Clarification needed on confusing COVID-19 directions

The Victorian Government needs to be less confusing around its ‘stay at home’ directions.

The call for clarity comes after Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath said she is fielding countless questions from people concerned about grey areas and inconsistencies.

“Last week, the Victorian Government put restrictions in place preventing couples who live apart from seeing one another, which created enormous stress and contradicted the National Cabinet’s decision,” Ms Bath said.

“After 48 hours of confusion, during which time the Premier and Victoria’s Police Minister both insisted the rules were clear and people couldn’t see their partner if they did not live together, the Chief Health Officer announced it was unreasonable and corrected it.”

Ms Bath said there was also confusion over acceptable daily exercise activities, with an inconsistent and city centric approach to the definition of exercise.

“Regional people have expressed their frustration that activities given the green light have had little consideration for people living in regional communities.

“The legal directions signed by the State Government don’t always provide clear answers on many of these issues.

“At other times the directives are just at odds. For example, you can go and play a game of tennis, as long as only one court is in use, but you can’t play a round of golf by yourself.

“Now we know parents and learner drivers will both be issued with a hefty fine for taking a driving lesson in an enclosed car, despite it being an isolated activity.

“Parents are incredibly frustrated at the decision as learning to drive is an important life and educational skill.”

Ms Bath said the other area of concern was holiday homes with Gippsland home to popular coastal and high country destinations.

“In light of other restrictions, it’s hard to see how people travelling from Melbourne to Gippsland to stay at their holiday house passes the pub test,” Ms Bath said.

“Gippsland has been fortunate to have low COVID-19 numbers thus far, but allowing people to travel introduces unnecessary risk to small communities and places pressure on vital services.

“The Premier has told people to ‘stop looking for loopholes’, but most people want to do the right thing. They want to know where they stand under the law and they want the law applied fairly and sensibly.

“People accept that the government is navigating its way through uncharted territory, but doing the right thing is made difficult when the rules are unclear and inconsistent.”

Ms Bath said she was concerned the Premier scrapped the accountability mechanisms fundamental to western democracies, which meant there was little scrutiny on the State Government during a time in which it was wielding unprecedented power.

“The State Government has prorogued the Parliament which is responsible for scrutinising the decisions of executive government and now the Premier has decreed that decisions will be made by just a handful of people instead of the full Cabinet,” Ms Bath said.

“We all understand these are difficult times, but these discontinuing the parliamentary process set a dangerous precedent.”