The Victorian government has continued to deflect the blame for its current lockdown, scapegoating South Australia and the federal government for the lockdown’s impacts on Victorians.
Since Victoria’s seven-day lockdown was announced on 27 May, Acting Premier James Merlino has missed no opportunity to remind the public that the COVID-19 outbreak unfolding in Melbourne began in South Australian hotel quarantine.
Meanwhile, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has repeatedly criticised the federal government for the lack of economic support afforded to Victorians during the snap lockdown.
The constant message conveyed by the state government is that the lockdown ‘isn’t Victoria’s fault’. It’s almost correct, but not quite. The outbreak may not be the Victorian government’s fault, but the lockdown was a choice. Supporters and opponents of the government may debate whether it was a good choice or a bad choice, but it was, undeniably, a choice. Larger outbreaks than this one have been managed without such severe restrictions. Victoria wasn’t forced to do anything.
In the absence on JobKeeper, the lockdown has hurt businesses and workers. The state government has been keen to pin the blame on the federal government, but if federal aid was so desperately needed, why did Victoria not secure it before announcing the lockdown? It almost appears as though the matter was not even considered until after the lockdown had come into effect.
If the Victorian government simply assumed that JobKeeper would make a comeback, it had not been paying attention. JobKeeper was not available during recent snap lockdowns in Brisbane and Perth after the scheme came to an end on 28 March.
On the third day of the seven-day lockdown, the Victorian government finally announced that it would provide financial support to affected businesses. Why it didn’t have a plan from the very beginning is still unclear.
This has been the theme of Victoria’s entire COVID-19 response. It has often been so hasty to act that it fails to properly plan for the impacts of its actions.
From its initial hotel quarantine system, to its detention of public housing residents, to its New Year’s Eve closure of the border to New South Wales, Victoria has consistently lacked the organisation and rationality possessed by every other state government. It continues to execute poorly planned responses, with no thought given to potential ramifications until after they arise.