Flat White

Political cowardice has a price 

6 July 2021

1:02 PM

6 July 2021

1:02 PM

The cowardice of our political overlords has a price, and usually that price is not paid by these decision-makers but by the general populous. Look at the Covid lockdowns, where politicians and bureaucrats not only got to work from home but got generous pay increases. It was principally small business and the young who took it — and continue to take it — in the neck. 

However, sometimes this political and policy cowardice comes back to bite the political branch, and it is when that happens that our political cowards get to feel some, but not enough, of the pain that they cause and the rest of us feel. 

One of these is the Commonwealth government’s abject failure in Covid vaccinations. While I would prefer this incompetence not to have been demonstrated in the first place, it is partly pleasing to see the political pressure placed on the Government given their demonstrable incompetence.   

But it could have been avoided. All it would have taken was some policy imagination and political courage. Sadly, these are two characteristics that have been bred out of the Liberal-National Parties. 

Early in the tenure of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments, there was a proposal to permit Coles and Woolworths to sell prescription pharmaceuticals in their supermarkets. But much like they went to water over 18C, prime minister Abbott and his colleagues folded like a cheap tent at the pressure from the biggest, ugliest and most powerful union in Australia – the Pharmacy Guild.

And in a classic example of political failure double down, then health minister Peter Dutton commenced moves to paying chemists to provide vaccinations.   

So, how’s that chemist vaccination program going then? 

Remember that Coles and Woolworths are not just in the business of selling stuff. They are in the business of sourcing and moving stuff around a giant Australia network. They are as much experts in logistics as they are in retailing.  And they are pretty good at IT also. 

While the Commonwealth had to engage the military to advise on the logistics of vaccine distribution, Coles and Woolworths, and possibly Aldi and IGA, could have sourced, distributed and delivered vaccines all over Australia better that the clown collective currently running the show. 

  • Would it have been better?  Could not have been worse. 
  • Would it have been cheaper?  No doubt about it. 
  • Would it have been faster?  Most likely. 

Why – because there are three things Government anywhere and everywhere cannot do.  Better, cheaper and faster. 

Always remember the wisdom of Milton Friedman: 

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand. 

But just to show Prime Minister Pragmatism that economic reform does create jobs, consider how many more people would be working today if a greater number of Australians were vaccinated.

Stephen Spartacus regularly writes at Sparty’s Cast. 

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