Living in a first world democracy gives us freedoms that we all take for granted. In Australia we are particularly fortunate to enjoy democracy in its most liberal form. That is, if you don’t live in Victoria, and particularly in metropolitan Melbourne during the current stage 4 lockdown with all its restrictions imposed by our Premier, Dan Andrews, and sold to us as advice from the Chief Health Officer.
Andrews made some bad decisions early in the first round of the Covid19 Australia-wide lockdowns. He or his ministers, and here no-one wants to own up and take responsibility, decided to ignore the offer of ADF support to secure incoming travellers quarantined in hotels in Melbourne. Instead they made snap decisions to engage private security firms who then subcontracted the tasks. In many cases they were performed by people who had little or no experience for the tasks, and worse, they were given no training and inadequate PPE to do the job.
As a result, active cases of Covid19 spiralled in Melbourne, and Andrews, who then blamed the public for undisciplined behaviour, imposed stage 4 restrictions which have resulted in Melbournians being subjected to the toughest lockdown in the world.
But worse, despite the pleas from business owners, large and small, industry group leaders, community group leaders, and senior political figures, both Federal and State, Andrews shows no interest in any of it and continues to lecture all who engage, on the need for us to observe the wisdom of the sanctions imposed on us.
What is really scary is that the checks and balances of our normal democracy are largely missing. Having declared a state of emergency and reinforced the additional powers with the declaration of a state of disaster, our Premier is largely unaccountable. To anyone!
Let’s hypothesise that Andrews is unwell, mentally. And you could understand someone currently in the front line of government, working night and day, for weeks and months on end, under huge pressure, cracking up. In Andrews case, he has seen what was the enviable position of our state after the first round of lockdown deteriorate so far, so fast, that we have become the basket case of Australia. And all this under his uncompromising leadership. No-one else to blame it on. Following this scenario, we have a leader whose judgement is flawed but who continues, unchecked, to impose his will on this corner of Australia without any mechanism for relief or correction.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “insane” as “a state of mind which prevents normal perception, behaviour, or social interaction”. Arguably our Premier’s recent decisions and behaviour could well be described as fitting comfortably within this definition. Many relevant and highly qualified professionals agree that the roadmap, including its targets, are irrational. But the Premier will not engage in any discussion or compromise.
Alarmingly, our democracy is currently unable to respond at a time of unprecedented need and urgency.