‘Hideous’: PM slams virus suggestion
Scott Morrison has lashed calls to "offer up" elderly Australians to the coronavirus and accept the deaths as an "amoral, hideous thought".
The Prime Minister began his press conference on Monday by expressing his condolences to the families of the 19 people who died of the coronavirus in Victoria in the last 24 hours.
But he quickly turned to the rising number of deaths in aged care facilities as a "terrible tragedy".
"There have been some suggestions, I've read it in ...the outlets that you represent that somehow our elderly should in some way have been offered up in relation to this virus,'' he said.
"That is a just hideous thought. An absolutely amoral, hideous thought. One that I've had no countenance with when it's been suggested."
Mr Morrison's comments follow a number of high profile commentators raising alternatives to the hard lockdown in Victoria including calls to apply a curfew to seniors rather than the general community.
The most outspoken contrarians to the Victorian approach include The Australian's economic editor Adam Creighton who has questioned the efficacy of the lockdown in terms of the impact on younger Australians.
The Australian Financial Review's John Kehoe also wrote a controversial opinion piece warning "unemployment is surging, businesses are closing, incomes are being slashed. People are hurting".
"Many seniors have had time to enjoy careers, children and grandchildren," he wrote.
"My father is 68 and insists he's had a good run. With the swimming pool and tennis club in his Victorian town now closed, his daily pursuits are off limits. His physical fitness and mental wellbeing are suffering.
"Some seniors like him would not put their own life above the livelihoods of their children and grandchildren, if the economic and social costs become too great."
The Prime Minister said it was a tragedy when any Australian died from COVID-19.
"More than 300 Australians now have fallen victim to the coronavirus. This news is devastating no matter what age COVID affects people, and we just want to reaffirm again our support through every channel we can provide it," he said.
"Sadly, when it comes to the fatalities that result from COVID, that reflects a situation of several weeks ago now as the virus has taken its course with these particular individuals, the work continues.
"We look for better news when it comes to the stabilising of cases in Victoria. I am more hopeful of that today than I was in the course of the past week over the briefings I have received over the course of the weekend and again this morning, of course, the Premier will be on his feet again shortly in Victoria and will be updating the situation there."
Mr Morrison also revealed that it had now emerged the aged care watchdog knew there had been a coronavirus outbreak at the St Basil's facility in Victoria but failed to raise the alarm with the Federal Government.
"I am concerned in that breakdown in communication,'' he said.
"I am undertaking further inquiries into this. I want to be very clear. Where there are breakdowns I want to know about them. I want to fix them."
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews confirmed today the state had experienced its deadliest day in the coronavirus pandemic with one man in his 50s among the dead.
"Of those 19 Victorians who have passed away, one male in his 50s, one female in her 60s, two males in their 70s, one male and six females in their 80s, and one male and seven females in their 90s," Mr Andrews said.
"14 of those 19 deaths are linked to aged care outbreaks.
"On behalf of all Victorians we send our best wishes, love and support, and condolences and sympathies to the families of those 19 Victorians this will be an incredibly difficult time for them, and knowing that all Victorians are with you is a comfort, some small comfort at a very difficult time."