Flat White

Daniel Andrews is sinking in a swamp of sleaze

25 October 2021

12:00 PM

25 October 2021

12:00 PM

Victorians are contemptuous of the Daniel Andrews-led government which has done so much harm to so many over an extended period of time. No other conclusion is possible.

The true extent of harm will emerge over the coming months and years but voters sense the awful revelations around mental health, education and employment impacts of his lockdowns are yet to come. They are likely to shock as ordinary people tell their extraordinary stories.

Emerging into the bright October daylight courtesy of the latest easing of months of failed Covid mitigation measures Victorians are, apparently, supposed to be grateful to the person who holds the title of premier of the state.

In his trademark high-handed, patronising manner Andrews again yesterday extolled his pride in the people of the state.  He and his sidekick, Mogadon Martin — Health Minister Martin Foley — said what terrific folk we’d been in following orders from the Spring Street War Office.

They went further and said we could have time away from the Covid-front from this coming Friday because, by then, we may have hit eighty per cent of people fully vaccinated and by 24 November, on current rates, ninety per cent of all Victorians double vaccinated.

No mention by these two ‘artisans of persuasion’ of the appalling Victorian death toll over the twenty-one months since the pandemic started (now in excess of 1040). No dwelling on the almost 25,000 active Covid cases in Victoria. No dwelling on the sheer exhaustion of the state’s medical and paramedical service teams who battle on despite the pitiful shortcomings of the crumbling public health system.   

None of the ‘pathway-out-of-Covid’ drivel from this clownish political duo can disguise the stench from the Independent Broad Based Commission Against Corruption examining the rotting entrails of the Victorian Labor machine. It’s a jaw-dropping story about widespread, entrenched branch stacking and associated activities.

In both Victoria and NSW right now it’s the anti-corruption bodies that are doing the heavy lifting, not the respective governments. What they are finding should make voters sick. A primary truth is emerging. Public sector integrity is elusive and this, in turn, diminishes trust in government and weakens our democracy.

The anti-corruption bodies know it, elected and non-elected public officials know it and we, the taxpayers, know it.

The reality is that while Labor machine men rort the Victorian electoral system using and abusing taxpayer funds to advance their grubby interests the state’s public institutions, along with vital government systems and processes on which lives depend, are collapsing.

Andrews claims to know nothing about the ALP machine games. He prefers to sit at arms-length from the oafs ripping democracy apart but we ask this question: if the premier can’t manage his own political party why should we trust him to run the state?  

The problem, we know from evidence already provided to IBAC, is that these practices are ingrained in the culture of the ALP. Rorting the system for electoral advantage and ripping-off taxpayers is at the heart of Labor’s DNA. Standover tactics by Labor members of parliament, shocking treatment of young staff members ordered to break the law and total disregard for any recognised standards of governance – are all apparently fine so long as the Labor Premier can show he wasn’t involved.

Underperformance, weak governance and incompetence are now routine in almost every corner of public administration in Victoria. Edging toward collapse is the state’s public hospital system – and this was true well in advance of the Covid crisis. The pandemic has served only to magnify the government’s failings and the incapacity of Andrews to deliver anything but self-serving platitudes and false hope. Andrews operates with a single agenda — his own survival. 

Across the public administration landscape, there is not a single crisis. There are dozens of them.  Whether in policing, public hospitals, infrastructure, fiscal management, education (at all levels) mental health and well-being, aged care, federal-state relations, internal cabinet relationship management,  and so on. Frequently chronically inexperienced people are making the wrong decisions inevitably leading to worse outcomes for those of us who pay them.

During the pandemic when numerous businesses shut down, people lost their jobs or were put on reduced hours, it was Victoria’s tens of thousands of public servants who received pay rises. Grotesque as this was their pay increases were nothing compared with the whacking salary increase the Premier awarded himself and his colleagues.

The expectations Victorians have of government services, agencies and people are now so low, they appear resigned to incompetence, waste and failure.   

But it is to the future of integrity in public administration that their attention must turn now. Andrews and his acolytes will eventually depart the public stage and we will need to contend with whomever we elect to take over.

Placing trust and integrity at the heart of government should be the guiding principle as voters mark their ballot papers in just thirteen months from now.

Let none of us forget the hundreds who died of Covid in Victoria in 2020 as a result of the public policy shambles foisted on the community by a clueless public health bureaucracy in worse shape today than it was then.

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