Australia is now bringing in one million Pfizer doses per week. Under 40s are expected to become eligible for the jab in late September. Pictured: The Sydney Homebush vaccination hub

‘If ours is 100 per cent, we are doomed to lockdown after lockdown. If it is 75 per cent, there will still be outbreaks, but we can manage that,’ he said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr Andrews’ office for comment. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested the percentage of Australians who need to be vaccinated to end coronavirus lockdowns is 65 to 70 per cent.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said 80 per cent of the population or 62 per cent of adults needed to be jabbed before she can stop resorting to lockdowns in her state.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has said the rate required is ‘at least’ 80 per cent and possibly 90 per cent. 

The vaccination percentages required are being calculated by modelling experts at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and will be released ‘in the near future’.

The United Kingdom on Monday removed all Covid restrictions with about 66 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. The nation suffered 46,558 cases and 96 deaths on Tuesday.  

Victorians sit waiting to be called in for their vaccination at a mass coronavirus vaccination hub at the Showgrounds in Melbourne

Victorians sit waiting to be called in for their vaccination at a mass coronavirus vaccination hub at the Showgrounds in Melbourne

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