Playing Politics with Covid-19 is a Double-Edged Sword
Posted on September 26, 2020
This chilly Saturday morning, I’ve been watching a documentary about the treaty of Versailles that ended WW1. It was a complex negotiation between many countries, each with their own interests and of politicians leading them, with egos larger than mountains.
In it, at one point, an assistant to Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States who was becoming frustrated with the lies and manipulation going on, said:
Remember we are dealing with humans here, not angels.
While sitting back immersed in this story, I was oblivious to an announcement by the Victorian Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, a couple of hours ago that she had resigned her office taking full responsibility for the failure of a privatised hotel quarantine program that had sent Australia into its first Covid-19 Wave 2; one still being fought by Victoria today.
This came about after testimony by the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, yesterday at an inquiry into the program claiming it was her department’s responsibly to conceive of such plans and oversee their outcome.
Indeed, we are still in that fight against Covid-19’s Wave 2 in Melbourne, Victoria.
Following its onset nearly three months ago, a tight lockdown was activated. And with great sacrifice, Victorian’s have seen massive results.
We’ve come from over 700 cases a day to under 20 now, and we’re heading to a goal of zero while the rest of the world is pushing upwards of 6,000 to 14,000 to 50,000 new cases per day depending on which country you’re looking at.
The nutshell then, is this.
Should the premier of Victoria resign today too? Aren’t ministers his responsibility to oversee? How can so many people under his watch keep claiming “I don’t know” to questions regarding the hotel quarantine program and a second issue, the night-time curfew that came with Melbourne’s lockdown? The premier’s testimony apparently also threw his State’s police commissioner under the same tram.
The answer is blunt.
Anyone who thinks they can play politics with Australia’s second most populous State’s safety—no matter which party—will equally find their heads on the chopping block too once this crisis is over in just four weeks’ time. Oh, we are that close.
What it all boils down to is that in crises, leaders are paid to make mistakes.
Winston Churchill led Britain through WW2 and most people loved him despite his continuous errors resulting in utter battlefield catastrophes, including the replacement of general-after-general. But war requires hard decisions and Britons knew his would eventually lead them to victory.
And he did.
And a few months later Britain voted him out of office giving the other party a go.
That is the political life. Covid-19 in Melbourne is neither a Liberal nor Labor Party problem. It is an existential crisis. Mistakes were made across the political spectrum. Mistakes still have to be made—so long as their intentions are good.
The time for heads to roll then, is not now but after this war has been won.
First, we need to breathe some fresh air.
© 2020 Adam Parker.