TUMBY BAY - After an initial desperate foray into Keynesian economics at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in Australia, the federal government is under increasing pressure from big corporations to revert to business as usual.
This is despite the rapid escalation in recent weeks of the crisis created by the Delta variant.
The original lukewarm rhetoric of tackling the health issues ahead of economic issues appears to be on the brink of abandonment.
The federal government and the New South Wales state government are now fixated on repairing the economic impact of the pandemic despite the suffering and deaths this will inevitably involve.
The New South Wales premier openly acknowledges that relaxing restrictions and opening up the country will result in many deaths.
What Gladys Berejiklian doesn’t say is that these deaths will predominantly occur among the poor and the vulnerable.
Sacrificing Australian citizens to rescue the economy has a particularly cold-blooded ring to it, but it’s not a sentiment unfamiliar to conservative governments and big business.
Indeed, in the neoliberal world, profit before people has always been accepted as a legitimate business principle.
It is obvious that the brief hope expressed after the pandemic emerged that it might provide an opportunity for a new, more benign economic dawn was a glorious moment of wishful thinking.
So what will happen now is that the susceptible people in our society, those least able to avoid the virus or its worst effects, are not only going to sacrifice their well-being in the cause of corporate profit and a bankrupt ideology, they could lose their very lives.
The elderly, the infirm and the poor will be cast adrift by an ideology that does not care. That they will struggle to cope and possibly die will be of no consequence to these zealots.
For many of these people, particularly from indigenous and minority communities, abandonment is something to which they are well-accustomed.
For others, like the newly impoverished middle classes, it will be a cruel blow.
Aunty Gladys, spruiking her saccharine homilies, and Scott Morrison, with his pious Christian hypocrisies, are now exposing themselves for all of us to see who they really are, charlatans who just don’t care.
For many Australians, being thus abandoned by their government is going to be a macabre novelty; but, of course, for people in places like Papua New Guinea such behaviour has long been accepted as the way things are.
Whether Australians have similar resilience and are prepared to meekly accept the situation, as Papua New Guineans do, will be an interesting test.
The obvious charade that a phony 70-80% vaccination rate applying only to adults (it is, in fact, just 56-64% of the population) will somehow mitigate the impact of throwing the doors open to the virus suggests there is even more deviousness afoot.
It is highly likely that a ruthless politician like Scott Morrison is busily counting the numbers and will take Australia to a federal election sometime after the economy ‘reopens’ and before the body count builds up.
If that’s what he is planning, he really has to get the timing right. It will be critical.
A snap election at a moment of such great uncertainty will be risky, divisive and potentially catastrophic for Australia.
The Australian commonwealth has been under considerable strain over the 18 months of the pandemic.
The push to abandon the health of the nation for dubious political purposes may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
If the camel is Scott Morrison and his cronies, that would be a well-deserved fate.
But if the victims are the Australian people, that will be a horrendous and unforgiveable legacy of Mr Morrison and his band of vandals.