Australian Politics

Sunrise host criticised for supporting Melbourne business owner breaking lockdown laws

Source: 7News/Sunrise

Sunrise interviewed Harry’s Clothing owner Harry Hutchinson after he opened his business back up on Wednesday. Host Samantha Armytage’s supportive comments on his re-opening despite Melbourne’s stage four lockdown have been criticised.

Sunrise presenter Samantha Armytage is receiving backlash for comments she made on Thursday morning's program supporting a business owner who is breaking Victoria's lockdown laws.

Sunrise interviewed Harry's Clothing owner Harry Hutchinson who opened his retail store on Wednesday in spite of Melbourne's current lockdown laws. The store, according to Hutchinson, has seen customers visit while other businesses in the city remain closed during the lockdown that's lasted more than 100 days.

Hutchinson risks a $9,994 fine for opening his store, but he claimed on Sunrise that he is representing small businesses. However, he said even though he's had a number of visits from the police, he's yet to be fined.

"I don't mean to be breaking the law, but I feel so strongly about small business surviving... they're doing it tough, I'm not the only one," Hutchinson said on Sunrise.

"We've got to get back to work, the economy has got to survive."

Sam Armytage said in response to Harry's plight, "I'm not an anarchist by a long shot, but can I say to you, good on you for doing this."

"I can't believe the people of Melbourne haven't been doing this sooner. You are the person that we all need, you are hard-working, you are honest. We wish you all the best. Stay in touch with this."

"Particularly if you get fined or threatened with jail, we will do our best to support you."

Armytage's comments have been criticised on social media.

However, Armytage isn’t without allies. Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith, a critic of Victorian premier Daniel Andrews’ lockdown, has shown his support for both Hutchinson and Armytage. 

Smith tweeted, “There’s no reason retail can’t reopen NOW in a Covid safe way. The Andrews Labor govt couldn’t care less about hardworking small business owners, whilst we stand with Harry!”

In response to news coverage of Armytage’s comments, she hit back on Twitter saying, “I know you guys love me for click bait, but I’m not the ‘disgrace’ here. That title may go to the Victorian Government.”

When asked about Harry Hutchison's stance today, Premier Daniel Andrews said, "It's advisable to do everything you can to not incur a fine, and secondly, if you're issued with a fine and it's duly issued, lawfully issued, because you have broken the rules, then it's not a matter for you to decide that you're not going to pay the fine. You need to pay the fine or there are consequences," pointing out the consequences now being felt in Shepparton after a positive case visited the regional centre.

He added, "We look forward to getting to a point when we have less rules, but we'll only get to that point if we properly enforce the ones we have now."

Armytage has recently taken to twitter to heap praise on Peta Credlin, for her questions to Daniel Andrews about his evidence to the hotel quarantine inquiry during his press conferences.

The comment led to many reminders that Credlin's former post, before her current role as a Sky News host, was as Tony Abbott's chief of staff during his tenure as Prime Minister.

Peta Credlin and Sky News were recently forced to make a public apology over comments made back in June linking the South Sudanese community to Victorian outbreaks.

An announcement read, “An editorial which aired during the Credlin program on Friday 26 June at 6pm AEST, incorrectly linked Melbourne’s South Sudanese community to a COVID-19 outbreak.”

“Peta Credlin and Sky News Australia accept these comments were inaccurate and sincerely apologise for any offence caused by the remarks which have been removed from all platforms.”


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