By Paul Collits
Should Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, leader of Australia’s second most populist state, resign? Should his NSW counterpart, Premier Gladys Berejiklian?
The chances are that each of these paragons of morality and competence has covered up the truth in the inquiries they have faced over the last week or so. The now failed states of New South Wales and Victoria deserve much, much better.
The estimable Bill Muehlenberg recently asked his social media friends which of the premiers of New South Wales and Victoria should be under the more pressure to resign?
I answered “both”.
Most, perhaps because they were miserable Victorians directly suffering under his tutelage and forced to see him on their news every day, plumped for Daniel Andrews. There could be at least two reasons for this answer.
One, that Andrews has been responsible for more deaths in his own State than the world’s worst serial killer, not counting Andrew Cuomo in New York, whereas Gladys has merely allowed a few (from the Ruby Princess) to perish on her watch. But the NSW Premier’s more recent potentially sackable offense was to have been forced to admit a five year long “close personal relationship” with someone who, clearly, would have trouble lying straight in bed.
The second reason for treating Andrews as the more sackable may be, I suspect, the party political biases of Bill’s readership. (This is a guess – I don’t know their party political preferences). Yes, Daniel Andrews is left of centre and yes, to the casual observer perhaps not familiar with the ways of NSW politics, Gladys is right-of-centre, though even the most cursory examination of her political pedigree would suggest that using the words “Gladys” and “right-of-centre” in the one sentence is quite a stretch.
Yes, Daniel Andrews is a marxist dictator in the pay of the left wing unions, who oversees a corrupt police force, locks up his own people, causes the deaths of hundreds of them in an act worthy of his own industrial manslaughter legislation, is bent on eliminating his energy industry and any other industry that relies on cheap energy, has the leftist Victorian media in his back pocket, wastes billions of taxpayer dollars not building freeways already paid for, destroys the landscape with windfarms, and leads the world in legislating for infanticide-on-demand and killing the frail aged – those that he hasn’t already killed with Covid.
On the other hand, there is Gladys. Surely she is better than Dan? Let us take a look see.
Already mentioned is the no “buck stops here” attitude of the Premier of the Premier State to the Brett Walker Commission into the Ruby Princess. That hardly raised an eyebrow. Long forgotten. Ruby who? The non-acceptance of responsibility for this disgrace by NSW ministers could be considered either breathtaking in its arrogance or merely par for the course in the cesspit of NSW politics.
Then we had Gladys’s sleazy, secret deal with NSW Abortion Inc, aka Alex Greenwich MP and Brad Hazzard, to deliver the state’s own version of Andrews’ infanticide on demand legislation. The euthanasia mob, led by the appalling NSW Nationals, is merely having a breather before they return to the fray.
Then we have the mad green leftism of most of the NSW Liberal frontbench about anything from koalas to climate change. The midwit Andrew Constance thinks bushfires are the result of global warming. He would be at home in the Andrew cabinet south of the Murray. That would be the same Andrew Constance on whose watch as Transport Minister the embarrassing NorthConnex project is nearly eighteen months overdue and still not open – for reasons yet to be explained to NSW taxpayers. A sackable offence in former times, for the sheer incompetence of the man. The man who cannot even make up his mind about which parliament he wants to sit in.
Then there is the NSW Premier’s appalling behaviour towards her own deputy premier, on sick leave because of depression. In many workplaces this would be called bullying.
Then there were the overruns worth billions on the unwanted and unneeded Sydney trams. What about knocking down perfectly good football stadiums at a cost of over 700 million dollars?
Then there was the Powerhouse Museum relocation fiasco, a dreadful initial decision only put right as part of a deal to get the rainbow warrior Don Harwin back into cabinet. And still costing the NSW taxpayers dearly, now that we are going to get not one but two Powerhouse Museums! Parramatta has to have one too. Why not one in every city in New South Wales? (Perhaps Harwin had leverage over the Premier that he used to get his job back).
With the NSW Government, where exactly do you start and stop? A truly reprehensible, lying government led by a reprehensible, probably lying, Premier. Why the hell shouldn’t she resign too? Because she is a Liberal? Not good enough, and in any case the NSW Liberal Party is a creature of the left.
I once went on an overseas study tour (many, many years ago) with two NSW politicians, one Labor and one Liberal. In a restaurant in Sonoma California in the heart of wine country – it was a study tour on regional economic development – I witnessed the two of them drinking a toast “to the left”. One could be forgiven for thinking that New South Wales was a one party state.
Who were these two paragons of leftist ideological virtue? The Labor one served gaol time for public misconduct (which he denies) while the Liberal one is Australia’s High Commissioner to New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Niue.
What is it about East Coast premiers? Don’t the three most important states deserve better?
Yes, I believe that both premiers should be shown the door, specifically this week. You might think that the case has already been made, above. But there are new, unambiguously sackable offences now in play, for each of our under-performing premiers. Actually, the same offence.
In short, there is a case for suggesting that the premiers of our two most important states have recently lied under oath. Whether that case can be regarded yet as compelling is another matter, and time will, no doubt, tell.
One might have thought that lying under oath still meant plenty in politics. Just ask Bill Clinton. It takes a peculiar kind of warped and weird political postmodernism – where all “truth” is relative, and seemingly unimportant – to think that you can tell porkies to official inquiries and get away with it. Once upon a time, misleading parliament was a sackable offence. With the decline of parliament, indeed its almost total disappearance during Covid, the new fora for accountability to we-the-people seem to be social media and twitter. Most politicians probably lie a dozen times every day on social media. The very life of politics, its language and its currency, is an activity of endless obfuscation, of leaving out the bad bits, of gilding the lily, after all. Surely swearing on a bible or some such secularist equivalent before a Royal Commissioner or the equivalent might give them pause, though? Apparently not.
And what about the old notion of ministerial responsibility?
Of course, there is now only one rule on whether “disgraced” or (a press favourite) “embattled” politicians should resign. And that is politics, certainly not arcane, quaint historical principles like the buck stopping somewhere or “responsible government”. Or even more recent inventions like ministerial codes of conduct. No such a thing as good old honesty and taking one’s medicine like a man (or in this case a woman).
Mark Latham, who has threatened to withdraw support for all Coalition Government legislation if Berejiklian remains premier, has noted the sheer gall of the NSW Premier:
Does Gladys know what she’s saying? At presser repeatedly said how wrong it is for Ministers not to declare pecuniary interests. Page 10 of the NSW Ministerial Code requires declaration of interests of “immediate family members” which includes “intimate personal relationships”!!!
Oops. Latham calls Gladys out big time:
I’m not inclined to support anything they put up when they’re led by someone who has (made) 14 breaches of the Ministerial code of conduct, and who has acted disgracefully by hiding a secret relationship.
Expecting the NSW Liberal Party to run the show honourably would be the height of naivety. Career politicians of every factional stripe bow low before the Photios Industrial Complex that runs every last item of business of the NSW Government.
Then we had the intervention of Gladys’s political bestie, the unlamented and lamentable Malcolm “I forced Barnaby Joyce to resign over an affair” Turnbull, who said that the shagadelic Premier’s mistake was a “personal matter”. This is the emerging meme. But it is a canard, and a pathetic one at that.
And so it has come to pass after the Premier’s ICAC bombshell that she is staying put, posterior firmly wedded to ministerial leather. After the frank views of Liberal members became known immediately (and very briefly) in the media, no doubt the phones would have begun to work overtime, following instructions from on high, through parliamentary lieutenants of the left such as Kean, the re-instated Harwin and Constance. Oh so quickly, the story became – “she is going nowhere”.
Even the most casual familiarity with Daryl Maguire’s record and the Premier’s ICAC testimony suggests that this all stinks to high heaven. As only Mark Latham in the NSW Parliament seems to have noticed. (Latham truly is the only politician worth feeding in Australia at present, the leader of the emerging “reclaim Australia” movement).
Here is Yoni Bashan:
Right, so Gladys Berejiklian can thunder on about the misdeeds of Daryl Maguire, sack him from parliament, issue a statement brimming with anger that he “let down the people of NSW”, his constituents, the Liberal Party, bloody everyone … then carry on seeing him in secret for two years.
This, of course, continues a long tradition of reality distortion by the Premier in a political crisis. Nothing is ever Berejiklian’s fault as long as she can play the victim. And, boy, this case is no exception.
A quick recap of the facts. Not only did the Premier maintain a close personal relationship with a politician whose alleged corruption extended to the very tips of his hairline, she was also drawn into a universe of spurious land deals and shady characters hurtling within Maguire’s orbit, the Jimmys and Williams, the occasional nudge-nudge of coded language involving “big problems” and “little friends”.
This was all revealed in the excruciating vivisection of their phone calls and texts.
Bizarrely of all, perhaps, was the moment she told Maguire she “didn’t need to know that bit”, during yet another chat about his financial headless chickenry. Was it because she knew he was up to no good? Knew it could impugn her position? Of course not.
“I have no direct recollection but I probably would have firstly not regarded it as interesting to me. I always assumed, rightly or wrongly, that he was making full disclosures when he needed to,” she said, an utterance that, mealy as it feels on the tongue, could go well as the opening lines of a resignation statement.
Truly astonishing. And what about the Victorian Premier, pants-on-fire wise?
Anyone outside The Age or the ABC who thinks that Andrews was telling the truth to the inquiry simply has rocks in his cranium. No less an authority than the former Victorian Health Minister believes it to be so. No possible version of the events so mercifully and mercilessly unearthed by Peta Credlin could entertain the possibility that anyone but Andrews made the decision to employ untrained bunglers to run the quarantine centres. That led to hundreds and hundreds of deaths.
The corporate media and the ABC, though, prefer to act as an arm of government than to do their jobs as journalists. Of course, with Andrews, for The Age and the ABC it is personal. He is one of theirs. They – feminists, greenies, China acolytes and socialists all – are invested in his political welfare. He has to be protected, whatever he has done. We put him there, after all. It is similar with the Murdoch press and Berejiklian and Morrison (not universally, though; there are honourable exceptions and signs of occasional independent thought chez Murdoch). Generally, with our partisan media, whatever his or her manifest deficits, s/he is one of us.
Notwithstanding the totally pointless resignation of Victoria’s senior civil servant, there can be no other source than Andrews of the industrial manslaughter-causing decision to employ union mates and assorted buffoons to run Covid quarantine centres.
Anyone familiar with the inner workings of government and the bureaucracy, even in these times of politicised civil services where Eccles has routinely and abhorrently been described as Andrews’ “right hand man”, knows that a senior bureaucrat would simply not make a decision so important. He would only ever offer options to the Government and the minister/premier would have to take the decision to act. Wherever the suggestion came from, the decision was Andrews’. He has to own it. So it is almost a proven lie by definition.
Let us leave the last word to Mark Latham, on Gladys but it may as well be applied to Andrews as well:
Gladys now closing in on Carmen Lawrence’s record for the number of “I can’t recall” answers at a corruption inquiry. Except all these memory fails are about her boyfriend of 5 years! Why did she put herself thru this instead of resigning yesterday?
Humiliating indeed. They both have hides like Jessie the Elephant.
No, if there were to be a Victoria versus New South Wales state of origin contest to see who had the more sackable premier, I am sticking to my view that the contest would be declared a dead heat. They both should go. They are differently disgraceful embarrassments to our formerly great nation. Not that their respective departures would really solve much in the two “premier” states. Each in its own way is a failed state that makes Hamlet’s Denmark look not that rotten, after all.
Paul Collits is a freelance writer and independent researcher who lives in Lismore New South Wales. He has worked in government, industry and the university sector, and has taught at tertiary level in three different disciplines – politics, geography and planning and business studies. He has been a keynote speaker internationally on topics such as rural development, regional policy, entrepreneurship and innovation.