It is for good reason that I love Melbourne, formerly known as the World’s Most Liveable City. We have the world’s largest tram network (who does not love trams?), clean air and water, a reliable power grid and sewerage network, lots of parks and gardens, respected universities, a cosmopolitan atmosphere, and of course 9 of the 18 AFL teams.
The biggest problem that we usually have is that real estate prices are increasingly locking younger people out of the housing market – which is one of the prices people must pay for living in one of the best places on Earth.
Right now, things are not so rosy. This week, our technocratic Premier Dan Andrews gained us the dubious title of the most days in lockdown of any city in the world.
The problem I have with the repressive orders which the technocratic Andrews Government has been inflicting on the public have to do with mostly with the lack of both proportionality and accountability.
With the aid of such civic minded minds of the Legislative Council cross bench last year, such as the Greens and the misnamed Reason Party, legislation was passed enabling the emergency powers relied upon by various of the government ministers and unelected technocrats to issue highly authoritarian edicts were extended for twelve months in the one go. [And you thought that Fiona Patton of the Reason Party was mostly interested in abolishing prayers at the opening of Parliament, when actually she is more interested in not having Parliament sit very often at all.]
This legislation is now up for renewal, and you would hope that those hard working members of the Legislative Council cross bench wake from their slumber long enough to actually consider whether it is a good thing to give a government such powers for an extended period without oversight.
I believe, as was espoused 90 years ago by Dale Carnegie, that you can get further by what is called ‘soft power’, that is, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Instead, the public have been hectored and lectured and subject to threats and dictates which are better suited to communist China or fascist Italy (eg the night curfew which is all about social control rather than disease control).
Trying to avoid getting really angry about all this is difficult. We have lost a lot of freedoms, and the government has gotten very used to using the police in an unprecedentedly repressive manner to suppress dissent, including equipping them with weaponry which is highly inappropriate for use in Australia.
Hopefully, the newly announced corruption investigation by the state’s IBAC will result in the exposure of sufficient issues of concern as to cause Andrews to resign in disgrace. Because let’s face it, the state opposition is currently not very credible as an alternative government and the only way to get rid of Danny boy is for some or other of his back room deals to blow up in his face.
The authoritarian abuses of the past 18 months, along with the blame shifting and the lack of accountability for whoever is actually exercising these emergency powers, have not gone down well with the public. People increasing see the state government and its agents as illegitimate.
It does not help when the police do dawn raids on pregnant bogans for suggesting on Facebook that people should go out and protest. Nor does it come across as reasonable use of force when an acting sergeant of police effectively ‘coward punches’ (it was not a punch but the victim was knocked unconscious) a protestor from behind when he is already being spoken to by other police (that policeman who committed this assault should face dismissal and gaol time.). Nor does the litany of other abuses of force, such as the pepper spraying of elderly women already on the ground, or the shooting of what are apparently rubber bullets at protestors, endear this technocratic government to freedom loving people.
And it sickens me when this power drunk Premier boasts of a ‘ring of steel’, as if his speeches were being written by the Maoist lobbyists who had persuaded him to sign up to the Belt and Road initiative – the kind of language which relates more to running protestors over with tanks than to protecting the public.