Dan Andrews today confirmed that Victoria is ahead of schedule, and restrictions will soon be eased. Despite everything, we’re almost there.

 

 

Right now, in struggling, embattled (and battered) Victoria, things are, finally, looking a bit brighter and more encouraging. Two months ago, the daily media briefings by Premier Andrews brought more tragic gloom and doom. Some days, 600 and 700 new cases and more than 20 deaths.

One of my favourite old sayings is: ‘Beware the light at the end of the tunnel. It might be an express train coming the other way.’ Another one, especially in politics, is: ‘If you are being run out of town, pretend it is a parade and you are leading it.’

One day recently, there were no reported deaths, new cases were in their twenties and less than a hundred COVID patients remain in hospital. Only a few on ventilators. Importantly, elective surgery is returning. We are getting there. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

A recent opinion poll showed 70% of Victorians, living under real sufferance, approved the way Andrews has been handling all this. With some reservations, so do I.

The hotel quarantine fiasco was a disgrace. Shocking malfeasance. Victoria’s Ruby Princess. It largely forced us into another lockdown and curfew. Watching all those high-ranking, decision-making honchos suffering convenient memory loss at the judicial inquiry made me think of Hogan’s Heroes. Were all the witnesses watching reruns of Fawlty Towers during lockdown?

Many of them emulated Manuel during the Dragonfly betting scandal episode. ‘I know nothing!’ Who actually did approve rejecting the PM’s repeated email offers of defence personnel to help out? Who signed off on it? Surely, such a decision must have reached the Premier.

Andrews, doggedly and repeatedly, has told his daily media marathons that ADF support was never sought nor offered – even though the paper trail says otherwise.

What we do know, although nobody, not even the premier, will own up to it, is that the ever so worthy and socially committed Labor government hired an indigenous security firm out of Sydney with only 70-80 employees when 1700 were needed. The firm was not on an approved list and, once hired, went and reportedly hired their inexperienced extras from the internet. Eff up written all over it.

 


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There was a second Andrews snafu when an ethnic group’s defiance of the lockdown and curfew rules, the breaching of household numbers and the 5 kilometre rule, did not result in fines.

I said at the time: “Premier Andrews and Chief Health Officer Sutton have blown it. When they decided to exclude some ethnic groups from fines – for breaching the 5km limit and household numbers – I could almost hear a collective thought echo across a locked-down Melbourne: ‘Well, stuff it. I’ve followed the rules for months.’ So, in parks across sunny Melbourne at the weekend, we had thousands of people not just doing their one-hour legal exercise, but spending the afternoon defiantly picnicking. And cops on horses jogged right by.”

 

 

The obvious question here is: If we are, supposedly, ‘all in this together’ (as the premier and the PM keep reminding us) how can you fine an old lady for sitting on a park bench but not a bunch of cronies having a good old time? It smacked of the kid gloves handling of the BLM protest. If we are all in this together then we are all in this together. And selfish breachers must pay the price.

To be fair, Andrews and his cautious team have dramatically driven the numbers down. Look at France and the UK, where they re-opened too early. And I really fear that NSW may still catch a deadly new wave. Victoria is on the way out of this. I fear for the economy but, as I have said – in the health versus the economy debate – if we don’t conquer this medical problem we will have no economy.

 


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Sadly, some family businesses that have been around for decades, for generations, will not re-open. Some jobs are lost forever. Some style of jobs will change forever. I don’t know what ‘COVID normal’ will look like. In a couple of months, I just hope I can travel and hug somebody for Christmas.

Not too much to wish for when, in Victoria, we have been through so much, so much deprivation and hardship. Again: mask up, stay strong. We shall get through this.

 

 

 

 

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