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Testing Perrottet

The NSW Premier must not betray those who have supported him the most

27 November 2021

9:00 AM

27 November 2021

9:00 AM

A brave cohort of minor-party politicians and would-be politicians have dared to oppose the Covid cult and the imposition of vaccine mandates. These include Mark Latham, Pauline Hanson, David Limbrick, Craig Kelly, George Christensen, Fred Nile, Campbell Newman and Malcolm Roberts. Few voices from within the major parties have dared to suggest there is something seriously wrong with dividing society according to whether one has succumbed to a Covid State injectable. Also senators Rennick, Fierravanti-Wells, McMahon and Antic, as well as Bernie Finn in Victoria, Tanya Davies and Dominic Perrottet. Davies and Perrottet, both NSW Libs, show every sign of succumbing to what might be termed ‘Barnaby’s Law’: the tendency for politicians to shed their principles the closer their proximity to ministerial office.

The NSW Premier’s support for the principle of a person’s freedom not to be told by the State which medical procedures to submit to, or to be punished for exercising this right, was unequivocal. It was stated on 24 September, when he said, ‘Once every single person in this state has had the opportunity to be vaccinated then we should open up for everyone. I want to see more unity and not a two-tiered society. It’s not the government’s role to provide freedom’. We know what he thinks. Will his stated principles override political realities? And the NSW health mafia?

The NSW Premier has ‘undertaken’ to open up his state for everyone when it achieves 95 per cent fully vaccinated, or on 15 December, whichever comes first. NSW currently sits somewhere around 92 per cent (if you count 16s and upwards).

Despite the ‘undertaking’ of the freedom-loving Premier, those with a nose for NSW politics suspect that this might turn out to be a non-core promise. This isn’t only because his promise to free up NSW for all has already been broken once. Initially, he said 1 December, or rather, his recently departed predecessor did. It would be an irony, indeed, were a Big C conservative to break an undertaking so meaningful to his core supporters, made by a Liberal moderate for whom the freedom and rights of her citizens proved to be, well, non-core.

No, it is more the nature of NSW politics, the dominance of the left faction of the Liberals, the control of the parliamentarians by non-elected power-brokers and the deals that Dominic must have done to gain such a frictionless elevation to the top job. A recent rumour was that Perrottet held the line on 15 December for freedom for the unvaccinated only over the strident opposition of those who wished for a March 2022 (at best) re-opening. It isn’t difficult to guess just who the most strident supporters of punishing the lepers would have been. And roadmaps out of lockdown should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Hence, I suspect that belief in Dominic’s promise being kept would be running no higher than fifty-fifty. Or at least it would have been, prior to the recent and unexpected intervention of, first, the Prime Minister, then the Defence Minister, in favour of freedom for the unvaccinated. Oh yes, of course, there is now an election in view. Politicising the issue of vaccine passports, until now (regrettably) a matter of agreement between the major parties, may alter dramatically the prospects of the unvaxxed. With Queensland a swing state and its Premier now bizarrely attacking the rights of the unvaccinated in the almost totally Covid-free state, here is an electoral opportunity for the Libs. Add to this the Senate blowtorch being applied to the government by Pauline Hanson, who is fiercely opposed to vaccine mandates and is throwing her weight around. It is difficult to imagine Morrison making this ‘stand’ if the NSW government intended to break its promise to the unvaccinated, currently locked down, gaslit and ostracised.

As it happens, Perrottet’s own (seriously Christian and so, perhaps, substantially unvaccinated) base, in particular, are not entirely confident about 15 December and their capacity to enjoy Christmas this year. A family Christmas is core business for the Christian conservatives – especially those across north-western Sydney – who have had the Premier’s back and have cheered on his career for over a decade. Since the coming of the vaccine mandates on his watch, many of the Premier’s followers have formed under-the-radar advocacy clusters and support networks to help get them through the family crises they are now experiencing because of the policies of their man and his party. As well as unemployment or the threat of it, many parents of children who attend a PARED (Opus Dei) school like Dominic’s own alma mater, are already fearful of pressure to have their children vaccinated. These (often large) families are weary and stressed, having carried the burden of home-schooling (like so many parents) for five months. Many are bitter, having submitted to a Hobson’s choice vaccine in the face of unemployment. These are Dominic’s own people.

Just ask the NSW Liberal MP Tanya Davies how these people feel. For a time, she waved the flag for the unvaccinated in western Sydney by way of a private member’s Bill against jab mandates, which raised people’s hopes. Then she went very, very quiet, after Gladys left the building. Take a look at the white-hot comments in response to her most recent Facebook posts. The fury is palpable. They are a great source of intel on the Liberal base’s mood and they are chilling for the government. It isn’t a good idea to go out on a limb for your supporters’ principles and livelihoods, only later to walk right back and to (seemingly) surrender to the powers that be. It just looks like you have engaged in a box-ticking exercise and, when push comes to shove, you value, above all, the goodwill of your colleagues over the crushed lives of your constituents. No one likes to be conned. If the Liberals believe these people will ever be voting for them again, they need to think again.

While all this has been going on, the proposal of the ‘health Hazzard’ and his sidekick, Ms Chant (or should that be the other way around?) to extend the emergency public health orders until March 2023, under which they have been treating the people of NSW as serfs, was agreed to by Cabinet. This was all to prevent the need for the extension of dictatorial powers to go before the Parliament, at what could be a ‘difficult’ time just before the next state election. A wave-through for an iron-fisted junta, without parliamentary scrutiny. Hundreds of thousands of Victorians have taken to the streets in an attempt to prevent legislation that is not dissimilar to Hazzard’s proposal from passing. During a quite spirited debate in the party room, the Premier was ‘visibly uncomfortable with the progress of the discussion’, according to one media account.  So much so, Perrottet has since dumped Hazzard’s Plan A, for reconsideration ‘over summer’. This seeming victory for common sense and decency is but one test for the Premier. If Perrottet fails his bigger test, however, in freeing the unvaccinated from discrimination on 15 December, he is history with his base. If he keeps his promise, it will be over the efforts and wishes of Hazzard, Chant and the rest of Team Covid NSW. His very own Hobson’s choice, you might say.

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