“Today Melbourne, once the world’s most liveable city, is a shadow of its past glory. Our city remains largely empty, thousands of small businesses have been destroyed, our famed restaurants, events, arts and music culture all but obliterated.”
Sounds apocalyptic, and nothing like the city we see every day.
Through lawyers, Mr Lucas “vehemently” denied there were underpayments and said workers had been repaid in full – a claim disputed by a number of staff members interviewed by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Chris went on to sook further:
He complained about media reporting of underpayments in the restaurant industry, said the employment law was too “complex”, and it was “almost impossible for even the most professional organisation to be totally compliant”
If Chris doesn’t think ANY hospitality organisation – even the most professional! – can be expected to manage complex tasks like er, paying their staff properly, surely he’d cut governments a bit of slack as they try to manage a pandemic that’s ripped through the entire planet.
Apparently not though. Either Chris is an idiot or operating in bad faith.
And indeed, as the meme has it, why not both?
Time to zip it, Chris.
Victorians are by and large positive community minded people who are getting on with life in what is hopefully the closing stages of a brutal pandemic.
Your continual bleating and doing down is not only ugly and annoying, but deeply hypocritical.
It is the most divisive day on the calendar, so what happens to Australia Day in an independent Victoria?
Warm late January in Victoria, summer enough to still sustain full beach days.
But the sun drops orange in the western sky a few minutes earlier every afternoon, ancient laws of time and space immutable.
What the independent country of Victoria used to call Australia Day.
A day commemorating an amphibious assault by Royal Marines on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation in 1788.
When the Royal Marines, most effective fighting force on the planet of their time, had made the initial beach head secure, other urgent business could begin.
These tasks took days to complete.
Convicts were unloaded at gunpoint from their floating prisons. These people ranged from serious violent criminals to the desperate human refuse of Britain’s rapidly changing economy.
There were dozens and dozens of women, many transported for little more than being poor and female.
They had been abused on the prison ships, and the rapes continued as their feet touched the dry soil of Gadigal Country.
The naval officers removed themselves from the depraved scene to conduct official business.
The standard they walked past would be accepted in what came to be called Australia for hundreds of years.
Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the expedition, quite correctly recognised the immense military potential of the vast and glittering harbour the Gadigal had lived beside for eternity.
So in the late afternoon of that Saturday, Phillip claimed possession of the land in the name of the British Crown.
Naval laws of rum and the lash formed the administrative underpinning of the British presence until on February 7 1788, the Colony of New South Wales was declared.
It was not a Crown colony like Nova Scotia, but a Penal Colony.
It would not become a Crown colony until 11 August 1824.
These differences matter.
On January 26 we commemorate the formation of the Penal Colony of New South Wales.
No mention of Australia.
Let alone Victoria.
The first few years after Victorian independence Australia Day felt weird.
In the lead up to the referendum, when it became clear the pro-independence forces were gaining momentum, there was a push from Canberra to celebrate federation with greater pomp and ceremony.
But who wants a big party on January 1?
When people were already nursing sore heads the idea of parades and military brass bands was not wildly popular.
And for … federation?
The thing everybody could see dying before their eyes?
Of course some Victorians still celebrated Australia Day.
Especially those who voted NO in the referendum.
Nobody bothered them, and YES voters by and large came to the family barbeque or pub session in good humour.
But because it wasn’t a public holiday in Victoria anymore, the tenor of the whole day changed.
Australia Day just stopped being A Thing in Victoria.
The last Saturday in October, the day of the vote that decided a state would became a nation, that was Victoria’s day.
But pubs would do Australia Day specials, bar staff in retro Australian one day cricket tops.
Kind of like they did for the Superbowl.
Or St Patrick’s Day.
And we still shared solemn occasions with our Australian cousins.
Like ANZAC Day, when three nations; Australia, New Zealand and Victoria remember the sacrifices made in the murder gullies of the Dardanelles, the bodies of our youth sucked beneath the mud at Ypres.
Just because Victoria had chosen a future outside Australia, we hadn’t forgotten what we did together.
It was still a very difficult day for the First Nations people in Victoria.
Gadigal people had been the first on the continent to experience what British colonisation entailed but the men on horseback hunting clans through long grass, cornering them at the creeks later given names like Skeleton or Massacre, they came to the place later called Victoria too.
On Gunditjmara Country in the south west, the Henty Brothers made genocide a family affair.
But prior to independence, the Victorian Parliament had agreed a legally binding Treaty with the First Nations People’s Assembly.
This provided an innovative legal underpinning for the independence referendum.
Independent Victoria’s legal power rested in the sovereignty of the First Nations people of the land that the political construct governed.
This meant that when the demos at the Australian embassy got rowdy on January 26, Victorian police in attendance acted sensitively, with cultural awareness and restraint.
The Victorian Prime Minister of course attends Australia Day ceremonies in Australia.
She chooses her words carefully when she gives her speeches affirming the friendship and alliance between Victoria and Australia.
The Australian Prime Minister never quite knows what to say when he’s in Melbourne on that last Saturday in October for our day.
He always manages to either annoy us, or his electorate back home.
Victoria doesn’t mind.
We don’t actually take our big day in October that seriously.
Now in Victoria January 26 is simply another day, there’s 364 just like it in a year.
So to Glasgow, once the second city of the British Empire and more recently the heartland of Scottish independence.
In the 2014 independence referendum, when Scotland as a whole voted 55 to 45 against independence, 53.4 per cent of Glaswegians wanted to leave the United Kingdom.
Recently re-elected Scottish National Party (SNP) First Minister Nicole Sturgeon is a Weegie to her core.
She wants a forward looking, green and smart – and obviously independent – Scotland and she’s going to use the COP26 climate summit as the perfect vehicle to show the world just why the Scots belong on the international stage.
Into this forward looking city, amid the world’s leaders, trudges the body of Scott Morrison and the spirit of Barnaby Joyce.
Morrison famously brought a lump of coal into parliament and Joyce is on record as saying he doesn’t care about climate change and what happens in 30 years.
These are the men – along with another pale stale male from NSW in Angus Taylor – representing Australia, and thus Victoria, at the most important international summit since Yalta.
Thing is, Victoria is already grappling with the real world implications of climate change and the fundamental reshaping of the arrangements of our lives it imposes.
But that’s not going to happen, because the private companies that own our power system live in the real world and understand that burning coal is going to be made all but illegal via a variety of mechanisms, starting in Glasgow this week.
French giant Engie unilaterally closed the uneconomic and hugely polluting Hazelwood power station in 2017 because it lives in the real world, not the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for NSW’s fantasy land where net zero carbon by 2050 is achieved without cost.
The current Victorian government also lives in the real world, which is why it is paying a bribe to Hong Kong owned Energy Australia to keep the Yallourn power station open – and the lights on in Melbourne – until 2028, once more green energy is online.
The closure of Hazelwood pushed up Victorian electricity prices. Victorian taxes are subsidising Yallourn’s operations for another seven years because it is a failed business proposition.
All coal generated power is a failed business proposition. But because the failed fossil fuel federation that is Australia relies on cosseting voters in NSW and Queensland and pretending they can live in the 1970s forever, Victoria has to pay the costs of climate transition twice.
We’re paying for our own transition away from Latrobe Valley coal. And we have to pay for NSW and Queensland to do similar, maybe, at some point.
If Sydney Santa invents New Carbon Free Technology that is.
And there’s every chance that we’ll be slapped with carbon tariffs after Glasgow anyway thanks to the NSW/Queensland run federal government, which is shaping as the fall guy at COP26.
So where to from here for Victoria?
The Victorian Labor party has invested all its political capital in Daniel Andrews. He remains broadly popular enough to win the November 2022 election but will likely depart the stage soon after his victory.
What then? Political gravity will work its baleful magic and voters will likely decide in 2026 that after 12 years of This Mob, it is time to give the other lot a go.
But The Other Mob are a shambles. Former Shadow Attorney General Tim Smith’s drink driving disgrace sums up the car crash of Victorian Liberal politics almost too perfectly.
Worryingly, many Victorian Liberals have completely disappeared into a bizarre and offensive QAnonesque alternate universe.
These are not people fit for government and their descent into disgusting incoherence explains why the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party hasn’t been relevant at a state level in this millennium nor at the federal level since Malcolm Fraser was PM.
Indeed, so far have the fortunes of the Victorian Liberals fallen that polling by Redbridge shows the jewel in the crown – Kooyong – would fall to the right independent.
Perhaps Josh Frydenberg should spend less time sucking up to his political masters in Sydney by doing down Victoria and more time working his own electorate.
A void is emerging in Victorian politics. People grow weary of one major party but the other isn’t fit to govern.
The protests that have besmirched our streets of late may be small, but for many years Brexit was a fringe belief, and Trump was seen as a novelty candidate, right up until he won the Presidency.
Given the determination of some Victorian politicians and media to fan the flames of hatred, we need to ensure something better occupies the void.
Victorian independence can fill that gap by providing a positive and dynamic political option predicated on building a better Victoria for all Victorians.
But time is not on our side. No matter who wins federal election in 2022 Victorians will get a Prime Minister from and for Sydney.
In the meantime, Victorians will be sending tax dollars much needed for COVID recovery to dusty towns in NSW and Queensland full of people that hate us and who laughed along when Barnaby Joyce sneered he could “smell the burning” in Melbourne.
Staying part of Australia means Victoria loses.
As the world’s attention turns to COP26 we Victorians should indeed look to Glasgow for inspiration.
Not so much on climate issues, despite the seriousness of the matter. We know full well what must be done there and are already taking serious real world action.
Instead, let’s engage with Glasgow as the city that voted YES to Scottish independence in 2014.
The city that will lead Scotland to the international stage in the second independence referendum that will be held in the next few years.
We Victorians should look to Glasgow for inspiration on how to forge a sustainable political future in the 21st century.
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.
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.
Victoria should be independent of Australia. There we said it. Out loud. Victorians would be better off. Better off politically, culturally, economically and most important, socially. * Australia isn’t working anymore. Except for a select few people. We all know this deep down, that sense that things aren’t right. There’s another feeling, an insidious sinking notion, like we’re trapped behind glass, that we can’t do anything about it. Politicians are all crooks, the best you can do is just put your head down and do your best for you and yours. If you’re feeling like that, we get it. Australian politics is completely stuffed. It isn’t fixable. But that state of affairs simply isn’t good enough. We need something new. For us, that’s Victorian independence. * If Victoria was independent, we’d be able to keep the bits of Australia that do work. And improve – or remove – the things that don’t. As people start getting their heads around the idea of Victorian independence, they’ll have questions. What currency would it use? Would Victorians need visas to go to Australia? How would we keep the lights on? What does it mean for my kids? They’re all great questions. We don’t have all the answers. But we reckon you do. That’s what this is all about. Starting a conversation about what an independent Victoria could do. What it – we – would want to do? Who we’d want to be. * We’ll have a crack at a few ideas as we go. We want your views, sledges and takes. Which brings us to – who are “we” exactly? We’re a group of people who think Victoria should be independent. Or at least have a proper, grownup conversation about it. Who can be in it? Anyone. You don’t have to live in Victoria, or be born in Victoria. Just have spent some time here and reckon the place goes alright. And could probably get even better, hard as that is to believe lol. If you want to be in it, you are. There’s no forms or membership fees. Just get down with the penguin. * We chose the penguin as our logo/hero for a few reasons. First, they’re Victorian. And we get that people think they look a bit silly. But that’s fine, because we reckon penguins are great. They’re social beasts that look out for each other. They’re willing to wait out in the cold for a long time to hatch something amazing. And there’s millions and millions of them. Just like us. * So rock the penguin. Wear it out, stick it on your socials. Or just keep it in your head. And have a think about what Victoria could be like. A Victoria standing on its own two feet. Independent Victoria.