One simple question epitomised the lack of ability of the current government in dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘Insiders’ program on Sunday morning, David Speers interviewed Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy. When Speers asked (7 minutes in1) if it was still okay to shake people’s hands, Murphy stated: “At the moment, we are strongly suggesting that returned travellers should practise social distancing, so that’s keeping a distance of one and a half metres, if possible from people, not getting close contact with people, not shaking hands, avoiding all public gatherings.” Speers interrupted “But as long as you haven’t stepped off a plane”. Murphy continued: “Yeah, or if you have been in contact with another case.” Speers interrupted again: “Everyone else can shake hands?” Murphy replied: “Yeah, that will change if we get more community transmission. We are now in a phase of promoting broader social distancing, so I think…” Speers interrupted: “So, and just on that, is it okay to go to the movies right now?” Murphy: Well this is an evolving situation David, so… the advice right now is that as a first step we are suggesting that all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people not proceed…”1

To say that I was flabbergasted at this response by Murphy is an understatement. He is essentially saying you can shake hands until we are certain there is community transmission (i.e. not imported by travellers), and presumably you can go to the cinema until we are certain there is community transmission. Given that about a quarter of cases of COVID-19 in New South Wales have already been shown to be due to transmission in Australia and not related to overseas travel2, it seems that horse has already bolted.

On the panel discussion after this interview, Peter van Onselen expressed a similar sort of concern to mine above. Clearly, Prime Minister Morrison was watching Insiders, because, some hours later, he stated there should be ‘no more handshakes’. This is symptomatic of the problem was face in this country. We have a government that is only ever reactive, seems to be largely unaware of what is happening around it, and is mostly afraid of upsetting the halfwits who believe its drivel (dare I say ‘bogans’?). Despite calling this a pandemic before the World Health Organisation did so, they seem to be incapable of getting out a consistent message as to how people should avoid the risk of coming down with COVID-19. I’d have thought that the precautionary principle would apply, but given that the government have not even considered that with regard to the even greater threat of climate change, or the bushfires for that matter, it is not really surprising.

The Australian government says it is ahead of the world in the response to COVID-19, but this is just another lie. Singapore and Hong Kong were the most aggressive in their response to the pandemic and for Singapore, it took about 13 days to go from 100 cases to 200 cases, while Hong Kong has taken 11 days to go from 100 to 1503. Australia has taken 5 days to go from 100 cases to 3002. We are on an exponential trajectory which sees something like a doubling of the number of cases every 4 or 5 days2.  When it comes to crises, Morrison is not so much concerned with doing what is best for Australians but only spinning it to his political advantage. People will die because of that.

Sources

  1. https://www.facebook.com/InsidersABC/videos/193739421916599/
  2. https://www.covid19data.com.au/
  3. https://www.ft.com/content/a26fbf7e-48f8-11ea-aeb3-955839e06441

8 Comments

  • Mark Dougall says:

    I completely agree with you. We now live in a boganocracy. This morning I heard a person on the local ABC radio, a so called working bloke, saying “it’s just the flu’, get over it.” The stupidity and callous selfishness of so many Australians distilled into a brief comment. We might as well say why do we worry having a strong health care system? Why bother treating people who have cancer? Why treat chronic age related illness? The sick, older people (even those who are bogans themselves) are just an inconvenience that clog the system and let’s face it they are an economic burden. While we’re at it what about those with various long term chronic illnesses who aren’t old, and of course the disabled. They are all a weight on our shoulders holding us back from going to the footy, and getting pissed with our mates, and paying less tax, and living the full bogan life style. Or maybe these bogan fools think that even though they will get it they somehow won’t pass it on, even though they might not even know they have it. No, that would be too deep for the morons even though it is stupid. But wait there’s more to this viral boganhood. Even though it’s all overkill and it is just the flu’ they will make sure they buy everything in the supermarket, before any other person, because it’s their right, and fight any bastard who dares to want to get a bog roll that the bogan has dibs on, because the bogan, and the bogan family, are all that matters in the bogan universe. No wonder these ignorant, barely literate oick pricks can’t grasp what needs to be done to deal with climate change. No wonder they don’t care about other living things. They don’t care about anything other than fulfilling their own pathetic bogan greedy desires. No wonder they voted for Morrison, and Trump, and Johnson, and Bolsonaro. What an evolutionary and social dead end we are regressing down. There endeth the rant.

    • Arthur Baker says:

      In Britain they’re deliberately letting about two-thirds of the population, or about 40 million people, contract the coronavirus to (supposedly) build up “herd immunity”, a quality usually established by vaccination, except that they don’t have a vaccine yet. This means a disproportionate number of older, infirm or vulnerable people will die. Is this a deliberate ploy to thin out the ranks of pensioners, who as far as the Tory government are concerned are just useless unproductive “leaners”?

      • admin says:

        Arthur,
        The aim of neoliberal governments is to spend as little money on people as possible. Th government in Australia ripped billions out of aged care, but was pilloried for it. Perhaps this is the more drastic alternative.

    • admin says:

      Mark,
      I think you have hit the nail on the head. In my more cynical moments, I sometimes wonder if this is in fact the government’s purpose, to rid itself of many of the poor, the infirm, the elderly, and the disabled. Hitler instituted a ‘mercy killing’ scheme to murder people with disabilities and incurable diseases (see Aktion T4 on Wikipedia). Maybe that is what our bogan government wants.

  • Arthur Baker says:

    If Australia’s Chief Medical Officer is giving waffly replies such as that, is it because he’s being pressured by the politicians, or is it that he’s just hopeless at his job?

    • admin says:

      Arthur,
      He is by specialisation a nephrologist, I gather. I think it is symptomatic of the decline of the public service which was supposed to provide ‘frank and fearless advice’. It now just does what the government of the day wants and provides advice in line with that. When they don’t, they get a kicking. This government looks upon expertise as dangerous and something to be controlled, or worse, ignored.

  • clive pegler says:

    i am somewhat amused (not) with their continual trotting out the phase “we have taken advice”, but neglecting to mention that the so called ‘advice’ just happened to come from an LNP hack, politically appointed boards/committees/individuals, who invariably were appointed to provide ‘advice’ that they 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 to hear. 🤬 eg Gaetjens & Murphy etc.

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