Okay, it’s not a race. Let’s call it a competition for the toughest confinement
Maybe they should just rename the New South Wales Prime Minister’s morning COVID press conference to the 11 o’clock Follies.
It would be a historic nod to the daily briefings of the American military war in Saigon during the Vietnam War, which so frustrated the assembled media that they dubbed them the Five Crazy Five. They were even rekindled during the Iraq war as the Four O’Clock Follies.
The term is now synonymous with discredited government officials trying to control the narrative or make a more favorable story with half-truths and carefully selected facts.
Now, no one is suggesting that Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian or her ministers or poor government officials are deliberately misleading the media, not when they are working so hard to deal with a major health crisis that causes unprecedented challenges.
But the embattled Berejikliano is certainly beginning to damage credibility after five weeks of warnings, pleas, statistics, speeches and political rhetoric that have not had much of an impact on the growing crisis.
Remember, it was only this time last week that the desperate prime minister opened Friday’s press conference declaring that we are facing a “national emergency,” whatever that means.
Unlike his Victorian counterpart, the decisive and divisive Dan Andrews, beleaguered Berejiklian, he simply lacks a cut through. Until yesterday, that is, when, finally, some of his words provoked a strong reaction throughout the country.
“We have more severe restrictions than any other state,” Berejiklian said, once again defending his painful progress in slowly tightening the lockdown restrictions.
For the thousands of stunned listeners who thought she was badmouthing or bad listening, she repeated it a few more times for effect.
It had an immediate effect. Widespread outrage when social media crashed, with many calling her a liar. The choir could be heard in states that had suffered blockades, including South Australia and Victoria.
Melbourne writer Jill Stark tweeted: “Gladys: ‘We have more severe restrictions than any other state has had.’ Far away, this is delusional. You can still go to Bunnings, play golf, go to a garden center, have various strangers roam your house in an open place for inspection. Stop trying to rewrite history. “
Incredulous Victorians, who still remember their four-month lockdown in stage four as one of the toughest in the world, point out that Sydney didn’t even impose a curfew. There are also no restrictions on how long they can exercise (and they don’t have to wear a mask while doing it).
And when Berejiklian finally agrees to bring in the troops, a week after he said he didn’t need them, we must remember that Victoria has been there, she has, too.
Sure, there are some rules about movement that are a bit stricter, but they only apply in the eight local government areas in western Sydney and not the entire city, let alone the entire state, as was the case. of Victoria.
The main argument is that New South Wales’ decision to completely shut down the construction industry for two weeks went beyond the reduction that Victoria enacted.
The only problem is that only the day before Berejiklian lifted that ban and construction works outside the affected areas will somehow reopen starting tomorrow.
It seems rude to criticize Berejiklian’s performance as he’s obviously doing his best during an intense crisis compounded by, as he constantly reminds us, Delta’s virulent new strain.
Nor does the virulent strain of political undermining that it must endure does not help.
There is his terrible deputy John Barilaro, who has a concert most days at the Follies, but this week’s award goes to the Treasurer, and the man who would be the prime minister, Dominic Perrottet.
He made a rare cameo in Follies in a blatant attempt to claim credit for his role in increasing JobSeeker payments for NSW.
And this of the man who only a few weeks before had been arguing “by force” even against extending the confinement, sources leaked to The australian.
(Probably the same sources close to the Treasurer who, in an obvious dig on the childless Berejiklian, said he had a better understanding of the impact of the confinement because he had six children.)
Perrottet’s self-promotion on Tuesday was even more transparent given that it appeared before the prime minister even made the formal announcement.
When asked during his press if Perrottet was “right in claiming responsibility for today’s announcements,” the prime minister replied: “Who cares who takes responsibility for the merit of this? Who wants to take credit for this payment? “Don’t miss out, okay. I’m happy we’re getting paid to people. That’s what I’m focused on. Who cares who gets the credit. I don’t, I really don’t.”
But the Berejiklian Follies have accomplished an astonishing feat: they have remade the image of Dan Andrews among conservatives in New South Wales.
This is the new chorus: I know I criticized damn Dan Andrews last year during the lockdown and I really don’t like his politics, but watching his press conferences compared to Gladys’s, I’ve completely changed my mind. We could use a bit of dictator Dan.
This show won’t be closing anytime soon.