The Premier of Victoria has morphed into a monument maker.
The bricks and mortar of this statue are the vanity and dishonesty of its creator.
For Daniel Andrews, perception will always trump reality.
The recent enshrinement of the state’s fracking ban into the Victorian Constitution is the stuff of political gamesmanship, and no more.
A test of its veracity in court would likely prove its legal limitations.
This constitutional ploy had nothing to do with fracking – its safety or potential for the state.
Instead, it had everything to do with painting his opponents as environmental destructors – rogues of the countryside – friends of fracking.
Andrews is shameless in his deceit.
It was a Liberal government which, rightly or wrongly, placed the moratorium on fracking in Victoria and has been consistent in its opposition to the energy mechanism – despite calls by some that this is the time to pursue alternate energy sources given Yallourn’s imminent closure.
In contrast, it is only the Labor Party that has supported fracking, approving 73 exploratory permits and 23 fracking permits. All Labor – and none from the conservative ranks.
It is a similar story elsewhere in Australia where Labor holds reign – in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory – fracking is allowed.
It is banned in Liberal-led Tasmania, and banned in sensitive parts of South Australia, under a Liberal Premier. It is allowed in NSW but under significantly stricter regulation than any other state.
So – this constitutional craftsmanship was merely a game for a dictator to play, a masterclass in plotting. When he announced this plan – and in his statement upon its passing through the Parliament – Andrews said the constitutional investment “made it harder for future Liberal and National governments to put our food and fibre at risk”.
Puh-lease. Pause for air.
The statistics point to the truth and it’s not in the Premier’s direction.
A legislative ban on fracking has proven enough to stop it proceeding in Victoria. It did not require constitutional remedy.
Science and technology advances may one day see fracking in Victoria – a possibility for other generations to decide. But after this vote, they will now have to fight on two fronts – one for fracking – and two for a constitutional backflip.
The Premier’s constitutional imposition is merely window dressing on a house of cards.
The desire to rewrite history is a hallmark of cultist leaders the world over. They bend the truth into servitude of a false proposition that benefits today’s politics over yesterday’s reality.
What the Premier has done is to embed political rhetoric, his media spin, into the constitution.
The Victorian Constitution, or any, is not meant to be treated as a western plains paddock, ready for ploughing-in policy when the political weather favours fortune.
It is supposed to define the rules and regulations for how rules and regulations are made.
It is not a policy document nor a mechanism to entrench and bind current ideas into the future.
The Coalition’s support of the action is considered the antithesis of our constitutional beliefs. It is true that is does not sit comfortably with myself and others.
Yet there was equal discomfort in being eternally framed as fans of fracking given the opposite is true and the constituency it relates to is country Victorians. The Premier cares less for them but was willing to put farmers on the frontline of a fear campaign.
If he cared, he would berate his beloved Chinese Communist Party for its bullish trade behaviour.
He would also very clearly advise them that the coronavirus was not imported into China from Australian frozen beef exports. Yet silence. Therein lays the Premier’s truth.
The Premier’s fracking game wasn’t about farmers or environmental protections. It was a 101 degree in wedge politics and virtue-signalling. Sadly, the Liberal Nationals got sucked into the political wedge.
We take some comfort in the possibility that it is likely to be legally ineffective.
The Premier has marked a line in the sand.
He has done it once – he may be emboldened to do it again.
Next time, it might be something a great deal more sinister and daring. He has shown he is prepared to divide and conquer on social issues, will his next constitutional fancy be a thing of woke witchery?
Is this fracking caper merely a test case?
That whiff of possibility has already floated across the Parliament, with at least one MP, from the Sustainable Australia Party, suggesting there could be opportunity for other inclusions. Identity quotas in parliament, springs to mind.
If there are alarm bells, they should be sounding.
There are many wondering how it is that our constitution – our governance backbone – can be so easily played and wonder if it should be given the protection of a voter plebiscite as per the Federal arrangements.
It is indeed a weighty and determined thing that can make change to the Commonwealth Constitution.
It raises the question therefore – if it is so easy to put something into the Victorian constitution – is it just as easy to take something out?
Is it merely a plaything on the wind? A whimsical gathering of words to muse and manipulate?
For all the lies and deception, the budget bludgeoning, the social engineering, the 801 unnecessary Coronavirus deaths, the rhetoric – it might just be this constitutional malarky for which Daniel Andrews is remembered.
This is the self-monument he is building: a tribute to his obsession with political games, to dishonesty, spin and the deliberate misrepresentation of political opponents.
It will be a monument to a self-impressed, self-centred, self-obsessed man who puts himself above the law – and then writes himself into it.
This is his epitaph preserved in perpetuity — political DNA for the generations.
Beverley McArthur is a Liberal Legislative Councillor for the Western Victoria Region.
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