MEDIA RELEASE: Victorian Government must review vertical cruise ships strategy

Victorians are all deeply troubled by the Victorian Government’s decision to confine public housing tenants in North Melbourne and Kensington to their rooms to try to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

The hardship now being experienced by these residents is all too real. However the advice of the public health experts about the reason for the strategy is crystal clear.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has referred to Melbourne’s public housing towers as having “explosive potential” for coronavirus to spread, and as being a “desperately challenging” environment.

The Acting Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says “Those towers have a large concentration of people in a small area. They are vertical cruise ships…”

ABC reporter Yara Murray-Atfield says “We know one of the biggest weapons in stopping the spread of coronavirus is keeping our distance, and that the virus has more chance of transmission indoors”.

“Tenants in big apartment blocks often share lifts, corridors, rubbish facilities and laundry rooms, making the chance of running into someone higher”.

Sharon Lewin, leading infectious diseases expert and the Director of the Doherty Institute, said tightly packed apartment blocks “could be a recipe for transmission”. “When you get very dense housing, it becomes very hard to physically distance and stop any spread”.

Victorian Public Tenants Association CEO Mark Feenane said “overcrowding living conditions assist the virus to spread”.

Why on earth then, did the Victorian Planning Minister announce in the middle of the pandemic that the Government had given the green light for a new 68 storey development, a new 41 storey development, a new 21 storey development and a new 20 storey development all within the CBD? Why did the Minister also call in to approve a proposed $250 million development at Station St Caulfield, to let the developer get away with building a high rise without providing the additional 138 car parking spaces the local Council was requiring?

At the very time when we should be putting a halt to the construction of further high rise towers, the Victorian Government has been approving even more of these vertical cruise ships. It is reckless, irresponsible, and a recipe for disaster when the pandemics of the future strike.

The Hon. Kelvin Thomson

National Media Spokesperson

Sustainable Australia Party

0458 750 700