There is a saying that goes like this: you can’t change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
It’s time to adjust our sails, Australia, because the wind blowing in the COVID-19 virus is going to keep blowing. We need our national mojo back.
In Victoria, Lockdown 6.0 — extended in Melbourne — exposed a paper-thin emotional fragility across the state.
Those largely untouched by this virus, on guaranteed bigger wages, working from home, and probably without children may be aloof to the exhaustion. They hang tight to the daily updates and applaud the masterful saving of our lives. Lock up. Lockdown. Look the other way.
Despite our collective gloom, we get it: there are places where the coronavirus spreads more easily.
Our homes according to ‘the experts’ are these places: people stay longer, they stand closer, they use the same toilet. They pick up the same kettle, open the same fridge, eat at the same table. They probably hug. They probably don’t wear masks. And heaven forbid, they might even kiss! Isn’t that what friends and family do? It’s also what they do at restaurants.
Someone asked me this question the other day: What’s the difference between a restaurant and a home? Or even a brothel and a home? Answer: a QR Code. “So, give me a QR code” my lockdown weary friend said.
This might be a solution some are willing to consider, many won’t. But for my friend with a couple of jabs already, said he’ll take freedom, thanks.
The real point being made by my friend was this: it’s time to get on with accepting the reality that this virus is not going away. It may never go away. In 100 years time, maybe 50, 10, or even two, we might look at it like a bad cold or the flu. There are people infected today who don’t even know it.
But we can’t keep family and friends separated forever. Loved ones are dying alone, singles are miserable in isolation. This is as unhealthy as the virus. It’s also cruel.
It’s hard to imagine history won’t look back on us with its head cocked to one side, a slightly furrowed brow, asking in a miffed kind of way, `You did what? Huh?’
The world is looking at Australia’s scatty, puritanical antics and wondering what the heck is going on in the Lucky Country. Yes, our island status is luck, but our internal borders remain nothing but obscene political, constitutional monstrosities. They have become fiefdoms for Premiers with their new found power using control as a weapon of first resort. Some have even forgotten to say ‘please’.
They make Trump’s Wall look like a suburban picket fence.
The economic cost of the virus decisions is running to the tune of billions – pushing our national debt to beyond a trillion – and some are right to begin questioning the financial value this virus is putting on each life.
Put a value on a loved one’s life: it’s near-on impossible when the answer is priceless. However, if they die alone without a celebration of life, the price is even higher.
Put a price on the childhood years lost.
Put a price on the business gone, never to recover, life savings and input dashed.
Or put a price on the mental toll.
In this year’s state budget, the Victorian Government added another tax, the Mental Health Levy, an extra payroll slug to be paid by companies with a national payroll of more than $10 million, and even more if they’re beyond $100 million.
Premier Daniel Andrews intends to collect about $834 million a year from it — just shy of a billion dollars.
But it is the Premier’s divide-and-conquer approach to the virus that is cause for much of the anguish. Former premier Jeff Kennett is right to point it out.
The people going mad are those in private industry whose doors are forced shut, maybe permanently. It’s those who have lost jobs and even the desire to find another. It’s those locked in a terrifying cycle of domestic violence and abuse, unable to even leave the house.
Smaller companies are in despair. They’re desperate and sucking in what could be the last gasps of survival. Open their doors and let them live.
The tax is evidence of a government hell-bent on destroying enterprise and aspiration.
If the Premier genuinely gave a toss about mental health, he would find a way to live with this virus. He would allow double-vaccinated people to cross the border to care for sick family in Victoria. He would allow grey nomads, or young single mums with children stuck in border caravan parks, to come home.
Such political menace causes mental breakdown. It fails all logic. And it fails us all.
When Australia hits the 80 per cent vaccination rate – or beyond – the virus will still be in our ranks.
With 89 per cent of its population with one vaccination, and 77 per cent being fully vaccinated, Britain had 203,600 coronavirus cases in the past seven days, 624 people have died.
The co-morbidities are not clear, nor is it clear if they died with the virus, or from the virus.
Yet, the UK embraced Freedom Day on 19 July like a long-lost friend.
Today, that nation understands that life must go on. People die of so many things. The UK accepts COVID-19 as just another ailment that can make you ill.
It has decided that it has to live with this virus.
It seems the Poms rather like freedom. I think Australians do too. Who would have thought in this Lucky Country we would ever see freedom as just a pipe dream?
But Australia’s daily 11 am doses of fear-filled regurgitation and sanctimonious back-patting have conditioned many into believing a handful of cases is enough to send us back down our burrows. Or just one, if you’re Canberra or Darwin.
What we actually need to know in the daily stats is how many have committed suicide, accessed mental health life lines, how many businesses have closed or gone bankrupt, how many jobs have been lost, or how many households have police visited to save someone from domestic violence. We should know the number of surgeries being cancelled and the impact of lost herd immunity for other contagions, as evidenced in New Zealand.
And for a touch of reality, the daily tally could also tell us about all the other deaths for the previous day, on average 463 of them nationally. Did you know people still die of other things? Crazy, I know, but we don’t stop for them.
It will take a radical mind-shift for many to accept that when the national border opens up, in will flood loads of ‘beastly’, ‘fast-moving’, variations of THE virus. The daily count won’t be hundreds, it could be thousands.
Can you imagine South Australia’s dodge, duck and double-quarantine CHO being okay with that?
Are the experts, the political advisers with an eye on the polls, ready for the day the borders burst?
Australia, adjust your sails.
And Premiers, stop playing the lousy, divisive illogical political games that are ruining people’s lives. Your science is silent, and medical advice quieter still.
Zero sense is the only zero Australia is notching up.
Freedom is the best reason to get vaccinated. And that freedom must be guaranteed.
Beverley McArthur is a Liberal Legislative Councillor for the Western Victoria Region.
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