43/52: A disconnect from the people
Ours is a city of two tales right now - one of progress and achievement and the other of locked doors and public enquiries. Melbourne has never been through anything like the last 7 months and it's without doubt, the re-election chances for Daniel Andrews are thinning.
I live in Brunswick and there's a lot going on here at the moment - well at least in the rail corridor. We're getting a sky rail on the Upfield line and it's all construction, construction, construction - 24/7. This is the result of a Government that prioritised level crossing removal works as a major pledge to Melbourne's residents at the last two elections (from 50 to 75 crossings), and it's a policy that has been very successful. The flow-on effect has been tremendous, keeping thousands of construction workers and consultants employed, relief to traffic congestion and an increase in open space and community facilities. Well done Dan, a great policy.
As I stopped today and looked up at the construction works though, another image came into sharp focus. There was Jacinda Ardern, a portrait of the famous hug she gave a community member after the Christchurch massacre. Prime Minister Ardern was re-elected to form her second NZ Government in a landslide result over the weekend. Her policies may have been sound but the thing that shines through is her authenticity and ability to connect with the people. In the words of Helen Clark, New Zealand’s prime minister from 1999 to 2008, Ardern is a natural and empathetic communicator who doesn’t preach at people, but instead signals that she’s “standing with them”.
Since Stage 4 lockdown began, the people of Victoria have been 100% committed to the task of stopping the spread of Covid-19. We're proud of what we've achieved, however, the unknown toll of mental health casualties, the crippling damage to small business and the manner upon which this Government has handled the mistakes has fostered a sense of distrust in the community.
While some great policies and excellent leadership in times of crisis have brought a lot of good to Victoria, I think the disconnect from the Victorian people may be the undoing of this Government.