Watching NSW people get out of lockdown today has been truly heart warming. If anyone knows just how much lockdown sucks, it is Victorians.
To the folks of NSW we say: well done.
Victoria will be out of lockdown soon enough too. It is a matter of days from here.
The lockdown phase of the pandemic is well and truly over.
Which means, after taking a few big gulps of fresh freedom air, we need to understand what the hell happened over the last 18 months.
The first and most important lesson is this: Victoria is not part of Australia any more.
We were abandoned by Australia during 2020.
Our Sydney-based political and media class cut us off when we were most vulnerable.
The Prime Minister called a global pandemic the “Victorian wave”. Victoria was mocked and abused. For months. While we were sick and scared.
As 2020 ground into 2021, we saw just how differently we were perceived and treated by those who run the country.
Sydney’s lockdown over Christmas came after a hotel quarantine breach, but the vicious attacks on its government and the character of its citizens were oddly absent.
It was like being in a different country.
Further lockdowns in Victoria in early 2021 caused by quarantine failures elsewhere in the nation met a Federal government reluctant to provide individuals and businesses with financial support.
Hypocritical drunken adulterer Barnaby Joyce then told us just how much the Federal Government hates Victorians.
“We look at Melbourne and go you can almost smell the burning flesh from here,” the now Deputy Prime Minister sneered of lockdowns in Victoria.
There’s been a fair bit of Victoria v NSW argy-bargy on social media, and lesser journalists such as James “My Mom Says I’m Cool” Morrow and Unlucky Phil Coorey haven’t been afraid to take sides.
But this was one of the most senior politicians in the country. A man who had been, and is now on occasion again, Acting Prime Minister.
The lesson here is clear.
Not only is Victoria a differently country, and treated accordingly, but the people who run the nation we’re legally part of hate us.
They really hate us.
To borrow Maya Angelou’s famous line, when someone like Barnaby Joyce shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
Then came the disaster of Delta in Sydney. There’s no point relitigating whether NSW should have locked down faster or harder.
They were decisions for June, made by an ex-Premier who’s decision making skills will soon be publicly examined by the ICAC.
Delta spread across Sydney, then NSW, then Victoria and all the way to New Zealand.
The end result was further proof that Victoria is not part of Australia. This was demonstrated when Scott Morrison, a man so deeply from and of Sydney’s distinct culture he’s earned the sobriquet “Prime Minister for NSW”, sprung into action.
Suddenly the full force of of the Commonwealth of Australia was deployed to pulling New South Wales out of lockdown. Vaccines were sourced from around the world, a sense of stunning urgency super-charged the rollout across Sydney.
Which was great. That’s what should have happened. Dollars couldn’t flow quick enough from Canberra coffers to NSW and there was massive re-direction of vaccine to New South Welsh arms.
The difference in attitude from Kirribilli was telling. When Victoria was sick it was our fault. Any financial assistance was conditional and begrudging.
Back when it seemed serious COVID outbreaks were limited to Victoria because of NSW’s legendary … wait for it … wait … here it comes … GOLD STANDARD contact tracing … sourcing vaccines wasn’t a race according to the passenger on Shark One.
If Victorians got sick and died in large numbers, that was suitable punishment for their daring to elect a government of a different stripe to that preferred in Sydney.
NSW is different though.
The nation had to sacrifice money and vaccine to make sure NSW pulled through as fast as possible.
NSW had to be saved.
This brutal calculus makes perfect sense though.
It is no secret that the Prime Minister for NSW believes his path to victory in the next election runs through … NSW.
He’s right. There’s a culturally aligned population bubble in NSW and Queensland that decides elections.
It has done so since 2013 and the dynamic is not changing any time soon.
Due to a wide range of historical, economic and political forces, rugby league is very popular in NSW and Queensland. Outside those states, the football code invented in Victoria prevails.
But the population of NSW and Queensland is large enough to support a substantial professional rugby league competition (NRL) and attract big TV audiences.
That’s why the “quality” the leaders of both major Australian parties advertise hardest is their support for an NRL team.
Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese understand that to win an election in Australia, you need to look like the kind of bloke you’d want to have a beer with while watching the State of Origin.
Elections are won and lost in NSW and Queensland.
Victoria doesn’t count.
Indeed, bashing Victoria gains you votes in that election winning population bubble.
That’s why Barnaby Joyce – who has represented both Queensland as a Senator and a NSW seat in the House of Representatives – made his unforgivably vile comments.
The politics of the Federation of Australia actively rewards attacking and marginalising Victoria.
So the lockdown stage of the COVID-19 pandemic is now over.
What’s next and what does it mean for Victoria?
The idea of NSW as the Gold Standard that leads the nation in spite of whinging incompetent Victoria is firmly established among the incestuous mediocrity that is the nation’s Sydney-based newsrooms.
That worldview frames the daily media cycle the major parties vie desperately to win. Victorians can get used to that, especially the New South Wales Broadcasting Corporation.
And just because the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to end, the “good old days” of December 2019 are most certainly not coming back.
With the climate heating rapidly and natural disasters intensifying accordingly, we will see the same pattern of behaviour from our Sydney political and media elite.
Just as COVID outbreaks in NSW warranted a very different response to COVID outbreaks in Victoria, so bushfires will burn more intensely in the seats in NSW needed to win government than they do in the Dandenongs or along the Great Ocean Road.
Heatwaves killing hundreds in their homes in western Sydney or Queensland peri-urban areas will warrant immediate federal support.
Die of the same heat in Melbourne’s outer sprawl, or in the disadvantaged suburbs of towns like Mildura or Shepparton and it will be a Victorian government issue. Bank on it.
Victorian taxes will pay for coal miners in Queensland to have a “just transition” away from fossil fuels, while Victorian auto industry workers were happily thrown on the scrapheap by those same Queensland voters.
Victoria has a choice.
Either we stay part of, paying well over the odds, a federation that is structurally biased against us, and led by people who hate us, or we leave.
Things will not get better.
There will be no “Prime Minister for Victoria” splashing money south of the Murray ahead of NSW or Queensland.
The path to power doesn’t run through Preston, the Peninsula or Patchewollock.
Indeed, such is the distorted nature of this failed federation that members of parliament elected in Victoria join their NSW and Queensland colleagues in attacking their own constituents in order to curry favour with the Sydney-based leadership.
This is it now.
They treat us like scum and they laugh at us while they’re doing it.
The only question is how long we decide to put up with it.
So NSW folks, enjoy your freedom today.
Get the monorail from Five Dock to Pennant Hills for a big feed at Rashays or whatever it is you do up there.
Order a mountain of potato scallops at the Rooty Hill RSL.
We’ll leave you to those distinct pleasures.
Victoria has bigger and better things to do now.