Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, leads a crumbling and unworthy public sector that is working against the interests of those who pay for it.
Today’s announcement of a “traffic light” permit system for residents wishing to return to ramshackle Danandrewstan shows just how low his government will be prepared to set the bar for 2021.
Exceptions to the disgrace that is the so-called Victorian ‘public service’ are the medical, health and emergency service personnel trying to keep people safe from the coronavirus. Their dedication has been above and beyond and deservedly praised.
Many health professionals have tried hard to shield taxpayers from the more extreme policy idiocies of the reckless, socialist left government in Spring Street. They have done this by treating people respectfully and decently.
Impervious to criticism and advice, Andrews, along with his compliant and cowered Cabinet, do and say as they please while demonstrably lying their way through crisis after crisis. The government prefers to punish the majority with blanket regulations rather than implementing nuanced policy prescriptions. This would require skills which we now know are absent this atrocious government.
That large swathes of the Victorian public sector are chronically incompetent is not in doubt – but the pandemic has highlighted the true, alarming extent of the shambles within our bloated, ideologically riven public sector. This is the same sector that we know – courtesy of the recent Victorian budget – will cost in excess of $40 billion a year to run by 2024.
Overlay this reality with the blatant political bastardry on display day in and day out in Spring Street and ordinary people don’t have a chance.
Endless scripted media briefings designed to make ‘saints’ of second-rate Ministers and senior department figures wheeled out to make sense of the garbage uttered by their political overlords.
Victorians had a right to expect the start to 2021 might bring an end to the stresses of last year’s lockdowns and hope for better times in the new year.
These aspirations were dashed by the sudden, arbitrary and entirely unwarranted border closure at midnight on 1 January 2021, just as thousands of families were starting their long-anticipated summer holidays. Most have now forgotten why the outrageous decision was taken.
Nick Cater, the Executive Director of Menzies Research Centre, sets out a series of horror stories in an opinion piece in The Australian today about treatment metered out to taxpayers returning to Melbourne by air to meet the rushed rule changes. Reading it you think it’s comedy. It is not comedy and it’s not funny. Real members of the public were treated like cattle shunted off here and there at the will of government operatives.
Poor (or more likely non-existent) training, zero grasp of customer service or delivery and a desire to remain faithful to blind bureaucratic dictums have resulted in humiliation after humiliation for ordinary, responsible people trying to get on with life.
Public policy on the run almost always turns out badly for those it is intended to protect – but rarely is the consequence as catastrophic as Victorian pandemic policy contained in The Public Health & Well-being Act preferred by Andrews. This Bill allows ill-equipped functionaries to order law-abiding citizens to do what they’re told without justification and without notice. The resulting chaos has been massively costly to the well being and mental stability of ordinary people.
Take the exemption arrangements for those seeking legitimate return to their home state of Victoria from NSW. Public servants are engaged cross-referencing phone calls, emails, proof of primary address documents etc. In the shambolic conduct of this exercise, breathtakingly stupid behaviour by government employees has been the order of the day. More than 12,000 people are waiting on the exemption list and are subject to chaos and indecision by government employees incapable of doing their jobs.
Some people entitled to return for entirely legitimate reasons have been denied such a right while being telephoned every few days by different people asking the most basic of questions a second, third or fourth time only to be instructed to wait for further contact by another departmental officer.
If you want to apply for a permit to return to Victoria from NSW — from anywhere, even where coronavirus is not a significant issue, such as regional Western Australia — you are today instructed to visit the Services Victoria website for the online form.
Naturally, at the time of writing, three hours after Andrews’ press conference announcement, the form is not operative.
This is the kind of nuanced governance that is clearly beyond the current Spring Street rabble. Depressing and dispiriting are two sentiments which come to mind when thinking of the Andrews government – but for those interfacing with them – the descriptives are unprintable.
The cringeworthy drivel that emerges from the Premier’s communications HQ on a daily basis is not about informing or reassuring. It is about making an indolent, clueless government appear active and concerned.
Voters didn’t sign up for this when they showed their support for Andrews at the last election.
Cheap talk from government is not what they expected. It’s patronising, insensitive and totally unwelcome when the plans of millions have been thrown to the wind and prolonged chaos looks certain.
John Simpson is a Melbourne company director and governance adviser.
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