The following article from Spectator Australia
On November 22, Daniel Andrews will mark exactly twenty years as a member of the Victorian Parliament. Just four days later, voters will decide if he will get another term as Premier. That’s another four years of Daniel Andrews.
Before analysing the appalling prospect of his re-election, let’s pause to consider what it was that brought Andrews to office as a Member of Parliament way back in 2002?
Could it have been a deeply held commitment to public service? A ‘moral’ conviction to assist those less fortunate than himself? A determination to seek a cosy ‘taxpayer-funded’ public sector role to advance the interests of Labor and unions…? We can only guess.
Remember Andrews pockets around $450,000 per year – way more than any other Premier and not far short of the Prime Minister’s salary. As Premier, Andrews will receive a huge parliamentary pension and other benefits to soften the blow of retirement – when that comes. The public teat keeps on giving.
Had Daniel Andrews not entered the Victorian Parliament in 2002, it’s likely we would never have heard of him. Andrews appeared to revel in the ‘risk-free’ but ‘rough-house’ environment of Labor politics where loyalty was prized more than talent.
The depressing predictability of his two decades as a politician and eight as Premier is a diminished Victoria; a sicker and less educated community; unfinished major projects massively over budget; and a state debt and deficit that stretches further than the eye can see. The ratings agencies have expressed their concern.
What ratings agencies think matters because debt, as a percentage of the total Victorian budget, is already at record levels and set to go higher as interest rates increase. It will take generations to repay.
As far as I can tell, the Labor Party is Andrews’ life. It’s all he’s known. Comprehension beyond the Labor Party and the unions that fund it, seems to sit well outside Andrews’ field of vision. This played out during the darkest days of Victoria’s ‘six’ Covid lockdowns.
At its core, his life has always been about brokering deals inside and outside Labor party structures. He likes nothing more than pushing and shoving his way to advancement while treating party and non-party detractors with disdain and ‘useful others’ with preferment. Andrews thrives on ‘being in charge’.
On November 22 you can be sure, ‘Cath and the kids’ – along with his dwindling circle of political and union mates – will gather to celebrate the ‘great leader’s’ patronage and his unchallenged wisdom. Friendly (read fawning) media will be permitted to record the event so we too can marvel at Andrews’ ‘staying power.’
Just four days later, on November 26, voters will likely – inexplicably – provide him the opportunity to enjoy another four years as an MP and his third term as Premier. While doing so, punters would do well to remember the average tenure for Australian private sector CEOs is three to five years (even less in the USA). Tenures for CEOs who blow their budgets or who fail operationally are shorter.
While Andrews celebrates his extended time in the Parliament – taxpayers will painfully count the cost of Labor’s waste, economic vandalism, broken health system, and the shocking and tragic legacy of Covid mismanagement.
They will count the cost of the Andrews’ media and social media efforts. They’ll reflect on the outrageous $15 million taxpayer handout to Netball Australia just a few days ago and they’ll doubtless consider the questions that Andrews refuses to answer in connection with the four (yes four) investigations being conducted into his government by the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC).
The usually garrulous Andrews becomes decidedly mute when questioned about the multiple serious probes into his government’s activities. IBAC inquiries into so-called Operation Richmond, Operation Sandon, Operation Watts, and the latest into the millions gifted to the Health Services Union by Andrews, Operation Daintree, are all matters on which the Premier – true to form – chooses to remain silent. His silence says all that needs to be said regarding his total disregard for taxpayers and distain for perfectly appropriate questions about his conduct.
Victoria’s outgoing IBAC commissioner, Robert Redlich, has made his views on ’declining integrity’ in the public sector very plain indeed.
As his five-year term draws to a close, Redlich has publicly warned about the decline of integrity in public administration and the ‘sinister creep’ of what he calls ‘grey corruption’. This so-called routine ‘low level’ corruption appears to be on the rise reflecting an ecosystem of tolerance – even acceptance of wrongdoing – across parts of the public sector.
Redlich reserved particular comment on the concentration of power in the Premier’s office – and how the unregulated influence of political advisers is ‘circumventing’ important governance safeguards within public administration. We have previously reported on the number and influence of these individuals.
For more on Robert Redlich’s stark assessments – read his John Barry Memorial Lecture (Melbourne University) titled Governing with Integrity.
This election could, and should, be about public sector honesty and integrity. Both are absent in Spring Street at the very moment voters are desperate for signals of someone – anyone – who might actually care about propriety and probity in public sector decision-making and in the spending of billions of our dollars.
Andrews does not want to discuss integrity, honesty, or good governance. Not now. Not ever.
He wants us to be talking about his election promises, his long-standing support for the nation’s netballers, and of course the loyalty and undying support of ‘Cath and the kids’ as this sad, choreographed campaign continues.
When punters come to cast their votes on or before November 26 – they might consider whether Andrews is likely to address the profound and damaging ‘known and unknown’ shortcomings of his office or of his government.
They might consider whether state debt and deficit will increase or decrease under Andrews and his hapless side-kick Treasurer Pallas.
They might consider honesty and integrity in government and whether the ‘out of date’ Andrews ‘one-man-show’ is worthy of a return to the government benches.
The forces within Labor against change are formidable and not to be underestimated. This simple truth should give all voters a clue as to their required actions on November 26. A day later will be too late.