Say what you want to about them, but I like pandemics. I particularly like Covid-19. Sort of. What I mean is that it gives you time, particularly during the still watches of the night under curfew to clarify your thoughts, enables you to put everything in order, come to some conclusions and get some discipline into your life. So I have been trying to set down some of the firm conclusions to which I have come during the pandemic. Here they are.
The day of reckoning for the politicians. I am now convinced that the people will take their revenge on some politicians, and possibly all of them, at the first available opportunity. This means politicians in general and some in particular, in at least three states. With minor exceptions, the whole Covid disaster has been government-driven. Incompetent governments have allowed the virus to spread and been ineffectual in curbing it. Daniel Andrews, in particular, will be removed for several reasons. First, the virus has spread, to the extent of over 90 per cent of known cases, because of his government’s bungling of the security at quarantine hotels and the state’s agonisingly slow testing and contact tracing. Of course, he will be exonerated by the so-called judicial inquiry, which was set up to do exactly that, but the people will see through it and convict him in the court of public opinion. They will also take their revenge because of the excessive, unnecessary and stupid lockdown laws and the ruination they have spread, when a lot of it could have been avoided. Andrews has also broken the cardinal rule of politics: don’t bore people. He should know that rule, but apparently does not, as he spends every day emulating Fidel Castro with tedious self-serving reports on the virus and the wondrous ways in which he has held it at bay, which is transparently false. Then there is the creepy tone in which he delivers his homilies. He is the ultimate Wackford Squeers, the Dickensian school master who derived satisfaction from whipping the boys, and as he doles out lockdowns and curfews as punishment and then switches to patronising school ma’am to offer up special treats for good behaviour, like an hour off the curfew! So he will go, both for incompetence and arrogance.
The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will also go for the same reason; the bad administration that gave us the ghastly crisis and sad deaths of the elderly at Newmarch House and the hopelessly incompetent discharge of passengers from the Ruby Princess, both of which led to the extensive spread of the virus and immense despair and heartache. These wounds will not be forgotten. They are the direct result of government incompetence. I make the same prediction for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who may be high in the opinion polls and think she is immune from retribution, but who will be rightly blamed for destroying so many livelihoods in tourism and small business by the closing of the borders and the unnecessary hurt inflicted on so many people. In short, those who are suffering know they are suffering because of government failures, border closures and excessive restrictions imposed on them by government. These shortcomings will not be forgotten.
The fall in public esteem for the police. People expect the police to enforce the law. But they also expect them to show some tact, balance and discretion. Unfortunately, we have seen little of those qualities. This is particularly so in Victoria where a brutal streak has come to the fore, certainly for the first time in my lifetime. It is not helped by the hideous dress and equipment they tote around, looking like stormtroopers out of Star Wars, nor by seizing on soft targets like pregnant women, making unnecessary arrests instead of proceeding on summons and of course dishing out physical beatings and rough arm tactics. Then there is their condescension in asserting that police will not tolerate this or that conduct, which is not the function of the police anyway. The reason why the police have fallen in the public esteem is that they are brutally and enthusiastically enforcing laws that people know are unnecessary and which are imposed by governments of low quality who have failed in their duty. But how appropriate it is that this authoritarianism should be imposed by a government in lockstep with China through its Belt and Road agreements: police brutality with Chinese characteristics.
The political parties. There is no doubt that the pandemic has also served to clarify what the political parties stand for. The Liberal party has certainly become the party of big government, with its multi-billion dollar handouts, enormous public debt and a scheme for everyone who would rather the government looked after them than look after themselves. I hope I never hear any of them talk about self help, initiative and self-reliance ever again. The Labor party has emerged as the party of repression, of stifling free speech, the party of the curfew, the lockdown and police extremism. I hope I never hear any of them talk again about human rights, freedom of assembly or freedom of speech. If it were possible to have any more contempt for the Greens, I have it now, since they voted to extend the state of emergency and guarantee that the draconian powers of the state will live on.
Finally, there is the ever-expanding role of the cliché. The most popular one of course is ‘We are all in this together’. We are, but some of us are in it more than others. If you are a celebrity, a captain of industry, a media mogul or have a role in the football mafia, you are not in it at all; you are quarantined and given special privileges and exemptions.
The common people know that in a practical sense these funk holes are not available to them. They cannot protest, but they can and will take their revenge. At least until elections are abolished.
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