The Melbourne mum who launched a court bid to free the city from the COVID-19 curfew says the government’s scrapping of the harsh lockdown measure is “a win for Victorians”.
Michelle Loielo filed documents in the Supreme Court of Victoria two weeks ago to have the curfew removed, saying the direction was “invalid, irrational and illogical”.
Her lawyer Vanessa Plain told the court Victorians were suffering arbitrary detention by being ordered inside each night, and that the curfew was in breach of Victoria’s human rights charter.
But Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday the curfew would be scrapped from 5am Monday — five hours before the trial challenging it was scheduled to begin.
Ms Loielo, a 41-year-old mother, owner of Unica Cucina E Caffe on the Mornington Peninsula and Liberal Party member, claimed it as a win.
“It’s definitely a win and with Sunday’s announcement I just hope that those suffering with mental health issues were given a bit of hope and can have a little bit of breathing space,” she told NCA NewsWire.
“The trial will still go ahead this morning, my legal team is very prepared and I’m very proud to be involved with them.”
CONFUSION AS TRIAL BEGINS
In the trial on Monday morning her legal team told the Supreme Court of Victoria they were considering how to proceed.
“Yesterday we had some unexpected announcements made publicly,” barrister Marcus Clarke QC said.
“We haven’t sorted out in our own minds what impact that has on the proceeding.
“We’ll need some time to reflect on what the repercussions – the ramifications are – of this order.”
Lawyer for the government Kirsten Walker QC said the legal team was waiting for Ms Loielo’s decision.
“In light of the revocation the plaintiff needs to say how she proposes to put her case,” she said.
“She (is) invited to articulate whether she intends to continue, if she does on what grounds, and if she is seeking relief.”
Ms Loielo had sought an order quashing the curfew — which would now be redundant.
She was also seeking a declaration from the court that the curfew was illegal — which could still go ahead, with the option for judge Timothy Ginnane to make that declaration retrospectively.
‘I’VE RECEIVED DEATH THREATS’
Outside court, Ms Loielo said her bid to mount a legal challenge had been met with internet trolls, saying she needed two bodyguards at her side for two whole days last week.
“The support from people who know me and understand why I’ve done this has been amazing,” she said.
“But there has been a lot of trolling from people who don’t know me and it concerns me that people find themselves so freely abusing people they don’t know.
“I had to have two bodyguards for two days last week after receiving death threats – I think that just screams that something else is going on in society right now.”
‘WE DIDN’T DROP CURFEW BECAUSE OF LAWSUIT’
On Sunday Victoria chief health officer professor Brett Sutton said a curfew was no longer required following low cases and transmission of COVID-19.
“A not-insignificant proportion of our daily cases are in aged care, and a curfew doesn’t address that transmission risk — obviously,” he told reporters.
“The individual community cases that we’re seeing are now very small in number.
“It was my view, and the public health team’s view, that the curfew was not a proportionate measure to have in place going forward.”
When asked by reporters, the Premier denied he had dropped the curfew because of Ms Loielo’s lawsuit.
Ms Loielo said she was restricted in commenting about the case while it was ongoing, but assured there was a valid reason behind her legal push.
“A much bigger reason has driven my heart through this and once legal proceedings are over that will become more apparent,” she said.
“I don’t know Daniel Andrews – he might be the most amazing man, I don’t know – I just know that this curfew is directly affecting myself and those around me, especially those suffering from mental health issues.
“Being a primary caregiver to three children and running a business trying to do the basics to get through the day has certainly been challenging over the last six months.”
The trial continues.