The public health official behind Melbourne’s coronavirus curfew has told Victoria’s Supreme Court that the prospect of a “potential third wave” was on her mind when she signed the controversial directive.
During her evidence today, Associate Professor Michelle Giles also told the court that the decision to restrict the liberties of Melburnians was not taken lightly.
“I felt a huge responsibility to make a really considered decision,” Associate Professor Miles said.
“What I was most worried about was the risk that if I removed those restrictions too early, or too quickly, I thought we were in a really precarious point,” she said.
At the time Associate Professor Giles signed the public health directives, there were between 40 and 70 coronavirus cases a day.
The legal challenge against the curfew was brought on by aspiring Liberal Party MP, Michelle Loielo, who claims it breached her human rights.
In a newly sworn statement which was released earlier today, Ms Loielo told the court that she felt “dread and anxiety” whenever she saw the Premier, Daniel Andrews, on television.
“I feel this way because I am insecure about whether he is going to reimpose the curfew, simply because he has the power to do so,” she said.
Despite the curfew being scrapped in the early hours of Monday morning, lawyers for Ms Loielo pressed ahead with her legal challenge.
Today, Associate Professor Giles was asked whether she considered the impact of the curfew on businesses.
The infectious diseases expert said that she did, but that her primary concern was the health of Victorians.
“My decisions are not about the economy. My decisions are about health. Public health,” she said.
“My role was to protect health, was to protect people from coronavirus. I wish I could do that without having any of those other negative impacts … but I can’t see how we can bring coronavirus pandemic under control without making those difficult decisions,” she said.
“It may cost millions of dollars, but my job was to consider what was necessary to protect people from coronavirus,” she said.
Throughout the day, Associate Professor Giles also reiterated that she made the decision to impose the curfew independently.
“I was not dictated to by anybody,” she said.
“I always saw it as an option that I didn’t have to sign if I didn’t agree.”