What is unforgivable about the Victorian shut down policies is that they are working

The indefatigable freedom fighters crusading to liberate the shut-down in Victoria are quite right. The restrictions are stultifying, draconian, totalitarian. They are intolerable in a democracy, an affront to Australia as we know it.

Credit – Unsplash

And what is absolutely unforgivable is that they are working. The second wave of COVID has been dramatically flattened, infections are regularly down to less than 20 and the running fortnightly average is below 30. It is too soon to declare victory, but we can certainly report very good progress.

But wait, there’s worse. The really bad news, as faithfully recorded in The Australian, is that the national daily’s pride and joy, Newspoll, tells us that the deeply loathed premier, Daniel Andrews, is not only successful but popular. And indeed he is becoming more so; between July and August the percentage that said he was doing a good job of managing the virus rose from 56 to 62.

But how can that be? Surely he is Dictator Dan, Chairman Dan, the totalitarian president of the communist state of Danistan. The readers of the Oz have been bombarded with this news for weeks. Andrews is surely the most hated man in Australia, if not the planet.

Except that obviously he isn’t; he is liked and respected by almost two thirds of the populace. The paper’s ”informed Australians”, as they like to describe themselves in the masthead, are in a humiliating minority.

And the same applies in Queensland, where Annastacia Palaszczuk is moving determinedly towards the AFL grand final and the subsequent state election. The Murdoch media and Scott Morrison’s government have been piling on to her to demand earlier and more comprehensive open borders, but she has held firm and the voters agree with her.

Despite the faith of its devisers and publishers, Newspoll is not infallible. But its errors are generally marginal. It is highly unlikely to be wrong by more than 10 per cent. And for various reasons it pays particular attention to the sunshine state. So Labor must be encouraged by the result.

But not entirely confident. The premier is not unpopular, but she is not embraced either. And there are many contested issues beyond the pandemic; many, if not most punters are far from locked in.

But if Palaszczuk has problems, look at her opposition. The unhappy union between the Nats and the Libs has seldom been more fraught.

Even if the ongoing leadership tussles can be resolved, or at least papered over, the ongoing feud has been stoked by the retirement of the long-standing federal member for Groom, Tom McVeigh.

McVeigh has been around forever; he has been a minister, and although his career has been less than stellar, it has not been gaffe or scandal prone in the manner of so many of his colleagues. And his seat is safe; the by-election will be a formality.

But the pre-selection that precedes it will not. McVeigh identifies as a Nat, but the two partners in the Queensland are already at war over the impending spoils. More divisions, more acrimony. And so, perhaps, more Labor in power.

As Morrison likes to say, it is all about outcomes. Governments that deliver usually get rewarded. And thankfully, idiot propagandists sometimes don’t.

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Mungo MacCallum is a veteran political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy.

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