Senior MPs vent pressure of Vic lockdown
The pressure cooker of the long and painful Victorian coronavirus lockdown has exploded in federal parliament.
Labor took the lid off by bringing on, at the start of Question Time on Tuesday, a bipartisan motion commending the people of Victoria for the sacrifices they had made in the face of the pandemic.
The motion also congratulated the people of Victoria for their achievement in overcoming the second wave and expressed gratitude to Victorians on behalf of a grateful nation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it had been a time like no other in Australia and he was pleased to see Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announce the easing of restrictions.
However, he said there was evidence of things that have not gone as they should in Victoria, including quarantine failures and problems with contact tracing.
"It has been a heavy blow," he said.
"There are so many Victorians who will carry the scars of this lockdown for years to come."
Mr Morrison said the government would stand by Victorians, along with other Australians, through the recovery.
"This Christmas I want Australians to come around that table and talk about 2021 with positivity, with hope, with aspiration, looking forward to what they are going to do.
"God bless Australia."
Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said it had been an incredible achievement for his home state to get the virus under control, having come close to UK-level case numbers earlier in the pandemic.
"Around the world, there is hardly a precedent for it and the credit for that first and foremost goes to the people of Victoria," he said.
He spoke of the utter sense of terror as the virus went through aged care homes and acknowledged mistakes had been made but were being addressed.
"Melburnians can now look forward to the comedy festival in March, to having a beer at the Espy hotel over summer, to visiting the Victoria Market on a Saturday morning once again," he said.
"To going to the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, to seeing the Boxing Day test at the MCG, with a renewed sense of confidence, of hope and optimism."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered an impassioned speech focused on the darker and costlier side of lockdowns in his home state.
"The pain, the cost, the loss of Victorian people - it never should have come to this," he said.
He spoke of a friend whose friend had taken his own life because he had lost his job.
"This is the price that has been paid during the lockdown."
Victoria has recorded a second straight day of no coronavirus cases or deaths.
Treasury has calculated the Victorian lockdown has cost the economy $100 million and 1200 jobs a day.
Mr Morrison said it was important for the state government to provide even more clarity to Victorians in coming days and remove restrictions that did not have a health basis.
Restrictions on people visiting each other at home are being relaxed from midnight on Tuesday.
Some retail and hospitality restrictions will be also eased.
But hotel operators are concerned strict crowd limits will prevent them from turning a profit.
NSW has two new cases of locally transmitted coronavirus and another 10 in hotel quarantine.
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