A Victorian supreme court judge has defended the credibility of the professor who signed off on Melbourne’s coronavirus curfew, AAP reports.
Associate professor Michelle Giles came under attack in the court on Friday, accused of being evasive when questioned about her decision to extend the 9pm to 5am curfew until later this month.
The validity of the curfew is being challenged by cafe owner and aspiring Liberal MP Michelle Loielo, who says it infringed on her human rights.
Her barrister Marcus Clarke QC said Giles, who gave evidence on Thursday about her decision to renew the curfew, had been “prone to long speeches and frequently evasive”.
He has argued Giles didn’t independently consider how the curfew would impact on human rights, and instead acted at the behest of the premier, Daniel Andrews, to continue the restriction.
But Justice Tim Ginnane defended Giles, saying she didn’t come across at all evasive to him.
“She did, on one view, come across as someone who had taken her job very seriously,” he said.
Giles said it was one of the most important decisions she had ever made.
“I knew these decisions would have impacts on people, I’ve never pretended otherwise but my role was … to protect public health, to protect people from coronavirus,” she said.
But Clarke argued the decision had already been made and announced days before Giles signed off on the measures on September 13.
Andrews discussed the measures at press conferences on September 9 and 13.
“We say it’s plain common sense she was dictated to. The premier of this state says there’s a curfew in place … he’s quite plain when questioned that it’s his decision,” he said.
Ginnane said that was an unusual position for a person to be put in, where the decision had been announced before it was authorised.
But Giles’ lawyer Jason Pizer said an important factor was the professor’s understanding she always had the option of not signing one or any of the directions.
“That’s critical. If it weren’t for that – if she understood she had no choice, she had to sign – we’d be having a very different discussion,” he said.
Ginnane will hand down his decision at a later date.