Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has lost the Covid plot and tossed the National Cabinet script in the shredder.
Far from presenting a united front with the other state premiers – as laid out by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Operation Covid Shield – Andrews has chosen to pursue his own path.
The bold declaration a month ago was hailed as the premier’s great battle against Delta, but as a headline read in the Financial Review yesterday ‘Even Andrews couldn’t defeat delta’.
Victoria entered its sixth lockdown after Daniel Andrews decided to teach New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian on ‘how it’s done’ by locking his state down hard and fast.
It didn’t work.
The state's initial 8 cases became 170 today, growing faster than the New South Wales outbreak.
“This is not going to go down. It is now a question of how much it goes up,” said Andrews.
Both states have found that Delta is not being contained by stay-at-home orders.
When it was pointed out to Daniel Andrews in a recent press conference that 'sooner or later every state would have to learn to live with Delta, Andrews replied, "With the greatest of respect to the New South Wales premier, I'll let her look after her cases, and I'll look after mine here."
Victorians have been left shaking their heads at a series of bizarre decisions during the Delta outbreak, such as shutting children’s playgrounds and forbidding anyone to remove their mask while drinking beer.
Curfews (which the government admitted had nothing to do with Covid and everything to do with ease of policing) were enforced along with a two hour limit on exercise.
The unpopular health orders were made in pursuit of the premier’s Covid-Zero approach, which has now been dropped after it became obvious that Covid-Zero is an unattainable fantasy.
The state has spent more time in lockdown than any other part of Australia, and yet it holds the grisly record for most Covid deaths. The vast majority of Victoria’s 822 deaths were linked to outbreaks within aged care facilities.
Reluctantly following Berejiklian's lead, Victoria intends to ‘reward’ its citizens with a very slight ease in restrictions on September 13.
The ‘reward for vaccination rates’ will see the 5km rule doubled to 10km and exercise limits raised to three hours. Non-essential construction sites will also be allowed to re-open.
Having completely abandoned his Covid-Zero eradication policy, Daniel Andrews has found himself copying New South Wales by using vaccination rates as a marker for restrictions, rather than positive cases.
Meanwhile, Daniel Andrews will have to put up with headlines accusing him of kneeling to Gladys Berejiklian after he kicked up such a fuss over her handling of the situation in Sydney.