Contributed by Jim Hayes
The rise of the new and more virulent Delta strain Covid virus has exposed insufficient preparation across Australia. Far too little attention has been paid to mobilising people and resources to prepare for the certainty of new outbreaks of infection.
This is not a problem of logistics. The problem is political. Namely, the taking of a minimalist approach and the failure of Canberra to develop a proper national strategy, leaving each state and territory to deal with the crisis in its own way.
Adding to the failure, is an unwarranted confidence on past performance. Australia has not suffered as badly as many other countries, largely because of a mixture luck, a high standard existing health system, and geographic separation from everyone else This has contributed to complacency and covered the inadequacy of government.
The spread the new strain in recent months around the planet was ignored, and it is now spreading in Australia There should have been far better preparation for its arrival.
When it did come, there was delay in responding This added to the prior failure in the vaccination of the population.
Delta is a game changer New South Wales has been the worst performer, starting with stay at home rules, and then being forced by the spread, into a more serious response. Even now, this might not last.
Adequate lockdowns are one part of the necessary response. The other is sufficient income support for those unable to work. Without income, too many are left with no other choice but to disobey the rules. Income support has been stingy, and this has compromised dealing with the new outbreak.
The situation demands the immediate re-introduction of JobKeeper, something the Morrison government is refusing to do. If this continues, expect infections to keep on climbing and the economy to hurt more. A week or two support is not enough. It must continue for as long as needed.
It is obvious that Covid is going to be around for a long time. This requires forward planning for as long as it takes. Key elements in this must be putting in place secure isolation centres, a better vaccine rollout, adequate income for everyone, a greater mobilisation of people for the effort, and the same response from all states and territories through a proper national plan.
Should the failure continue, the politicians responsible should be held accountable.