By Juliette Capomolla
I do not shy away from sharing my political opinion. In the spirit of transparency, I should let you know that, at this stage, I will be throwing my support towards Dan Andrews for the next Victorian election. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that political leniencies are irrelevant, or at least should be irrelevant, in today’s current climate. The virus transcends voting tendencies; it does not care whether you are a stubborn Labor voter or not, and as far as Dan Andrews is concerned, I don’t think he cares much at this point either.
Ever since the ominous second wave of COVID in Victoria, there has been an evident rise in conspiracists. People are questioning: is Dan Andrews fudging the numbers? People are theorising that there is great political motivation for ‘Dictator Dan’ to make up data. Some conspiracists are arguing that deaths are being attributed to COVID-19 when the actual cause of death is something else. Alternatively, that the Government is exaggerating the number of cases to pressure the public into abiding by restrictions. Don’t get the conspiracists started on those restrictions either!
From my understanding, there does not seem to be any legitimate political motivation behind fudging the numbers. But if you’re not convinced, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
In 2018, Labor won the state election by a landslide. In April, Dan-the-man had an 85% approval rating among Victorians, clearly heading towards re-election in 2022. But he suffered a 10% dive in approval ratings from April to May – and this is before lockdown 2.0 and Stage 4 Restrictions. At the end of July, Newspoll reported a mere 57% satisfaction rate with our current Victorian Premier. This begs the question: doesn’t Chairman Dan have a political motivation to downplay the numbers? His current strategy is potentially costing him re-election.
Undoubtedly, there is a motivation to augment the case and death numbers to scare Victorians into staying home. As our state continues to break case number records (not in a good way), panic is spreading just as fast. With a new restriction implemented every week – back to Stage 3, masks, Stage 4 – people have started to get sick of staying at home. The Karens of the world are telling us how hard it is for them to stay in Brighton and that their masks are suffocating them.
But the motivation to incite fear is arguably very different to political motivation, and I am still unconvinced that Dan Andrews would willingly, and without reason, institute Stage 4 lockdown.
Victoria represents the second-largest state economy in Australia; combined with New South Wales, the two states represent 40% of our national GDP. The Australian Financial Review reported that every week of Melbourne’s Stage 3 lockdown could cost the economy $12 billion. This cost is too high to forge the numbers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made no secret that he wants the economy to stay open. Yet, surprisingly, he is allegedly in support of Dictator Dan’s decision. These two leaders with opposing political views and contrasting coronavirus approaches have somehow reached an agreement. Why? I would argue both are transcending political parties and taking a more bipartisan approach in the interests of Australians’ health and safety. After all, is that so surprising amidst a pandemic?
Thus, I would argue that Dan Andrews is putting the health and safety of our state above his own political gain and power. With diminishing support, restrictions suffocating the economy, aged care facilities failing and deaths soaring, the poor man is already struggling enough before us Victorians question his integrity.