The Rise Of The Bureaucrats

ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE SPECTATOR AUSTRALIA MAGAZINE

Victorians seem to have accepted the need for their extended Covid lockdown, which has been the longest and harshest anywhere in the developed world. A Roy Morgan poll conducted by SMS across 8-9 September found continuing majority support for the curfew and movement restrictions. Premier Daniel Andrews enjoys a 70 per cent approval rating. Leaked internal polls from the opposition and leadership rumours last week have so far amounted to nothing. Overall, the government has enjoyed remarkable support.

Yet with a growing mental health crisis and an economic depression, you might have thought that the lockdown would be more controversial – especially given that this disaster is largely a product of the Victorian government’s incompetence, with 99 per cent of second-wave Covid cases being traceable to the quarantine hotels that it so badly mismanaged.

The support cannot simply be attributed to the high stakes involved. The virus is no more deadly to Victorians than to anyone else and the outbreak seen in Victoria is less severe than some that have been seen in comparable jurisdictions. Importantly, the costs of the lockdown can also be denominated in the loss of life and health, with evidence mounting that people are deferring healthcare and mental health issues are spiking. As noted by a group of more than 500 medical experts in an open letter to the government, other jurisdictions have assessed the trade-off differently and chosen different measures.

Moreover, governments around the country, including the federal government, enjoy high approval ratings in respect of the pandemic, regardless of the measures they have taken. So it is not just a Victorian phenomenon. There is something else going on.

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