There are less than 500 days until the next Victorian state election.
With Victorians well into our fifth never-ending lockdown, it appears opposition leader Michael O’Brien is a man without a plan and some deeply flawed policy ideas.
Taking to social media last Tuesday, he asked Victorians to demand a plan from the Labor government to put an end to the lockdown suffering.
Well, that’s simple. Stop the lockdowns.
Victorians are sick and tired of the overreaching dictatorship of the Andrews government, who prefer to impose draconian measures over a handful of cases rather than fixing the broken system used for COVID management.
But would we be any better under a Coalition government?
Not while they are on a trajectory to impose tougher measures than the current government.
Jail for people suspected of withholding information in relation to COVID?
This could be the most ludicrous suggestion by the Opposition since they recommended ankle monitors for COVID rule breakers.
In a state like Victoria, where our government provides little transparency, no accountability and inconsistent mandates, the last thing our over-paid bureaucrats need is more power.
South Australian Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick claimed last week the removalists at the centre of the latest outbreak were cooperating with their inquiries and even voluntarily handed over their phones to assist with tracking. In NSW, the health authorities have said the same — yet here in Victoria, our COVID-19 Commander, Jereon Weimer, claims they aren’t forthcoming with information.
Are these COVID patients really criminals, or is this just another case of shifting the blame to hide incompetence?
We will never know. After all, taxpayers coughed up millions of dollars not to find out who was responsible for the hotel quarantine fiasco.
If our Victorian parliamentary leaders expect honesty and compliance from the public, perhaps they should try leading by example.
Businesses are closed again, losing thousands of dollars in revenue and stock, and some will never open again. Many employees are facing mounting bills and empty pockets while school children face further disruption.
It is insupportable.
This is not the time for the opposition leader to come out with knee jerk reaction policies that gain attention for all the wrong reasons.
Incarcerating COVID patients won’t help one bit.
Proposing legislation like this not only sets a terrible precedent to the presumption of innocence, it also opens the door for health authorities to exploit the public further for their own failings.
Don’t forget the case of Terry and Debbie Elford earlier this year. They were accused of being ‘on the run’ from the authorities in Victoria after flying into Melbourne from NSW despite being permitted to fly back to NSW the same day. The health authorities claim they were ‘found’ and would be facing heavy penalties even though the couple went straight to the police upon reading about themselves in the media.
The writing is on the wall.
While recent polling shows a plummet in support for the Andrews government, rather than looking to the Coalition, their support is moving to independent candidates.
If the opposition holds any hope of being a competitive alternative government at the next state election, they need to return to the Liberal Party’s core values of small government, liberty and personal responsibility.
Being a more reasonable version of Labor won’t cut it.
Studies on the impact versus the benefit of lockdowns are available. In The Australian last month, Adam Creighton highlighted seven peer-reviewed papers which highlight findings that support for lockdowns as a strategy is not only weak, but the risk to public wellbeing is also higher than managing COVID without lockdowns.
Rather than asking the public to demand a plan from Labor, Michael O’Brien needs to present his own by working with credible health experts to offer a viable strategy away from endless lockdowns.
Imagine the message the Coalition would have sent to the public if the entire parliamentary team had turned out to stand side by side with small business owners protesting the Andrews government for driving their enterprises into the ground during the last lockdown.
Voters are looking for leadership and strength. There is a void to fill.
But first, O’Brien needs to remind himself of what the Liberal Party stands for.
Otherwise, another electoral wipeout for the Coalition is imminent.
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