If you detest Dan Andrews and want him gone, stop reading now. What follows will not please you.
As a citizen of Victoria I am incensed by the continual attacks on our premier. It’s not surprising that the State Opposition leader, the hapless Michael O’Brien, attacks Andrews in his usual censorious manner. But why are so many others targeting Andrews, who tries so earnestly, day after day, to do his best for us, the people of Victoria? Notwithstanding the mistakes he concedes he has made, who could doubt his sincerity, his earnestness, his diligence and his devotion to his job?
His attackers resemble a lynch mob, determined to string him up. Who are they?
I’m referring to people who work in the media. Journalists, news editors of print and electronic outlets, proprietors, and the moguls who control the media; you know who they are.
To get the anti-Andrews drift, you have only to read the newspaper headlines, watch the top stories on TV, or listen to the comments of the political elite.
But for a daily dose of political aggression and arrogance, listen to Andrews’ daily briefings on COVID-19. Without fail, he turns up to update us and to answer questions. He stays at the lectern until those present have exhausted their questions. It is not the number of questions that are directed to him that best characterise lynch mob behaviour; it is the tone of them, the arrogance they portray.
Many of his interrogators seem angry with him, keen to trip him up, eager to embarrass him, hell bent on making him uncomfortable. His calm, measured responses annoy them, so they up the ante with more assertive questions that cast doubts about the veracity of his answers. Words such as ‘surely’, ‘wouldn’t you agree’, ‘you must admit’ embellish their questions. Those who lead the lynch mob ask the same questions over and again, Now they are asking: ”Will you now resign?”
Every time he offers them the same answer.
Those of you who have chooks will be familiar with the ‘pecked chook’ syndrome, where one chook is set upon by the others, who will peck it to death unless it is separated from them. They attack the head of the hapless chook until it bleeds. The blood evokes more frenzied pecking, and so on it goes until the poor animal is dead. The lynch mob displays such behaviour.
The same mob is there day after day. Andrews knows them by name. Watch them. Listen to their words. Observe the tone of their questions. Note their persistence with the same line of questioning. You can’t miss the pleasure they display as they peck away, hoping they can upstage their colleagues by drawing the first blood.
One inquisitor appears every day to lead the mob. Her questions are always acerbic, aggressive and accusatory.
Andrews often points out that his inquisitors have asked the same question time and again, and that his answer is the same. Clearly, he becomes frustrated, tired of the repetitive questions. But he patiently stays at the lectern until they run dry. And returns the next day for another round. His patience seems to have no bounds.
Recently, he has wisely exposed some of his team to the questioning ordeal. It has taken some heat off him, but has not tempered the questions.
Never willing to miss an opportunity, Morrison government ministers wait in the wings ready to take peck at him. Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenberg, and now Alan Tudge, acting immigration minister, have relished being a proxy for PM Morrison, who has chosen to keep his nose clean by hiding in the background. In the past few days, they have chosen to provoke Andrews by enabling arrivals in Victoria without notice. These people have simply appeared without proper documentation and some have on-travelled elsewhere, leaving Andrews astonished and angry. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that they were trying deliberately to provoke him.
Perhaps though, what has annoyed the lynch mob most is that Andrews’ strategy for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria has worked. The number of cases has been falling steadily. This past weekend, record low figures were achieved. As a result, restrictions have been eased, as promised, with more to come next weekend.
Whatever he does though, it will never be right, never enough for his detractors.
The painful reality for the lynch mob though is that Andrews has stared them down, and they don’t like it.
This daily inquisition is demeaning, unnecessary, unbecoming, and a pox on our politics. It must now stop.