Leave a woman to clean up the mess

posted in: Life and things | 0

Well, well. Dictator Dan (aka Chairman Dan), autocratic premier of Victoria, has decided precipitously to leave the job, presumably to ‘spend more time with his family’. He told the world on Tuesday and checked out at COB Wednesday. That’s usually weasel words for having been sacked, although he wasn’t escorted to the door. In this case it appears that he’s leaving at a time of his own choosing.

Dan Andrews leaves behind a financial mess and a string of mismanaged projects. The Victorian Government has lost its AAA credit rating and Victoria’s June 2022 debt is larger than the combined total of NSW, Queensland and Tasmania in both nominal terms and as a share of gross state product. [source] One of his first actions when he came to power was cancel the East-West motorway, resulting in compensation to the contractor of $1.2billion. Its handling of the covid crisis, with its extensive lockdowns and draconian behaviour towards citizens remains a standout – and not in a good way. The offer of army personnel to perform covid quarantine security was refused, opting instead for third rate security firms, which apparently led to hundreds of deaths. Then Andrews signed up the state for Beijing’s belt and road scheme until the Federal Government overruled it. And on and on. The latest debacle came when he pulled Victoria out of hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2026. Once again, the Victorian taxpayer will be forking out millions in compensation and a host of Victorian country towns who had been promised some of the Games action will be disappointed.

Regardless, his grip on power was unchallenged, not least because there was no effective opposition. There still isn’t. So, why is he leaving?

Perhaps he’s a bit like Alan Joyce who left Qantas a little early, or Jacinda Ardern, former Prime Minister of New Zealand. They’re all leaving somebody else to clean up the mess.

And, as often happens in Australian politics, it’s usually a woman.

Back in the early 90s popular Victorian Labor Premier, John Cain, stepped down after a series of debacles left the state in serious financial debt. Joan Kirner, a competent politician, was elected to take his place. She was on a hiding to nothing and, despite her being more popular than opposition leader Jeff Kennet, the Liberals swept into office in 1992.

The same thing happened in Western Australia in about the same time frame. Peter Dowding took over from Brian Burke in the wake of the ‘WA Inc’ scandal which cost the state government hundreds of millions. Dowding was forced to resign in 1990 when Carmen Lawrence took over. Despite being an extremely competent woman, she was ousted at the next election in 1993.

It’s a similar scenario with Qantas, too. Joyce’s replacement is Vanessa Hudson. For now, she’s trying to sort out the mess but I don’t like her chances. She was part of everything that went wrong.

It seems to be the pattern in the boys club. If you’re making a mess, get some woman to try to sort it out. If she can’t, at least none of the boys have blotted their copy books and they can have another go in a few years’ time.

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