Explaining Victoria’s Covid-19 State of Emergency Extension Little Golden Book Style
Posted on August 25, 2020
Once upon a time on a planet called Earth, not too far away from the Sun, there lived a group of men who believed they controlled everything alive.
These men were called dictators.
There was Klepto Kim of North Korea, Pesky Putin of Russia, Bonkers Bolsonaro of Brazil, and Zebra Xi of China. Zebra isn’t spelled with an X of course, but something had to rhyme with zee. And you know what? Xi liked camouflage. Like a zebra, he enjoyed hiding in the shadows. He hid things like islands in the South China Sea. And no one knew how they got there.
Then there was Righteous Rupert of Australia and the USA, but he didn’t lead a nation.
He had lots of money. So, that made him powerful. He was so powerful that he also lost lots of money trying to tell people what they should watch on the news.
Righteous was very fond of another man called Twit. Twit Trump did lead a nation. It was called the United States of America and he was its president.
The USA was free. You see, unlike Klepto, Pesky, Bonkers and Zebra, Twit had to face a democratic election every four years. He also had to protect and preserve a constitution. And that constitution only allowed him to be president twice. Alas, Twit so wanted to be a dictator too.
One day Righteous, Twit and their dictator friends woke to find a terrible virus had come to Earth.
Scientists gave it an easy name. They called it Covid-19.
As simple as that was someone who worked for Twit, named Kellyanne (she wasn’t powerful enough for a nickname), thought that must have meant there were 18 Covids prior.
Oh no. Silly Kellyanne! That meant it was a COronaVirusDisease, of the year 2019.
And this virus was very bad.
This virus didn’t care where you lived, how old you were, what you believed, what you looked like or what you ate.
This virus was highly contagious.
This meant that one person with it could give it to maybe six others simply by touching them, or breathing on them, or touching something that those other people then spread over their faces, eyes or mouths. Yuck.
This virus made people very sick. It could clot their blood, shutdown their organs, take air from their lungs and kill them.
Twit had first said, hardly anyone in his country had caught it. He then said it would melt away with summer.
As it turned out, Twit’s thinking had killed nearly 180,000 of his own citizens and he was well on the way to scoring another 220,000.
Here’s something more. This virus also kept a little secret.
People who survived it couldn’t predict what it would do to them in 2029 or 2039 or 2049. Some already had scars on their lungs, hearts and brains. This was very bad.
In this way, Covid-19 was just like asbestos. Covid-19 was a time bomb.
Tik tok tick.
When people saw Asbestos today, they ran away.
On planet Earth there was a continent called Australia.
It was a country too. It was huge but very few people lived in it. Only 27 million in fact.
But kind of like the United States of America, Australia wasn’t a unified nation, though it went by the name Commonwealth.
It was a federation. That meant it was made up of six States and two Territories.
What Australians didn’t know was that when it hit the fan in 2020, each State and Territory would act in its own interests.
This was strange. Because up till Covid-19, Australia had faced huge problems including two World Wars and through them all, it had stood together.
When Covid-19 came to Australia, however, things fell apart.
You see Covid-19 had no treatment and it had no cure, and without them it could never go away.
So, each State and Territory, devised its own ways to protect its people and stop Covid-19 making them sick.
That’s because no one in charge of Australia had told them that the nation was again at war. There was no unifying leader. So, no one had considered working like a team.
Chapter 4—More Names
Australia’s States had leaders with some funny names too.
The premier of New South Wales was Gladys Berejiklian. The premier of Queensland was Annastacia Palaszczuk. You may want to ask a helper how to pronounce those names.
But the premier of Victoria was Daniel Andrews. His name was very unusual because people called him Dictator Dan. Unfortunately for Gladys and Annastacia “dictator” didn’t alliterate. If your helper is still there, ask them about that word too.
When Covid-19 hit Australia, its two biggest States got into a lot of trouble making bad errors of judgement.
These States were New South Wales and Victoria. Australia’s Federal Government didn’t help. It made bad mistakes of its own.
Still, when it did hit the fan, Australia and its States and Territories declared separate States of Emergency.
What a scary phrase! Don’t be afraid.
States of Emergency were common. When bad storms hit, or the earth rumbled, or bush fires flickered on the hills all States and Territories often declared emergencies to help them respond in an efficient manner.
Even Australia itself.
In Dictator Dan’s Victoria, its State of Emergency for Covid-19 allowed its chief health officer to make orders for public safety.
He was then able to order that people didn’t gather together. That they stayed at home when sick. That they exercised safely. That they shopped only for essential things. That they wore masks. That businesses worked in special ways.
The chief health officer was only able to do this because a State of Emergency existed.
Otherwise, he would only have been able to give advice.
The police weren’t able to enforce advice.
But Victoria soon after found itself in a really awful way bringing about Australia’s first Covid-19 Wave 2.
It made a very bad mistake called “privatisation”, which spread Covid-19 into Victoria from overseas.
People arriving from overseas were meant to quarantine in private hotels to ensure they didn’t have Covid-19. Some of those hotels were allegedly dirty and allegedly badly organised. And the people privately employed to guard them were allegedly poorly supervised.
“Allegedly” is a word they now teach in kindergarten.
So, Covid-19 got out and then Dictator Dan also declared a State of Disaster.
Yes, that sounds scary too.
You usually hear about them when bad events happen that put people’s lives in grave danger.
For Victoria, this Covid-19 State of Disaster and its Covid-19 State of Emergency worked hand-in-hand.
While the State of Emergency gave the chief health officer the power to tell people what needed to be done, the State of Disaster gave the police minister the ability to make sure it happened.
People could then be told to curfew at night, to not exercise in public if they were infected, and the police could take really bad offenders off the streets.
Victoria was special though.
In Victoria, a State of Emergency could only be called for one month at a time and in total, it could only last for six.
Mid-September 2020 would be month number six.
To extend it further, Dictator Dan had to go before parliament and change the law. And this is what Dictator Dan wanted to do.
But what made Victoria special, was that other governments like the Federal Government, didn’t need to go before their parliaments at all.
Their States of emergency could be extended indefinitely.
Australia, for example, only had to get the Queen of England’s approval every three months.
Poor Dictator Dan.
Remember Righteous Rupert? He now went to work saying that Dan was indeed a power-hungry dictator for wanting to keep people alive.
Forget that he loved Klepto Kim, Pesky Putin and Zebra Xi who had changed their constitutions making them dictators for life.
Righteous Rupert also loved Twit Trump who was then in the process of removing post boxes around the USA. Twit didn’t want people voting by mail in the upcoming November presidential election. He believed that if people mailed-in their votes, he couldn’t give them his full care and attention.
Hmm. Are you thinking that Righteous Rupert actually didn’t love Dan, because Dan really wasn’t a dictator after all?
Chapter 8—Dan’s Mistake
But Dictator Dan then made a big boo boo with the media.
He forgot how to sell.
He needed more time to get his State’s daily Covid numbers down.
He needed his chief health officer to be able to do more than just give advice because the number of Victorians catching Covid-19 each day was still huge.
So, he needed his State of Emergency to continue beyond the middle of September.
But instead of explaining the hassle of Victoria’s unique parliamentary permission system, he simply told the media that he was going to extend Victoria’s State of Emergency by another 12 months.
Oops. This announcement made the media gasp through their masks.
It allowed many of them to claim that Dictator Dan was now a tyrant!
You see, what Dictator Dan forgot was that this wasn’t the 1980s.
In those days when you made an industrial relations offer, you went big and then negotiated it down.
This was called “ambit”.
The media didn’t know that game because those days were long over.
Dictator Dan should have just made the case for another three months knowing Australia would likely need eight.
People might have better appreciated that.
Yes, Righteous Rupert’s media went nuts. But you know what?
The next day the media were very kind to Dictator Dan when he appeared at his regular press conference.
Maybe they remembered that without a lockdown and with Covid-19 still infecting over 100 people a day, they and their loved ones were still at risk.
And while one very rich business tycoon sailed his family away from Victoria to Queensland in a luxury yacht to escape Covid-19’s Wave 2, those left behind likely thought:
Well, Dan—the man—still had to face elections, didn’t he? Covid-19 wouldn’t change that. But the only way to get a vote was to stay alive.
And that first needed a happily ever after.
© 2020 Adam Parker.