Dan Andrews press conference
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

The increasingly partisan nature of politics coupled with the social media echo chamber has led to increasingly tribalist behaviours across both sides of the aisle. The public reaction to almost anything Victorian Premier Dan Andrews does is testament to this. 

I’ve been critical of Andrews in many respects, but you have to support a good call when you see one: the Victorian government’s decision to proceed with the Australian Open was brave and correct.

The risk of a serious outbreak in summer, with Victoria’s vastly improved testing and tracing regime, is relatively low. And, if Andrews had banned international players, the risk of losing Victoria’s most significant sporting event would have been extremely high.

Andrews’ critics, of course, point to the government’s double standard: why are Victorians in Sydney (and until a few days ago, also Brisbane) banned from entering their own state even if they quarantine, while wealthy tennis players coming from genuine COVID-19 hotspots are welcomed with open arms?

NSW has had 62 COVID cases per 100,000 people since the start of the pandemic. Switzerland, Croatia and Belgium have had more than 5000 cases per 100,000 people. (Side note: the UK is sitting at around 4600.)

But that is conflating two issues which are mutually exclusive: Andrews can be utterly wrong on banning Victorians entering from Sydney, but also right on the Australian Open.

The #IStandWithDan gang were equally culpable earlier in the year when they blindly supported Victoria’s Peter Dutton-esque expansion of public surveillance and quasi-imprisonment of public housing residents.

All leaders get decisions right and wrong. But criticising the brave decisions leads to even worse government.

Adam Schwab is a commentator, business director, and the co-founder of LuxuryEscapes.com. He is also the author of Pigs at the Trough: Lessons from Australia’s Decade of Corporate Greed.

Peter Fray

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