Deadly disease as twitter war

Cartoon of two towers one with 'team Gladys' and the NSW logo on it, and the other with 'team Dan' and the logo of Victoria

Being on twitter at the moment is somewhat disheartening. Perhaps it is a fitting way to finish the bin fire of a year we have had.

The issue of COVID, instead of being a public health issue that we should all be concerned as Australians, has become a twitter shit fight on state/party lines. we have Gladys Berejiklian supporters on one side and Dan Andrews on the other.

What about Dan?

I am a Victorian and I support a Labor Government. I will vote ALP at the next state elections whoever leads it. However there are some issues that needs to be clarified.

Dan is not the Messiah

I support Dan Andrews. But the way some on twitter on the #IStandWithDan is bordering on the messianic and frankly for a Dan supporter like me quite embarrassing. No doubt he got a rough deal from the media, especially from News Ltd. But Dan Andrews is an experienced politician and he was very able to handle the criticism and the questions at his daily media conferences.

And he’s no angel and can be ruthless. No one who has become the leader of the Victorian ALP is a shrinking violet. You can see how he handled Jenny Mikakos at the Quarantine Inquiry. We all admired how he fronted up to the media for more than 100 days. But that was also a very well devised ploy to be seen as in command and also to control the message. It was brilliant and seems to have worked.

Two things are evident. The government was at fault and it has now corrected its failings

Despite the #IStandWithDan ers trying to somehow skirt around the issue it cannot be denied that the second wave was due to the Victorian government unpreparedness and lack of management.

Dr. Norman Swan irked some in NSW when it said that the state was ‘lucky’. What NSW was lucky is that it never had a premier like Jeff Kennett that slashed public services savagely during his term. While NSW kept its public health regional and close to its population, Victoria’s was highly centralised and poorly resourced.

For me the quarantine failure wasn’t the main issue. The main issue was the lack of quick and efficient tracing. And as a social democrat, that believes in the role of governments in making life better for society and the disadvantaged, it pains me that a centre left progressive government didn’t look after public health which should be a fundamental issue for them, probably because they were fearful of being not seen as ‘responsible’ with money and stay in surplus.

It seems that Victoria has now rapidly upgraded its tracing and seems to be up to speed with other states. Let’s hope this is the case and it will never need to be tested.

Overall I have to say that while the COVID outbreak and subsequent second wave was a big failure, Dan Andrews and his government handled the situation brilliantly managing to bring it totally under control.

Fueling the NSW vs Victoria Gladys vs Dan from people that should know better

The Gladys vs Dan thing shows how the political discourse has become polarised and seeing ‘both sides’ of the story or nuances disappear.

The process is like this. Some commentator/journalist either tweets or write an article that is very complementary of Berejiklian and either openly or by implication it compares how well she handled the pandemic unlike others (ie Victoria). (examples below)

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This pisses off Dan Andrews supporters, but often instead of taking the commentators to task, start attacking Berejiklian or worse almost hoping that NSW experiences a second wave.

Who would wish an increase of a potentially lethal disease that has a high probability of causing lifelong health issues just to score political points? It’s sick.

Of course this pisses off people in NSW who then make disparaging comments about Dan Andrews and Victoria and the vicious circle starts again.

That’s the downside of twitter. Elsworth is an openly supporter of the Liberal Party. So that is her position. Hildebrand is and advocate of the Australian equivalent of Blue Labour and while he states he is in the ALP camp hates anything ‘socialist’ or ‘woke’ and by implication the ‘lefty woke’ Victorian ALP government.

Twitters get sucked in this rabbit hole and tend to lose any equilibrium. We can support Dan Andrews and also say that he stuffed up on quarantine and the tracing. We can say that NSW public health was better equipped in dealing with outbreaks and so far Berejiklian did a good job without supporting her political party and her ideas . Just because a Liberal supporting journalist or a right wing Labor supporter say things doesn’t mean we need to take a black or white position.

As an example, expressing the opinion that Dan Andrews was acting politically in highlighting in his media conferences that the number of deaths in private Aged care facilities was attributable to the Federal Government control of them (and perfectly reasonable as Andrews was really under the pump then) my ‘Dan Andrews’ supporting credentials were questioned and I was even called and LNP supporter!

Don’t treat twitter as a reflection of what’s out there

As the second wave in Victoria hit I needed to get off Twitter. But I could not stay away too long as Twitter has lots of positive stuff. I get latest news, opinions from interesting people, and of course it gives me information about soccer that I never get from the mainstream media. But I have learned that it can be a pit of anger, frustration and blind bias.

The mistake is that many (and some like reputable journalists that should know better) see it as a reflection of real life, but it’s not. Hardly anyone from my friends or family is on it. I bet that if I go to a supermarket and asked how many use twitter assiduously I would get very few positive answers.

So don’t worry about the Hildebrands or the Elsworths out there. They are expressing an opinion and are probably negative to elicit responses, it’s after all their jobs.

There is a world out there.

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