Well they say twenty-four hours is a long time in politics. In Melbourne it feels like someone has slipped something hallucinogenic into your soy latte and you have entered a parallel universe. But when you come around you discover you weren’t hallucinating – it really did happen.
A beautiful winter Sunday afternoon was ruined by our hapless (or is that hopeless?) state Premier announcing in his gravest tones that Lockdown 2.0 and mandatory face nappies just aren’t doing the trick. We are all being very naughty and not doing as we’re told and so the ‘State of Emergency’ is being upgraded to a ‘State of Disaster’. This involves a near total shutdown of non-essential businesses, an 8pm-5am curfew, no travel further than 5km from your home and you’re only allowed out for one hour of exercise per day. Schools are closed, weddings banned and numbers at funerals are limited. Welcome to Lockdown 3.0.
Within minutes of the announcement, queues were forming outside supermarkets and by the end of the day the shelves had been stripped of fruit, veg and fresh meat by panic buying locusts. They obviously stopped listening to Kim Jong Dan’s doom-mongering before he got to the bit where he said supermarkets would remain open.
There are quite a few changes following the introduction of the ‘State of Disaster’ which should worry anyone who values their liberty. It is initially for the longest allowable period of one month, but the Government can extend it for another month if they deem it necessary. The Police Minister has taken over from the Chief Health Officer as the person responsible for managing the crisis and can suspend Acts of Parliament and legislative instruments as he sees fit. The Police can now be designated ‘Authorised Officers’ (which they have been pushing for since March) which means they can enter any premises without an invitation or warrant. They will adopt a zero tolerance approach to handing out fines so if you’re caught too far from home it’s an automatic $1,652 fine. Or more, obviously.
Apparently, the Vicstapo handed out $250k worth of fines within the first 24 hours of the new measures being introduced. This is much easier than hiding in bushes with speed cameras – you just fine anyone out after dark.
Meanwhile, infectious disease experts are accusing the state Government of not being transparent about the Covid data. What a surprise! They do have a history of withholding information going back quite a way. If I was being cynical I might think they had something to hide. Quite hard to fathom why Kim Jong Dan is running around like Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army, given that the total number of Covid deaths in the whole of Australia is 247.
There have now been a whole raft of rules set out concerning what businesses will be allowed to open/operate. ‘Essential’ workers are going to need a permit to be allowed to travel to and from work and the Police will be stopping people regularly to check their paperwork. They estimate 250,000 people are going to be told to stay at home because of this.
The Premier even managed to have some fun slipping in a vague reference to an even more draconian Lockdown 4.0 just to terrify that tiny segment of the Melbourne population that haven’t already soiled their mattresses.
Maybe in six weeks time Kim Jong Dan will come to his senses and end this nightmare. I won’t be holding my breath.