National

Demand for Melbourne tower lockdown probe

By AAP Newswire

The Greens are calling for an inquiry into the hard lockdown of nine public housing towers in Melbourne where more than 150 people contracted COVID-19.

About 3000 residents went into home detention on Saturday to halt the spread of coronavirus in the high-density Flemington and North Melbourne towers.

Eight towers joined the rest of Melbourne in stage three lockdown on Thursday, but residents of the tower at 33 Alfred Street in North Melbourne will remain in self-isolation for nine days after 53 people tested positive to COVID-19.

A total of 158 people have COVID-19 in seven of the towers, which have been described by health authorities as "vertical cruise ships" with the "explosive potential" to spread the virus.

Two of the towers had no cases.

In a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, the Greens said they supported the government's health-led response to the crisis but held "serious concerns" regarding the lockdown management.

"We remain deeply concerned that residents were locked in their homes without access to essential provisions, such as food and medicine, or even any information about how they would receive such provisions," read the letter, signed by Greens leader Adam Bandt, state MP Ellen Sandell and councillor Rohan Leppert.

"Five days later, there is still much confusion about the chain of command and coordination of services, which is preventing residents from receiving the care and support they need."

Ms Sandell said the Greens had to provide some residents with medication and supplies.

"We had to step in and help a woman who couldn't get clean insulin needles for her diabetic child, an elderly woman who didn't have any food, a mum who couldn't get breastmilk to her sick premature baby in hospital," she said in a statement.

"(There were) dozens of other cases of people who didn't have food, vital medication, mental health support, nappies and baby formula. These were all promised by the government but arrived late, or not at all."

The party is calling for an inquiry to into the decisions taken by the government concerning the implementation of the lockdown, as well as the management and execution of the lockdown itself.

Residents say the lifting of restrictions on eight of the towers would not have been possible if it weren't for the advocacy of community groups.

"In a matter of hours, we turned this crisis into victory, as the entire community came together, to support one another and speak up for each(other)," Voices from the Blocks, a coalition of residents and community members, said in a statement on Friday.

"Our elected officials and funded institutions were not able to provide for our basic needs - so we did that for our community."

The group wants residents deemed as high risk to relocate with family and friends located outside the towers until the COVID-19 crisis is deemed under control.