Contributed from Victoria
There is indecent haste in the push to end lockdown and other safety measures against the Covid pandemic, and Scott Morrison is leading the charge. He tells us that the risk will go once 70 percent of the over 16 population has been vaccinated. It doesn’t stop here. Pressure was put on the states at last Friday’s national cabinet meeting, to lift the measures they are taking.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the states that the Commonwealth will not financially support them locking down once the vaccination target has been reached.
Vaccinations are important. They are part of the solution. On their own, they will probably prove to mot be enough. Even if 70 percent of the population gets the jab. The Morrison government’s fixation on vaccinations is not based on medical needs but on commercial consideration as the priority.
There is a cost to the economy from isolation and the closing of business, and this does demand attention. Recognition of this doesn’t mean, however, that the bottom line should be the priority. The health of the public should always come first.
Reconciling the needs of the economy and public health depends on a real national plan to enable the mobilisation of adequate resources to meet he needs of the day. Doing this involves ensuring everyone has enough income to get by, and businesses genuinely at risk of closing their doors permanently are protected. No such plan exists.
Even the rollout of the vaccination has been a mess.
The response in New South Wales by the government of that state has been bordering on criminal. Everything possible has been done to minimise action. Circumstances have dragged it along. Even then the response has been patchy, discriminatory, heavy handed, and without success. This has contributed to the spread of the Delta variant across Australia.
A disaster is unfolding because the big end of town demands protection its sectional interests before anything else. They want their enterprises running full steam ahead, and the health consequences to be regarded as unavoidable collateral damage. The Australian government, which happens to rely on this social base for its existence, does what it is told.
This is what is behind the inability to properly respond to the pandemic, and the Morrison government deserves to be blamed for the consequences of its failure to the Australian people.
Short term greed wins over longer term interest, for as long as this goes on. The paradox is that inepter the response, the greater the damage to both health and economy will be.
At least most of the states and territories are resisting the pressure for a premature lifting of necessary measures to slow the spread. Unless there is a shift in Canberra, this may soon require lifting the level of resistance. They had earlier agreed to the so-called four stage plan that would have seen the lifting of restrictions in July.
This was before the Delta variant came and proved to be more infectious. Expect Lambda, the even newer and more aggressive variant, to arrive soon.
Australia is nowhere near ready to meet the threat.
The response should not be left to the politicians alone. There have already been instances here people have pitched in to help their neighbours. A lot more of this is needed. Action to confront and defeat the Covid threat needs the confidence of the people. Involving them, honesty, transparency, listening, and enlisting their participation wherever possible, is the way to earn confidence. People would then be willing to do what must be done.
This is much better than the big brother approach, which creates distrust and justified fear of loss of democratic rights, and therefore weakens the quality of the response.
Unless the response is not improved, the worst is yet to come.