The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said this week we had finally been delivered the news every regional Victorian needed to hear – we’ve come out of lockdown.
But Mr Walsh said it was all too little, too late.
He said with no active cases or exposure sites in regional Victoria, families, small business owners and communities have been pleading for common sense.
“While this week’s announcement meant our kids were back in the classroom, that our pubs, coffee shops, beauty services and retail stores can reopen and that loved ones can again gather (in small numbers) for the moments where we need connection the most – at weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies – it’s still the lockdown regional Victoria didn’t need to have,” Mr Walsh said.
“It came four days too late for regional cafes, restaurants and pubs that had to cancel bookings and throw out tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of fresh food ahead of another snap lockdown,” he said.
“It’s four days too late for the Victorians who couldn’t go to work because they are in casual work.
“It’s four days too late for tourism and entertainment businesses that were already struggling to survive but have lost another busy weekend of trading.
“It’s four days too late for our children that couldn’t go to school, forcing teachers to make last minute changes to their education plans twice in just a few days.
“And it’s four days too late for the many Victorians who are mentally overwhelmed with the constant yo-yoing in and out of Labor’s lockdowns.”
Mr Walsh said Wangaratta Mayor Dean Rees must be congratulated for standing up for his community – and every single regional Victorian – to tell us the truth when the Andrews Labor Government refused to.
He said it was Mr Rees’ revelations on Friday that the Premier was – at best – misinformed about the positive detection of COVID in wastewater at Wangaratta that means hundreds of thousands of Victorians will come out of lockdown.
“Daniel Andrews should have lifted the regional lockdown as soon as the truth came out,” Mr Walsh added.
“His Labor Government is guilty of hiding the truth just to protect their own jobs, at the expense of local jobs and livelihoods of regional Victorians,” he said.
“Living under the constant threat of statewide lockdown is killing our communities in regional Victoria.
“Victorians deserve a plan out of lockdown that uses rapid testing so we can have a proportionate, targeted response to outbreaks.
“The Liberal Nationals will keep fighting for a common-sense plan with lockdowns as a last resort – not a first response. It’s what every Victorian deserves.”