Call for ScoMo to ‘take charge’ of Victoria



Barnaby Joyce has called for the Morrison Government to step in and "take charge" of Victoria's management of the coronavirus crisis as the state grapples with "nutters" refusing to wear masks and the bungled hotel quarantine mess.

The former deputy prime minister was responding today to criticisms that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was too slow to bring in the army to guard the hotels, leaving private security firms in charge and allegations that guards had sex with returning travellers.

Mr Joyce said the hotel quarantine mess in Victoria was "a total debacle" and it could have been different if the Morrison Government was in charge.

"It would be better co-ordinated across the nation. Some of the issues, such as the arbitrary nature of borders could be dealt with in a more pragmatic and realistic way,'' he told Sunrise.

"Obviously, Mr Andrews ... he has to be honest and say, 'The Federal Government and greater resources should be able to step in'. It is not good."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked on Monday morning if the Federal Government would step in to take-over the COVID-19 response in Victoria.

"The Federal Government has just one job and that is to support the Victorian government in all of these initiatives," Mr Morrison said.

"That is why there is more than 1400 ADF personnel in Victoria right now, supporting across a whole range of tasks to give Victoria every effort, resource that they need to get on top of this.

"Right now, I just have one job and that is to give Daniel Andrews and the Victorian government I can to help him and help Victorians and that is certainly what we are doing as a federal government."

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon said he was a long time supporter of federation reform but it wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

"I have long been an advocate for the abolition of the states,'' he said.

"We're not going to do this anytime soon. Our federation is what it is. Still, the states are best placed to manage our state health systems. They have more of the resources and architecture in place."

Mr Joyce added: "The role of the states, I don't know if the states are as relevant in 2020 as they were in 1901.

"At some stage, we really should have serious discussion about that. The Federal resources can only be deployed at the invitation of the states and that confusion, and I hope there isn't some unreasonable pride held by Mr Andrews. If it is obviously beyond his control, he's got to do something about it.

"There was a total debacle that happened, just like the 'Ruby Princess'. Another one of those absolute, total debacles."

The Andrews Government’s handling of the state’s virus crisis has been criticised. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling
The Andrews Government’s handling of the state’s virus crisis has been criticised. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling

The MPs were also asked about the viral video of 'Karen from Bunnings' refusing to wear a mask.

"One thing reinforced in my mind in my many years in Australian politics is you can't legislate against stupidity,'' Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"I don't know what we do with these people. Complacency is on the rise but, worse, stupidity is on the rise and we are best to just ignore these idiots. Sometimes you don't know whether to be angry at them or feel sorry for them."

Mr Joyce said he had nothing but praise for the Bunnings staff for being "cool and reasonable" with the customer.

"Most people when they're stupid keep it to themselves but she's put it onto national television," Mr Joyce said.

"I have complete admiration for the staff, they were so cool and so reasonable with someone who was just so completely off with the fairies."

"These no vaxxers, no viruses, nutcases have really got to understand that they're dealing with other people's lives."

Originally published as Call for ScoMo to 'take charge' of Victoria