Transparency defends besieged regulator
Don't privatise our customary land

Neo-liberal dogma seen in Oz Covid failures

One Cylinder (Mark David)
Cartoonist Mark David depicts treasurer Frydenberg and prime minister Morrison's flawed efforts in managing the pandemic and the economy


ADELAIDE – Keith Jackson has rightly written (Lethargic Australia drops ball on Covid’) that the Morrison government has failed dismally to do its job in relation to both quarantine and vaccination relating to Australia’s Covid pandemic.

The direct result of this failure is that the State premiers have had to do all the heavy lifting to contain the virus.

They have had to run the quarantine program, effectively outsourced to them by the Commonwealth, and then been blamed for the repeated lockdowns that are the direct result of the Commonwealth's failings.

These include an imperfect hotel based quarantine system in lieu of a necessarily much more stringent purpose-built system and the spectacular failure to adequately plan for the completely foreseeable potential problems of the vaccine rollout.

In relation to Papua New Guinea and the rest of ‘our Pacific family', I cannot help but contrast the government's complacency and ineptitude with the determined and rapid response to the 1968-70 Hong Kong influenza epidemic.

In this case, PNG's colonial Administration rapidly distributed necessary resources throughout the territories to protect Papua New Guineans from the worst ravages of the disease.

That pandemic resulted in as many as four million deaths across the globe, two thousand of which were in PNG.

There would have been many more in PNG had not a small army of patrols officers, doctors, nurses, police, medical assistants and military personnel managed to get to most of the population with sufficient supplies of medicines.

So far this coronavirus pandemic has recorded more than 4.1 million deaths and it seems likely to kill several million more people before vaccination levels reach the point where the much touted herd immunity is achieved, even if this is possible.

The Australian government's dismal performance in relation to this pandemic will go down as one of the great public policy failures in its history.

Only the heroic efforts of the State health bureaucracies and their political leaders have so far saved Australians from utter disaster, although the virus remains a huge threat.

Unhappily, the modern Commonwealth bureaucracy is a mere shadow of that which recognised the need for a massive intervention in PNG in 1969 and then had the capacity to do something about it.

The present day situation is, in part at least, attributable to the decline of the public sector due to the neo-liberal capitalist ideology to which prime minister Scott Morrison and others have clung with religious fervour.

Morrison and his confederates, both in politics and in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media, will undoubtedly declare that it was their intervention in the economy that saved the day.

In doing so, they will conveniently ignore that this required them to abandon their long held ideological beliefs about the evils of government intervention in the economy.

Neo-liberals have also developed collective amnesia about the egregious nonsense about debt and deficit they spouted about the Rudd government interventions to save the economy during the Global Financial Crisis, the cost of which was less than one-tenth of the money spent by them during the pandemic.

It is my hope that enough Australians will not only understand the true extent of their national government's failure but will resolve to punish them severely for it at the ballot box.

We should never reward the sort of political hubris, incompetence, blame-shifting and dissembling that are the hallmarks of the Morrison government by voting for it again.


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Bernard Corden

Sin City (With apologies to Beck, Emmylou Harris and the late Gram Parsons:

This old town is filled with in, it will swallow you in
If you've got some money to burn
Take it home right away, you've got three years to pay
But Satan is waiting his turn
This pandemic's gonna leave me in the poorhouse
It seems like this whole town's insane
A Pentecostal bore telling lies galore
Won't keep out the Lord's burning rain

The scientists say it'll all wash away
But we don't believe it anymore
'Cause we've got our recruits with facemasks and protective suits
So please show your ID at the door
This pandemic's gonna leave me in the poorhouse
It seems like this whole town's insane
A Pentecostal bore telling lies galore
Won't keep out the Lord's burning rain

Chris Overland

Andrew Brown's comment is accurate insofar as serious mistakes by the Victorian bureaucracy in the way it initially organised hotel quarantine (which is a Commonwealth responsibility) created a situation in which the virus could escape into the community and find its way into the aged care system.

It was at that point that the Commonwealth's negligence over a long period, combined with egregious tardiness and incompetence in attempting to manage the emergent problems, led to the ensuing catastrophe.

So, as is often the case, there is plenty of blame to go around.

That said, my central point as quoted by Andrew Brown remains, I think, unchallengeable. The states and territories have had to make all the running just as they are doing right now, with most of the country either locked down or completely isolated from other jurisdictions.

Once again, it has been a breach in the jerry built quarantine system that has brought NSW and much of the rest of the country to a standstill.

Morrison is reduced to being a hand wringing bystander, at last compelled to acknowledge the vaccination stuff up and plaintively imploring ATAGI to change their carefully thought out advice about the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

All the Commonwealth government can do is throw money because that is, in fact, all it knows how to do or even has any capacity to do.

The recently revealed partisan rorts in relation to the awarding of grants for sporting clubs and car parking projects tell us all we need to know about the priorities and methods of the current government.

Philip Fitzpatrick

That's a stupid comment.

There were no deaths in state managed aged care homes; they were all in privatised homes for which the federal government is responsible.

Andrew Brown

'Only the heroic efforts of the State health bureaucracies and their political leaders have so far saved Australians from utter disaster, although the virus remains a huge threat' - that would include the premier of Victoria who managed to kill over 700 aged home residents.

To add truth and respect to the discussion, I offer these remarks.

Late last year a Select Committee of the Australian Senate handed down a damning report on the Morrison government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis in aged care homes, particularly in NSW and Victoria.

“The government is responsible for significant failings in the aged care sector prior to, and during the pandemic,” the Senate report stated. Covid “exposed and exacerbated long-running problems” in aged care.

The committee was “disappointed [that] rather than accept its mistakes in leading the health response and keeping aged care residents safe”, the government avoided “taking responsibility and shifted blame onto the states.”

Morrison “created confusion” and splintered federal cooperation by “criticising state and territory decisions to close schools and impose domestic border restrictions,” the report added.

Yes, I think that puts it into perspective - KJ

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