IN politics they call it a ‘wedge’ issue.
There’s so little to distinguish between the parties these days, as they seek to neutralise the middle ground, that they try to find issues, often peripheral to politics, that might trip up their opposition in the popularity stakes.
The new ‘Grand Final Friday’ public holiday is one such issue.
The Premier Daniel Andrews went out so hard over the weekend with claims about the day’s success that it’s unlikely, regardless of the massive impact on business, that he will now admit he was wrong and drop it.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy called it “a joke” when it was foreshadowed in April this year and was just as scathing on the weekend saying suburban and country shopping centres were deserted, while lamenting the hit to 250,000 casual workers who simply didn’t get paid.
A spud packer from Mirboo North, who would have worked last Friday, bears this out. He told us he was simply given the day off by his employer, i.e. no income for the day.
But Mr Andrews continued to trumpet the fact that there were 150,000 at the Grand Final parade (big deal!) and made claims that bars, restaurants and pubs across regional Victoria reported increased clientele.
Of course, even if that were true, the state doesn’t run on the income from cafés and pubs, and the vast majority of businesses, small and large, simply made a huge loss – no trade and the usual day’s wages to pay.
What should happen is that there be a proper study conducted and the real impact of the day quantified as the basis of a well-researched decision.
But that won’t happen.
Mr Andrews will stick to his guns now, take the holiday to the next election and ask voters to decide – ‘vote for a holiday with Dan’ or ‘no more holiday with them’.
It’s the sort of thing that gives politics a bad name.
Not that the Liberal-National Opposition is entirely blameless either; on the basis of a Tony Abbott’s ‘Captain’s Pick’, the Napthine Government took a slightly bigger wedge issue to the last election, the $17 billion East West Link, which ultimately cost the Victorian taxpayer nearly $1 billion to unwind.
The Melbourne Metro Rail Project always had the much higher priority but politics intervened.
It’s a forlorn hope but you’d wish they could rise above all that.
Failing to deliver practical, sensible government is not the exclusive domain of State and Federal MPs; we see it at the local level as well.
Last weekend we got a taste of what it is going to be like this summer along Surf Parade at Inverloch with people walking, riding or pushing prams out into the middle of the road, more often than usual, to walk through the middle of the controversial chicanes.
The reduction in car parking, because of the no-go areas in the lead up to the chicanes, was also a problem and there was some sign of cars banking up allowing others to pass.
And yet we hear it will be at least another year before the council is even in a position to apply for more funding for the pathway project that was to have been an integral part of its road-safe design.
All this is down to the insistence of Inverloch’s Cr Jordan Crugnale, with the complicit support of council, that the pathway project be delayed while it can be studied again.
The perversion of politics is that Cr Crugnale is expected to be ‘rewarded’ for this costly obstruction with election to the $75,000-plus role of Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor next month.