Scott Morrison says Australia’s state coronavirus restrictions should be lifted by Christmas as pressure mounts on Premier Daniel Andrews to ease Victoria’s draconian lockdown.
The prime minister told the House of Representatives on Monday he is focused on rebuilding the economy following a deadly second wave of infections in Melbourne.
Mr Morrison said he is continuing to focus on the ‘road back’ to life before the pandemic.
‘The restrictions in the arrangements we have today are not things we want to see by Christmas,’ he said.
Pictured: A digital display warning beachgoers about COVID-19 restrictions at Bondi Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Saturday
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured in the House of Representatives on Monday) hopes Australia’s state coronavirus restrictions should be lifted by Christmas
‘What we want to know is what is going to happen when we get to know just September 1, but October 1, and November 1, and December 1 and January 1, because our economy needs to continue on the road back.
‘And we need to continue to work together to ensure that we can open up the economy, safely, just as we were doing in May and June.’
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese questioned why Mr Morrison focused his energy on the state leaders instead of the economy.
‘Why is the prime minister spending his time fighting with state premiers instead of fixing an economy that is in crisis and an economy that is in recession for the first time in 30 years?’ Mr Albanese asked.
The prime minister said the road back involved ensuring there were jobs returning ‘to our economy – whether it is in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania or anywhere else’.
‘We cannot retreat, we must always go forward when it comes to battling this virus, and that is what the Commonwealth government is doing in partnership with the states and territories.’
There is pressure on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) to lift lockdown amid second wave of infections
Pictured: ADF personnel and Victorian police officers are seen patrolling the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne
Mr Morrison’s comments come after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described the Mr Andrews’ handling of the health crisis as ‘the biggest public policy failure by a state government in living memory’.
Victoria recorded 73 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the lowest daily increase since early July.
The state also reported another 41 deaths but only eight occurred in the previous 24 hours.
The remaining 33 were added to the tally after being reported to the health department.
The national coronavirus death toll stands at 652.
A healthcare worker conducts a coronavirus test on a patient in Melbourne on Sunday
Mr Andrews will outline a plan to ease social and business restrictions on September 6.
The premier said it was too soon to confirm the plan, despite coronavirus infections dropping in recent weeks.
‘It is too early today to settle that road map and to lock that in,’ Mr Andrews told reporters.
‘Another week’s data is critically important to make sure the strategy continues to work.’
Melbourne’s six-week stage four restrictions are due to end on September 13.
Monday’s figures bring the state’s toll from the virus to 565 and the national total to 652