Flat White

They’re only words 

6 October 2021

3:20 PM

6 October 2021

3:20 PM

If we apply the Bee Gees standard to the Victorian Premier, then Daniel Andrews is in strife. 

In 1969 – three years before the Premier was born – the Gibb boys serenaded with their song ‘Words’. It included the lyrics “You think that I don’t even mean a single word I say. It’s only words and words are all I have…”.

Yes. The Bee Gees called it early: Daniel Andrews doesn’t mean a single word he says.

If he did, he wouldn’t be premier.

Hone-in on his `words’ – including those he used to describe the loss of lives from the Victorian hotel quarantine fiasco.

On 6 July, 2020 he said, “I am accountable because of the job I have. I’m accountable for any mistakes, and all mistakes, that are made…I will own those errors.  I will be accountable for those errors.”

And then on 15 February, 2021: “I am responsible ultimately for everything that goes on in the Victorian Government.  I’ve never, ever been anything other than clear on that.”

Words. Just words. 

Over the border, it has taken much less than the loss of 801 lives for premiers to bow to responsibility and integrity, and resign. For Barry O’Farrell it was an undeclared bottle of booze, and untested ramifications around a former boyfriend did Gladys in. 

On the back of his own words, it seems clear that there are two options now possible in Victoria– and preferably both. The first, given he says “the buck stops with me”, WorkSafe should charge Andrews over the hotel quarantine fiasco, and secondly, he should resign. 

Both are in order. Both would be appropriate. 

In Victoria, however, responsibility is an anachronism. It’s just another word. And Victoria has heard a lot of words from Andrews, including things like short, sharp and lockdown.  Zero is another. 

Curve and flatten were his 2020 favourites.   

2020 was the year of Flatten The Curve and it had nothing to do with weight loss. 

Flatten The Curve was supposed to buy time for our hospitals to get ready for the coronavirus. 

But 4000 invisible ICU beds and $1.3 billion later, ambulances are ramping in multiples, Victoria’s hospital system is not ready and the only thing that has been flattened is the state. 

If this was NSW, Daniel Andrews would fall flat on his face. But it’s Victoria – the state of Belt and Road, the State of Disaster, the State of Emergency and the state of finger-pointing that leaves the Wiggles watching in awe. 

While Victorians did their bit, the Government failed to do its’.  The World’s Most Locked Down City is now a heavy crown. 

Instead of getting ready, the Andrews Government got cocky.  

True to form, the goalposts are on the move again and blame apparently lies with the Federal Government for not giving the States enough hospital funding. 

But with an acquired alertness to the early signs of moving goalposts, the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, was quick to remind premiers on the weekend that they have recently signed a “five-year agreement which includes an additional $35bn in funding” and that the Feds have also “invested an additional $6bn in hospitals through the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

The Prime Minister said it well: “the pandemic should not be used as an excuse for shakedown politics.” 

But as Gladys bows out, Andrews hangs tough, deaf to his own rhetoric.  

Even now, Premier Andrews still points blame to others: “…we didn’t choose for this Delta strain to come to us from Sydney,” he said. Yet in June, there’s a good chance Queensland didn’t want the virus to come from a Melbourne couple snaking their way through outback NSW, but it did. But back then, it was a case of crickets from Premier Andrews in his state of one-way streets. 

A single death should have been enough for him to say sorry, I do recall Your Honour, and I shall resign. Thanks for the memories. 

This purveyor of pretence surely can’t keep ignoring his own words such as `accountable’, `mistakes’, `ultimately’ and `responsible’. 

But they’re words, and words are all he has. 

It seems integrity and responsibility are for others. 

Bev McArthur is Liberal Member for Western Victoria and Shadow Assistant Minister for Scrutiny of Government 

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