The resignation of four Victorian Ministers last Friday is too little, too late.
That’s despite other Ministers previously stepping down from the Victorian front bench in this Parliament, including Robin Scott, Jill Hennessy, and Gavin Jennings. Richard Wynne has already announced he won’t be standing again in November.
It’s quite the exodus.
And yet it’s not enough.
There is one name that is not on the list of those heading for higher ground. It is the one that should have left before all others: the Premier, Daniel Andrews.
Daniel Andrews is the resignation that the state waits for, wants, and needs.
A man who understands responsibility and respect would have gone by now.
Instead, this is the man who is busy telling us all about Truth Telling but can’t even provide that to an Inquiry into the deaths of 801 people under his watch. One death would send decent men to their immediate departure.
His failure to resign is one of his greatest failings of all – and that’s from a man who has a selection of failings to choose from: a big, bitter box of chocolates.
Victorians are chewing on that bitterness every day.
Plenty of his words taste bad. When announcing Lockdown six, Premier Andrews said, ‘We have no choice.’ It is possibly one of his most disgusting statements.
The busy backslapping over the current resignations would make custard curdle. The Premier stated time and again to the adoring media that he is the ‘proud leader’ of a team that has ‘such great depth, such great talent’.
Let’s look at what the ‘depth’ and ‘talent’ of the four latest resignations have brought Victoria.
As Education Minister, James Merlino locked children and teachers out of the classroom, only recently letting those unvaccinated teachers back in. For all the funding and hyperbole about his brilliance, the education outcomes have gone backwards. Students are leaving school unable to read and write. Our results have us falling further down the international standards list.
And so it is that the Premier cheers on the great Education Minister.
As Police Minister, Lisa Neville oversaw a force that took rubber bullets to the streets to quell Victorians desperate for reason and sense and democracy. These were Victorians sick of being locked up for the longest time in the world. Victorians sick of not being able to go to work. Victorians whose businesses were failing. Victorians who just wanted to sit on a park bench. Victorians who wanted to go 5.5kms from their home. The police force over which she had authority, chose which rallies were acceptable and which were not. Under her watch, police prosecuted Cardinal George Pell all the way to a 7-0 High Court dismissal.
As Water Minister, Lisa Neville smirked over the desalination plant that cost the state $3.5 billion to build and now $700 million a year to run. Not one drop of that water has been required.
And so it is that the Premier cheers on the great Police and Water Minister.
As Health Minister, Martin Foley has overseen perhaps the greatest health, hospital, and ambulance crisis to confront this state. The waiting list for surgery is 25,000 times longer than the list of exiting ministers. Lives have been lost waiting for the 000 call-centre to answer the phone, even more have been lost waiting for an ambulance to arrive, and more have died in the queues outside hospitals, looking in at the help they cannot get.
And so it is that the Premier cheers on the great Health Minister.
And as Minister for multiple things, Martin Pakula, was also one of the Gang of Eight who sat at the undemocratic Crisis Council of Cabinet, headed by the Premier. They ruled over us all: locked down the Parliament, locked us into our homes, into the state and out of our lives – all in the name of a virus whose volume, on some days, could be counted on one hand.
They cruelled our state, our children, our elderly, our lonely, our hope.
Pakula, Merlino, and Neville all sat at that Crisis table under the brutal baton of the man, who today, smothers each with saccharine words of praise.
Why is it they have all chosen the same day to leave? Coincidence? Chance? Choice?
Replacing James Merlino as the Deputy Leader is Jacinta Allan. She also held a critical seat in the Crisis Cabinet. Currently, she is the Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop and Transport Infrastructure.
That makes her the Minister for the Big Blowouts. Ms Allan has her hand all over the West Gate Tunnel project which has all but doubled to $11 billion. With it, has come the dumping of toxic soil and a very unimpressed Victorian Ombudsman.
Under Allan’s watch, and in less than four years, the Suburban Rail Loop has gone from $50 billion to closer to $120 billion. It remains without an Environmental Effects Statement and a business case.
Yes Victoria, be worried, be very worried.
In shame alone, let alone gross incompetence, she should also resign.
Daniel Andrews has announced a new team with a list of superlatives to blur the November election.
But if he had pride, respect, even a conscience, the only announcement he should be making is his own – immediate – resignation.
Silence is not golden.
Bev McArthur is Liberal Member for Western Victoria and Shadow Assistant Minister for Scrutiny of Government.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.