Lawyers defending the Andrews government against a court challenge to Victoria's coronavirus curfew have said they intend to withhold key documents that reveal why a senior health official made the call to extend the restriction.
Supreme Court judge Tim Ginnane gave the government until 2pm on Wednesday to decide whether it would claim public interest immunity to conceal files and advice that Victoria's deputy public health commander, Associate Professor Michelle Giles, consulted before making the decision to extend the curfew on September 14.
Restaurant owner Michelle Loielo with Liberal MP Edward O’Donohue.Credit:Facebook
Restaurant owner Michelle Loielo, who is an active member of the Liberal Party, filed a writ last week arguing the curfew was unreasonable, disproportionate and violates the human rights of millions of Victorians.
The case is due to begin on Monday and is scheduled for two days of argument.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, Dr Giles said she made the decision to continue the curfew policy because, according to information she received, “the reduction of case numbers was due to the stage four restrictions being imposed”.
Lawyers acting for Ms Loielo sought access to the information in order to challenge Ms Giles’ conclusions.
But lawyers acting for the state told the court the Andrews government intended to withhold the documents that Dr Giles used to make the decision by invoking public interest immunity.
On Monday, Justice Ginnane will decide whether the government has the right to invoke the immunity over the files, meaning they won’t have to hand them over to Ms Loielo’s lawyers.
Lawyers for the government told the court on Tuesday that they may provide the information in the form of a sworn affidavit instead.
The government has said previously the curfew will remain in place until October 26, or until Melbourne reaches a 14-day average of five cases per day. The curfew came into effect on August 2.
Put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the curfew was initially in force between 8pm and 5am but was moved back to 9pm on September 14.
The government's decision to impose the curfew came into focus after Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton both said it was not their idea.
An affidavit filed by Ms Loielo said she feels “helpless” in the face of ongoing restrictions and fears that seeing the revenue of her business, Unica Cucina E Caffe, in Capel Sound on the Mornington Peninsula, drop by an estimated 99 per cent may result in her losing her house.
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