To be honest I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
For all the spin-doctoring, the hundreds of thousands paid to communication experts to find the Victorian Premier the right words for every moment, this could be his best yet: The Department of Fairness.
The Premier, Daniel Andrews, recently announced that the post-covid health lessons deserve to be given full weight through the splitting of the beleaguered Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS, into two new departments: The Department of Health, DoH, and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
It is the choice of the word Fairness that is gold. Pure gold.
It sparks so many questions. What is fairness? In whose eyes is it fair? Who agreed it was fair? To whom is it being fair? Does it need to be fair?
Ask Lindy Chamberlain about fairness.
A thesaurus ramble will give a selection of synonyms for Fairness: justice, equality and objectivity among them.
Would we equally call the Justice system the Fairness system?
A Department of Fairness takes us straight to Orwell’s 1984. In his socialist commentary, Orwell describes a truly rotten world governed by four Ministries: The Ministry of Love, the Ministry of Truth and Ministries of Peace and Plenty.
It is in the upside-down double-think world of total control and subjugation of the masses, that the Ministry of Love concerns itself with law and order. The Ministry of Peace looks after war.
As the book depicts “The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one…”.
Under that regime, what would the Department of Fairness look after?
It’s double-Dutch, double-think, double-speak, double trouble.
Or perhaps we give full flight and wing to every possibility of ‘fairness’ that this new Department might provide the State of Emergency.
Firstly, the Minister for Fairness couldn’t help but have a view on all matters around the Cabinet table. Fairness would surely pervade all portfolios.
As such, how would this Department of Fairness look upon matters such as locking people up in their homes with a curfew in peacetime, or the 801 unnecessary deaths from a failed government-run quarantine system?
Would the Department of Fairness consider ‘inclusion’ as a priority over sanitisation and security, the jobs of tens of thousands of people and the loss the thousands of businesses?
Or indeed, what would the Minister for Fairness say about the harassing of elderly women on a park bench for not wearing masks –- socially distanced, far away from danger, literally taking a breather?
Maybe the Minister for Fairness might even give evidence in the trial of a Ballarat woman charged and arrested for posting on Facebook the possibility of a small gathering to discuss a view contrary to the Premier’s –- while 10,000 others who actually did protest in the streets went without police interference or question? Or charge.
Orwell’s Thought Police would have been proud. But would our Minister for Fairness?
Yes, these are the days when War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength.
We can even judge just how fabulous the new Department name is by casting our eyes globally.
Not just satisfied with being in cohorts with China’s Chairman, Xi Jinping, via the Belt and Road initiative, Chairman Dan is clearly in a competition for best Department names.
The Chinese warrior-leader is giving the Department for Fairness a good run. He’s clearly excellent at this and likes to win. You have to hand it to the Communist Dictator. The Ministry of Supervision – that’s a good one – but perhaps only just outdone by the Ministry for Machine Building.
Indeed, from the land that gives us the Ministry of Personnel, the Communist country provides us with another handy reference point – a small pop-in-your-handbag-sized book that’s highly instructive in times like these: Mao’s Little Red Book.
Chairman Mao, the founding father of the People’s Communist Party of China, gives us gems of wisdom such as: ‘To read too many books is harmful’, ‘Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent’ and ‘Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy’.
The Australian Federal Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham, could take that book for bedtime reading. He might find this quote noteworthy given the current trade manipulations: “When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.”
And to round-out the wonderful world of Ministries, what better place to go than that British comedic gem Yes Minister.
In the episode, ‘A Scandal’, trusty adviser Humphrey proffers the following advice to the Minister in light of a huge Government failing:
The principle of Democratic responsibility requires the occasional human sacrifice when the pack is baying for blood. Isn’t that right Minister … A lesser man might try and wriggle out of it – but there is only one honourable course open as the Minister is well aware.
Yes. The Minister was well-aware. He stayed in his job – avoided taking responsibility by shuffling a few chairs around thereby buying silence and securing his own Ministerial safety.
I wonder what the Minister for Fairness would think of that?
As for who would take on that Ministry – upon whose head would that mighty, mighty crown fit?
They should not rule out John Cleese.
As the Monty Python civil servant working in the ‘Ministry for Silly Walks’, he could make a marvellous Minister for Fairness.
Beverley McArthur is a Liberal Legislative Councillor for the Western Victoria Region.
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