Business leaders unite to blast Andrews government coronavirus ‘incompetence’

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been blasted for ‘incompetence’ by business leaders in the state. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been blasted for ‘incompetence’ by business leaders in the state. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pocket

Seventy-eight members of Victoria‘s business community have joined together in a full-page ad in Melbourne’s Sunday newspapers to blast the Andrews’ government’s handling of the lockdown.
The ad calls for transparency by the government and release of health data behind the lockdown policy.
Flexigroup chairman Andrew Abercrombie was one of the key organisers behind the ad and said the government‘s failed policies had placed hundreds of thousands of small business owners on the brink of bankruptcy.
He said the government was obsessed with a policy of eradication and failed the balance test for the greater good.
“COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for Victorians, just not in the way the government forecast,” he said.
“It has been a catastrophe for business and a catastrophe for the people, all down to the incompetence of leadership in this State.”
Mr Abercrombie said many members of the business community had contributed to the ‘Let’s Be Open’ campaign, including Bill Lang from Small Business Australia, however there were others who didn’t want to be named for fear of retribution.
“That people are frightened to come out of the shadows and speak publicly for fear of retribution, is a damning and clear example of the Orwellian nightmare which Victoria has become,” he said.
Mr Abercrombie said the government‘s road map needed to be accelerated but carefully structured.
“Victoria now has similar case numbers to where NSW was when it reopened. Yet we are closed for business, while businesses in NSW are roaring back to life,” he said.
“To keep Victoria closed with such low rates of infection makes no sense.”Prominent restaurateur Chris Lucas said everyone agreed lockdown was the right strategy when the numbers were high but the Andrews‘ government was now misleading the public and trying for unattainable benchmarks for five or zero case averages.
“Everyone was living under the full belief that [Daniel Andrews] was going to become more reasonable, a little bit more flexible,” Mr Lucas said.
“The numbers that Andrews has set are certainly not attainable in a reasonable time frame.”
Mr Lucas said his public statements were just reflecting the community‘s angst and the lockdown had gone beyond arguments about economics and was now a humanitarian issue.
He said Mr Andrews‘ needed to be transparent about the science he was basing his policies on, including whether he was pursuing eradication.
“He needs to be more honest with people, we‘re the ones making the sacrifice,” Mr Lucas said.
“I think the ad today is just, in a small way, showing the sense of frustration and helplessness.”