World news – Victoria’s coronavirus curfew subject to legal challenge by Mornington Peninsula cafe owner


A Mornington Peninsula cafe owner has mounted a legal challenge against the Victoria government’s coronavirus curfew, arguing it is putting her small business at risk.

Michelle Loielo filed a suit in the state’s supreme court on Tuesday stating she had lost 99% of her business under Melbourne stage-four lockdown. The curfew originally required people to stay home between 8pm and 5am but was pushed back to start at 9pm from Monday.

The widowed mother of three – who last month flagged plans to seek pre-selection for the Liberal party – argues the curfew violates her rights to freedom. She says her business in Capel Sound used to bring in up to $20,000 a week in earnings.

“Last week I made $400,” she wrote in a court document supporting her claim. “This situation troubles me greatly, as I am the sole financial provider for my three children and I am genuinely concerned that I am not going to be able to provide for my children if this situation continues. I am afraid that I will lose my house.”

Loielo said the business was running at a loss, and trying to keep it afloat while caring for her children had taken a significant toll on her health. In a post on her cafe and restaurant’s website on 8 August, she said the industry had taken an “absolute beating” in 2020 and she had had to remodel, reshuffle and rethink her business.

“To this end, I have become heavily involved in local politics and discussions and am even taking a crack at being preselected to run for the next state election in the seat of Nepean for the Liberal party,” she wrote.

Court documents, filed by Marcus Clarke QC, argue the curfew direction is invalid on the grounds of irrationality and illogicality. Clarke has previously provided expert advice to the state opposition over the legality of changes to Victoria’s state of emergency which has been extended.

In an originating motion, he says the curfew is not reasonably proportionate, and not based on relevant and reliable evidence in line with public health laws. It says Victoria’s deputy public health commander, Associate Prof Michelle Giles, “failed to give any real independent consideration to whether it was appropriate to make the curfew”.

Loielo, the health department and the shadow attorney general, Edward O’Donohue, have been contacted for comment.


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