The Australian Greens have joined calls for a full New Zealand-style mandatory stay at home lockdown to respond to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, backing health experts calling for a ‘go hard, go fast’ response to enforce social distancing.
Greens leader Adam Bandt and health spokesperson Dr Richard Di Natale have called on the Prime Minister and National Cabinet to adopt a lock down in line with New Zealand’s Stage 4 measures. This would require everyone, except those providing essential services, to stay home, and only make physical contact with those they live with.
“The government’s number one job is to save lives. This crisis is growing daily and the current social distancing measures are confusing and inconsistent. The Prime Minister needs to follow Jacinda Ardern’s lead and adopt a full lockdown.” Mr Bandt said.
“I am worried that the Prime Minister’s desire to keep business as usual going will place more lives at risk.
“While there may be a higher short term economic impact, taking strong measures earlier may limit the economic impact in the longer term.
“A lockdown must also be accompanied by adequate support for workers and the vulnerable, including a UK-style 80% wage subsidy, rent and mortgage holidays and a ban on evictions and foreclosures.
“The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission also needs to represent everyday people, not just big business. If it’s to be led by mining magnates, it should be balanced with the addition of someone representing the community and social services sector and the unions to speak up on behalf of people thrust into poverty.
“The lockdown must also coincide with a big boost to testing across the population and a massive effort to increase resources to hospitals and fever clinics.”
Dr Di Natale highlighted the need for stronger lock down measures in light of the rise in numbers across the country and the confused and fragmented response from governments.
“The government’s recent response to this crisis has been confusing, and the ‘national cabinet’ which was intended to provide a united national approach has clearly failed to do that” Dr Di Natale said.
“If we want to flatten the curve and give our health system a fighting chance, we must now move to this highest level of lock down, with a set of simple recommendations and Australians should expect that we could be in this position for some time to come.
“The AMA and other expert groups are now calling for stronger measures and it is time the government listened.”