It’s been an eventful week in Western Australia. When I say ‘eventful, I don’t mean ‘fun’ eventful – I mean ‘what the hell is this asshattery?’ eventful. Last Sunday, saw an unnerved Mark McGowan plunge 80% of the WA population into a hard lockdown over one hotel quarantine worker testing positive COVID19.
And the last time I signed off for the SpecOz, it had just come to light that the WA government dragged its feet for almost 3 weeks in implementing daily testing for quarantine workers as decided by the National Cabinet.
But my disbelief at this government’s ineptitude didn’t end there.
On Tuesday, a returned traveller in hotel quarantine revealed on 6PR talkback that hotel quarantine workers attending on them did not wear masks. Later, a rather embarrassed health minister, Roger Cook, was forced to admit that mask wearing was not mandatory for hotel quarantine workers, even on hotel floors where COVID19 positive return travellers were quarantined. The irony of this is that at the precise time this admission was made, it was mandatory for the everyday Perth punter to wear a mask if they were walking their dog, alone, through their neighbourhood.
The next cab of the ‘stupidity’ rank was a mid-week statement from Mark McGowan that he would advise West Australians of the post-lockdown (after 6pm, Friday) roadmap at his midday press conference on Friday. Thankfully, pressure from opposition leader, Zak Kirkup, saw the premier announce the roadmap late on Thursday evening rather than Friday. Imagine owning a hospitality venue and not knowing if or how you could open until the day the lockdown was due to end?
But the f*ckery continues.
At his Friday press conference, Mark McGowan announced a support measure for businesses affected by the lockdown. Keep in mind other states have given grants of up to $10,000 for business affected by lockdown restrictions. What did Mark McGowan offer for the damage done to business as a result of his itchy trigger finger?
A $500 credit on their power bill.
I shake my head.
If you weren’t previously convinced the Labor Party hated small business, it must now be beyond doubt. Premier McGowan’s sallow apology followed by offering a power bill credit is frankly the dictionary definition of adding insult to injury. This prompted Bradley Woods, the CEO of the Australian Hotels Association (WA), to tweet that the cost to the hospitality sector each day of the lockdown was over $10 million. Even on that sector specific example alone, it is evident that a $500 power bill credit doesn’t even touch the sides of the damage done. And in any event, it would probably take more time shagging around to apply for the credit than the credit was worth.
Ultimately, the Premier can apologise all he likes, but words don’t pay the bills.
And I’m not going to indulge, in any detail, the shemozzle that is the post-lockdown restrictions in place until 13 February 2021. In fact, the restrictions are such a muddle that the Premier has mostly asked us to use our commonsense rather than offer clear guidance on what is and isn’t allowed. That said, I wager that ‘punter’ commonsense is vastly different to ‘bureaucrat’ commonsense. In fact, it is different: if the bureaucracy had any commonsense, masks would’ve been mandatory for hotel quarantine workers (as they are in other states) lessening the likelihood of us winding up in this situation in the first place.
And the boil on the arse of this abovementioned situation is the following from the Premier on Saturday: ‘Interstate borders have been shown to work. They have worked throughout 2020…they are always going to be available for states to use to keep our people safe’.
So, despite a week of turmoil, stress and hardship for many, our political class has learned precisely nothing. Instead of recognizing the risk posed by a deficient hotel quarantine system, they revert to pitting West Australians against healthy Australians to gain political mileage.
Put simply, we are governed by pissants.
Caroline Di Russo is a lawyer, businesswomen and unrepentant nerd.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.