If there is one thing that to be learned from NSW in the last 18 months, it is the fact that lockdowns are not required to manage COVID-19 outbreaks successfully. Any opposition leader unhappy with the long-term damage that lockdowns have on businesses, employees, families, not to mention the public’s mental health overall, should seek advice from the Berejiklian Government and offer a clear alternative to the voting public.
There is no doubt in states like Victoria lockdowns are an ‘easy fix’ to contain outbreaks for a government too incompetent to repair its management system.
Victorians know this too well as we wait out our fourth lockdown, utterly fed up.
The frustration is growing and goodwill diminishing even from those initially supportive of tough measures to manage covid at the start of the pandemic.
“Time for this team to call it quits,” they say, “and give someone else a go because what this government is doing isn’t working.”
What better time than now for the Liberal opposition to present a strong alternative plan.
Sadly, the opportunity is wasted as they spruik ideas of ‘less’ and ‘proportionate’, which sounds like a watered-down version of Labor’s current position. This does not inspire confidence, nor will flip a single vote.
Independent economist, Saul Eslake has been able to produce a comprehensive and easy to understand statement of the economic failings of the Andrews’ government and risks they create for the future of the state. It is astounding that the Liberal opposition has proved incapable of creating such a document or even articulating some of its key themes in a way that has made an impact on Victorian voters.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas made it clear from the get-go that he expected Federal funding to support the lockdown. Of course, what better incentive to stick with the current plan than if someone else picks up the cheque?
In fact, last week, one of the few conviction based politicians in the Victorian parliament, the outspoken Liberal member for Western Region Victoria, Bev McArthur, received an inappropriate public scolding from the leader of her party, Michael O’Brien, for this making this very point, which was twisted and misconstrued by some in the media to imply she wanted to deprive vulnerable people of support.
Anyone who follows her career in parliament can see her record of spearheading issues for Victorians from fighting to protect farmland from toxic soil dumping to preventing law firms from exploiting victims in class actions and campaigning against the government for misusing the constitution to ban activities that go against the Labor party platform.
If, as the leadership claims, she does not speak for the Liberal Party, who does?
Victorians need a choice at the next election, between the way things have been done since 2014 and the way things can be done.
Voters throw out governments or elect noisy oppositions. The coalition must take risks to capture the public’s imagination and support. Simply waiting for Labor to expire will mean another decade in opposition.
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