Sam Newman has suggested Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews should face manslaughter charges over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Newman criticised the coronavirus-stricken state after officials commended the efforts of all Victorians on Sunday for helping to bring case numbers under control.
Just 35 new cases were diagnosed on Monday, along with seven new deaths.
But Newman questioned whether any progress had actually been made since the peak of the second wave – even though daily new infections were soaring beyond 700 at that point.
‘This, apparently, is getting the virus under control,’ he said alongside an info-graphic of all the coronavirus statistics in Victoria.
‘You cannot be serious! Daniel Andrews should face a manslaughter charge.’
Newman questioned whether any progress had actually been made since the peak of the second wave – even though daily new infections were soaring beyond 700 at that point
Sam Newman has suggested Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews should face manslaughter charges over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic
The polarising 300-game AFL champion and former Footy Show host last month urged his fellow Victorians to protest the lockdown.
‘Of all the protests that we have put up with, how about a quarter million of us gather in the CBD to take the City/State back, before EVERY previous march will have been pointless,’ Newman tweeted on Sunday night.
‘And hopefully a state day of coordination. Any takers? #StateofSurvival.’
After one Melburnian suggested Newman had ‘incited a riot’ with his comments, he added: ‘There’ll be no rioting. No looting. No arson. No violence. Just an expression of desperation for our sanity.’
The tweet landed Newman in hot water with Victoria Police, who threatened to arrest him for ‘inciting a mass protest’ against the measures introduced by Mr Andrews.
In spite of the seemingly ludicrous suggestion that the premier could face criminal charges, Mr Newman is not the first to make the suggestion.
Police arrest a protester during an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne on Sunday, September 13
Protesters scuffle with police during an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne on Sunday September 13
Ken Phillips, the executive director of Self Employed Australia, penned an article last month which suggested Mr Andrews could find himself in the court room.
He explained the COVID-19 deaths resulting from the bungled hotel quarantine system could potentially be investigated under Victorian Occupational Health and Safety laws.
Mr Andrews introduced new Industrial Manslaughter legislation in 2019 which holds management and supervisors accountable for workplace-related deaths.
Employers are generally investigated to prove they did not fail in their duty to avoid recklessly endangering employees and customers.
‘What could not be anticipated then, was that within months there would be a situation that could arguably be captured under the Act as mass manslaughter. This is for the justice system to sort out,’ Mr Phillips wrote.
‘The known circumstances of the hotel quarantine mess demand each of these statutory requirements be investigated.’
But supporters of the Andrews government reminded Newman while the statistics might seem glum when compared to the rest of Australia, Victoria was still leaps and bounds ahead of many parts of the world.
Police detain an anti-lockdown protester at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market during a rally on September 13
Mr Andrews (pictured at a press conference on September 11) has extended the State of Emergency and State of Disaster for a month
One follower used the US state of Massachusetts as an example, given the similar population range of between 6.6million and 6.8million in each state.
Victorian case numbers have so far totalled at about 19,000, while Massachusetts has surpassed 125,000.
Similarly, Victoria has recorded about 723 fatalities – a stark comparison to the 9,200 in the US state.
On Sunday, Mr Andrews announced an extension of the State of Emergency and State of Disaster in Victoria.
Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said the extension of the State of Emergency, which will now last until at least October 11, was crucial for the implementation of necessary COVID-safe guidelines.
‘The State of Emergency ensures we have all the tools we need to fight this virus – keeping all of us safe,’ she said.
Meanwhile Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said it wasn’t an easy decision to make.
‘Extending a State of Disaster is never a decision we make lightly – and it won’t be in place a moment longer than it needs to be,’ she said on Sunday.
Signage is seen in a window of a closed pub in Melbourne on Thursday, September 10
‘We are at a critical point right now. And we have to do everything we can to hold onto the gains we’ve made, which means giving Victoria Police everything they need to enforce the Chief Health Officer’s directions as we keep driving down cases.’
From Monday, the city of Melbourne will move from the strict Stage Four lockdown into the first step of the roadmap toward reopening.
While modest, the changes will allow for more time outdoors and social interactions.
Mr Andrews said if numbers were kept low the state could open with ‘real confidence’ and keep them low.
‘You can open up and stay open,’ he said. ‘That is what we want and that is what we will deliver.
‘That is what we will deliver in regional Victoria and right across metropolitan Melbourne, not bouncing in and out of lockdowns, but making sure that everything that Victorians have given counts for something and delivers us, as I said, a summer that will be like no other.’
What is the difference between a ‘State of Emergency’ and a ‘State of Disaster’?
State of Emergency
A State of Emergency can be declared when there is a serious risk to public health.
It first came into effect in Victoria on March 16 to give Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton wide-ranging powers to enforce new coronavirus restrictions.
Professor Sutton had the authority to direct health officials to detain people, force entire suburbs and regions into lockdown or search premises without a warrant if he felt it was necessary to protect the health of the public.
The State of Emergency initially allowed the government to enforce social distancing and mandatory quarantine.
State of Disaster
While the State of Emergency grants powers to Professor Sutton, a State of Disaster grants additional powers to police and enforcement agencies.
The State of Disaster came into effect on August 2nd and has faced several one month extensions since then.
To declare a State of Disaster, the premier must be concerned that an emergency ‘constitutes or is likely to constitute a significant and widespread danger to life or property in Victoria’.
A pandemic, plague or epidemic falls into this bracket.
The State of Disaster allows the enforcement of curfews and restrictions of movement within a city.
People living alone or single parents will be able to invite one other person into their homes.
Mr Andrews said he would allow ‘social bubbles’ even when exercising outdoors, which will now be extended to up to two hours per day – which can be split over two sessions.
Playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment will reopen, and Melbourne’s 8pm lockdown has been pushed back to 9pm.
Regional Victoria will also enjoy the loosening of several restrictions after successfully stemming the spread of the virus.
Up to five people from two separate households will be able to gather in public places, while outdoor pools and playgrounds will also open.
Religious services will be able to go ahead with up to five people.
AFL champion and former Footy Show host Sam Newman is known for his polarising views
Sam Newman previously encouraged his followers to protest the lockdown