Today was supposed to be the day that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was going to shine a light on how Victorians get out of the dark social and economic abyss they find themselves because of the acts and omissions of his government.
Instead, Andrews delivers more of the same, with at least another fortnight of Stage 4 lockdown for Greater Melbourne, tempered by some mild sweeteners such as starting the nightly curfew at 9 instead of 8 pm because “The days are getting longer”.
Today’s roadmap press conference was a shambles of gobbledegook, and the Premier’s earnest handling of this Covid-19 crisis has jumped the shark.
What Andrews announced – or rather confirmed the strategic leaks that were all over the papers this morning (an extra hour of exercise, woo-hoo! Thanks for the Father’s Day present, Dan!) – a was an exceedingly complex tangle of rules, regulation and scenarios that made heads spin. Plus a weedy bespectacled boffin continually asking for the next slide when the viewing public couldn’t see what the hell he was on about.
And Andrews fumbled over his own notes.
I watched the Andrews presser with my wife, who’s a Green-voting progressive type who up to now has been proud to say #istandwithdan and wouldn’t hear a word of criticism from her conservative husband of him or his government. It eventually got too much for her.
She was dismayed and upset. “There’s no hope. It is too complex. Who can understand it?”, she said angrily.
“He’s botched it”, was her succinct assessment, as she insisted watching it was too upsetting and that we turn off.
For someone like my wife, a rusted-on Andrews admirer and supporter, to announce she’d lost confidence in him was telling. It’s increasingly not just rabid partisans, like the hyper-tweeting Liberal state MP Tim Smith, who are losing faith in Andrews and his government. It’s increasingly middle Victoria, the people who gave Andrews his landslide win in 2018 and so far have given him more than the benefit of the doubt in his handling of Covid-19.
Paul Keating once said of a radical and complex policy that if you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it. Andrews has reached the point where more and more Victorians, chafing after two months of heavy restrictions and dutifully rebreathing their fumes under their compulsory face masks, are starting to despair there’s no end date to their collective nightmare. They’re not voting for it.
Today’s focus should have been the Premier inspiring confidence, reassurance and hope, keeping Victorians with him. Unfortunately, Daniel Andrews and his supporting cast did the opposite.
Instead, we’re resignedly battening down to continue, as we must under the rule of law, our sullen obedience to lawful authority: an authority conferred by 2008 emergency powers legislation enacted by a previous Labor government with, let’s not forget, previous a Coalition opposition’s unwise and un-liberal support.
What an Unhappy Father’s Day for Victorian families.
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