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 The difference between authoritarian and authoritative

23.05.20. “There is nothing like a crisis to highlight the clear line between a leader who is authoritarian and a leader who is authoritative. The behaviour of two current Labor premiers explains the difference. And one Liberal bulldog is getting the attention he deserves for exposing the authoritarian one. There is a reason why West Australian Labor Premier Mark McGowan has been a standout leader during the crisis. He has been steely but empathetic, collaborative with Canberra but ­parochially protective of his state. He resolutely closed borders with neighbouring states, refused to have a Ruby Princess debacle on his watch, and was early and clear about reopening the economy and schools in a way that put other premiers to shame”

Source: Janet Albrechtsen, News Corp

Danbuster: Smith’s a chip off the old Kennett block

With an election early next year, McGowan will get a terrific boost from the tailwinds of his performance.
At the other end of the spectrum is Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews. This crisis has revealed those in power who enjoy parts of their jobs that they really shouldn’t, from overbearing police and overzealous rangers to the Victorian Premier.
It pays to remember Andrews’ determination to impose even deeper and more severe restrictions on Victorians was only prevented by behind-the-scenes battles within the national cabinet, led by Scott Morrison.
Ever since, the Victorian Premier has reacted in a churlish and authoritarian manner. He revelled in his power to ban golf, telling Victorians that no one “needs” to play golf. “No round of golf is worth someone’s life,” he said. It was nonsensical and weirdly controlling.
Compared with other state leaders, the Victorian Premier has ­offered the people in his state — those who have lost jobs or are stuck in zombie jobs or trying to keep a small business afloat — no glimmer of light until he was shamed into doing so. Even then, he dragged out the announcement — as if it was his last hooray.
Remember, Andrews was even gung-ho about banning partners who live in different houses from seeing each other. “That’s not work, that’s not caregiving, that’s not medical care, that’s not shopping for the things that you need when you need them. And you know, it does not comply with the rules. So people should not do that,” he said.
Has there been a more dis­mayingly cold diktat from a political leader in this country during this crisis? Even though he was overruled by Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer, Brett Sutton, the lasting impression is Andrews enjoys exerting power over people, rather than having empathy for them.
Despite all that, there is a growing cult of Dan Andrews backers in Victoria. Two reasons explain it. First, he is politically canny and brazen. What other state government could oversee, in a matter of months, the perverse prosecution and conviction of an innocent man, George Pell, and the release this week of an ­associate of drug trafficker Tony Mokbel — and avoid a backlash?
Second, the Liberal opposition in Victoria has been too spooked by Andrews to take on his lust for power. Some of their cowardice might be explained by polls that point to Victorians happily submitting to the deeper and longer lockdown imposed by ­Andrews. Certainly, so-called “progressives”, who aren’t very progressive at all, love a chap who gets a kick out of using power and growing the size of government.
Like Andrews, they place wisdom squarely with the state rather than the individual. They don’t mind the Premier’s plan to take Victoria’s debt to $70bn by 2021-22, up from less than $23bn in 2018-19. And as for government controlling all the levers of power? It’s manna from Heaven.
For other Victorians, what’s the alternative? To win the next election, due in November 2022, the opposition, led by Michael O’Brien, will need to do something entirely more courageous than its last election campaign. Maybe take the battle up to ­Andrews? Risk a few bruises rather than playing footsies?
If unchallenged, the Victorian Premier’s cult-like status will soon be on par with Gough Whitlam. And it doesn’t help that the Morrison government seems afraid of Andrews too. The humiliating backdown a few weeks ago by Education Minister Dan Tehan, after calling out Andrews for being beholden to education unions and showing poor leadership on schools reopening, will only embolden the Victorian Premier.
When Victoria’s economy drags down the rest of the country, Andrews won’t be held responsible for the latter. But that shouldn’t stop the Prime Minister prosecuting the case that Andrews is running a government that looks after its Labor mates. The Victorian Premier plans to borrow tens of billions to build things to help out his CFMEU mates. That’s not a slam dunk for the feds, given their own obscene borrowing splurge, but there is plenty of other fertile ground.
Start with the debacle surrounding Cedar Meats, a loyal Labor donor, now responsible for 106 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria. The state Attorney-General is still going it alone on contingency fees in class actions to boost the coffers of class action law firms such as Maurice Blackburn, which donate to Labor. And this week, the Treasurer, Tim Pallas, cosied up to China, repeating its propaganda rather than backing Australia over barley tariffs. Could he have tried any harder to sound like a lackey for China, his comments coinciding with final-stage negotiations between the Andrews government and Beijing over Chinese investments worth billions of dollars.
Against this dispiriting background, one young Liberal MP is getting attention. Alone, Tim Smith has taken the fight up to Andrews and the Labor government. Smith uses Twitter in a Trumpian way to bypass much of Victoria’s left-wing media. On Sunday, Smith ran a Twitter poll asking which label best described Andrews: Chairman Dan or Dictator Dan? The left went feral, forgetting or overlooking that Labor labelled former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett a dictator during the 1999 election campaign. For the record, more people preferred Chairman Dan.
It’s a neat fit with Smith targeting Pallas as a patsy of the Chinese Communist Party.
“Shame on you @timpallas. Your obsequiousness to the Chinese Communist Regime is disgusting. Whilst the Chinese Communist Regime is behaving so repugnantly, the Treasurer of Victoria is trying to suck up to them … how embarrassing for our country,” Smith tweeted.
The member for Kew seems to understand two critical rules of politics. When the other side yells at you, you get noticed. And don’t ignore your base: it’s where the longest-serving leaders lay the foundations for their success.
There is also something liberating in the risk-averse and blancmange world of politics when someone calls a spade a bloody shovel. Responding to his critics, Smith tweeted this: “Can I remind everyone that no one plays politics or the person more aggressively and nastily than Chairman Dan. This is the bloke who went out every day in opposition and accused the Liberals of killing people.”
If Smith secures a bigger public profile than the current Liberal leader, the Victorian Liberal Party may want to reassess its recent strategy of choosing blokes who are very nice but ineffectual: Ted Baillieu, Matthew Guy and now O’Brien.
There’s a whiff of Boris Johnson about Smith too. The 36-year-old is obviously smart, instantly separating him from the loudmouth loose cannons unencumbered by intellectual ballast. But unlike Johnson, Smith’s convictions appear to run deeper. As ­opposition education spokesman, he laid out a blueprint of basic principles for improving education that the whole country should be using.
Smith’s colourful and controversial style recalls another leader much closer to home. He has a bit of Jeff Kennett to him too. Like Smith now, Kennett in the 1980s was seen as too bombastic, too boisterous. Kennett lost the 1985 election after Labor cast him as a bull in the china shop. Controversial to the end, Kennett led the state for seven years, transforming its moribund economy.
Right now, Smith might be a bull in the Liberal Party’s effete china shop. But given the Victorian Liberal Party’s very ordinary record, it may take a calculated risk to unseat Andrews.
There is no obvious burning platform of Labor’s current maladministration that helped catapult Kennett to power. Not yet. But it’s time to plan ahead.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Lorraine 23/05/2020, 8:45 am

    Victoria sure needs the Bull in the China Shop. literally the stink emitted by Daniel Andrews and all of Labor will eventually get up the nose of a few surely. I have watched him on Sky and Tim Smith tells as it is.
    Dan Andrews and the Belt and Road may be his undoing, there are not to many people that like the Chinese at this minute. You got a real whiff I how and when the Federal Government gets cooperation from the States. Daniel fronted first for the money, and will be last to do the right thing.

  • ibbit 23/05/2020, 9:26 am

    Good for Tim Smith – and by extension, Australia. We need more politicians with courage to stand up for their electorates and Australia unlike the weak Dan Tehan who caved in and grovelled like a scared little boy to the reprehensible Andrews. Even if many of his colleague did not support his views as was possible, they should have, just as Tehan should have given Daniels even more of a tongue lashing. Sadly most of our politicians lack conviction about anything other than their own, supposed power and glory and the joy of having their snouts in the trough of taxpayer money.

  • luk1955 23/05/2020, 10:01 am

    This is the first I’ve heard of the Smith bloke. Perhaps because I shun fake social media. Look for the libs to undermine this bloke soon. None of the independent media that I have seen has put up Smith’s name. As for Kennett he could have done a lot more except for the accumulated Labor debt he was up against. Since Kennett there has not been a decent Victorian premier in either party. I don’t expect to see one in the rest of my lifetime .

  • Aktosplatz 23/05/2020, 11:00 am

    Oppositions have one of two choices, either tell it completely as it is about the State of Victoria under Andrews, and probably lose the next election to him.
    The other option is to be ‘Mr Nice Guy’ and try and persuade the electorate that you have the better way. Those sort of people stand for nothing and achieve nothing.

    The first option is the better even though there are losses at first, and in the past, successful politicians often faced impossible odds and eventually won. There are no such people around anymore.

    Andrews studied Economics and Political Science at a Left Wing University and started working for the Labor Party after graduation.

    That’s it – that’s all he has ever done, all his meals have provided by the University Refectory, or the Union Canteen at Labor Party HQ.

    He has never lived a normal working life. His Academic achievements are all bathed in Socialism or Communism. He is a product of that process, and he has no opposition.

  • nev 23/05/2020, 11:10 am

    The other night our small group was musing the recent political situation in Australia when the “what if we got Bill Shorten as PM” scenario came up.
    One of our group is an ex Victorian, her immediate response was “look at what Andrews is doing to Victoria and you can replicate a PM Shorten and Australia”
    By god she is probably right, just imagine!

  • Mustapha Bunn 24/05/2020, 5:17 pm

    I’m not too sure that the Victorian Liberals actually want to win the next Victorian State election after Dodgy Dan and his mates have trashed the economy the way that they are heading.

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