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Local News - Victoria

Victoria Police, IBAC can’t investigate Lawyer X cops, top corruption lawyer says


Mr Drummond, the special prosecutor appointed by the Queensland government to investigate crooked cops exposed by the Fitzgerald royal commission, said investigations into police implicated in the Lawyer X scandal should also be at “arm’s length” from Victoria’s peak anti-corruption agency, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

IBAC examined the Lawyer X saga five years ago and did not find evidence of criminal behaviour on the part of any current or former police.

Michael O'Brien in Parliament last week.

Michael O’Brien in Parliament last week.Credit:Jason South

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien last week asked Attorney-General Jill Hennessy in Parliament whether she would follow the Queensland path and commit to establishing a special prosecutor.

Ms Hennessy said the government would await the recommendations of the royal commission.

Ms Gobbo, a former defence barrister, was a registered police informer who ratted on her own clients. Counsel assisting the royal commission has invited Commissioner McMurdo to find that Ms Gobbo’s police handlers and senior officers who supervised their work may have engaged in criminal conduct. Potential offences included misconduct in public office and conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Both are punishable by jail.

Commissioner McMurdo has decided not to name any current or former police implicated in criminal conduct, noting this could have a prejudicial impact on future legal proceedings.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo.

It remains unclear, in the absence of the establishment of a special prosecutor and supporting taskforce, how information gathered by the royal commission can be developed into admissible evidence to support criminal charges.

Testimony provided to a royal commission cannot be used against that witness in criminal proceedings.

Former IBAC commissioner Stephen Bryan said the anti-corruption body was the “logical entity” to investigate police, but it would need more resources.

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“Bearing in mind the vastness of evidence gathered to date and complexity of the issues involved, any such task would be substantial and therefore necessitate adequate special funding for IBAC by the Victorian government,” he told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich, QC, submitted to the royal commission that to investigate police implicated in the scandal, it would require a government referral, additional support and, potentially, expanded powers.

“As I have publicly acknowledged in the past, IBAC lacks some of the necessary powers it should have to properly investigate complaints received against police officers, some of which affect its ability to gather admissible evidence,” he said.

“It is in fact the only commission throughout Australia whose investigators do not have the same powers as a police officer.”

Mr Redlich noted that current and former police at the centre of the Lawyer X scandal were previously examined by IBAC during the 2015 inquiry led by former Victorian Supreme Court judge Murray Kellam.

Mr Drummond said a special prosecutor would require its own taskforce and needed to be independent of “political direction”. He contrasted this to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who by law is “responsible to the Attorney-General for the due performance or his or her functions”.

DPP Kerri Judd, QC, rejected this. “Contrary to the statements in Mr Drummond, QC’s, submissions, the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions are, and have always been, carried out independently of Victoria Police and the Attorney-General of Victoria,” she said.

Mr Drummond said the Andrews government had “benefited politically” from its relationship with Victoria Police, which did not pursue charges against anyone involved in the “Red Shirts” scandal involving Labor MP staffers doing campaign work.

“There should not be room for any perception that decisions whether any serving or former Victoria police [officers] should be prosecuted may be subject to political influence keen to ensure continuing police support,” he submitted.

Commissioner McMurdo is due to hand down her findings on 30 November.

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Local News - Victoria

Victoria is right to be cautious in exiting stage four


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But why aim for zero? There are two key reasons. First, preventing a substantial third wave is vastly easier from a zero starting point than from a”bubbling along” standpoint. NSW has proven low COVID-19 can be maintained but they are always on tenterhooks; the chance of an unseen super-spreading event sparking an out-of-control brushfire is not trivial.

The second reason is the national context. There are huge social and economic reasons for Australia to be one unified place again. Zero COVID-19 is Australia’s best chance to open up internally and to have travel bubbles with other low-risk nations. For more reason than one, Australia desperately needs to get back to being a nation. No community transmission in every state and territory is the best pathway to achieve that.

Victoria is right to be cautious in exiting stage four. Coronavirus infections are surging across Europe and North America as winter looms. There are few lessons to be learned from those regions except that premature and abrupt easing of restrictions can have dire consequences.

Closer to home, Singapore, which has by far the highest number of cases per capita in Asia, offers a cautionary tale. On June 19, the country eased restrictions opening restaurants and gyms. In the seven subsequent weeks leading up to 8 August, Singapore – whose population is less than Victoria’s – reported 13,096 new cases or 267 per day. Not an example for Victoria to follow.

The first phase of easing restrictions announced by the Premier on Sunday focuses on the outdoors. This is consistent with the international evidence that the risk of being infected indoors is up to 20 times higher than outdoors. Nevertheless, other precautions need to be adhered to, such as wearing masks when not eating or drinking and practising strict hand hygiene.

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Nevertheless, with more than 130 active cases in Melbourne and 15 cases of unknown origin in the past 14 days, there are challenges ahead to ensure that a new surge is prevented. The experience of Sydney identifying new locally acquired cases after 12 days of zero cases indicates how long the virus can circulate hidden from view.

So what needs to be done to prevent a new spike? First, outbreak responses need to be rapid, nimble and proactive. The quick containment of clusters in Kilmore and Shepparton indicates that this capacity exists.

But there needs to be a greater focus on active case-finding in response to new cases. This means immediate testing, tracing and isolation of contacts, contacts of contacts, and all people in the index case’s immediate environment including testing of contacts with no symptoms. This response needs to be particularly vigorous in high-risk populations such as those living in crowded housing. Community engagement and involvement in this process is essential.

The previewed opening of retail and entertainment outlets on November 2 poses further challenges. Limits on the number of customers allowed in a shop should be defined. Clear guidelines for achieving physical distancing in large shopping centres like Chadstone need to be issued. A system of registering QR codes should be considered; this has been a successful measure in South Korea.

Finally, there must be a commitment to ensuring that high-risk settings like aged care homes and hospitals are implementing infection prevention and control measures that meet the highest standards.

As for Armstrong’s victory, much was said about “lucky lane 6” and how he rode a competitor’s bow wave to victory. Coach Lawrence gave this notion short shrift. It turns out Armstrong simply trained harder than the others. According to Lawrence, Armstrong won because “he paid the price”.

And so, Victorians, have you. Gold is within reach.

Michael Toole is an epidemiologist at the Burnet Institute. Brendan Crabb is the director of the Burnet Institute.

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Business

CBA chief calls for faster easing of restrictions in Victoria


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced changes to restrictions on Sunday, including extending travel limits from five to 25 kilometres and opening certain industries including hairdressers and golf clubs.

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However, retail and hospitality venues will remain closed until November 2 and will only be permitted to open under strict guidelines, within the travel limit.

Mr Comyn said health had become “by far the most important economic policy”, and while the Victorian government was erring on the side of caution, a faster reopening would be beneficial.

“They’re obviously trying to mitigate the risks that they see or foresee could lead to a rebound in cases, but based on the level of cases at the moment – it certainly would provide a lot of encouraging support to be able to open the restrictions faster.”

“And certainly in some sectors, where those risks could be probably quite well mitigated, there is a lot of encouragement from us and all businesses around the country, and particularly in Victoria, to help them get restarted.”

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“Clearly this is having a very, very sharp impact on small business and Melbourne is definitely bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Much more harshly than other parts of the country,” he added.

The economy would continue to be propped up by fiscal stimulus offered by the federal government, Mr Comyn said, but further hardship was expected once the JobKeeper and loan relief falls off in March.

“Perhaps some of the underlying impact to the economy has been masked for the time being due to a number of those different factors. We’re by no means out of the woods,” he said.

However, he added the impact on unemployment and house prices had not been as severe as initially expected and the speed of the recovery would now be determined by state government policies.

“Reopening the economy, the state borders, Victoria, are all critical to that,” he said.

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Mr Comyn also weighed into Australian relations with China, that have become increasingly toxic as the Chinese government issues directions to avoid Australian industries, including the most latest move to isolate Australia’s cotton industry.

Mr Comyn said China was “a really important trading partner” but added businesses might look to lessen their reliance on one market.

“Some customers who had a singular dependence on a particular market probably are looking to diversify but China will still be an extremely important trading partner.”

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Melbourne flights monitored as 55 New Zealanders slip into Victoria


Incoming flights to Melbourne will be closely monitored as health officials catch up with all 55 New Zealanders who entered Victoria last week.

In a statement the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) assured that the travellers were aware of the state’s delicate coronavirus predicament.

“The travellers, some in family groups and most staying in private homes, were provided with information about COVID-19 and the current Victorian health directions,” it said.

“Three of the travellers did not cross the border into Victoria and remain in NSW, and one who was in Victoria returned to NSW today.

“Twenty-one of the 55 travellers arrived at Melbourne Airport on Friday and Saturday. The remainder arrived using other modes of transport.

“DHHS authorised officers continue to meet incoming flights at Melbourne Airport and provide information to arriving passengers.”

The travellers entered Victoria after flying into NSW as part of the new travel bubble deal between Australia and New Zealand.

But the Victorian Premier hit out at the commonwealth over the slip-up.

“We don’t want anything at all to undermine the amazing job that Victorians have done and are doing,” he said.

“Some things have gone wrong here.

“We are very much at the end of that, not necessarily part of it. We made it clear that we didn’t want to be part – could not be part of the bubble arrangements at this point.”

The passengers who flew into Sydney did not need to enter hotel quarantine under the new trans-Tasman travel bubble arrangements.

Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders are permitted to travel quarantine-free into both NSW and the Northern Territory under the proviso they’ve not been in a COVID-19 hot spot in the 14 days leading up to their travel.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told ABC Breakfast on Monday that the bottom line was that “they are healthy New Zealanders”.

“The trans-Tasman bubble is the first in what we need to do to reopen our nation,” Mr McCormack said.

“We’re repatriating Australians as well.”



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Local News - Victoria

Victoria records four new cases of coronavirus, one death


The reopening of retail stores and indoor dining for restaurants, cafes and pubs has been pushed back to November 2, to the ire of many business owners including Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott who questioned the logic of some of the changes.

“It’s still difficult to understand the rationale for some of the changes and ongoing business restrictions, from a public health and wellbeing perspective. For example, you can go to the hairdresser or a skate park and have more freedom to travel, but you can’t go to your local Bunnings Warehouse.” Wesfarmers owns Bunnings stores.

If case numbers remain low this week, however, Mr Andrews said businesses may be allowed to reopen sooner.

Paul Guerra, the chief executive officer of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the reaction was “mixed”, with certainty around the return date for businesses welcomed.

“We thought the additional two weeks was too long to get retail and hospitality back,” he told radio station 3AW on Monday morning.

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“But there’s a glimmer of hope, if we can do the right thing over the next week, and then the Premier can stand up on Sunday and get the rest of industry going.”

There were just two cases announced in Victoria on Sunday, both located in the Hume council area.

A staff member at Kemp’s Bakery in Kilmore tested positive and worked at the shop between October 1 and October 11. According to the Health Department, the staff member is not considered to have been infectious during that period.

In regional Victoria, residents are allowed to welcome visitors to their homes. Two adults and two dependents from any household are allowed to visit a home once per day.

In Shepparton, where a small COVID-19 outbreak was sparked by a truck driver linked to the Chadstone cluster, extra restrictions on restaurants, pubs and cafes will remain in place for an extra week.

Venues will be limited to 10 people per indoor space, although a maximum of 70 people are allowed in outdoor areas.

“This decision, based on the advice of our public health team, is a precautionary measure to keep the Shepparton community safe, and as more people get tested and get their results, we’ll proceed with the changes announced (on Sunday),” the Department of Health and Human Services said.

Meanwhile, more travellers from New Zealand are set to fly to Victoria within days despite angry demands from Mr Andrews for federal action to prevent the state being drawn into a “travel bubble” across the Tasman.

Victorian officials have asked the Australian Border Force to speed up the release of passenger manifests to prevent a repeat of the surprise arrival of up to 55 travellers from New Zealand into Melbourne on Friday.

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Victoria signed off on New Zealand travel deal, minister says


Premier Daniel Andrews has called on the federal government to “work” with Victoria, saying the state never agreed to be part of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

It comes after Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the Victorian government “authorised” a group of 17 people who arrived from New Zealand to enter the state.

Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders are permitted to travel quarantine-free into both NSW and the Northern Territory, under the proviso they’ve not been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the 14 days leading up to their travel.

Mr Tudge savaged the Victoria government, saying: “The fact that people cannot recall being in meetings, people cannot recall emails being sent, people cannot recall making decisions, it is just deja vu in relation to the Victorian government. That just seems to be a pattern now of not being able to recall what is going on, not being able to recall being at meetings, not being able to recall sending emails to authorise such activities”.

However, Mr Andrews has hit back at suggestions Victoria agreed to be part of the travel bubble saying “we can’t just have people wandering into the place from another country”.

He said they had now been informed 55 travellers from New Zealand had arrived.

“We are having to find these people,” he said.

“We are ringing them, one of them was in Byron Bay. And yet we were told they had landed and travelled to Melbourne.”

RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage

He said his “advice to Minister Tudge is, instead of stubbornly defending this, work with us and let’s make sure Victoria is not part of a bubble that we never agreed to be in.

“Now, if that isn’t possible, let’s talk about what else can happen. I don’t want to shut our border, but he should have a conversation with his boss.

“He should have a conversation with the Prime Minister, who, I have lost count of the number of times he has said to me, ‘thank you for not closing your border’.

“It is New Zealand today, but who knows what the other that what the next bubble is, who that is with? We have got authorised officers at the airport now, because this has happened. We didn’t think it would happen, but it has happened.

“We are going to follow up as much as we can. But I don’t control the borders and I don’t control what happens at Sydney Airport and I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect me to. I am not looking for a quarrel on this, I just wanted fixed.”

However, Mr Andrews said he couldn’t stop people from coming into the state.

“I have got no power to stop them coming here,” he said.

He said hopefully authorities would have “greater visibility” about the fact that they were coming so that they could they could chat to each of the travellers and make sure they knew what the coronavirus rules were.

‘OUTSIDE OF OUR CONTROL’: ANOTHER STATE STUNG

As Mr Andrews and Mr Tudge exchanged a war of words, Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan revealed 25 travellers from New Zealand had flown into Perth overnight, despite his state also not being a part of the arrangement.

All bar one of the arrivals – a child traveller now in a “quarantine arrangement” with a family member – have been put into hotel quarantine.

Mr McGowan told reporters this afternoon the situation is “fluid”, adding his Government was “doing our best to manage it”.

RELATED: ‘I’m done with this’: Andrews erupts

“We would prefer better management of these arrangements, but this is something that happened that was outside of our control,” he said.

“If New South Wales and the NT want to open up to other countries, there is now an issue as to how to manage those people coming from other countries border-hopping.

“Our system has worked, we’ve managed to pick these people up and put them into quarantine.

“It would just be great if (the Federal Government) were to better assist us in managing these things with appropriate information being provided to the State Government about people who might be catching flights across state borders.”

TUDGE SLAMS VICTORIA

Mr Tudge earlier hit back at the Victorian Government, saying it knew about arrangements that saw 17 New Zealanders try to enter Melbourne on Friday.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton “represented” the state at meeting to discuss what should happen if New Zealanders flew from Sydney or Darwin to another Australian state, Mr Tudge said.

“We further understand from The Age newspaper today that the Premier’s own department had in fact given authorisation to individuals who had arrived from New Zealand to Sydney to then travel on to Victoria,” Mr Tudge told reporters.

“So the Victorian Government was present when it was discussed, they were made aware that this was going to occur, they raised no objections in the meetings, and furthermore, expressly authorised individuals who were arriving into Sydney from New Zealand to be able to travel on into Victoria.”

Mr Tudge asked Mr Andrews to “reveal” the emails that “show, clearly and demonstrably, that they authorised the people to come into Victoria”, which would “completely clear this up”.

RELATED: What Victorians can and can’t do

Yesterday, Mr Andrews said he was “very disappointed” that the travellers had been able to enter his state.”

“We’re disappointed this has happened given that I had written to the Prime Minister on this very issue the previous day, saying at some point we will join that New Zealand/Australia travel bubble, but it is not appropriate now,” he said.

“We don’t want anything at all to undermine the amazing job that Victorians have done and are doing. Some things have gone wrong here. We are very much at the end of that, not necessarily part of it. We made it clear that we didn’t want to be part – could not be part of the bubble arrangements at this point.”

Mr Andrews said it was “not fair” when Victorians can’t freely move around their own state to have people arriving from another country, “without us knowing”.



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Victoria records one new case of COVID-19, no deaths


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Premier Daniel Andrews said that any deficiencies in the state’s contact tracing capacity would not hamper Victoria’s next steps out of lockdown.

“The fact that we as a community… city and country… have been as stubborn as this virus in our resolve to defeat it, we are well placed to take significant steps on Sunday,” he told a press conference on Friday.

“On Sunday, I very much look forward to giving people a sense of what the coming weeks will look like.

“[Contact tracing] capabilities are not a factor on Sunday.”

Earlier this week, Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng floated the possibility of a 20km travel radius for those living in metropolitan Melbourne, an extension of the current 5km radius.

He warned the city’s cafe and restaurant owners, they would be unlikely to open, saying it would “not be safe” to give hospitality venues the green light to host patrons from next week.

“But if we can take other steps to give people back some of the things that they love, some of the things that given them a sense of normality … then they’re the sorts of decisions we’re looking to make on Sunday,” Mr Andrews said on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged the state government to “as far as possible” when easing restrictions on Sunday.

He said that Victorians, and particularly Melburnians, “have kept up their side of the bargain” by abiding by strict lockdown measures and had suffered as a result.

Victoria’s inquiry into the state’s hotel quarantine program will reconvene next week for an ‘extraordinary hearing, but no details around who will be called to give evidence have been released.

It comes as The Age and Sydney Morning Herald revealed that Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton actively authorised an email on the day in March that the state’s hotel quarantine was set up, telling the federal government that private security guards were going to be used to guard returning travellers.

Seventeen Kiwi travellers who landed in Sydney on Friday were caught entering Melbourne on day one of the travel bubble set up between NSW and New Zealand.

“Victoria has not agreed to a travel bubble arrangement with New Zealand and did not expect to receive international travellers as a result of NSW making that arrangement,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

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Victoria, Qld, NSW COVID-19 updates


Fourteen people who arrived in Australia from New Zealand today have been detained after trying to enter Melbourne.

news.com.au

October 16, 2020 9:22PM

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Last updated October 16, 2020 9:33PM AEDT

Fourteen people who arrived from New Zealand today have been detained after trying to enter Melbourne.
 

According to the ABC, the passengers flew into Sydney and then got a connecting flight to Melbourne.

Victoria is not accepting overseas arrivals at the moment.

The travellers had been allowed to travel to Sydney without quarantining, as part of a trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders will be allowed to travel quarantine-free into NSW and the Northern Territory if they have not been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the previous 14 days.

It comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews prepares to reveal on Sunday which restrictions will be eased in Melbourne as it moves out of lockdown.

He told reporters on Friday he would be making some “significant announcements” in 48 hours’ time.

However, he confirmed the hard border separating metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria would stay in place.

Mr Andrews said Sunday’s announcement would be “broadly in alignment with our foreshadowed stage 3”, although the state would need to “wait and see” as it depended on numbers continuing to fall.

RELATED: Is Victoria becoming a police state? Have your say in our poll

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Victoria records just two new cases, no deaths


That exceeds the 14-day five-case average the state government had hoped to achieve by the end of this week, but Mr Andrews has said an average of 10, or thereabouts, could be “as good as it gets” for Victoria in the near future.

Ironically, if the date for Melbourne to move to step three of reopening had still been set at October 26 – rather than being brought forward to October 19 – the 14-day average would be shaping up nicely against its target of five or less.

Victoria recorded six new cases all linked to known outbreaks on Thursday, which Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said was “about as encouraging as it gets at this point in time”, despite signalling his ongoing concern at the number cases with an unknown source.

There has been a slight uptick in mystery cases in recent days, with two more being added to the past fortnight’s tally on Friday morning bringing it to 17.

There were five consecutive days with no new mystery cases last month, but in recent days there has been a resurgence in cases for which the infection source cannot be traced, coinciding with the Chadstone outbreak.

These are the cases health authorities are most concerned about because they suggest the virus may be circulating in the community.

On Friday, the tally of mystery cases between September 30 and October 13 was 17 – more than three times the government’s target of five or less.

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The government is also considering measures such as increasing hospitality capacity, reopening more retail stores and increasing gatherings at events in regional Victoria on Sunday.

Some epidemiologists have questioned the five-kilometre restriction as case numbers have fallen, although Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has said the rule prevented COVID-19 cases spilling over into previously unaffected areas of Melbourne.

Thousands of residents in the town of Shepparton have been tested for coronavirus this week following revelations a truck driver connected to the Chadstone outbreak, who spread the virus in Kilmore, also infected people in Shepparton. The truck driver, who has been referred to police, lied to contact tracers, failing to tell them he had stopped in Shepparton on his travels in regional Victoria.

Of about 350 Shepparton results received by Thursday, none were positive, although Professor Cheng said more cases would almost certainly be picked up in coming days.

Meanwhile, a legal challenge to Melbourne’s lockdown laws has been fast-tracked to the High Court with the hearing due to start at 3pm on Friday. Prominent Mornington Peninsula hotelier Julian Gerner is suing the state government, saying his restaurant has lost millions in revenue due to the second lockdown.

Sorrento hotelier Julian Gerner has launched a High Court challenge against Victoria's lockdown.

Sorrento hotelier Julian Gerner has launched a High Court challenge against Victoria’s lockdown.Credit:

Mr Gerner’s argument also questions whether restrictions such as the five-kilometre rule and essential worker permits are a disproportionate response to the threat of coronavirus, and contrary to the implied constitutional rights of freedom of movement.

Mornington Peninsula residents have said expanding Melbourne’s five-kilometre travel limit will not lead to an influx of people flooding beachside suburbs. They say Melburnians are already flouting lockdown restrictions and travelling to beaches and holiday homes on the Peninsula.

“They’re already here,” Peninsula resident Kelly told radio station 3AW on Friday morning. “You can tell when they’ve got their suitcases in their cars.”

Tootgarook woman, Maggie, said her street was full of holidaymakers. “The street that I live in, the majority of houses are holiday homes, and every week for months now you get four or five cars in the driveway,” she said.

The Mornington Peninsula is considered part of metropolitan Melbourne and is subject to stage four lockdown restrictions.

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Victoria records 12 more cases of COVID-19, one death


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Melbourne cannot reach its target to take the next step out of lockdown, but some restrictions will be eased next Monday.

The decision has frustrated retailers, who argue they should be allowed to open.

The Victorian director of one of the nation’s peak industry associations says the retail sector should be allowed to reopen after Premier Daniel Andrews acknowledged daily case numbers may not drop any lower.

On Monday, Mr Andrews said the daily case average of about 10 may be “as good as it gets” and the state could enact more significant easing of restrictions despite the slightly higher risk of a surge in cases once rules are relaxed.

But the Premier said rules for the retail sector are unlikely to change on Sunday when some social restrictions will be eased.

On Tuesday morning, the Australian Industry Group’s Tim Piper said shutting non-essential retail had helped to achieve the strategy of limiting movement and thereby suppressing the virus’ spread.

“But we’ve now reached the stage where we’re not getting any further,” he said.

“[Mr Andrews’ announcement on Monday] was very dispiriting for literally every business in Victoria because there was an expectation, a strong one, that we were going to be back on deck.

“We’d been given every indication over the last few weeks that was going to occur.”

Many businesses – including hairdressers which had installed perspex screens – had already implemented COVID-safe plans in anticipation of opening, Mr Piper said on ABC Radio National.

Victorian parliament resumes today and Daniel Andrews’ government is expected to face fresh scrutiny over the bungling of the hotel quarantine program.

The fallout of the program has so far claimed two political scalps; Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and the head of the public service Chris Eccles have both resigned.

The Opposition will this week move a motion of “no confidence” in the Premier, but it is unlikely to garner any support in the Legislative Assembly where Labor has a 55-38 majority.

Meanwhile, the state’s Chief Medical Officer has also told ABC radio there was no evidence poor personal protective equipment protocols played a role in the outbreak at Box Hill hospital which grew to 11 cases on Monday.

Professor Wilson said fit-testing – where high-grade masks are appropriately fitted to each healthcare worker’s face – had not yet been rolled out at all Victorian hospitals.

“What’s supposed to be in place by the end of the month is the development of the program,” he said, adding that fit-testing had been undertaken at some hospitals in the northern and western suburbs.

“It’s a complex program to set up, to do it all very quickly and across the whole of our huge health system but it’s definitely underway and moving ahead.

“The number of workers infected, even though we’ve had patients in the hospital, has been coming down because of a range of things people have been doing.”

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