Prior to 2020 I was an extremely proud Victorian. But what I’ve come to realise is that our human rights in Victoria are being limited or bypassed at the hands of the Dan Andrews’ State Government and are no longer adequately protected. It was also disappointing to discover from the results of our recent State election that a substantial percentage of our voting population seems to be content to accept that fate for the right price. That is, as long as they were still getting their salary or a decent welfare handout from the government.

The CFMEU protests in late 2021 made Victoria’s political landscape abundantly clear: the Dan Andrews’ Labor government with its heavy-handed police force, overpaid union boss and his “colleagues”, and their allies in the Liberal Party, joined forces against the people. In the end we saw unarmed protesters shot by Victoria Police with rubber bullets.

Although IBAC inquiry after IBAC inquiry digs up “grey corruption”, Dan’s “I can’t recall” line deflects any responsibility. $7.7million of taxpayers’ money was squandered defending the Andrews government’s disastrous decision to have night club bouncers run hotel quarantine. $5million plus residents’ legal fees will be paid to public housing residents in Flemington after the Victorian Ombudsman found the State government breached their human rights by detaining them without the support of health advice, and residents claim they were threatened with physical harm if they tried to leave.

The Premiers’ personal life is not void of colourful scandals either, including his “wife’s” collision with a teenage bike rider and the more recent falling down the steps saga. Dan’s track record is far worse than across the border in NSW where you lose your job over a bottle of wine, yet he remains untouchable. 

Transparency, integrity and accountability would be a good place to start.

Andrews has shamelessly run our State into an alarming level of debt. There is a serious mental health crisis caused by his response to Covid, and our current cost of living pain is real. Despite this, entertaining drag queens while they read books to children in Parliament seems to be his priority.

What are the remedies to all this? Transparency, integrity and accountability would be a good place to start. My suggestions to improve our current situation are as follow:

Caroline White interviewed by independent journalist, Rukshan Fernando
  1. A Royal Commission
    Any government found to breach citizen’s human rights by the Victorian Ombudsman or in the Supreme Court should automatically trigger a Royal Commission. A Royal Commission into the Andrews government and its response to Covid is essential.
  2. A Bill of Rights
    We need our human rights entrenched in our constitution, to protect the values of Australia that I once knew including freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of speech.
  3. Strengthening IBAC
    As recommended by former Court of Appeal judge Stephen Charles KC, IBAC should adopt the broader international definition of corruption, “the abuse of trusted powers for personal or political gain”. As with ICAC (NSW’s equivalent), it is in the public interest for IBAC hearings to be made public and for it to publicise findings of corruption.
  4. Full Transparency
    Taxpayer money should not be used to oppose Freedom of Information requests. Meeting notes, documents, emails and information used in support of important decisions having a major impact on our lives should be made publicly available.
  5. Cut the Victorian Government’s political staff by 75%
    Andrews’ staff doubled from March 2020 to March 2021, costing taxpayers $49.2 million. The number of bureaucrats on $350,000 plus has increased by 142% since 2019. Ideally, his expanded public service should also be cut while we’re at it – the bigger the government, the bigger the problem.
  6. Repeal Victoria’s political donation laws
    As an independent candidate at our most recent State election, I experienced firsthand the effect of the dodgy donation laws that saw the regime maintain an uneven playing field, winning government with just 36.6% of the vote. Any registered political party or independent candidate should be able to receive unlimited donations. Currently MPs receive more than $20m in public funding to cover administrative costs plus a communication budget. This money should be excluded from funding any expenses related to political campaigns.
  7. Stop public funding for the Government’s political polling and consultants, and social media
    If Andrews wants to make decisions based on popularity or to buy fake followers to stroke his ego, he should pay for it himself.
  8. No banning media
    Our media was hamstrung during Covid. If you didn’t ask favourable questions at Andrews’ press conferences, you weren’t allowed back. Despite my values of freedom of choice, when it comes to taxpayers’ money and journalism, all media should be allowed at any political press conferences. They work for us and shouldn’t need to ban certain press if they have nothing to hide.

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