Scott Morrison is claiming success in the war against Covid-19. He says that the curve has been flattened and that it’s time to start lifting the restrictions. Most of the states are going along with it, and there is a bipartisan unity between the major political parties.
It us no surprise that concern about the economy figures highly. A fair amount of damage has been caused already. On the personal side, many have lost or had their income severely reduced. Businesses are facing hard times. Everyone wants to be able to pay their bills and get back to a normal life.
But is it a good idea to relax now?
The last couple of weeks have seen as major push by business organisations for a start up as soon as possible. Their members are losing money and don’t like it. The rational is business needs, rather then medical needs are the priority. The Morrison government is sympathetic and acts accordingly, as far it is politically possible to do so.
During his press briefing at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed that the restrictions has cost the economy a staggering $4 billion per week. The implication was that this is good reason in itself to lift the restrictions. Another is that the cost of the packages is damaging the government’s budget.
Scott Morrison has just had a chat with Donald Trump, who is leading the push to open for business again in his own country. The United States and Australia are not the same position. The outbreak there is horrendous. Australia has done much better containing it so far. But this doesn’t mean it’s over.
Our Prime Minister has a history of echoing whatever Donald Trump might say. This begs the question, has there been a political nudge to take the Trump line in Australia?
Has the curve really been flattened?
Continuously sating so, doesn’t mean that it has. The truth is that there has been a short-term dip and it is now going up again. Where it will go from here, we don’t know yet.
Unions are not so sure about the whole thing. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is calling for better control of social distancing in workplaces, improved and comprehensive testing, and the right of workers found to be positive to go home and still receive their income form the employer. The ACTU wants health and safety representatives and union delegates to be given the authority to impose the “highest practical standards.”
One point is being overlooked in the Morrison push. The medical advice suddenly thin on the ground. Where are the experts saying that it is safe to step out and go back to work on medical grounds?
The chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, told a press conference that social distancing would have to be maintained at workplaces and public transport and lifts should not be crowded. This admittance that the threat is far from over is hardly re-assuring.
Is it any wonder that a poll just conducted by the ABC shows most Australians are worried about a return towards normal at this point of time?
The push came at last Tuesday’s national cabinet meeting. The details will be released on Friday.
Morrison cleverly put the onus on the premiers and first ministers of the states and territories. In one move, he was able to lock them in and put them in the position to take the blame if something goes wrong.
Australia faces the risk of going the way of the USA with Covid-19.
Scott Morrison is himself warning about the possibility of a new wave of infections.
Is the risk worth it?