Flat White

Labor ideology is killing Victorian businesses, jobs – and hope

13 September 2020

5:00 AM

13 September 2020

5:00 AM

The Victorian Labor Government’s entrenched anti-business ideology is costing tens of thousands of jobs and killing hope. 

This ramshackle group of elected hopefuls despises privately generated capital and treats with disdain and suspicion those who thrive on enterprise, initiative and vision. 

Forget Dan’s ‘we’re protecting you’ verbiage and the 24/7 ‘political spin’ by those bright young social media gurus in the Premier’s office. This government cares only about survival – its survival.

Not only are Labor’s unjust lockdown policies proving fatal to commerce. The government’s pathological self-belief that it — and it alone — knows the way out of this deadly mess of its making is a delusion on a scale not seen in the once-proud state of Victoria.  

Why the government has arrogantly refused offers of assistance from the ADF, federal health officials along with other agencies and experts can only be explained by the Premier.

By its own astonishing failures, this government has declared not just to Victorian taxpayers but to all Australians the scale of its own incompetence.  As Covid-19 pens the history of 2020 along with the unfolding tragedy in Victoria the government’s miscalculations, wrong footedness and spiteful arrogance will dominate page after miserable page. 

The increasingly isolated Daniel Andrews leads a government now defined by ineptitude and ignorance.  A number of his own Party members are leaking against him, federal Victorian Labor MPs are alarmed about political ‘contagion’ and even the media is starting to question if Andrews will survive as Premier.

This man’s failures are too numerous to list – but let’s start with his refusal to genuinely consult with business on the wrongly named ‘roadmap’ out of Covid-19.  The highly respected Chairman of CSL, Brian McNamee, has expressed incredulity over the disaster in his home State. Legions of other business leaders too have expressed their despair over recent decisions and the way they were made.   

Consultation ‘Andrews style’ is an exercise in futility.  Participants in the sham consultations leading up to the much-heralded unveiling of the ‘roadmap’ say it was clear they weren’t being listened to. One said it was a”total waste of her time.”

But that’s not all.  Let us also focus on why the massively politicised Victorian Department of Health and Human Services was the least resourced department in the country to manage the pandemic response. Let’s recall too the shameful determination to keep incriminating information from voters on the hotel quarantine debacle – which has cost lives.

The obstinate Andrews’ government has long despised business.  From its bootstraps this government is wedded to a doctrinal position that it is a government that should determine what’s right for society and the priorities that are ‘good’ for voters.  It’s in their DNA.  

For them – it’s the State that should determine the allocation of capital and the key spending priorities.  Mere voters should get what the State determines is right for them and only the wisest of heads around the Cabinet table should make such weighty decisions free of input from those actually knowledgeable.

I have worked on government boards at the state and national level and never have I been witness to the degree of mean-spiritedness, petty mindedness and sheer doctrinal idiocy as I witnessed in this government

By good fortune during this time of crisis – the Minister with whom I had most contact was booted from Cabinet in June following ALP  ‘branch stacking’ revelations. Robin Scott was, and probably remains, one of the least gracious people in public office that I’ve had the misfortune to meet.  I could, of course, say more but won’t.  

What this government has inflicted on the generation of Victorians about to leave school, through its intransigence, stubbornness and sheer stupidity is breathtaking in its scale.  

Aside from the obvious legacy of crippling debt and an economy on its knees – it’s surely the loss of institutional trust, the loss of faith, the doubt and mental anguish that is this so-called government’s gift to young (and not so young) Victorians.

In a detailed report commissioned by the City of Melbourne by consulting firm PwC – modelling shows Victoria will haemorrhage a staggering $110 billion in revenue over the next five years as the recession sinks its teeth into every aspect of life in the city.

Some 80,000 jobs annually will vanish according to the report while the Stage 4 ‘initiatives’ dictated by Andrews will cost the State some $61 billion over five years.   Job losses across the State are projected to hit almost 400,000 annually to 2025.. 

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, is giving her heart and soul to rescue the great City of Melbourne from the shambles that calls itself a government and she is consulting widely and appropriately with people who can make things happen.

The Premier may be running out of time to regain a semblance of control on Covid-19 policy.  His so-called ‘roadmap’ to recovery and public administration more generally are so discredited that progress appears increasingly unlikely.

Andrews could start by demonstrating a modicum of humility, a genuine desire to listen, take advice and perhaps even consult some of those who routinely risk their own capital to transform businesses into employment generating reality.  

The Victorian government, now drowning in debt, cannot and will not drive the rejuvenation of the State.  

It will be left, as always, to those with private capital to apply their skills and ingenuity to the monumental task of stabilising and rebuilding the economy and social fabric of Victoria.  The ‘pre-Covid’ life we enjoyed will remain a distant memory.   For decades to come, the young will only know life in the context of Covid. 

In the process of regaining our lives, dignity and futures from the ashes of all that Andrews has inflicted on Victorians let us begin with one simple and achievable initiative; the removal of the title ‘The Honourable’ adopted, by convention, by ministers and the premier.

None of them qualifies.

John Simpson is a Melbourne company director.

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