Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has vowed there will be no more lockdowns under a government led by him.
Mr Guy made the pledge at an event in Dandenong South on Saturday morning to mark one year until the state election.
“The Liberals and Nationals are here 12 months out to give a very clear commitment to Victorians for the next election. No ifs, no buts, no more lockdowns,” he said to applause from the crowd.
Mr Guy said Victorians were sick of the “negativity” of the Andrews Labor government, which has imposed six COVID-19 lockdowns on the state totalling 263 days.
“Lockdowns have hurt our community, they’ve hurt people, our kids, our state,” he said.
“Over 90 per cent of us are fully vaccinated and that number will only increase. So as far as we’re concerned lockdowns should be a thing of the past.”
The election pledge came about an hour before the federal government announced a series of measures to protect Australians from the new Omicron strain of COVID-19 that has emerged in South Africa.
Asked whether the new variant could affect his plans, Mr Guy told reporters: “Every flu strain every year is different, we’re going to have to learn to live with this”.
“We’re going to get variants for the next couple of years, we can’t have the government threatening to lock us down via its pandemic legislation every single time,” he said.
“My commitment is I don’t want lockdowns, fix the health system so we don’t have to.”
In his speech, Mr Guy said he had a “positive” plan for the state’s future, which included reigning in budget blowouts on infrastructure projects, creating more jobs by supporting small businesses, reducing hospital waiting lists for elective surgery and ending the mental health crisis.
“Our state has had enough. We want positivity. We want a government that gives us confidence,” he said.
Mr Guy was introduced by his son Joseph, who told the crowd his father wanted to make Victoria a “better place to live for all of us, not just some”.
“My dad cares about Victoria. He’s in politics to make our state the best place in Australia and my mum and my brothers will do everything we can to make that a reality alongside him,” the 13-year-old said.
The opposition needs to win 18 seats at the November 26 poll to form government.
However, the most recent opinion polls show Labor is in a near impregnable position.
A Roy Morgan survey published on Thursday has Labor leading the coalition 59.5 to 40.5 on a two-party preferred basis, while last week’s Newspoll has them leading 58 to 42.
Both surveys are an increase on the 57.3 to 42.7 result at the 2018 election, which saw the coalition lose 11 lower house seats including blue-ribbon Hawthorn.