Victorians are being urged to try and claim cash compensation from the state government for the "unreasonable" lockdown in a shock move that could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Liberal senator Sarah Henderson has revealed she is urging families and businesses to consider pursuing compensation after the Victorian Premier announced he will extend the state of emergency for a year.
It follows confirmation that Jim's Mowing founder Jim Penman is offering to lodge multiple compo claims for franchise owners who are now banned from mowing the lawn.
"For Victorians who've suffered loss from unreasonable state emergency restrictions, there's the option to pursue compensation," Henderson said.
"The Public Health and Wellbeing Act provides this important right. Proud to stand up for those who need support including in regional communities."
Under a little-known clause of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, Victorians can seek redress for decisions by chief health officer Brett Sutton.
And while the Department of Health and Human Services can reject the claims, they can be appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, raising the prospect of a flood of legal action.
Penman said companies had been crushed by state government decisions which were not justified.
"The damage the Premier's done with this arbitrary shutting down is just appalling and there's no benefit to the public," he told the Nine Network.
"I hope we'll have thousands – we'll do everything we can to get every independent contractor in the state in a relevant industry.
"We're talking about tens of thousands of people, potentially."
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews' plan to extend the state of emergency for a year has even prompted a warning from Labor leader Bill Shorten that he needs to "calm the farm" because voters are "freaking out".
"No, I heard about this yesterday. And I've got to say, I've received a deluge of emails from concerned constituents," Shorten said.
"And I think all he wants to do with it is to be able to still have some powers, to get people to wear masks and make sure workplaces have safety plans. But I think it would be handy if he cleared it up today, because I think that figure of the 12 months had everyone freaking out last night.
"And I think the explanation is a lot more benign. But probably time for Dan the Man to put his explaining skills on display today and just calm the farm."
"This is very much like an insurance policy," Andrews said.
"These restrictions will be in place for not one day longer than they need to be."
But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Victorian Premier had "a lot to answer for" over the lockdowns.
"Victorians are doing it very tough. There are Victorians right now who are subject to curfews.
"Victorians look at New South Wales and they ask, why not us?
"Now, I understand why Victorians are now very concerned by the Victorian government announcing yesterday that it wants to extend the emergency powers for another 12 months. I share those concerns. The Victorian government has to explain its decision.
"At the end of the day we will do everything to support Victorians get to the other side of this crisis, but the Victorian government has a lot of questions to answer."