The Towering Incompetence of Premier Dan

Victorians sometimes joke that to understand our state, one must look to Australian Rules football.  I’d like to be able to disprove this claim; but in recent weeks the parallels between troubles at a leading football club and difficulties experienced by the government in containing COVID-19 have been so similar it is uncanny.

To explain.  A former professional football player recently made a complaint against a respected football club, which has set an investigation underway.  The player alleges he had to endure racist language and behaviour for years.  Other players nicknamed him ‘Chimp’, making intermittent offensive remarks about monkeys.  It wouldn’t stop.

Footy players are not chosen for their brains.  Some have been known to do stupid things when off the sports field.  That is where club managers are meant to step in, keeping wayward players in hand, stopping questionable behaviour.  It ought to be common sense to the management team that you halt racism among any players.  But this elementary level of practical supervision allegedly didn’t occur; for years on end, too.

Likewise for the Andrews government’s handling of COVID-19.  A disturbing, and dangerous, lack of basic supervision by health department managers has latterly emerged.

Take the quarantine of people travelling from interstate or overseas.  They are put up in hotels at government expense, and must stay in their designated rooms until cleared.  To ensure this occurs and they do not mix with others, security guards are in those hotels.

Of course, this was much as how Australia handled incoming travellers in previous centuries, although back then people were put in the government’s quarantine station.  That facility prevented dangerous epidemics from overseas getting into the Australian population.  So the hotel rooms are an updated version of a proven and very effective health strategy.

But at one hotel the security guards haven’t done their jobs correctly.  People in quarantine were allowed to leave their assigned rooms and use the hotel’s facilities, wandering in corridors and common areas, going out on the street to smoke cigarettes.  Even mandatory ‘social distancing’ was flouted, those in quarantine mixing with hotel staff and the guards.  So instead of containing COVID 19, hotel quarantine has spread the virus to staff and, via them, the community.

It’s been said in the security guards’ defense that they weren’t given clear instructions on their duties.  That may be the case, but the media has been saturated with information on how people are meant to behave in public and the workplace to prevent COVID-19 infection.  Do the guards not watch TV, listen to the radio, read newspapers, use social media or the internet?

The central problem here is that the hotel, its staff and the guards were not supervised. Health officials did not keep a check on them.  Again, common sense is lacking.

Likewise for worrying problems with government social housing.  Several thousand people live in a cluster of government high-rise flats.  Physical space in them is tight, common corridors are narrow, residents share a couple of small elevators.

Now you would think health officials had made arrangements to ensure residents can safely use common areas and elevators in these government high-rises.  Not so.  Again, the Health Department hasn’t put any sort of practical supervision in place.

Then there is Melbourne’s public transport system.  I have two friends living in Europe.  Both tell me how in their cities wearing protective face masks on public transport is mandatory to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This has been the case in their cities since March.

You would think the same precautions would be applied to Melbourne’s public transport system.  Common sense again.  But our health department has done nothing—until this week, when  Premier Daniel Andrews finally announced this basic quarantine practice is being introduced here.  I’d call that ‘shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.’

A last point.  In late April we had a furore in the news media because the deputy health officer for the entire state of Victoria posted a tweet denigrating Captain Cook.  People got agitated about the gist of her remarks.  But that was beside the point.

If you checked her controversial Twitter, it was posted at 10.16am on a Wednesday morning, when this senior public official was presumed to be busy managing the state’s COVID-19 crisis. The official line was that it had been posted on her day off, but like so mmany of the Andrews government’s pronouncements and policies, you have to wonder if there was any truth in that defence. Whatever her roster, like Nero fiddling as Rome burned, she was dabbling with social media, posting personal notes on Twitter.  Can we be surprised there are problems with how our health department is supervising the quarantine?

A regular contributor, Christopher Heathcote endures life in Melbourne

8 thoughts on “The Towering Incompetence of Premier Dan

  • jonliem2349 says:

    Dictator Dan…

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Quarantining international arrivals in hotels is not good practice. There will always be slippage in infection control if people move outside their rooms, as they must at times just for air in airless hotel rooms, plus for other allowed reasons such exercise. The people in the public housing tower high rises can at least open their windows, something arriving travelers put in five star hotels often lack, as these hotels have only airconditioning which may or may not have good filter controls for a now indubitably airborne virus. We did a very satisfactory home quarantine in March/April this year, never once stepping outside the front door for two weeks as we had terraces for exercise and good airflow windows inside. Many people could do that comfortably and stress-free at home, and be subject to some form of surveillance, electronic if necessary. Better for everyone and much cheaper for governments too. The dreaded ‘tell all’ app (revamped fit for purpose) might even prove itself useful there in keeping track of the movements of quarantined individuals, as it is pretty useless for everything else.

    For as long as quarantine from international travelers is deemed necessary and where home quarantine is not suitable, due to others in the dwelling etc,, then apartment hotels with self-contained cooking and laundry facilities, and with windows, would provide a better alternative. Or army camps. Britain used some nurses quarters. It seems no-one has seriously sat down and drawn up a list of options for each of our capital cities and worked out how to supervise and manage the occupants of each type.

  • pgang says:

    Elizabeth we’ve become so stultified by red tape in Australia that you can’t set up camps like that anymore, or in fact do anything (unless it’s corrupt). The approvals process would make it impossible to achieve anything inside of many months, or at all. Good ideas and good sense are a thing of the past.
    It’s going to cost me $2500 just in compliance to set up a small pool in my backyard, thanks to state and local government red tape – all of it totally pointless. That’s about 15% of the total project cost. Even then, who knows how much bureaucratic agony I’m about to bring upon myself for such an insignificant undertaking. Ten years ago I could have done it without any approvals required at all; so much for the Liberal’s war on red tape.
    Our civilisation is dying, disappearing up its own backside.
    As for covid 19 infections, who gives a **it.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    One thing that really gets up my nose is the cavalier way the State governments have been demanding and, even worse, receiving assistance from the ADF whenever their own authorities have proved inadequate in dealing with what are, in most if not all recent cases, entirely foreseeable situations. The use of ADF personnel and equipment in natural disasters is fine, provided that their use is limited to logistics and provision of specialist services for which they are trained. But their use in Victoria and elsewhere in what are effectively police roles is just one small step away from martial law and, as such, should not be tolerated let alone encouraged.
    Imagine the furore if a civilian were to be injured in a confrontation with a member of the ADF no matter what the circumstances. Imagine the furore if military personnel employed to augment police in crowd control were to be attacked and injured by civilians.
    The implications are potentially horrific.
    Back in the day, there were Regulations under the various Acts covering the three Services that provided for, and governed, the use of the the forces in what was called “aid to the civil power”. Those Regulations envisaged assistance to government authorities dealing with riots and other unlawful insurrection. The Lindt siege in Sydney led to a lot of Internet chatter among some gungho warriors and wannabes who believed (without much consideration of the implications) that Army snipers should have been called in from the outset.
    Fortunately, although the case was badly mishandled, wiser heads prevailed and the police carried out their duty without outside assistance.
    But there is something seriously wrong when state governments believe that they can call on the ADF to augment their inadequate police and fire services.
    It will end in tears.

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    Re football, disappointed that the hghly-pad AFL players shot trough to safe spaces in other States. Maybe better if they used role model theory by staying in Victoria and impressing on the young that Covid is real and serious. The more I think about it, the more I see of lawyer tactics, where effort is put into finding loophoeles for AFL in the lockdown guidelines, then exploiting them. Maybe it takes a disaster to show a society how shallow it has become. Those with the least essential jbs have been among the first and loudest to scream for more of other peoples’ money.

  • Winston Smith says:

    Lizzie Beare:
    “It seems no-one has seriously sat down and drawn up a list of options for each of our capital cities and worked out how to supervise and manage the occupants of each type.”
    We have a flu season every year, and Not One Health Department Has an Effective Plan to Deal With It.
    This is incompetence at the highest level and has cost the nation billions in lost production and lives – <30 deaths from the Wuhan Zombie Virus, but nearly 300 suicides in the same time frame.
    Not one bureaucrat has lost their job.

  • pgang says:

    This from a guy called Tim Knox at Spiked. Tim ‘recently co-authored a report for Civitas on the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.’
    ‘It is easy to forget, when reading or watching mainstream coverage, that the great majority of deaths have been people aged over 75. Interestingly, at the moment in the UK, our overall death rate (for all causes – not just coronavirus) is actually lower than that which would be expected at this time. This can only mean one thing: a large number of those who died during the peak of the crisis actually just happened to accelerate their deaths by a few weeks.’

  • talldad says:

    I note that the article does not mention the other instance of incompetence: the failure to test quarantined travellers at the end of their 2-week isolation period to determine if they are free of the virus and thus not a risk to the community (any longer).

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