And here I was believing that Members of Parliament were servants of the people.
The Victorian Premier has humbled a lifelong view that elected representatives do two things: one, represent and two, serve.
But at some point, something changed for Daniel Andrews. At this juncture, he decided supreme reign was a mightier cause than democracy, and servitude was for others.
He flipped the roles of servant and master. And he will be obeyed.
In 2020 he revealed the bully that he is.
And now the Class of 2021 has been deeply seared by his putrid politics, bequeathed scorch marks of fear and coercion. Victorians are branded and tagged, forever Dan’s mob, Dan’s domestics, instantly recognised in the jungle of life by the exhaustion lines that run long across their brows.
2020 was the year that he closed the parliament and installed a lionised Gang of Eight.
The Victorian Parliament sat empty: questions not asked, diktats unchallenged. The sound of silence on Spring Street spewed across the state.
He implemented a State of Emergency, then a State of Disaster. He locked us up and locked down life.
And now, having forged a segregated society, he hands back our `freedoms’. But his freedom horizon is still the horizon, as close as a desert mirage.
Andrews’ latest Bill has landed, a tool for almighty power, a pandemic boxing glove that will hand him a win in every round, in every bout. His freedom is a furphy.
The Pandemic Bill will intensify his grip, elevate his stage and brighten the saturation lights on his self-imbued brilliance. His rule by decree will be undemocratic. Draconian. Dreadful. Un-Australian.
But this is a man who makes statements like ‘we have no choice’.
How did it come to this?
It wasn’t obvious in his maiden speech to the parliament on 27 February 2003. Although, there were signs that trouble might brew in his political paradise.
Back then, he spoke of being part of a government that provides “hospitals when we are sick; schools to give our kids the best start possible; and a police force that is given the resources it needs to fight crime and make our community safer.”
Forget the first two. But he has at least ticked the police box: they are well-armed, politicised and, as some can attest, the rubber bullets work wonders.
On 27 February 2003, Daniel Andrew said he was “proud” to be part of a “government this is open and accountable” and “governs for all Victorians’. 18 years on, his government ‘can’t remember, can’t recall’ and is pursuing a doctrine that better reads as The Power Of One.
And when he spoke of ‘tolerance’ was he thinking of his 2021 version that has forced boys to stand up in classrooms, apologising to girls and women for being white, male and Christian?
He thanked only a handful of people in his speech: Alan Griffin, the former federal member for Bruce, and the premier’s former boss, was among the select. Today, Griffin and his now Premier staffer are accused of branch stacking in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Somyurek is singing.
The Premier’s maiden speech said this: “I have learnt much from Alan, I owe him a great deal…”
But perhaps he owes more to his deceased grandfather, Michael Joseph White, of whom he spoke fondly on that day.
The Premier said his grandfather was ‘possessed of a quick wit and once told (him) that it was better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Enter the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry.
The Premier was indeed a fool in the silence of failed memory, but every other word he has spoken, including ‘zero’, exposes the core of the man.
His new pandemic plot represents such and is thick with masterly and miserly intent.
He sells this new power play as same-same with pandemic doctrines elsewhere. It is not. It is same-same but very-very different.
It’s a depot’s dream. Escapees of Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe know what it is.
Daniel Andrews has vaxed and vexed Victorians.
He has provided roadmaps to chaos, on route to failure.
He has divided, detained, devalued.
He has propelled public servants and pummelled private citizens. He will imprison them if he can.
The un-vaccinated will become unwilling paupers of the welfare state – unable to work because they believe in choice. The Commonwealth should be angry. It is another state-sanctioned bill it will have to pay.
Finally, ever so finally, voices of reason – hushed in the deep pandemic – are starting to rise.
It’s a chorus likely to be ignored by the Patten, Ratnam, Meddick spineless upper house crossbench triumvirate who have ticked every box the Premier gift wraps, perpetual genies in his political bottle.
Premier Andrews casts a long shadow for a man lowered with one knee bent to whatever cause he thinks he is advancing.
But know this: the branded are awake to the witchery of the spell he has cast across his terrified party, timid to his pre-selection sword.
Victorians are instead on two knees, firmly planted in an almighty prayer, for it may take divine intervention to escape the tyrant.
That, and an election 12 months away when the real masters of the state will have their say, recalibrating the rightful servant status.
If he could, how would Michael Joseph White cast his witty vote?
Bev McArthur is Liberal Member for Western Victoria and Shadow Assistant Minister for Scrutiny of Government.
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