MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has asked the Premier Daniel Andrews to exclude the peninsula from the Melbourne metropolitan lockdown.
The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said the region had no active COVID-19 cases and had experienced only one case in the past 10 months.
“We asked the government to consider releasing us,” she said. “It was not a demand; we are just asking for consideration.”
One day after the premier was asked by Cr O’Connor to consider the peninsula as being special when it came to lockdowns, police blocked off Tower Road, Mount Eliza to stop people attending a “party” in adjoining Clarendon Drive (“Police turn away party-goers”,The News 17/8/2021).
They were also busy booking surfers in Western Port for driving more than five kilometres from their homes in contravention of the stage 4 regulations.
Commentators on social media were quick to point out that peninsula people “don’t act differently” to any others.
In a letter sent on Friday 13 August Cr O’Connor urges the state government to take a “more tailored approach” to easing restrictions on the peninsula to “reduce the negative impact on the personal, social and economic hardship faced by our community; keep our residents safe; give our businesses a much needed boost to start operating again and allow our community the freedoms offered to regional Victorians”.
She says using the metropolitan Melbourne administrative boundary to control the spread of a pandemic “does not appear to be based on current health indicators as illustrated when comparing the Mornington Peninsula Shire with regions such as the City of Greater Geelong”.
Geelong had reduced restrictions last week due to its classification as a region, despite having active cases.
The letter urged Mr Andrews to approach restrictions in the shire in a “more sophisticated manner based on current health indicators across our local government area, not an administrative boundary that has no direct link to the spread of this pandemic”.
“This will limit the unnecessary suffering caused across our community resulting from COVID-19 restrictions at times when there are no active cases,” Cr O’Connor said.
“We look forward to working with you and the health department to achieve optimal vaccination rates and the best health outcomes for our community in the face of these challenges and work towards a future when these restrictions are rendered unnecessary.”
Cr O’Connor said the decision to write the letter was “not an easy one”.
“It took perhaps 24 hours for us to agree on the wording. It was tricky, but our community has called on us to ask and so we have.”
Federal government data last week showed that more than half (50.3 per cent) of peninsula residents aged over 15 had received their first jab and that almost a quarter (24.2 per cent) had received both jabs.
Nepean MP Chris Brayne said the peninsula was included in the lockdown “due to [it] being highly interconnected with Melbourne”.
“If Frankston is in lockdown because of the potential spread, then the peninsula will be in lockdown,” he said.
“However, three states of Australia plus the ACT having lockdown restrictions right now isn’t a tragic coincidence.
“This is a national failure because of the disastrous vaccine rollout. We need to be offered the opportunity to be vaccinated so we can get on with our lives.”