As I write this, coronavirus isolation measures are being eased in almost every state and territory in Australia. But in Victoria, Daniel Andrews is refusing to budge on his lockdown, citing ‘expert evidence’.
And now, with a single tweet, we know exactly the kind of ‘expert’ Andrews is listening to, and it explains a lot.
Dr Annaliese van Diemen, Victoria’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, took to Twitter on Thursday to offer a bizarre comparison of Captain Cook’s voyage to the coronavirus. ‘Sudden arrival of an invader from another land, decimating populations, creating terror,’ van Diemen wrote. ‘Forces the population to make enormous sacrifices and completely change how they live in order to survive. COVID19 or Cook 1770?’
Tellingly, both Daniel Andrews and his health minister Jenny Mikakos were quick to back van Diemen, with Mikakos firing off a tweet of her own to say that the Deputy CMO was ‘doing an outstanding job’, and that criticism of her was ‘irrelevant’.
Well, no, Minister – it is highly relevant. Van Diemen’s tweet was not about some unrelated leftist curiosity. This is a woman upon whose ‘expert advice’ Victoria’s response to the coronavirus is based. The fact that van Diemen is capable of such a mean-spirited, historically inaccurate and irredeemably tone-deaf outburst raises serious questions about her character and judgment.
To add insult to injury, van Diemen’s generous public sector salary is paid by us, by free citizens of the very country for which she has such obvious disdain. (Predictably, in an earlier tweet, van Diemen muses about what a racist nation we are.)
Not only that, but under the regulations made under Victoria’s Orwellian Public Health and Wellbeing Act, public health officers like van Diemen are acting as the executive government imposing petty restrictions on mainstream Victorians. Van Diemen is not just an adviser -– she has the same power (perhaps more power) than a police officer or a judge.
As it happens, Van Diemen is a prolific tweeter, giving us an insight into the political motivations with which she discharges her public duty. Her Twitter feed is a horror show -– the musings of a Big Public Health busybody from central casting. There is no nanny state hobby horse that van Diemen has not enthusiastically leapt on – from jacking up the price of alcohol to banning advertisements encouraging ‘naughty’ behaviours. For van Diemen and her ilk, public health means interfering with our private choices.
These are the people who have given us Victorians the most extreme, punitive and downright illogical lockdown regime in Australia.
These are the people who decided that, for God knows what reason, jogging solo is okay, but fishing solo is not.
These are the people who decided that golf needed to be banned in Victoria, despite the fact that every other state in Australia decided that it was okay.
These are the people who have encouraged Daniel Andrews to unleash the police force on law-abiding Victorians taking their children for driving lessons or relaxing in the park.
These are the people who decided that Victoria should be the only state in Australia in which schools should remain closed, forcing Victorian parents to moonlight as teachers while struggling to hold down their jobs as it is.
These are the people who get to roll out of bed and rake in their lucrative six-figure salaries over Zoom while ordinary Victorians stand in line for hours outside Centrelink.
And these are the people who sanctimoniously respond to every legitimate concern about the decimation of our livelihoods and the trashing of our liberties with a glib and insulting refrain that people harbouring such concerns ‘don’t care about human life’.
People like Annaliese van Diemen do not appear to be earnest public servants concerned about public safety. They are taxpayer-funded bullies, hell-bent on micro-managing the minutiae of human behaviour. And under the pretext of the coronavirus, Daniel Andrews has given them a blank cheque.
Andrews must stop listening to the Annaliese van Diemens of the world, adopt a bit of common sense and join every single other state and territory in Australia and start easing the petty restrictions that are making Victorians miserable.
If he does not, then in two and a half years’ time, he will get the electoral shellacking he deserves. We will not forget.