Scoring political points in a pandemic will come back to bite the critics

Scoring political points in a pandemic will come back to bite the critics. By Grace Kelly.

I don’t see the majority of my fellow Australians as anything other than fairly sensible, reasonable and amenable. So if in vast numbers, they back their state leaders on lockdowns, closed borders and other ghastly measures, then clearly, there are good ­reasons. Perhaps none of us like restrictions, but we can see the ­alternative is worse. …

By far, the biggest surprise though, was the reaction of commentators in the media, on the economically conservative side — where I have always stood, quite happily. In these quarters, Victoria’s misfortune generated an instant pile on.

When our long lockdown was announced, commentators professed to be worried about the mental health of Victorians.

So worried were they that they made sure to tell us every single day at top volume how stupid our government was, how nothing we were doing would work, and basically, how doomed we all were.

During the lockdown, the Prime Minister and Treasurer had some astonishingly unhelpful moments too. Towards the end, for example, they released strange written statements that were passive aggressive. It was apparent these were designed to erode confidence in the state government, but the only outcome of this was to increase anxiety and distress among the people.

The resentment from this time lingers, and the Coalition has massive bridges to build in Victoria. Many voters will find it hard to forgive their demands for us to open up too early, as well as the overall impression that they wanted us to burn, just so they could help their state counterparts by scoring political points over our Premier. …

WA likewise.

A year on, poll trends have emerged and some elections have occurred around the country. Conclusions can be drawn — state leaders who act decisively to stamp on the virus have the ­backing of their people.

This is no surprise to me. When the pandemic hit, Australians decided they didn’t want to lie down and accept defeat. The fatalistic surrender displayed in Britain was viewed with horror, and the politicisation of the virus in the US was viewed with disbelief.

Until a vaccine was available we wanted our governments to hold back the enemy; we didn’t want to be offered up to it.

This is nothing to do with being government-dependent, frightened wimps. Australians hold the rightful expectation that our leaders will act decisively and that our institutions will do their job. …

We don’t have to live with leprosy, cholera, malaria or polio, just to name a few, so why then, were some commentators so quick to insist that we had to learn to live with COVID-19?