Victorian officials have endured one of their worst beatings since the start of the pandemic.
But Prime Minister Daniel Andrews was nowhere to be seen.
Thrilled at the prospect of finally seeing secret health department briefings condemning Victoria to one of six lockdowns, the nearly dormant Victorian press gallery sprang into action on Wednesday.
In Sydney, the young have made their way to freedoms that Melburnians can still only dream of
Melbourne remains a shadow of its former self even with restrictions easing on Friday thanks to strict density limits in venues
Dan, Dan, he’s our man, if he can’t be there, another minister will come forward to push back questions from curious reporters.
Assistant Treasurer and Senior Minister Danny Pearson was forced to avert the attack alongside Covid Commander Jeroen Weimar – now a seasoned Melbourne media figure.
Reporters rightly wanted to know if the advice to Victoria’s health department that it used to justify the state’s February shutdown would be released to the public.
Questions were sparked this morning by news that the Victorian Information Commissioner’s office had ordered the release of more than 100 pages of the Department of Health’s briefings.
That order came after Mr Andrews and his cronies refused to release the documents to the state opposition under freedom of information laws, prompting their successful appeal to the OVIC.
The revelations, broken by Melbourne’s Herald Sun, were the talk of the town on Wednesday, but Health Minister Martin Foley – a regular at Covid presses – was also absent from the daily press meeting.
The youngsters poked their way out of the lockdown on the back of AZ in NSW. In Victoria, battered citizens were too scared to get the shot after a devastating health advice
Victorian minister Danny Pearson (left) in 2018 – the last time a photo of him was posted in the Daily Mail Australia photo system, he is rarely seen in public. He is pictured with then Labor leader Bill Shorten
NSW STEP FORWARD ON THE BACK OF AZ
More than double the number of Sydneysiders under 40 who rolled up their sleeves to take the AstraZeneca shot during the Delta outbreak compared to young Victorians.
Statistics obtained by the Federal Health Department’s Daily Mail Australia show that between July 13 – when Delta struck Bondi – and October 10, 819,527 AZ shots went into the arms of young NSW residents.
During the same period, Victorians under 40 took just 309,878 AZ shots – and many preferred to wait for Pfizer.
Victoria’s unfavorable response to early warnings about AstraZeneca saw NSW find its way to freedom on the back of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“These documents are not my documents,” Mr. Pearson said.
“As I understand it, the Ministry of Health will consider this.”
The minister, who presides over regulatory reform, government services and creative industries, said he had not even seen the documents reporters asked him for.
“I am not the health minister,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has 14 days to appeal the decision to release the documents.
It has long argued that the advice it based its lockdowns on disclosed “high-level government consultation processes” and threatened to jeopardize trust between officials and a minister.
If the documents are released as instructed, the floodgates will likely be opened to release the rotten advice that has doomed the Melburnians into the longest lockdown in human history.
But with Victoria set to hit 70 percent vaccination coverage of the second dose in the next few hours, those best placed to answer the Andrews government’s lingering out of lockdown were nowhere to be seen.
Asked by reporters, former railway boss Weimar said the Victorians would not get out of lockdown before Friday, even if the target was met.
“At this stage of the game, whether we do it at 9pm or tomorrow morning, I don’t think it matters,” he said.
Bullet magnet: Covid commander Jeroen Weimar had to carry the can for his political masters during a press conference on Wednesday. Hours later they turned him into a monkey
Sydney has been out of its relatively short lockdown – compared to Melbourne – since October 11.
On Saturday, thousands of Sydney residents flocked to a prominent horse race as New South Wales hit its target of 80 percent of people fully vaccinated.
“It’s really sad that the Victorians are being held back,” federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
Victoria reported 1841 new local cases of coronavirus and 12 deaths on Wednesday.
In NSW, seven died and 283 new cases of Covid-19 were discovered overnight.
Even as Melbourne prepares to reopen at 11:59pm on Thursday, only a handful of people will be allowed into pubs at a time and 10 visitors a day.
The students will be staggered back to school and hairdressing and personal care will be open to five fully vaccinated people.
Retail is still not allowed to open.
By comparison, NSW effectively threw open its gates, allowing shops to reopen, children back to school and density limits for up to 20 people per booking in pubs.
On Wednesday, Mr Weimar told Victorian hospitality workers they could be fined if they tried to go to work before the expected midnight openings due to the 9pm-5pm curfew.
Melbourne on Tuesday evening. Before the lockdown, Melbourne was known for its vibrant nightlife every day of the week
Travelers are seen in the baggage claim lounge after arriving in Melbourne from Sydney on flight QF427 at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday. While they are free to roam the state, those imprisoned in the capital are not – even if they are doubly vaxxed
The bulletproof bureaucrat, who repeatedly takes blows at his political masters, was forced to formulate a preposterous argument to questions from astonished reporters about the outrageous proposal.
“They’re not essential workers, and again, that’s something the companies will have to manage,” Mr Weimar said.
Victoria’s roadmap to get out of lockdown is riddled with contradictions based on seemingly ridiculous health advice.
While a Melburnian may take off their mask while eating and drinking in a group at a restaurant – or when visiting family and friends at home – they should wear it while walking outside alone.
Restaurants are allowed to place unmasked people within 20, but food courts will remain takeout only.
And a Sydneysider can travel from NSW to Victoria, including in regional areas, but Melburnians cannot leave the metropolitan area.
Less than two hours after Mr Weimar made his comments about hospitality, he was humiliated by Mr Andrews’ press service, who informed reporters that hospitality workers would indeed be allowed to leave the house during curfew to go to work.
But ordinary Melburnians would have to wait it out again.