Response to Covid-19 is about whether the health of the nation or sectional interests comes first

By Ben Wilson

We have witnessed the manipulation of the Civid-19 health threat, to be used as a stage for disgraceful political squabbling, for selfish political gain, the promotion of loony tunes claims, and to give a pasting to state premiers, especially Victoria’s Dan Andrews.

Covid-19 has proved to be a nasty hit. There have human and economic costs, and we haven’t seen the end of it yet. There is another secondary and associated infection, and this is the rise of basic principle lacking political opportunism and gutter media.

Much more attention should be put into coming up with a coherent national plan to overcome Covid-19 once and for all. This is still not happening.

The negative behaviour is not new. It was around long before this disaster hit. The difference it has made, is to bring it out into the open and make it worse.

Scott Morrison was slow to act. Word about the nature of this disease and the need for serious action to curtail it had come out of China by January, and nothing was done till march.

The Prime minister and his government were facing a lot of political damage over the mishandling of the bushfires, and urgently needed something to give them a makeover. When the pandemic came to Australia in earnest, it provided the opportunity.

Regardless of the motivation, the simple fact is that some action and a measure of luck, meant that the pandemic would not be as damaging as it could have been.

Over the next moths, the political machinery got into lifting Morrison into a near hero. None played a bigger role than Murdoch’s media outlets, asnd overnight, the championing of neoliberalism, with its small government, cutting back on government, and leaving it all to the market, gave way to the praise of a stimulus package.

It was not to last. Within months, it was discovered that some sections of big business were milking the system, and others were missing out on the bottom line. The political advantage was beginning to dwindle.

Peak big business organisation began to call for a lifting of the lock down, and this refrain was taken up by the usual suspects in the media. Being their captive, the Morrison government complied and lifted most of the restrictions with indecent haste.

If the lock down had been necessary to contain the spread of Covid-19, it is still necessary when substantial rates of infection remain. Flattening the curve on rises is not enough.

The second wave hit. Victoria suffered the misfortune of becoming the epicentre. Premier Daniel Andrews and his government acted quickly. This was not done in the best of ways. But at least, it was decisive action.

But the abuse led by Murdoch media, pushed behind the scenes by the peak big business organisations, and parroted through the Liberal National Party, is something else. The troika formed a front of destructive opposition. Selfish short-sighted interest became more important than the health of the nation.

The wall of pressure has been immense. To their credit, state governments have been resisting. None more than Victoria’s, and yesterday’s to announcement of the extension of the lock down and the beginnings of a longer-term plan, outlined by Premier Daniel Andrews, is the right move, and deserves to be backed.

Everyone would like an end to the restrictions, isolation, and difficulties in earning a living. We also have the right not to have our health put at risk. A premature lifting would do this, and it would bring even greater damage to the economy.

Morrison’s plan as outlined last Friday, aims at a premature lifting of protections. That’s why it’s wrong.

More than half a year since the outset of the global pandemic, enough experience has been accumulated to tell us some nations have been much more successful than others.

Those who had been implementing neoliberal economic policies have, as a rule, been the biggest failures. Take the example of those with the highest tolls, the United States, Brazil, India and the United Kingdom, and similarly, some of the European countries during the first wave, and some other nations,

All embraced neoliberalism as their gospel for economic management. All failed to respond adequately and now race to even lift this.

In contrast, China has done very well, and its economy is bouncing back quickly. Vietnam, Cuba and Venezuela are other success stories. There have bee nsome other successes. These are mentioned because the failures have deemed that they are not ‘politically correct,’ and therefore unworthy of consideration, and the like minded media censors it from the population.

Some others have also done well . A few are mentioned because having been given the tag of not being ‘politically correct,’ by the worst performing governments and censored by like-minded media, the capacity to learn from the experience is compromised.

We are blocked the advantage of learning from the practical experience of others.

This experience shows that success has involved a few elements.

A preventative approach and avoiding and over emphasis on a responsive approach, combined with an early and massive lock down is the best strategy, and that is should be maintained until the corner has been truly turned.

Enlisting the participation of the population as partners in a national effort, on a scale that Australia has not seen since the Second World War, is the way to maximise positive behaviour.

Mobilisation of sufficient resources, to meet the needs of those fighting the infection at the coal face is essential.

Australia has not done as badly as some. This could all be undone, if we are led down the road mapped out by Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.

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