The Nationals Victorian leader and Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh says the biggest issue we face in Victoria – and an issue that does not exist anywhere else in Australia – is the Daniel Andrews government.
Mr Walsh said even though it was part of the national cabinet from the word go, the Andrews government refused repeated offers of help, refused to co-ordinate with other political parties in the Victorian Government, did not overly communicate early on what it was doing to solve the problem and used its numbers in Parliament to push through draconian powers not sought by any other Premier or even the Prime Minister.
He said it then dragged regional Victoria into the infection rate and economic chaos of Melbourne after it botched, and botched badly, the hotel quarantines and contact tracing.
“And if you would like to go back through months of saturation media coverage you will see Daniel Andrews – who now is virtually a one-man government – looked to blame everyone he could find, except himself,” Mr Walsh said.
“Then, when he ran out of people to blame, when his own police chief and senior health officer backed away from his claims about his curfew, he suddenly lost his memory,” he said.
“His message to regional Victorians at his big roadmap-to-rescue announcement was never heard – because he lost his notes; just the ones on regional Victoria.
“The Liberal Nationals have offered help, have offered proposals and ideas and have asked for information but you can only smack your head against a brick wall so many times.
“That is why we believe it is our role, as elected representatives, to hold this government to account for all its actions.
“It is to represent the people who have elected The Nationals to speak for them, and why we are committed to taking whatever action possible to make public everything that went both right and wrong so in the future we are better prepared to hopefully do a much better job than has been done to date – a job which has left Victoria a national pariah with every other state and territory refusing entry to our citizens.
“Regardless of whether the Andrews Government changes conditions for regional Victoria he is a day late and a dollar short.
“While those businesses that have managed to survive will be relieved to be back to work this is no reward for a job well done – this is an overdue apology for a job regional Victoria completed weeks ago.”
Mr Walsh said this was simply Daniel Andrews belatedly trying to make up for his disdain for regional Victorians since this pandemic began.
He said regional Victorians have hardly put a foot wrong, virtually every case detected has been controlled. There were cluster infections, such as Colac, but nothing on the scale of Melbourne’s figures.
“But because this government’s thinking – and I use that term loosely – stops where the tram tracks end, the regional economy, regional communities and regional support went out the window,” Mr Walsh added.
“We could, and should, have been virtually back to normal weeks ago and having talked to people across my electorate and the state; to hear their stories, I just hope Mr Andrews has not left it too late for the small-town economies out here to be rejuvenated.”