The following article from Sky News
Premier Daniel Andrews has rejected renewed calls by Victoria’s Ombudsman to apologise to the residents of public housing rapidly locked down in 2020.
In July 2020, during the country’s harshest lockdowns, 3,000 residents of nine inner-Melbourne public housing towers were detained in their homes.
The lockdown to contain a COVID-19 outbreak was effective immediately following Mr Andrews’ announcement that afternoon and saw armed police surround the towers.
The treatment of residents – who had no warning to prepare food and medical supplies – was investigated by the Ombudsman for violations of human rights.
Mr Andrews doubled down and refused to apologise in a press conference on Wednesday when pressed about renewed calls by the Ombusdman to say sorry to those in the public housing towers affected.
“Throughout the pandemic event many very difficult decisions had to be made. None of them were made lightly and none of them were easy,” Mr Andrews said.
“What I will not do is apologise for doing everything possible to save lives, that’s what we did.”
The Victorian Labor leader refused to comment more specifically on the harm and distress the lockdowns caused the residents and instead made broader statements about lockdowns being challenging statewide.
“Our position hasn’t changed… they were very challenging which is why we provided support,” he said.
“None of this was easy for any Victorian.
“That’s what makes all of us as Victorians so proud to think that we have got through this event because we stuck together and looked out for each other.”
Ombudsman Deborah Glass, who tabled a biannual report card in Victorian Parliament on Wednesday, said an apology would go a long way to heal and rebuild trust with those in the towers.
“The North Melbourne and Flemington public housing towers residents are still waiting for an apology from the Government,” Ms Glass said in her report.
“Given its unwillingness to accept my recommendation, it seems unlikely one will ever be offered.