Flat White

State of Disaster? More like State of Despair

3 August 2020

1:09 PM

3 August 2020

1:09 PM

Like many Victorians yesterday afternoon, I stopped to listen to premier Daniel Andrews announce a crackdown on Victorians’ freedoms far more grave than anything since the darkest days of the Second World War.

The severe restrictions on freedom of movement I was prepared for, and prepared to accept for the greater good.  Whatever its cause, and whoever should be held to account for it, COVID-19 community transmission is rampant and its spread must be suppressed for the sake of not only Victoria’s society and economy, but Australia’s.

But my heart broke when I heard the word “curfew” repeated again and again, and the apparent relish with which Andrews uttered it.  A horrible, vile, evil word associated with coups d’etat, military occupations and martial law, not with a vibrant, freedom-loving democratic state in one of the most democratic countries in the world.  It is a word more appropriate for Andrews’s Belt and Road paymaster, Xi Xinping, than the head of an Australian democratically-elected government.


Victorians are law-abiding people. They will (mostly) obey Andrews’s edicts. They respect the rule of law. They know Andrews has the parliament-conferred power to do these things. But that doesn’t mean they like it. For Andrews’s government, the reckoning will come at the ballot box in 2022, because everyone will remember two words all the way to polling day: “hotel quarantine”.

Andrews himself has realised this.  When Andrews yesterday kept saying “I have decided” and not “the Government has decided”, it reflected his my-way-or-the highway-leadership style, but it also became clear to me that he will walk when the crisis has passed and give someone else the chance to lead Labor into the next election — knowing he’s finished, he’s going to take as much of the opprobrium off Jacinta Allan or whoever else will get the gig.  Whether that itself will save Labor from electoral retribution is unlikely.

What can save Labor is a bumbling, attention-seeking opposition that has forgotten how to be a credible and adult alternative government.  If only Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien and Co could lock leadership-stalking frontbencher Tim Smith in a padded cell where his juvenile tweets would be stopped forever, stop worrying about the opposition’s current irrelevance and start building a fiscally-responsible social and economic recovery plan to give Victoria’s shell-shocked and angry voters some hope of overthrowing this Spring Street shower.

But such is the quality of democracy in Victoria this seems highly unlikely, in spite of the State of Disaster unfolding before our eyes.

What a State of Despair.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.


Show comments
Close