Watching life ebb from the premiership of Gladys Berejiklian requires a strong stomach because it is a most terrible experience, rather like seeing someone running out of breath.
After keeping a daily record of the scandals raining down on her political career, the question keeps surfacing: “Why does she do it? Why hang around while copping more pain, ridicule and treachery?”
In State Parliament, MPs say that Premier Berejiklian is a “glutton for punishment”. While others tread with caution, Ms Berejiklian charges ahead regardless of the media, the Opposition or the public.
“A Glutton for Punishment” is defined in the dictionary as “a person who is eager to get involved with a situation that has unpleasant results”. The definition captures the essence of Ms Berejiklian’s fast ‘n’ furious career as Transport Minister, Treasurer and Premier.
She appears to know only one way – her way – and its tactic is head down and charge! Opinion polls come and go, but she says she doesn’t look at them or take any notice.
This week’s headlines poured more grief on the embattled Premier. Tuesday’s media (9 March, 2021) reported: “Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] data shows that by mid-February the number of people in their 20s holding a job was down 2.5% since the start of the pandemic. The next worst-hit age group were teenagers, down by 0.9%.”
On the same front-page, this article appeared: “NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says he cannot explain why state insurer, icare, paid a labour hire firm $235 million, including to lease and fit out premium Sydney Harbour office space. Mr Perrottet told Budget estimates yesterday he did not know why icare paid Comensura Pty Ltd up to $134 million including leasing costs, plus a further $101 million in separate labour hire charges. The total bill to Comensura makes icare the fifth biggest user of labour hire by the State Government.”
For the record, Treasurer Perrottet, a trained economist, is the minister in charge of icare, and he wants to be next Premier.
There was more grim news for taxpayers on Page 3: “More than 10,000 over-sized vehicles have escaped penalty despite illegally avoiding the new $3 billion NorthConnex tunnel in Sydney’s north-west because Transport for NSW has not issued fines.
“Trucks and buses longer than 12.5 metres or higher than 2.8 metres must use the tunnel or pay a $194 fine, but an indefinite amnesty whereby warnings are issued instead of fines means the State Government has foregone $2 million in revenue since the road opened in October .”
For the record, Transport Minister is Andrew Constance, a former public relations consultant, who also wants to be the next Premier.
There was morbidity about the other “planted” news. Writing from a briefing paper, one reporter said: “The State Government has stopped construction of the only new cemetery approved for Sydney despite its own crisis report warning the lack of burial space is much worse than previously thought.
“NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey asked the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust to put work on hold at Macarthur Memorial Park, near Campbelltown, until the Government responded to the report.
“The report, ‘The 11th hour: Solving Sydney’s cemeteries crisis’, recommends consolidating the five existing cemeteries trusts, one Catholic and four government, into a single Crown trust to place the sector on a ‘sustainable basis’.”
The list of the NSW Premier’s pitfalls and pratfalls would be even greater if it weren’t for the media’s blanket coverage of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s crass and insensitive handling of allegations that Attorney-General Christian Porter had raped a debating team member 33 years ago.
In spite of Morrison’s seizure of the headlines, the NSW Premier continues to attract volumes of degrading publicity. Every day she attempts to “re-set the agenda” but then becomes embroiled in a fresh scandal. Deputy Premier and NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro was planning his future career in Canberra earlier this week but yesterday decided to stay in Sydney. The Game of Drones continues …
The result is that governing NSW is paralysed. Decisions are either delayed or not carried out.
The exit door is wide open and she has been called “dead woman walking”, the dreaded penal expression which characterises prisoners on death row.
What do I think? Ms Berejiklian has done her dash as premier. In the words of legendary Sydney race caller Ken Howard it is “London to a brick on” that she will go in March.
The notion behind Ken Howard’s colourful expression is that the punter is so confident of winning the bet that he or she is willing to put all of London on the nag to win one brick.
These are very short odds indeed.