Governments Are Failing Us
A number of Australian governments are failing the public through incompetence or corruption. The South Australian government has lost three ministers and the president of the Legislative Council. The Victorian government is experiencing record levels of Covid19 with reports that people are waiting nine days to get COVID test results. The Morrison government is responsible for aged care homes that have 525 active cases and have recorded large numbers of deaths.
So far the problems with the virus and the economy have obscured the failings of governments.
On Sunday three ministers in South Australia resigned because they had been caught out fuddling their travel allowance claims. Sometime prior to this the president of the Legislative Council, Terry Stephens, resigned for the same reason.
Two of these former ministers look to be in deep trouble. Former agriculture minister Tim Whetstone and former transport minister Stephen Knoll claimed living allowance for being in Adelaide, away from their electorates in regional South Australia, for days when they also claimed allowances for interstate or overseas travel. These matters are currently being investigated by ICAC.
As SA opposition leader, Peter Malinauskas has pointed out, the premier, Steven Marshall, should have sacked these ministers as soon as he was aware of the situation. Instead, he allowed them to try and obfuscate, by claiming they were confused by a ruling by the Remuneration Tribunal. The matter lingered on until the ABC revealed the double-dipping and the ministers eventually resigned. Even then, Mr Whetstone was allowed to amend his false claims and put in different dates in order to reduce his liability to repay wrongly claimed allowances. In normal circumstances, not only the ministers but the premier himself would be under pressure to resign.
The combination of these egregious actions with claims for travel allowances when no or little expense was incurred and the use of a ministerial car to ferry members around while the minister to whom it was allocated, was overseas, gives rise to the inference that the Marshall government is more interested in getting its snout in the trough than public service.
At the same time, the Andrews government seems mired in incompetence. Victorians are waiting up to 7 days to get their test results in some regional areas. If they then test positive they have to spend another 14 days in quarantine. It is no wonder that people connected to workplace clusters are not getting tested if they have no symptoms. They go back to work and spread the disease.
Colac is an example of this. Sky News reporter Andrew Clennell did an investigation of what was happening there.
"The local Liberal state MP in the Colac region is Richard Riordan, he told me yesterday that people are waiting six to seven days to be identified as close contact and the same amount of time for test results,” Mr Clennell said. “Ultimately the community has had to take the matter into their own hands. With the local abattoir identifying a case, the federal government got involved deploying the private sector for testing workers from there even before the state health department got involved last week.”
There are now calls for the federal government to take over testing in Victoria but Scott Morrison is adamant that the Commonwealth’s role is to support the states.
The Commonwealth seems to have finally realised that it is responsible for aged care. There are currently 525 active coronavirus cases spread across 38 Victorian aged care facilities.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said 260 aged care residents were infected with the virus, while 265 staff members were confirmed to have COVID-19.
The Morrison government has now decided to set up a dedicated response unit to deal with the outbreak in Victoria, although it is notable that they have left GP’s out of the planning and the response unit. This means that they will be dealing with people with multiple health problems without access to their medical records.
If many more old people die, the public will lose trust in the Morrison government.