Entertainment

TV icon George Donikian calls on federal government to intervene, says Victorians are living under 'totalitarian rule'

TV icon George Donikian calls on federal government to intervene, says Victorians are living under 'totalitarian rule'

A television icon has launched an extraordinary tirade against Daniel Andrews, claiming Victorians are living under “totalitarian rule”.

The veteran news presenter fronted online video news website The Informer on Wednesday where he likened Premier Daniel Andrews’ leadership to a “modern-day Stalin”.

The video dropped moments after Mr Andrews defended his proposal to introduce a bill to parliament where the state of emergency in Victoria could be extended until at least September next year in four-week increments.

The current state of emergency expires on September 13, 2020.

“He will have in his hands, the mechanism of control to shut down Victoria whenever he likes or extend stage four lockdown indefinitely and destroy Victoria and Victorians lives further,” Mr Donikian said.

“Victoria’s deep dark hole is about to get deeper. Victoria is cut off from the rest of the country. And while the rest of the country continues to emerge from their hiatus, we remain a leper colony.”

The 68-year-old, who has anchored programs on SBS, Channel 9 and Channel 10, said lives and livelihoods were being destroyed, and Victorians were dismayed at the lack of any COVID-19 recovery plan.

“The destruction of families and relationships because of domestic violence and the homelessness it is creating; the destruction of Victoria for our future generations; the pending economic disaster we now face; the dismantling of the sacrifice past generations of Victorians have made toward building Victoria – gone,” Mr Donikian said.

“As sad as the 400 plus lives COVID has taken, it is minuscule compared to lives lost to suicide because of the uncertainty and helplessness Victorians are facing and the psychological decimation it has created.

“Dan Andrews will have blood on his hands and a conscience that will bear the memories of those through his grab for power and total control that has caused their deaths.”

Mr Donikian goes on to say the state’s coronavirus emergency was an “SOS” and urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to intervene.

“It is inexcusable by the Prime Minister to ignore Victoria’s plight and fate. Because by doing so is not only signing Victoria’s death warrant but the entire country,” Mr Donikian said.

“Scott Morrison cannot sit by and watch the destruction of Victoria continue. He can no longer tinker around the edges. And he cannot continue to watch the destruction of Victorian lives go on.

“Prime Minister, Victoria needs your help.”

The proposed state of emergency extension was met with condemnation from the Premier’s opponents, with Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien saying the “power has gone to his head” and the Victorian Nationals leader calling the move “draconian”.

Meanwhile, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten said she would not vote for a 12-month extension, instead suggesting a three or even six months might be possible.

But Mr Andrews has defended his move, assuring the public harsh lockdown restrictions “would not be in place for a day longer than they need to be”.

“It’s very important beyond September 13 that, of course, we have the ability to make rules so that we can open up, so that we can make sure businesses survive, make sure that we get people back on their feet and then begin a massive program of jobs and skills and trying to put the strength back into the Victorian economy and into communities that we are so well known for,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.

“You simply can’t have an opening-up strategy unless you have the ability to make those sorts of rules. Not the stage four hard lockdown rules. We’re working as hard as we can to get past those, to get well and truly beyond those, but the key to opening up is not going from stage four to stage zero, where there are no rules.

“There has to be a framework. And it does cover simple things like risky industries, dangerous industries from a COVID-19 point of view, having compulsory safety plans.”

Mr Andrews said the move would safeguard Victorians against the virus until a COVID-19 vaccine was produced.

“An Act of the Victorian parliament provides for a maximum of six months for the running of that state of emergency,” he said.

“That is the legal instrument that allows the government to enforce rules about face masks, about COVID safe work plans in workplaces large and small, density limits in pubs and cafes and restaurants, requiring positive people to isolate at home.

“This is not in relation to curfews. This is not in relation to stage four. These are many of the rules that we have had to become particularly familiar with, and they’re the sorts of rules that will be here, potentially, for a long time.

“Keeping your distance, washing your hands, staying in your own home if you’ve got this virus. I’d love to think that this virus would end on the 13th of next month. It’s not going to.”

The controversial bill will be introduced to parliament next week.