PM says Victorian official’s comments comparing Captain Cook to coronavirus ‘very disappointing’


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joined his Victorian Liberal colleagues in criticising the state’s Deputy Chief Health Officer for comments in which she compared Captain Cook to COVID-19.

Interviewed on 2GB this morning, Mr Morrison said he found the comments by Annaliese van Diemen “very disappointing”.

“She clearly wouldn’t get the job as chief historian,” Mr Morrison told Alan Jones.

“People should stick to their day jobs.”

But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declined to criticise Dr van Diemen at a press conference this morning, saying he did not have “the luxury” of focusing on a debate about the tweet, which he said had been posted on the official’s day off, and if politicians had “time to go to these matters then good luck to them”.

“People have died, so many people are out of work, we’re a long way from the end of this, that’s what’s dominating my thinking, not tweets, if people want to find fault with that, fine,” Mr Andrews said.

“I’ve got no comment to make on any member of the public health team other than thank you for the work you are doing because it is making a massive difference.

“They have all been working very, very hard, working long hours for all of us.”

Three more people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Victoria overnight, taking the state’s total to 1,364.

The number of deaths in Victoria from COVID-19 remains at 18.

There are 16 people are in hospital and seven people are in intensive care.

Cars line up in an underground carpark and are approached by health workers for a coronavirus test.
Mobile testing has been set up at shopping centres around Melbourne to help the state reach 100,000 tests by May 11.(ABC News: Gemma Hall)

While some states have relaxed restrictions this week, Victoria’s stage three physical-distancing rules are expected to be in place until at least May 11.

“This is very, very fragile. We saw a spike in numbers [a day ago], we’ve had an outbreak in lots of different settings,” Mr Andrews said.

“We’ve have had significant community transmissions in Victoria.”

Mr Andrews said about 10 per cent of cases in the state could not be tracked back to an overseas traveller.

“Every state is different. Every day is a challenge in this long road to beating this virus. We’ve got to be patient,” he said.

Mr Andrews again encouraged people to come forward for testing as part of the State Government’s goal to conduct 100,000 tests in a fortnight.

“If you have any symptoms whatsoever please come forward and get tested, it’s a quick process and it’s such an important thing,” he said.

More than $2 million to go towards arts, music and entertainment

The State Government has launched a free online portal that will stream the state’s best comedy, Australian music and livestream animals from Melbourne Zoo.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said he hoped the Victoria Together campaign would help keep people connected while at home.

The online platform will include a six week series of State of Music which will showcase livestreamed performances from Australian artists.

The first episode will be livestreamed on the site this Sunday at 7:30pm.

The Government also announced a $2.35 million program to help support people in creative industries whose livelihoods had been hard hit by coronavirus.

“The sector is hurting really badly, among many others,” the Premier said.

He said State of Music would provide “a bit of a taste of what people would normally be doing in the cultural capital of our nation”.

A woman with long blonde hair sings into a microphone on stage with one arm in the air.
Aussie artist G Flip will perform for Victoria’s new online music platform.

National Cabinet to discuss return to sport

Meanwhile, National Cabinet will meet today to talk about national sporting codes and clarify when AFL matches may begin.

Mr Andrews said the AFL and other sporting codes had been working closely with Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton around what he would need to be satisfied with for sport matches to go ahead.

“Sports fans can be absolutely assured that their codes have been working closely with the public health experts to get a framework to see footy back at some point,” he said.

Patrick Dangerfield pumps the fist
AFL head Gillon McLachlan has been discussing the logistics of a return to AFL with Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.(AAP: Julian Smith)

‘This is not a normal Mother’s Day’

The Premier also implored people to remain apart physically this Mother’s Day, which falls a day before the state of emergency was due to end.

“I’d love nothing more than to go out to the farm to visit my mum, and to be able to give her a hug and say Happy Mother’s Day, and thank her for all that she’s given me. But this is not a normal Mother’s Day, and that will be sad for many and a real point of frustration,” he said.

“I’d love to be able to give a different answer. But that would not be the responsible thing to do.

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