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Writing on the wall?

By David Southwell - posted Tuesday, 12 October 2021

The splurge on politically oriented public servants, more public servants generally, paying them more and the construction extravaganza was already weighing on the state before Covid.

Victoria was in structural deficit despite money freely flowing into state government coffers from a general construction boom.

The last state Budget stated that Victoria is $61 billion in debt, which is higher than NSW, and has liabilities growing twice as fast as its neighbour across the Murray.


Two international credit ratings agencies have downgraded Victoria, giving the state Australia's worst government rating.

The parliamentary inquiry into track-and-trace noted that, unlike NSW, Victoria's "highly centralised healthcare system did not have the means to deal with regional cases effectively".

Andrews, as demonstrated by the DHHS conglomeration, is a committed centraliser perhaps out of ideology but also it would seem his excessive need for control.

In a feature on who "really runs" Victoria, The Age reported: "Former and current ministers and some MPs, all speaking on condition of anonymity to preserve their positions, say decision-making in the Andrews Government is largely confined to an inner circle of ministers and political advisers."

This centralisation suits public servants who don't want to work in the regions and measure their importance and status by the scale of administrative fiefdoms.

These are the people who vote Labor and whose unions will protest any attempts at "neoliberal efficiency" – ie the ridiculous idea that the government serves the people rather than the people serving government.


Victoria's underpinning assumption of who serves who justifies the rationale that so as not to "overwhelm" the health system the whole state must be shut down. Curfews have also been imposed to make policing easier.

The DHHS proved such an unwieldy monster during Covid, often with its different limbs moving independently and even against each other, that it has been split up.

During its,briefly interupted, two-decade hold on power, Labor has staffed government agencies, including watchdogs, with loyalists.

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About the Author

David Southwell is a writer and editor living in Melbourne.

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