daniel andrews
(Image: AAP/Daniel Pockett)

Right now, the rest of Australia is probably looking at Victoria with a fairly large dose of schadenfreude

After all, the only thing better than not being in lockdown is seeing someone else in lockdown.

Despite the ongoing ineptitude across his government, Dan Andrews has somehow maintained significant support from Victoria — an approval rating of 67% (though that was before the current lockdown), and slavish adoration across social media.

While all politicians and health officials have been forced to make policy “on the run” during the pandemic, Victoria’s approach, which has now led to a second city-wide lockdown, appears to have lacked consistency.

Consider:

  • Victoria maintained the strictest and longest lockdown, with many school years only returning on June 9. NSW, which had a far more serious initial outbreak, returned to school from 11 May and were back by 25 May in full. Community transmission in NSW has been virtually nil in recent weeks.
  • Golf was banned in Victoria, but building sites were able to remain open with minimal requirements at all times following a deal between the Labor government and its union and property developer donors. The building sites that were finished during the first lockdown would almost certainly remain empty, given commercial and residential vacancy rates have skyrocketed.
  • Playgrounds were shut for several months (despite there still being virtually no transmission between children). Meanwhile bottle shops, Bunnings stores and large shopping centres remained open. Apparently buying a bottle of vodka is more essential than kids getting exercise.
  • Year 11 and 12 students will return to school next week, but all other school years will be required to remain at home during the six-week lockdown. This is despite Victoria’s second largest cluster, with more than 100 cases, occurring at Al-Taqwa College amongst years 11 and 12. The Victorian government is essentially ordering kids who almost certainly don’t transmit the virus to remain at home, while those who do to go back to school.
  • The government largely ignored the Black Lives Matter protests, with mild threats of fining a handful of organisers. While a powerful and deeply important cause, and the protests themselves appeared to not lead to any transmission, allowing 30,000 people to ignore strict lockdown laws made it virtually impossible to enforce those laws going forward. By contrast, a month earlier, police fined (but later withdrew) a learner driver $1652.
  • Victorian police led the nation in fining the community. In late May, almost 6,000 Victorians had been fined, compared to only 1290 people in the more populous NSW. While police were feverishly ensuring people in suburbs with zero community transmissions were having kids’ parties, travellers returning from virus hot spots like the were free to roam the streets and reportedly having sexual relations with hotel security guards, almost certainly leading to the second lockdown.

Peter Fray

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