Politics Editorial

Gladys Berejiklian and Dan Andrews: Spot the difference

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

In a recent ABC piece, Insiders host David Speers opined that, while the details may differ, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews were somehow facing similar crises of confidence.

You could say that premise is essentially true, in the same way as you might say Nixon and Gandi were both leaders who faced crises, but that’s where any comparisons surely cease.

Yet here, in the land where Rupert rules, the case of the NSW Premier being implicated in the corrupt dealings of her “close personal friend”, former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, is continually likened to the Victorian Premier, who has successfully steered his state through a health crisis.

Wrote Speers:

‘Berejiklian is defending her integrity. Andrews is defending his competence.’

As a Victorian, this editor feels qualified to opine that the majority of Victorians are both relieved and grateful for Premier Daniel Andrews’ leadership and competence during this pandemic crisis. This fact has even been reflected in Newspoll surveys. Of course, no one wants to be in lockdown. And, of course, we have our share of "Karens" and "Jims", ranting continually about the unfairness of a premier wanting to keep us safe against our democratic right to fulfil our suicidal urges.

However, to use a comparison that actually illustrates something, on July 30, France had 1,377 new COVID cases to Victoria’s 723. On October 20, France recorded 20,468 new cases while Victoria had only one. Andrews’ safeguarding of the health of Victorians is a monumental success. He has managed this while simultaneously facing a hostile mainstream media on a daily basis (weekends included) for months on end, as well as a rabid Liberal Party Opposition anti-Dan campaign led by head crusader, Tim Smith MP.

And yet, Andrews' success has not been celebrated by many in the media; it is presented, instead, as a failure to lead.

The bizarre and disgraceful treatment of the Victorian Premier by a large sector of the media, however, has been nothing short of inspired. It has ranged from calling him names like “Dictator Dan”, criticising his every move for being both too autocratic and not dictatorial enough, impersonating journalists in order to repeat the same banal questions (in the case of Peta Credlin) and even inciting people to defy lockdown laws.

Sunrise's Sam Armytage defended a business owner who flouted lockdown laws, saying:

 "...Can I say to you, good on you for doing this?

I can't believe the people of Melbourne haven't been doing this sooner. You are the person that we all need, you are hard-working, you are honest. We wish you all the best...

Particularly if you get fined or threatened with gaol, we will do our best to support you."

Now that we are enjoying the gradual easing of restrictions, Victorians are said to be suffering “Stockholm Syndrome” —rendering us all feebleminded and unable to make competent decisions. Rather like Gladys Berejiklian, really.

Unfortunately, for Gladys, the State of NSW and women everywhere, the NSW Premier has decided that a good old-fashioned 1950s-style helpless female defence would best suit her image.

Shown looking variously sad and forlorn, and sporting an assortment of suitably feminine outfits ranging from casual to business-like yet still girlish, Gladys is doing her best to ditch her hard “koala killer” persona. The image makeover from hard-nosed politician to lovesick victim is an insult to women everywhere. Nonetheless, it has been given the celebrity treatment in every Murdoch rag and associated talk show from the Daily Telegraph to Karl Sandilands and a few of the saner outlets, as well.

So far, then, Gladys’ campaign seems to have worked. Not in lending Berejiklian – or self-respecting women anywhere – any credibility, obviously, but in detracting from the actual issue: the one of corruption in public office.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, Sally Rugg encapsulated the absurdity of this premise:

“Let's for a moment accept what Premier Berejiklian is apparently asking us to believe: that women's emotions will rule their heads. How was she expected to comprehend her boyfriend's wheeling and dealing?

Should we call into question, then, every decision the Premier made while Maguire was in the room because her delicate lady-brain was overwhelmed?”

For, let’s face it, most of us don’t give a toss (or shouldn’t) about Berejiklian’s love life, or lack of it. But we should be deeply disturbed about whether she is involved in corrupt dealings — corrupt dealings which have now not only implicated Gladys but the source of her so-called “gold standard” premier award: Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Berejiklian’s special friend Daryl Maguire allegedly abused his public office while serving as a State MP alongside her.

When the PM was Immigration Minister – and to whom Maguire may have made representations for visas – Maguire allegedly received thousands in exchange for visas on behalf of Chinese nationals. And Maguire is also implicated in the questionable $30 million Leppington airport deal. He has described his activities as “monetising” his ministerial position.

How much did Berejiklian know of Maguire’s sordid deals? Did she assist Maguire? 

At best, the NSW Premier turned a blind eye to her boyfriend’s corruption. At worst, she was complicit. Either way, she is incompetent.

What we know so far, is that Maguire has said Berejiklian did know. He said he discussed deals with her and that she attended meetings with his business associates. On phone recordings presented at the ICAC hearing, Berejiklian is heard congratulating Maguire for at least one dubious business transaction, about which she was clearly aware. And it was Berejiklian who sacked Maguire over corruption allegations. 

If Berejiklian was aware, then she was clearly complicit in criminal activity. If she was sufficiently blinded by her love for a scoundrel, by whom she claims to feel "used”, so as to be unaware of his underhanded activity, then she is clearly unfit to govern. Really, it matters not whether Berejiklian knew or not because either way, she needs to go.

Berejiklian and Andrews are both State Premiers who have faced crises and there the similarity ends. 

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @VMP9Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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