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Race fiasco a 'kick in guts'
Herald Sun, Melbourne  by Shannon Deery
22 Oct 2020
General News - Page 1 - 418 words - ID 1351796264 - Photo: No - Type: News Item - Size: 275.00cm2

PUBLIC goodwill has been "destroyed" by the government's overturned decision to allow owners at the Cox Plate, while businesses are shuttered and gatherings limited.

Epidemiologist Nancy Baxter, head of Melbourne University's School of Population and Global Health, said the decision was a "kick in the guts".

FULL REPORT, PAGE 12

Plate fiasco 'kick in guts' Blow for public health SHANNON DEERY ALANAH FROST PUBLIC goodwill has been "destroyed" by the government's overturned decision to allow owners at the Cox Plate, while businesses are shuttered and gatherings limited.

Epidemiologist Nancy Baxter, head of Melbourne University's School of Population and Global Health, said the decision was a "kick in the guts".

"Even if (having spectators at) the Cox Plate was completely safe and they had a COVID-safe plan, you've destroyed a whole bunch of community goodwill and you need that in public health," she said.

Punters are also set to miss this year's Melbourne Cup with only connections tipped to be allowed trackside.

Racing Minister Martin Pakula said on Wednesday crowds at Flemington were "highly unlikely", but owners could be allowed if Melbourne's restrictions eased to the levels in regional Victoria.

"It's a bridge we'll cross when we are in the next phase of restrictions," Mr Pakula said. "Large crowds beyond owners is highly unlikely." The Victorian Racing Club originally modelled for 8000 people to watch the Cup but don't expect that many.

"We are still hopeful to have some people," VRC chairman Amanda Elliott said. "Clearly the racing is going ahead and the race that stops a nation will have some people watching it." The government reversed the decision to allow owners to attend the 100th running of the Cox Plate after five hours on Tuesday following widespread public outcry that pointed to the conflict of the decision while harsh restrictions remained on businesses, social gatherings and funerals.

Mr Pakula said the decision, approved by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and authorised by the government's eight-person crisis cabinet, was safe but out of step with community expectations.

"It was a mistake to have initially made the decision and I think it was the right decision to reverse it," he said.

Daniel Andrews said he backed Mr Pakula's decision to reverse the announcement.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said the Cox Plate decision smacked of hypocrisy.

"The Premier's demonstrated that when he says we can't make decisions until Sunday because we need to see the data for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday first, is a complete crock," he said.

shannon.deery@news.com.au

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