Gippsland must be freed from lockdown

The Andrews Labor Government must free Gippsland from full lockdown immediately if it is to be consistent with its own health advice, according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien.

Mr O’Brien said a single case in Traralgon revealed last Sunday had not resulted in any Gippsland community transmission and it was counter-productive to keep Gippsland under full lockdown when the risk is low.

“The Premier said yesterday regional Victoria, with the exception of Shepparton, could be freed from lockdown next week.  But right now regional Victoria is in almost exactly the same position we were in two weeks ago before the Shepparton outbreak sent us back into lockdown.

“If the Premier and Chief Health Officer are being consistent then we should have the full lockdown lifted now.  I realise there will still be restrictions, but we must get kids back to school and businesses re-opened before it’s too late.

“I’ve spoken to a number of small businesses in the last week from Sale to Yarram to Leongatha who’ve said that this lockdown has been worse than all the previous ones.  Many are just hanging on.  If there was a significant threat of illness and death in our region then I wouldn’t be calling for lockdown to end – but there isn’t and the current cure is therefore worse than the disease.”

Mr O’Brien said the lockdown impacts on small businesses, children and the mental health of Gippslanders were enormous.

“What is often overlooked though, is the wider health ramifications.  We saw unequivocal evidence in the first half of 2021 that last year’s lockdowns caused a delayed surge in demand for the health system after people avoided check-ups and routine screening during lockdown.  We can’t solve one health issue and exacerbate others needlessly.”

Mr O’Brien urged Gippslanders to get vaccinated, warning that there will likely be a spike in cases and illness in the unvaccinated when the state opens up at 70 and 80 per cent vaccinated, as laid out in the National Cabinet plan.

“There is no shortage of Astra Zeneca which has been safely given to hundreds of millions of people around the world.  Pfizer supplies are continuing to improve and other vaccines are on their way.  One thing I do agree with the Premier on, is that the best vaccine is the one you can get today.”

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