Flat White

Dear (as in expensive) political leaders: you have failed

7 August 2021

5:41 PM

7 August 2021

5:41 PM

The fact that people vastly overestimate the number of deaths from Covid as recent polls have shown, is a signal of the failure of our politicians (aided and abetted by many in the media).  

The failure is what our politicians see as their success: scaremongering. It is indeed successful if your intention is to overstate the death risk to such an extent that Australians will snitch on neighbours, drastic police enforcement is excused and some citizens beg to be locked down inside their homes and ‘outsiders’ locked out of their state by premiers who see electoral advantage in doing so. That’s the worst and most un-Australian manifestation of this political expediency.  

It is that, and it is also a failure of genuine compassion. Where were the compassionate exemptions for births, deaths and marriages that litter the history of Covid restriction enforcement in Australia? Misinformation is what it is, failing to provide the truth is not compassionate. Information is daily sliced and diced to suit the fear campaigns, case numbers broadcast daily like battle bulletins in wartime. Case numbers without context. It’s like a war bulletin expounding the number of wounded as the top line of the bulletin. And the crucial context — age, comorbidity if any, circmstance — is all missing.  

You get paid extremely well, Dear Politician, well enough to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  

No, scaremongering is not keeping us safe (an expression I’ve come to loathe as the veil behind which premiers hide); it is making us unsafe, in so many ways. It is ignoring the less visible damage behind lockdowns and lock-outs, information which seeps out from front line workers in child & adult mental health, cancer and heart doctors, honest educators and suicide prevention services. You call that keeping us safe?   

Maybe it’s just keeping them safe at election time? Why is that? Exactly because the message is deadly; your neighbour may be infected and then you’ll die. That’s pretty much what New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the other day. (Other Premiers are just as guilty of health hyperbole.) I saw it on the TV but I could hardly believe she said it. Less than half of one per cent of people with Covid die from it and most of them are in the vulnerable cohorts of advanced age in co-morbidity. Since when has the death of a 90-year-old made the front page? Since Covid. 

If you’re an Australian under 70 with no pre-existing conditions, your chances of dying from COVID-19 are less than one in a million; 40 people under 70 have died — virtually all of whom had pre-existing conditions. Is that ever mentioned at the grinding media performances of our politicians?   

The fact that many politicians in other countries behave equally irresponsibly is no consolation. They, and ours, all deserve our derision — not our votes. 

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