NOOSA - It was the slightest of deceits, as unnecessary as it was sly, but nothing out of the ordinary from a person whose honour is tarnished and competency unaccounted for.
I write of the premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, who bears much responsibility, together with her soulmate the prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, for steering an entire nation into a position of great danger.
I mean what would you do if desiring to play down the impact of the 1,218 cases of Covid as reported by Berejiklian yesterday? Would you, for example, bury the number in verbosity, translate it as “twelve hundred and eighteen” then skate swiftly by, hoping its seismic effect would be lost, or at least muffled?
On another matter, last Wednesday was the final day the NSW government revealed how many people reported as having Covid the previous day had been in isolation, thereby posing no threat to the community. I think I know why this particular piece of data was disappeared.
Let me explain it this way. On 26 July, exactly one month earlier, when NSW reported 175 new Covid cases, 61 (35%) of them had been in isolation. On the day before the statistics disappeared last Wednesday there were 1,034 new cases reported of which 91 (9%) had been in isolation. Cases not isolated, of course, are in a prime position to pass on the virus to other people. So they spell trouble.
If isolated cases plunge from 35% to 9% that is as much proof as you need of a failed lockdown. Not a reality you want people to dwell on when you’ve been telling them each day your lockdown is the best in the world. Any more than you want them to spend time thinking about the effective lockdowns in Queensland, New Zealand, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia that you’ve been pretending never happened.
These lockdowns managed to expunge Delta Covid from the community and buy more time to get the relevant populations vaccinated after being totally hung out to dry by ‘Slovenly Scott’ Morrison and the mystical millions of vaccines that were always “secured” and “ramping up” but only ever seemed to arrive in dribs and drabs or when Warsaw had a few to spare.
In passing I’ll mention the 25,000 Pfizers we pilfered from the Covex global supply earmarked for poverty-stricken countries and late-starters like Papua New Guinea. We’d demanded 500,000 but the administrators of that precious commodity sent us away with a token amount, presumably because they couldn’t stand the whining.
I want to point out the terrible failure of the Morrison government to ensure that Australia’s remote Indigenous people – recognised from the get-go as particularly vulnerable to Covid - were ignored until they got whacked by it.
As of Friday, more than 500 First Nations people in NSW were infected and vaccination rates lagged in every state except Victoria, where the Andrews State government had stepped in to hasten them along.
“We know that over a year ago the government was warned that an outbreak of Covid-19 in these communities would be detrimental,” says Chloe Heterick, a Wiradjuri woman and lawyer.
“Yet here we are in western NSW with only 7% of the First Nations population vaccinated compared with 26% of the non-Indigenous population. We know that First Nations people are at higher risk for detrimental health outcomes.”
A journalist asked Gladys Berejiklian if it was fair to say the government had neglected these communities. “Our certain vulnerable communities were earmarked to be vaccinated by the Commonwealth many months ago and we are addressing these issues now,” she replied in one of her typically serpentine utterances from which you can draw anything you want.
It seems Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, directly responsible for these remote Indigenous communities, had sent “an emergency batch” of 7,680 Pfizer vaccines to western NSW on 12 August at about the same time the NSW government was ‘borrowing’ 20,000 vaccines from rural areas of the state to vaccinate Sydney Year 12 students. See how it works?
Anyway, Ms Heterick’s legal specialty is medical negligence and her employer is Shine Lawyers, perhaps best known for class actions, so there may be a hint of what’s to come there.
“We have residents in these remote communities driving hours for vaccinations,” she says. “We have Aboriginal Medical Centres crying out for vaccinations so that they can administer them. We're an at-risk group. What's been done hasn't been enough.”
I don’t believe I would be capable of such moderate language in these circumstances.
But maybe Ms Heterick is saving the heavy verbal artillery for her day in court.