Flat White

Now there’s a real state of emergency in Victoria

3 March 2021

1:06 PM

3 March 2021

1:06 PM

The extension of Victoria’s State of Emergency powers to the Andrews government is devastating. 

The State of Emergency will end less than 10 days before Christmas.   

It sets a precedent that strikes at the heart of our justice system. It further divides a state already hacked to bits. 

The self-serving deal struck between the Premier, Daniel Andrews, and three crossbench upper house MPs is reckless and paper-thin with credibility. 

It is more akin to rice paper: it dissolves with less than a glass of water. 

It is a political farce, a juvenile grab for juvenile minds and their votes one day. 

It squashes the last gasp of optimism for Victorian businesses and families who hoped like heck that the days of snap-decisions were over. 

Hope is powerful. But it would seem fear is more powerful. 

Victorians face another nine months of anxiety, intimidation, doors closing, border barricades, brutal cruelty to the sick and dying, mask-wearing on country roads, students slipping through the education system and undiagnosed fatal health conditions. 

While state borders have done immeasurable damage, the fiasco of the one size fits all lockdowns have equally failed the state. 

To be clear, whatever damage has been done to our economy, it cannot be surpassed by the 801 deaths emanating from the failed hotel quarantine system. Each of those avoidable coronavirus fatalities is the most devastating illustration of this Government’s incompetence, gross incompetence. Deadly incompetence. 

This Government has ruled by divide. 

It has divided states, neighbours, families. And where it should have divided country and city, it didn’t, blanket bombing the whole state with a lockdown for the sake of a few cases in the city. 

But the enabling of the extension of the State of Emergency by the Greens, the Reason Party and the Animal Justice Party creates division by design. 

Doing a deal that halves the cost of coronavirus fines for people under 18 years old, means this: we are no longer all equal before the law. 

A fine is a legal document. This is a cynical precedent that undermines the basic tenet of equality to all within the legal system.   

The fine, or the law, should not see the person, but the offence. 

It should not see age or ‘disadvantage’.  It should see evidence. If it needs to be argued, that is what our courts are for. 

The Victorian Greens’ leader, Samantha Ratnam, has used age as a tool for self-benefit, not for the benefit of all. 

Her deal encourages young people to be reckless with the law because the consequences are either avoidable — as per the Black Lives Matter rally — or minimised. And in thanks to her, she hopes to harvest the young vote. 

Conversely, an older person, sitting on a park bench with a friend will cop a full fine. 

In the Age of ‘Ism’s – that’s called Ageism. Andrews’ newly created Department of Fairness might tut-tut. 

But Ms Ratnam wants the legal divide to go further. 

As part of her deal, she has argued for fine minimisation for `low-income vulnerable disadvantaged communities’.  

Who exactly are these people? Would it include the Ballarat mother charged with incitement? Given she lost her job and her phone in the virus shenanigans of 2020, is she not one of the ‘low-income vulnerable disadvantaged’ that Ms Ratnam claims to be helping with this deal? 

What exactly would the Greens classify as ‘disadvantage’ in this woke age of race, age, gender and identity victimhood? 

In reality, regional Victorians are rapidly becoming the ‘low-income vulnerable disadvantaged communities’. The Andrews’ lockdowns have taken their toll. 

The second person to vote away freedoms, is Reason Party MP, Fiona Patten. She is now busy charading care for the country. 

Her vote to fulfill the Premier’s desire for power is unsurprising given she and the Premier showed their cards after the 2018 Victorian election. They would lookout for each other with a wink and a nod, a job – or even a vote. Like Ms Ratnam, she is securing her future, again. 

Ms Patten says she has negotiated concessions for regional Victoria – requesting the Premier come up with a more ’nuanced response to the regions’. 

If she was really genuine, Ms Patten could have achieved that without needing to pass the extension. 

She could have walked into the Premier’s office and started a conversation like this: ”Dear Premier, don’t waste your time, I won’t support this legislation.  It’s bad. Instead, here’s an idea — why don’t you do what you should have done all the way back – and draft more specific laws that target problem areas when they pop up?” 

Isn’t that what should have been before the Parliament this week? Specific legislation rather than a sledgehammer? 

It is evidence enough that there is no need for the State of Emergency: targeted legislation, overseen by the parliament — our democracy — could have done the job. 

But that is the difference between a Premier who understands the might and power of democracy and one who salivates over socialist dictatorship. 

This is telling. 

By demanding State of Emergency powers, Daniel Andrews has revealed he doesn’t trust the parliament, and by extension, the people. 

He trusts absolute power. 

He trusts only himself. 

Fiona Patten can talk nuance, but she has delivered a democratic lead zeppelin. 

Samantha Ratnam can talk disadvantage, but she has bargained her political survival over the survival of thousands of businesses, families and equality before the law. 

And Andy Meddick of the Animal Justice Party? Perhaps just take ‘Justice’ out of the name.  

Beverley McArthur is a Liberal Legislative Councillor for the Western Victoria Region.

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