As if we needed more evidence that state premiers have become a law unto themselves, Daniel Andrews provided it today in spades.
The Victoria Premier labelled people protesting his government’s handling of the pandemic as “shameful” and warned “if they try it on during lockdown then police will deal with them”.
The “shameful” protests that so upset the Victorian leader were those that took place in Melbourne last night, just hours after his government announced a snap lockdown – the state’s fifth.
But the protests were perfectly legal, taking place before the strict lockdown was implemented.
And citizens who took the chance to demonstrate outside Parliament House – before they were effectively locked in their own homes by the state – were perfectly entitled to voice their disapproval at the government’s handling of the pandemic.
It’s called a democracy. It’s a system of government in which politicians must justify themselves to the people, and not the other way around.
What is shameful is a politician so sure of himself that he can suspend democratic norms, restrict basic freedoms and ruin people’s livelihoods while demonising anyone who dares to disagree with him.
Dan Andrews told journalists: “There are some out there in the community who – anything I say on this matter – people who don’t believe this virus is real and who have some pretty strange views”.
So anyone who disagrees with the Victorian Government’s scorched earth approach is a crazy person?
I would not argue that Daniel Andrews is crazy. But I would argue that he is increasingly dangerous.
That the Victorian Premier finds his subjects’ views “strange” does not mean those views are not allowed to be voiced.
Daniel Andrews went on to implore Victorians: “We all should be protesting against the virus by following the rules. That’s what we have to do.”
So in Danandrewstan, we have the right to protest the government by following the government’s rules.
Citizens are now rightly asking: if premiers are keeping us safe from the virus, who is keeping us safe from premiers?
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