Flat White

Politicians are not evolving as fast as Covid

21 July 2022

1:00 PM

21 July 2022

1:00 PM

It has been more than two years since China unleashed Covid onto the world, and with no end in sight, we should be asking; what could the government have done better? And, what should we do next?

As a human collective, we were worried and anxious about this new pandemic, with infections in the thousands across all continents. 

We were more than willing to isolate, work from home, school from home, and forego our weekly sports and recreation activities, and we were assured by our politicians that they were ‘keeping us safe’.

The only saviour from perpetual isolation seemed to be a holy grail vaccine that the pharmaceutical companies were tirelessly working on. 

It didn’t take long before the carrot was dangled in front of us with MP’s telling us that if we meet the vaccination targets, we would have all our regular freedoms restored and we could go back to normal – but ‘normal’ hasn’t been the case.

Last week we saw over 136,000 active cases of Covid in New South Wales alone and over 10,000 deaths nationwide (from the beginning of the pandemic). Think back to this time last year, and an outbreak of 50 cases was a massive news story that sent us into a panic, especially if tracing showed it was in our neigbourhood. 

What we now have is an economy that is in turmoil, and on top of the huge debts and rising inflation, we have a stilted workforce that is barely functioning due to the sheer numbers of people coming down with Covid.

And to make things a whole lot worse, our underfunded hospital systems in every state are under enormous strain, buckling under the yearly flu outbreaks, as well as the increasing Covid admissions from the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

With the perpetual variants coming in from South Africa, it has shown that merely living with Covid is not a salient answer, and that a path through this will not be without pain.

As I have written previously, Australia was viewed as the Covid success story in the early days of the pandemic, where we closed international borders until cases became so low, that we began recording days of zero infections. 

There were bumps along the way, with the infamous limousine driver incident sparking a major new outbreak, but even with the DELTA variant, we had a lid on it compared with what we are dealing with now. 


Furthermore, with rules that didn’t make sense, and with state politicians allowing footy teams over the border for stadium games, while families were banned from visiting sick relatives, the public mood had changed.

Premiers like Dan Andrews and Annastacia Palaszczuk pretending to keep their state safe while blundering with avoidable outbreaks in aged-care facilities; the PM needed a circuit breaker, and the goal was to get the population vaccinated with the more popular Pfizer vaccine.

All the cards were on the table and when NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian resigned, newly elected Dominic Perrottet promised a state that was going to be open for business once more.

However, the one major mistake that they have made is reopening the international borders, and this alone has brought us to the situation we are in now.

We saw how we bounced back with Australia keeping the international borders closed, and we could have had that success right now.

International travel could have been reserved for essential government appointments, military operations and training, and for compassionate grounds.

This could be expanded for essential business trips, international sporting events, and small-scale work visa arrivals, but a holiday to France should have been postponed until the world sorted itself out with such an unpredictable pandemic.

According to AMP Capital, domestic tourism is worth more to the Australian economy, contributing 4 per cent of GDP, compared with just 1.3 per cent from international tourism.

What is even more surprising is that what Australians spend on overseas travel is twice that of overseas tourist spending within Australia.

This time last year in NSW there were just 128 new Covid cases. To imagine a scenario where our national borders were open, with domestic flights back in full swing, is not just fantasy, it was all but a reality for a short time during the early days of the pandemic.

Each problem raises questions and solutions, and sometimes there is not just two possible outcomes, but instead, a third way.

The money that the government would be saving is in the billions; with no need for additional Covid sickness benefits, together with a workforce in full swing and a functioning health system, our state and federal governments need to re-position their strategy to deal with exploding death rates, and the sheer numbers of sick people that are dealing with Covid, long Covid, and multiple Covid infections.

As we slowly move through one of the coldest and wettest winters on record, and with variants entering the country without the concern or scrutiny that we once held as the gold standard, our workforce will continue to be on the back foot, our hospitals will likely implode, and thousands more will die from this insidious disease.

When the politicians say they are doing all they can to keep us safe, we know they are not, and having squandered legitimate needs to impose tough rules earlier on, they are now unwilling to make the new tough decisions to evolve as Covid evolves.


REFERENCES:

RACGP – Almost a quarter of adults say ‘freedom of choice’ a valid reason not to be vaccinated: Survey

AMP CAPITAL: Econosights: The importance of domestic tourism for the Australian economy | AMP Capital

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT: Coronavirus (Covid-19) case numbers and statistics | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

When Australia will hit Covid vaccination targets and see lockdowns, restrictions end | news.com.au — Australia’s leading news site

Public Hospitals – Cycle of Crisis | Australian Medical Association (ama.com.au)

Covid-19 in NSW – up to 4pm 8 July 2022 – Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Covid-19, age discrimination and aged care | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne (unimelb.edu.au)

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