With all of Victoria currently moving through its fourth major lockdown period – and one that quietly may end up being extended at that – you’d be forgiven for thinking now is the time for state and national leadership to rise to the challenge. However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has instead done what Prime Minister Scott Morrison so often does: Leave.
While Victoria endures the anxiety and rising uncertainty associated with its latest coronavirus cluster, Scott Morrison has left Australia and is currently in New Zealand.
Morrison touched down in Queenstown yesterday for a two-day trip to Aotearoa that apparently could not be moved. Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are meeting today for annual talks concerning the trans-Tasman relationship.
The trip stands as both curious timing, given the on-going crisis in Victoria and Greater Melbourne specifically, and as par-for-the-course Morrison. In addition, it also follows on the heels of the Morrison Government rebuffing the Victorian Government’s requests for financial assistance in footing the economic bill for the lockdown, which the Morrison Government reportedly views as purely the responsibility of the states despite vaccine and quarantine programs both largely being within the Federal remit.
In an interesting quirk of timing, Scott Morrison was last in the Greater Melbourne area on May 19th, less than 14 days ago, visiting several areas in the Carrum Downs region. NZ travel restrictions at the moment prevent anyone who was in Melbourne from May 25 onwards from travelling to New Zealand, and requires “some people” who had been in Melbourne from May 20 onwards to return a negative test at least 72 hours prior to departure.
In theory, Morrison’s presence in Melbourne on May 19 currently precludes him from visiting South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. Although it’s reasonably likely his status as Prime Minister would see him granted exemptions to those conditions as a senior government official.
Still, nice to know that when large tracts of the country are in crisis, Scott reverts to what he does best: Disappearing.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.