Parliament Mitchell Shire Regional Victoria COVID-19

Health Minister tongue-tied on shire lockdown

24 March 2022

Key questions about the Andrews Government’s decision to lockdown the Mitchell Shire in September and October last year remain unanswered by the state’s Health Minister.

The lockdown, which was called despite no tier one exposure sites in the region and higher case numbers across other local government areas, further crippled businesses and impacted the mental health of residents.

Member for Euroa and Deputy Nationals leader Steph Ryan asked six questions to the Health Minister in Parliament about the lockdown on October 5 of last year.

“In the middle of that lockdown, when people were desperate for answers, I asked the government a series of straightforward questions about their decisions,” Ms Ryan said.

“This included what the trigger was to release the shire from lockdown and what the government considered acceptable case numbers across the shire to lift the lockdown.

“I also asked whether increased resources had been allocated to local schools and mental health providers and whether Mitchell Shire would follow the metropolitan road map or return to the restrictions in regional Victoria when case numbers reduced.

“Five and a half months later, the Health Minister has provided a two-sentence response.”

Ms Ryan said the government had displayed breathtaking arrogance by refusing to answer basic questions about the government’s rationale for putting the area into a hard lockdown.

“This appalling lack of transparency is consistent with Labor’s treatment of Victorians over the course of the pandemic.”

Ms Ryan said the Mitchell Shire lockdown was completely out of step with decisions made across the rest of regional Victoria.

“The Mitchell Shire was pummelled by the government through the pandemic and treated with absolute contempt.

“Businesses have been crippled, kids have missed vital schooling, mental health has suffered and yet the Health Minister refuses to tell us why.

“The Attorney General herself is a representative of the Mitchell Shire and despite enforcing these rules, she also refused to provide the basic information people were seeking.

“Meanwhile, the other Labor representative in the area told people to stay at home during lockdown but moved 300 kilometres away to Warrnambool.

“It’s no wonder the government feels it can get away with these decisions when its own MPs are not fighting for the region.”

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