At a time when Victorians should be celebrating the end of a horror year, thousands have cancelled their holiday plans and scrambled back over the border amid confusing health directives around border closures and quarantine. Those who did not make the New Year’s Day deadline are now stranded interstate indefinitely.
It seems that the dark days of government incompetency and inexplicable health directives are far from over.
What is apparent by the Victorian government’s reactionary response to a handful of new COVID cases in the state is that it has little faith in its ability to manage and trace the virus.
It has been nearly 12 months since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Australia, and since then the National Cabinet (formed to manage the response to the virus across the nation) has met over 30 times. That is more than every two weeks.
Despite this, there is no uniformed management strategy across the country, with some state leaders imposing disproportionate restrictions and health directives on a whim, turning people’s lives upside-down at a moment’s notice.
As a new strain emerges from the UK, it’s clear Australians need to learn to live with the virus until it has run its course. While a vaccine may slow the spread or minimise the virus’s symptoms, it may not stamp it out or prevent it from spreading.
The heavy-handed approach of COVID elimination we have in Victoria is untenable. In contrast, NSW has demonstrated a calmer and more sustainable approach which has managed the risk while minimising the impact on the economy and people’s lives.
How do people in states such as Victoria which are already economically, physically and emotionally devastated by lengthy 2020 lockdowns start to rebuild their lives and businesses with confidence, when at a moment’s notice have their freedoms stripped, and livelihoods shut down?
Australians cannot go through another year of unpredictable and indefensible political responses to COVID-19. The time for pulling decisions out of a hat must be over.
The National Cabinet needs to review each state and territory’s response to the virus over the past 12 months and determine what was effective and what failed. And from that, formulate a standard response to outbreaks which is consistent across the country and based on science rather than politics. This will provide a mandate for the Prime Minister and the public to hold state leaders accountable particularly when they use excessive overreach and cause undue disruption.
Only then will Australians have the confidence to move forward, knowing that the decision-making process behind healthcare directives are transparent, justified and based on best medical practice.
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