Frydenberg says premier made virus ‘failures’
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has slammed Premier Dan Andrews COVID-19 "failures" as fresh claims emerge that the Morrison Government claimed Victoria wasn't being transparent over the rising number of cases.
Federal sources have revealed that the state's chief medical officer Brett Sutton was "overwhelmed" in the early days of the virus second wave and that the states were concerned they were not getting the information they needed over new cases and contact tracing.
The issue came to light after the state's new deputy chief medical officer Allen Cheng started briefing on the data this week and health officials said far more information was suddenly being provided.
The Herald Sun reports today that some federal sources claimed Victoria was being "almost obstructive" on sharing the information.
However, senior government sources told news.com.au that rather than being deliberate, they suspected the Victorian CMO was "overwhelmed" and Mr Sutton was spending hours everyday preparing for and attending marathon press conferences that have been lasting for up to 90 minutes a day.
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Prof Cheng, an Alfred Hospital infectious diseases expert who replaced Annaliese Van Diemen last Friday, was regarded as "more across the data".
Asked today when numbers would come down in Melbourne today, the Prime Minister hinted there were reasons why it was hard to know.
"It's still hard to say. That's what we aren't getting told,'' he told 2GB radio.
"I mean, we hopefully see, would like to see things improve over the next seven days, but we certainly haven't seen that up until now. So it's, these changes have got to get locked in down there in Victoria."
Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Thursday that the states were "trying" to offer more transparency.
"The Prime Minister, and the chief medical officer in particular, were very, very keen to be able to collate and share all data to make sure it is available to all,'' he said.
"We think that that's an important part of information-sharing, learning and accountability. They'll give an update on that tomorrow, so I'll let probably the chief medical officer, in particular, comment on the ability of each state.
"The issue will be whether all have been able to develop the systems necessary to provide full public transparency. But I do know that they're trying."
Victoria's health department rejected any suggestion that it was failing to share data on the spread of the deadly virus.
"Victoria works cooperatively with all jurisdictions," a DHHS spokeswoman said. "All relevant data is shared in the fight to slow coronavirus."
In an emotional interview on Sky News, a frustrated Mr Frydenberg said he was "devastated" by the plight of his fellow Victorians and admitted he was angry about why it had happened.
"It should have never gotten to this. But I'm not serving Australians or Victorians by engaging in a slanging match, my support goes to the Victorian people at this difficult time and we need to all think about that,'' he said.
"We are in a state of crisis right now. The emotional toll on Victorian families, on young women trying to home school their kids and hold down a job at the same time; on grandparents; on businesses that have had to close their doors with millions of people uncertain about their job future - they're the real issues.
"The premier yesterday faced a number of questions. What happened in quarantine were significant failures that cannot be repeated," he said
Mr Frydenberg is preparing to enter into a fortnight of self-isolation in Canberra in order to be able to attend the next sitting fortnight that commences on August 24.
"My job, the Prime Minister's job, is to get help to the people who need it most,'' he said.
"Ultimately, we are all Australian and we are all in this together, and as a Victorian, I am so devastated about what has transpired in my state."
Originally published as Frydenberg slams Dan's virus 'failures'