Leading article Australia

It’s the economy, covid!

1 May 2020

11:00 PM

1 May 2020

11:00 PM

Perhaps more than any other magazine, The Spectator Australia was horrified by the Turnbull coup. The real one, that is, not the faux coup that Mr Turnbull bleats on about in his book. That was of course the very real coup of September 2015 that saw a good and decent prime minister (although not a perfect one) cut down just after delivering a brave and sensible budget (although not a perfect one) by a narcissistic mob of disloyal bed-wetting lefty Liberals led by a man with a small vision and an even smaller set of skills and a woman whose sense of loyalty appeared to have been learned from Lady Macbeth. Alas, this is what happens when we elect shallow people who lack the character and decency that the job demands. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey offered a budget that would have put Australia into a much better position to confront such an unforeseen event as the coronavirus and the economic downturn it has unleashed. Similarly, it is likely that by securing our borders and stopping the boats and copping all the flak that went with that supposedly ‘impossible’ task, Tony Abbott (and Scott Morrison) likewise put in place an ideology and a national mindset that when it was critical to do so helped us quickly and efficiently shut down all our borders with nary a peep from the globalist luvvies.

There is no question that Tony Abbott would have been a formidable leader during this time of crisis. It is also highly likely that Malcolm Turnbull would have been a hopeless one, with dithering and waffle replacing decisive action. Mercifully, that will always remain a hypothetical situation.

Now comes Mr Morrison’s real test of leadership and character. Critics claim he failed the ‘bushfire-test’ by heading off to Hawaii (admittedly not a brilliant idea), but the fires of outrage were entirely fanned by the ABC and the hysterical Left. Thus far, the PM has handled the Covid-situation well (although not perfectly), by immediately shutting down visitors from China, banning crowds and enforcing social distancing.

But the real test comes this week and next. There is now only a limited number of days to avert a calamitous economic recession (as opposed to merely a dreadful one). As with the exponential spread of the virus which has (touchwood!) been averted, there is an equally dangerous exponential effect in any economic downturn. Day by day, hour by hour, unpaid bills pile up and re-payment deadlines impact one upon another, creating an ever-more vicious debt spiral. Often, as any small business person knows, a few hours or a day can be the difference between survival and oblivion. And every business that goes under has, much like the virus, the potential of infecting three or four more businesses and they in turn will bring down a handful of others if they fail, too. This is capitalism in reverse and unfortunately it is deadly. Suicides and deaths of despair will automatically and exponentially balloon in direct proportion to the severity of the recession or, heaven forbid, depression. And there is only one cure, only one vaccine: economic activity.

His choices over the coming days will determine whether Mr Morrison wins or loses the next election.

Fake news

This week, readers of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph discovered, in an ‘exclusive’ scoop that Chinese scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology had worked at CSIRO studying bat viruses. It wasn’t news to readers of The Spectator Australia. On April 11, Rebecca Weisser broke the story in these pages that Chinese researchers at CSIRO collaborated with the WIV on genetically engineering bat coronaviruses to make them infectious to humans. In 2008, they had boasted that they were the first scientists to genetically engineer a Sars-like coronavirus found from a horseshoe bat to make it infectious to humans. That’s a pretty dubious achievement now that a similar virus has killed more than 200,000 people.

One of those CSIRO scientists, Professor Lin-Fa Wang is now a director at Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School and an advisor to the WHO. Rebecca Weisser also revealed in her Speccie columns of 21 March and 11 April that Facebook had appointed one of his staff, Danielle Anderson, as an ‘independent’ fact-checker to vet an article written by China expert Stephen Mosher for the New York Post which set out the evidence that the novel virus could have leaked from the WIV. Rebecca pointed out that far from being independent, Anderson had collaborated with the WIV for two years, giving her a glaring conflict of interest. On April 24, Facebook quietly stopped defaming Mosher by flagging his article as ‘fake news’. We’ll take that as a win.

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