Furious guest unleashes on Project host
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has gone rogue on The Sunday Project, unleashing his frustrations on the hosts while describing Daniel Andrews' lockdown rules as akin to a "Communist state", describing residents as "hostages".
An incensed Jeff Kennett clashed with The Sunday Project host Peter van Onselen during a fiery live TV clash in which he told Onselen: "You're very lucky because you've still got a job."
When asked whether it mattered if the state was in lockdown for another couple of days after already being subjected to the strict rules for three and a half months, Mr Kennett did not hold back.
"Yes, it does because the Premier only two days ago gave an indication that a lot of our small businesses would be able to reopen from the middle of next week, so therefore that doesn't happen instantaneously," he began.
"People have started to clean the places, hire staff, order in food, etc. But the worst thing is we've had seven new cases today - seven.
"We have a population of 6.4 million people. And for seven cases, 6.4 million people are continued to be held hostage by this Premier.
"NSW some days now have recorded more cases than us, and not only are they able to continue to trade, but they have no rings of steel. We have 5km radiuses which are now 25.
"This is a - this is a Communist state."
In a futile attempt to dial Mr Kennett's rage back a few notches, The Sunday Project host Lisa Wilkinson suggested that NSW had handled the pandemic better due to superior contact tracing - but the feisty 72-year-old was not one to be trifled with.
"Yes, but how long have we had this virus?" Mr Kennett countered. "How long have we had contact tracing problems here in Victoria? Why haven't they been addressed if they are the problem?
"I'm not arguing that it may be the problem, but if it is the problem, why has it taken months to get it right? We have a government - and if they can't govern, if the Premier can't lead, get out of the way and let someone else come in and do the job for him."
When fellow host Tommy Little stepped in to ask what Mr Kennett would have done if he was still premier, the enraged Melburnian did not hold back.
"Firstly, we wouldn't be in this situation if I was still premier because I would never have allowed the mismanagement of the hotel quarantine that started this second wave," Mr Kennett stated.
"Where there is an outbreak, as they did in Tasmania, where they've done in NSW, where they've done in Queensland - you address the problem, but you do not lock down the state for the best part of a year."
"People have died, people are losing their income and their businesses, and unfortunately many in the community say, 'Well, isn't this wonderful?' he continued.
"Because what we are doing is avoiding what's happening in Europe and in the US but we are not in Europe, we are not in the US.
"Victoria should be comparing itself with NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, etc, and by any similar test, this has been disastrously handled and the corruption in the failure of the government and its ministers and public servants to be honest, with the community they lead, only compounds the problem.
"So often is the case. It's not the original mistakes that have become the major issue, it's the cover-up that continues to this day."
In a second attempt to steady the interview, van Onselen said, "I think I probably agree with a lot of your concerns and I can understand the anger from a lot of Victorians, but I'm not sure that the inflated rhetoric about Communism and all these sort of things helps people who are on the fence just wondering what should happen?"
But Mr Kennett was having none of it.
"Well, Peter, how would you describe it? We're locked down," he raged. "We've had curfews. We can't travel around our state. Businesses can't open, and they are all decisions of one man.
"Alright, I accept Communism - a bit over the top, but it is a dictatorship.
"He doesn't listen to people in his own party. He doesn't listen to business community and health officials. He is making these decisions on his own, and I guess, Peter, all I'm saying is this can't go on without there being years of damage, both to the mental welfare of a lot of our community, but also to our economy.
"Now, alright, maybe I went over the top with 'Communism' but this is a dictatorship. I've never seen anything like it, and there has never been anything replicated in any other part of the world in dealing with this virus, so what would you call it?"
Being slightly taken aback, van Onselen replied, "Not Communism or dictatorship."
In an extraordinary back-and-forth with the host, Mr Kennett countered with: "What would you call it?"
"I would call it over the top," van Onselen replied.
Mr Kennett's response? "Oh, good on you," he said.
The Sunday Project's van Onselen said: "He is elected by his party. They can remove him. It is not a dictatorship."
But not to be outdone, Mr Kennett replied with, "800 people who have died. There are hundreds of people, families, small businessmen who have lost their income and their financial security and what did you describe it as?"
"Over the top," said van Onselen.
Back to Mr Kennett: "Over the top - well, you're very lucky because you've still got a job. Over the top. You keep drawing your salary, my friend. You are very, very fortunate.
"I tell you what, there are a lot of people here in Victoria who will never ever recover from the way we've handled this virus. It should never have been about elimination It should always been about manage it, like you've done in NSW."
In wrapping up, van Onselen said, "Jeff, I think a lot of people understand your frustration. We appreciate your time."
In a passing moment of shade, Mr Kennett replied, "It was a great pleasure. I was just passing by."
Phew. I think we all need a lie down after that.
- Do you agree with Jeff Kennett? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published as Furious guest unleashes on Project host