Politics Opinion

Wren's week: Victoria makes strong progress in battle against COVID-19

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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has appeared at daily press conferences for months (image via YouTube)

We Victorians are resilient people. Yes, we have challenges in Victoria, but we are surmounting them. Our active COVID-19 cases are well below 300 and falling daily.

It is clear the policies put in place by the Andrews’ State Government are working. Working so well in fact that many other nations are taking note and following many of the Victorian initiatives.

As the State Government’s approach garners more and more success, the attacks on Andrews have been more frenzied. Clearly, his political enemies are desperate for him to fail. Such a failure, of course, would mean more dead Victorians.

It implies that the toxic Victorian Liberals and their media cabal surrogates would rather see us fail than let Andrews have his victory. But what they don’t seem to understand is that the victory does not belong to Daniel Andrews. It belongs to all Victorians.

It is they who have put in the hard yards, working from home, homeschooling their kids, making financial sacrifices, staying at home, forgoing their social and sporting activities. We have all made sacrifices.

The impending victory (we aren’t there yet) will be all of ours. As such an attack on Andrews is an attack on all Victorians.

Andrews’ daily press conferences have been a revelation, not just of him as a genuine, driven and compassionate leader, but of the media and the way it operates. I doubt Andrews set out initially to expose the media in this way, but as the weeks have passed, I’m sure he has realised he has the power to let them destroy themselves in full public view. He kept feeding out the rope and laughingly let the media record and broadcast its own failings live to hundreds of thousands of viewers daily.

The assaults on Daniel Andrews have been largely led by the Murdoch media of course, although Nine Entertainment has also played their part. It reached a crescendo late last week with the resignation of now-former State Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

The media and the State Opposition rejoiced at her departure, claiming a “political win”. They were out of touch with public sentiment. The reality of the situation was that Mikakos was a hard-working, honest and liked minister with 20 plus years of political experience.

She was, like all governments around the world, thrown into a rapidly evolving complex situation that nobody had experience dealing with. Decisions were made quickly and bypassed the normal channels. Most rational Victorians know this and cut Mikakos a fair bit of slack.

They also knew from the nonsensical antics of the Opposition Health Spokesperson, Georgie Crozier, that they dodged a bullet having Mikakos in place rather than her. Those crowing about her departure were quickly condemned.

The reality of politics is that Mikakos had a fundamental disagreement with Andrews and that disagreement made it untenable for her to remain in cabinet, so she resigned her position. She was not sacked.

It must be noted that the NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, was found accountable for the Ruby Princess debacle and he has still not resigned or been sacked.

Different standards obviously apply to Liberal and Labor state governments.

Andrews’ daily press conferences routinely get hundreds of thousands of viewers, not just in Victoria but nationwide. They are screened live both on the ABC, Sky News and online. They go out unfiltered, unedited by the media.

This means that Andrews can control the message. He is on point every day, entirely focused on his task. Australians have seen him act and behave as a leader, never once has he run away as another Australian political leader is often seen to do. This is at its heart why Victorians are backing Andrews despite the Rupert Murdoch, Peter Costello, Kerry Stokes media cabal throwing everything they have at him.

What the public has also seen though is how the media pack behaves. This is something that most Australians never see. There is an old newspaper adage that if the reporter becomes the story, that story and often their career is finished.

Australians have watched appalled as journalists meander through long statements that might not even end in a rational question, or we have seen them ask questions so inane all they do is waste everybody’s time.

Australians have now realised that the journalists they once thought had the public’s interests at heart clearly do not. Andrews has had patience. He lets the journalists ramble, listening very carefully to what they have to say before answering.

Australians have been rightly shocked and many have now rallied behind the cry of “this is not journalism”, along with the ubiquitous social media hashtag of the same phrase. This behaviour reached a crescendo this week when Murdoch employee Rachel Baxendale, one of the more outspoken Victorian media pack, asked Andrews a long meandering question that including clear inaccuracies about the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry findings (which haven’t been announced yet).

Andrews called her out on it very publicly. 

But to add insult to injury, Baxendale then issued a statement that included a transcript of the discussion in which she had added additional points in brackets.

In other words, she had altered the transcript in her favour and then published it as though it was fact, despite it being easily refuted by anyone who watched a recording of the exchange. She could have simply apologised and allowed the faux-pas to be forgotten about. She became the story.

To their horror, Australians then saw a number of other senior journalists and the usual cohort of Victorian Liberal MPs leap on to Baxendale’s falsified transcript and defend her as though she had done nothing wrong.

The ABC’s Ali Moore publicly apologised for doing this and corrected her statement of support for Baxendale. So far, she is the only journalist to show that level of integrity.

It seems that Andrews is not just well on the way to defeating COVID-19, he’s well on the way to defeating the Murdochistas as well. Both couldn't come soon enough.

You can sign the petition to have John Wren reinstated on Twitter here.

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