The Victorian Department of Fairness must be tut-tutting like a metronome in overdrive.
Its job is to work ‘hard to create equal opportunities for all Victorians to live a safe, respected and valued life’.
Such lovely sentiments. Shame about the reality.
The Department comprises six Ministers who must surely be puffed keeping up with their leader as Daniel Andrews’ dictatorship rolls on with vaccine mandates and cruel, unscientific restrictions.
His mandating muscle is second to none.
He continues to gut-punch our Westminster system of government. So much silence has echoed from the Victorian Lower House over the past 18 months. The remaining bare bones are rattling.
He now pushes the constitutional boat well out to sea by banning MPs from representing their people in the House unless they can prove vaccination.
This Premier keeps delivering stinging kicks to the shins of what remains of our gnarled human rights, the building blocks of our humanity, the stuff fleeing Afghan residents dream of.
Where is the Department of Fairness in the decisions to keep children out of school?
Where is the Department of Fairness when elderly are dying alone in aged care, air-kissed from afar?
War veterans are questioning why they gave themselves for a freedom that the Premier believes is his to take.
Health Minister, Martin Foley, is among the Fairness Department’s six ministers. One assumes he forgets to take his Fairness folder to his daily meetings with the Premier.
The Department of Fairness is the greatest joke this Andrews Government has played – and the Victorian public is the punchline. If he dared look beyond the bright lights of centre stage, Premier Andrews might notice the comedic value has dwindled to a front row polite giggle.
Or does this whole COVID-19 pandemic management fall into the Victorian Government’s other great gag: The Failed Experiment?
Enter Crown Casino.
As a former Minister for Gaming in 2006-2007, Daniel Andrews is au fait with Crown.
Yet only through the embarrassment handballed by the findings of NSW and WA inquiries into their Crown Casino operations, did he enable a Royal Commission in Victoria.
In doing so, he set the terms so tight, so limited, that it was not given rein to investigate the investigators – the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR).
The Inquiry heard more than enough evidence to know that the crooks at Crown were better than the cops. The VCGLR was a regulatory tiger unwilling to use its teeth when it was clear a banquet of illicit opportunities lay before it.
In July, the Inquiry Commissioner, Judge Ray Finkelstein said, “Wherever I look, I see not just bad conduct but illegal conduct, improper conduct, unacceptable conduct and it permeates the whole organisation.”
And so it was that the Gaming Minister, Melissa Horne, described the 2012 merging of the liquor and gaming regulation as a “failed experiment’.
Crown has of course had a regulatory eye over its operations since its firecracker start in 1994, and the current supervisory format was forged under the auspices of a Coalition Government. That said, it has not been adjusted by the Andrews machine.
The Royal Commission’s final report will be handed down by the end of the month.
But since the conclusion of the Finkelstein hearings, the Premier has rallied his reliable crossbenchers to stop an inquiry into why the VCGLR effectively ignored crime at Crown Casino. The Commissioner’s words of corruption should have been ringing in their heads like a call of the hounds.
Yet they voted with the Premier who went on to announce a shuffling of the chairs on the sinking, stinking ship, declaring his want for a new gaming regulator called the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC).
Will this be another failed experiment? Or just an experiment?
In fact, why wouldn’t all legislation passed in the Parliament of Victoria be described in this way? It’s a title that can be slapped on anything if a Minister so desires. And they do.
‘A Failed Experiment’ is the language from the same Government that brings you the Department of Fairness.
The failed experiment is a gobsmacking lie.
The VCGLR was no failed experiment, it was legislation passed by both houses of the Victorian Parliament, signed off by the Governor, written into law, inked into an Act.
One of the biggest jobs any government must do is to protect its citizens from rogues – in whatever shape or form they take.
Describing legislation as a failed experiment tells us plenty about this Victorian Government: it speaks, no it howls, of the type of arrogance only a bully would dare project.
It speaks of a Government that thinks it can tell you anything and you’ll suck it up.
A Communist State would be proud of such puppetry. It’s communist drivel and it’s dangerous. It’s government by concept without any responsibility.
Are the current State of Emergency, and the previous State of Disaster, failed experiments? Or Richmond’s drug-injecting room, or the Safe Schools program?
The Crown saga is another illustration of when the Premier decides to act and against whom.
While he let Crown build up $272 million in unpaid taxes, he boldly declared he would chase every cent of the $350,000 fines from an infamous COVID-19 rule-breaking party in July.
As he said, “It’s selfish, they are shitty choices.”
Andrews, too, has made his choices and they also pong. A lot.
But what does it matter, his are just failed experiments aren’t they? Signed off, no doubt, by the Department of Fairness.
Bev McArthur is Liberal Member for Western Victoria and Shadow Assistant Minister for Scrutiny of Government.
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