Josh Frydenberg says Victoria kept children out of school for too long during Covid-19 lockdown

Josh Frydenberg takes a savage swipe at Victoria for banning children from school for ‘too long’ during lockdown – as he calls for struggling gyms and studios to be re-opened

  • Victorian children were banned from classrooms for two weeks due to Covid-19
  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said they were kept away from class for ‘too long’
  • He also said he wants states to avoid lockdowns in event of future outbreaks

The Victorian government kept children out of school for ‘too long’ during its recent two-week lockdown, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said.

Victorian children were banned from their classrooms for two weeks on May 27, except for students in years 11 and 12 who were allowed back after a week.

Mr Frydenberg said it was a ‘welcome relief’ to take his seven-year-old daughter Gemma to school in Melbourne on Friday morning.

Josh Frydenberg is pictured at the ballot box in 2019 with wife Amie, son Blake, four, and daughter Gemma, seven

‘I’m really pleased the kids are now back at school. I had the opportunity to take my daughter to school today, like so many other parents. That’s a welcome relief, because the kids were out of school for too long,’ he said in a press conference.

Since the start of the pandemic, Victorian children have been stopped from going to school for 23 weeks, compared to just seven weeks in New South Wales, raising fears their education will suffer.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison pressured the state government to re-open schools, saying: ‘Kids have lost enough time out of school over the course of the last 18 months and it’s very important we get those kids back to school as soon as possible.’

Mr Frydenberg also said he wants states to avoid lockdowns in the event of further outbreaks in the future.

Parents and students head back to school at Footscray City Primary School on Friday after lockdown

Parents and students head back to school at Footscray City Primary School on Friday after lockdown

‘Clearly this lockdown dents confidence. It hits investment. It ultimately costs jobs,’ he said.

Asked if Victoria made the right decision to shut down the whole state because of 26 cases in Melbourne, he replied: ‘I think it’s really important we try to avoid future lockdowns because of the impact it has not just on the economy but on people’s mental health and you’re seeing the statistics very clearly about that.’

Following Melbourne’s 112-day lockdown last winter, there was a spike in new referrals for help with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress and domestic violence.

Mr Frydenberg said there would be no further federal assistance for gyms and dance studios who have been kept shut by the state government despite restrictions easing on Friday, suggesting they should be allowed to re-open instead.

‘My view is I would love everyone to get back to work as quickly as possible,’ he said.

The Treasurer revealed that about 50,000 Victorians have applied for the federal pandemic disaster payment of $500 a week because they could not work during lockdown, costing taxpayers $25million.

The payment is available for residents who cannot work after seven days of a lockdown in a place declared a hotspot by the Commonwealth’s chief medical officer.

Students at Lysterfield Primary School return to school in Melbourne in October after a lengthy lockdown due to Covid-19

Students at Lysterfield Primary School return to school in Melbourne in October after a lengthy lockdown due to Covid-19

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