I spent a big part of yesterday writing an article calling for the resignation of Daniel Andrews, premier of Australia’s second-most populous State, Victoria. It’s done, it’s ready. But I’m not going to publish it yet.
My call didn’t come from anything that anti-Andrews people are complaining about. It’s not political. My call is simpler.
Daniel Andrews asked Victorians to give him six weeks of Step 2 lockdown, so they could reopen their retail economy in full, and be able to safely travel around the State without fear of Covid-19 in a Step 3, starting on October 26th.
And Victorians agreed.
That meant a continued night-time curfew, one hour of exercise a day, and a social bubble for those living on their own. And it also meant no guarantees. Victorians needed ≤5 daily cases on average over 14 days and ≤5 mystery cases in that time, total too.
But two weeks ago, having reduced 725 daily cases to just five, a feat unparalleled anywhere in the world and under mounting pressure from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, he panicked.
He introduced the expectation that Melburnians, those living in Victoria’s capital city and suburbs, might be able to move into Step 3 on October 19 when no one had asked him to do so. He also removed the curfew and doubled exercise time.
This gave tired Melburnians unexpected hope.
It also caused people to relax their guard. And as a result, Melburnians have since seen daily cases of nine, 12, 15. They saw people in parks without masks. They saw people flooding along the popular St Kilda Beach foreshore. They saw one idiot think she could work while sick and spread Covid through the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere, Chadstone. And they saw another idiot think that the laws of dining didn’t apply to him when visiting the country. Boom! 50+ new cases.
In my opinion, none of this would have happened had Andrews not changed the rules of the game. I truly believe that on Sunday October 25 Melburnians could have been celebrating the move into Step 3 the next day.
It’s for this reason, I was prepared to call for his resignation yesterday. On top of that Andrews had given Victoria the torture of an inquiry into hotel quarantine errors when he could simply have said all along:
Sorry it was my mistake, mistakes happen in war, I’ll now fix them.
But the point is this.
October 19 was never a realistic goal. October 26 will likely now not work either. And I’m very disappointed.
I Tweeted Andrews to extend the Step 2 lockdown—with a curfew again—until November 2 and reopen for a four-day long weekend Melbourne Cup holiday. He won’t do that.
But I’m willing to trust that come this Sunday the 19th, he will also have learned not to ease restrictions too radically again while Covid remains uncontrolled: that he not panic again and confuse people further.
By November 9-16, I believe Melbourne and Victoria will be able to move into a uniform Step 3 given no more acts of political desperation goaded by the media, and no more acts of idiocy by emboldened Melburnians.
If not, I’ll call for his resignation because by then, we’ll be on our way into a Covid-19 Wave 3. And whoever takes over had better come with a good plan.
Here’s the final point. If News Corp still wishes to press politically for an earlier reopening of Melbourne while case numbers are too high, my message to all businesses putting faith in Murdoch’s agenda is this:
Lawyer up for the chaos you’ll unleash. You’ll be responsible for every Wave 3 case that comes from your operations.
Murdoch doesn’t care about you, just as he doesn’t care about what he’s done to the United States of America. Though it was fair watching him unleash his reporters today, criticising the premier of New South Wales for alleged corruption, while she sat at the other side of the political spectrum to Andrews.
All crises, you see, sell ads.
© 2020 Adam Parker.