Forget House of Cards. This is more like that season of Dallas that turned out to be a dream.
The script is impossible. A twice-booted minister who has been at the centre of weeks of all kinds allegations of impropriety and abuse and public funds returns from self-imposed exile to deal a mistrusted party he once cowed as a factional warlord an almighty blow over a vital piece of dubious legislation and emerges as the hero of the day.
Yes, the schadenfreude is unimaginable. And as for the ratf–king, well, it’s ratf–king sans pareil. Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull must be wracking their brains over how they can trump it.
It’s hilarious — but no laughing matter.
Instead, there could be no clearer illustration of how our politics is broken.
Victorian Labor has been at pains to say that its pandemic bill barely differs from New South Wales legislation.
That may well be the case — may — but Daniel Andrews’ government has proved to be very different to any government led by Gladys Berejiklian or Dominic Perrottet, as Perrottet demonstrated so very well with his back down over Covid measures earlier this week.
Victorian Labor has been guilty of preposterous overreach, even against the most vulnerable. Remember its extraordinary decision to shut down inner-city public housing tower blocks with no notice and no contingencies in place at the height of the pandemic last year?
It is increasingly mistrusted and is increasingly being forced to make concessions.
A government like his is profoundly un-Australian. Indeed, it’s unprecedented in the history of our democracy.
The Andrews government is very different to Joh Bjelke-Peterson’s hillbilly dictatorship. It is determined to reshape every aspect of Victorians’ lives to accord with its leftist values. Long before Covid, it was hard at work on social engineering. Amid the current storms, it is still plugging away with legislation that will force religious bodies to hire people who might be diametrically opposed to their faith.
The fact that such a government exists and feels free to pursue such an agenda is a sign of broken politics.
So is the fact that it retains a healthy lead in the polls. For the Victorian Liberal Party is broken too.
Not only has it become the plaything of fat forty-something private schoolboys who have failed to grow up since their uni Liberal club years. It has comprehensively failed to keep pace with the changing demographics of Victoria and the growth of metropolitan Melbourne. It cannot even be sure of its chances in its heartland as the 2018 election results and the fallout from former frontbencher Tim Smith’s little misadventure show.
Then, of course, we come to the ultimate symbol of broken politics and the cause of all the brouhaha, Adem Somyurek.
We should note first the Daniel Andrews saw it fit to twice appoint him to his ministry (the second time after he had been forced to stand down over accusations of bullying), but it’s probably best left to a judge in some future sentencing remarks to say everything that needs to be said about Somyurek.
Yet the fact that he was the person making the most sense yesterday is truly extraordinary. A totally disgraced man was not only speaking with authority but speaking the truth — even though God only knows his motives.
This is an entirely disgraceful state of affairs.
And this is our politics.
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