The most damaging state government failure in modern Australian history as democracy in Victoria cringes

The most damaging state government failure in modern Australian history as democracy in Victoria cringes. By Greg Sheridan.

Consider this astonishing reality. If, as it is only reasonable to believe, the absolute fiasco of the Melbourne hotel quarantine mismanagement is the main cause for the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown, then it is the most damaging state ­government failure in modern Australian history. …

The Victorian government has not even told us which minister was chiefly responsible for deciding to use untrained security guards. Instead, it established a ­judicial inquiry that it exploits to say it has no ­responsibility to provide any public information. Yet the inquiry report is months away. …

The performance of the Andrews government has been so disastrous partly because there is no effective democracy in Vic­toria …

Let me be clear. Victoria is not a tyranny. And I am not objecting to the necessary lockdown provisions caused by the resur­gence of the virus. What I mean is that all the ­normal mechanisms of democratic deliberation and accountability have been diminished or erased in Victoria. This is true of state jurisdictions around Australia, but it is extreme in Victoria.

Dan Andrews is largely responsible for that second wave. The buck for the Victorian bushfires should also have stopped with him (forest management is a state responsibility).

Bizarrely, and for no good reason, the Victorian parliament is not sitting and is not due to sit until next month. When asked about the ­opposition this week, Andrews said he didn’t have time for silly political games. That is exactly the tone that non-democratic leaders take. Politics is a distraction from their greatness.

The only chance of any useful accountability or scrutiny for the hotels fiasco lay with the Victorian parliament’s public accounts and estimates committee. The committee has 10 members: five Labor, three Coalition, one Green and one Liberal Democrat. Every non-Labor member voted to hold an inquiry that would call senior bur­eaucrats and ministers. The Labor chairwoman used her casting vote to ensure no hearings were held.

When Andrews was asked about this, his response was contemptuous. He knew nothing about the committee, no concern of his, he hadn’t been briefed on it and didn’t intend to give it a ­moment’s thought. It was a response Fidel Castro would have been proud of.

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Andrews is no dictator. He is a democratically elected Premier who operates entirely within the law. Nor is he extreme in his rhetoric or most of his policies. But he has contrived a circumstance in which almost all mechanisms of democratic scrutiny and accountability have disappeared. …

In a properly functioning democratic culture, Andrews would come under irresistible ­political pressure to answer the questions and provide the information. But under the emasculated political culture that surr­ounds state governments — and is so exaggerated in Victoria — there is no way the political culture can bring that pressure to bear. …

Democracy has collapsed in Victoria. So has good government.

UPDATE from Michael Smith: On the Nepean Hwy:

MORE: Bill Muehlenberg:

There has been one rule for ordinary Victorians, but another rule for certain select groups: eg., ignoring the 10,000 BLM protestors; ignoring large-scale Islamic celebrations; ignoring the CFMEU mass meetings, and so on. Protestors and others get a free run, but golfers or swimmers or those teaching their children how to drive were all targeted. Ordinary Victorians suffered while the pals of Andrews got a free pass.