Tag Archives: Covid 19

Did the parliamentary cat forget to order the RATs


You know something is awry when they roll out Simon Birmingham. That is because he is the only remaining member of Morrison’s Government who is not openly despised by the vast majority of people in Australia.

He took over the role after Matthias Cormann got his big job. It is hard to say who is more dedicated to talking points, but Birmingham is growing into the role. He makes the relentless spinning, no matter how dire the situation, appear normal. He would make a jolly good grief counsellor, post politics.

Today he was sent out to defend the so-called “push-through” that Morrison, and his fellow Christian fundamentalist Perrottet, have forced on an unwilling populace. Lost amongst the blather and the word salads look at the deaths recorded every single day, mainly restricted in these early days of Omicron, to Sydney and Melbourne.

How many deaths from this ‘mild’ variant are they prepared to wear? Do five figures mean they made a mistake? What about the next variant? Will we have the same magical thinkers still trying to manage this outbreak? Will they have an adviser explain that without healthy workers we cannot have a healthy economy?

Birmingham spent five minutes telling ABC morning television that the Omicron variant is mild, and that the government is on top of it, that RATs are on their way, and that there is no problem sending close contacts back to work, and school-kids back to school, because one it is mild, and two, the RATs are on their way. The fact that GPs all over the country are being forced to cancel their appointments to vaccinate schoolkids is merely a matter of people talking to their GP. Incorrect. There are not enough vaccines for the 5-11 year olds, and if there are they are not where they are needed.

Responding to questions as to why there are no RATs to be found, he responds that there is a world-wide shortage. There isn’t, because the other countries with which these people compare Australia, ordered theirs, in quantity, and in time. So there you have the complete picture. Morrison, or Hunt, or maybe the parliamentary cat, forgot to order any, until they lost the advantage of being able to observe the wave spread throughout the northern hemisphere.

They saw that hospitals became choked with desperate patients, looked after by exhausted medical staff. They were able to see the importance of RATs in controlling the ability of the workforces to be at least protected from infectious colleagues.

So, Morrison is embarrassed, again, by another crucial failure. Don’t they add up, though? The bushfires, the vaccine strollout, the fiasco in Glasgow, his failure to protect women in the workplace, in the home, and in the streets.

Now we are facing shortages of food, shortages of medical care, shortages of vaccines again, his re-deployment of the general to hide behind, and a new catch-cry, “push through”. He defends his inability to plan by the diversion of telling us we cannot be trusted not to hoard non-available RATs, and that as a responsible money manager, no free tests. We then had the outgoing Health Minister join in, telling us we can’t have any more free stuff. Let me assure my fellow Australians that Greg Hunt will retire this year, with lots and lots of our money, packaged into a super account which would make your eyes water.

But wait, there is more! Old freedom loving Morrison tells us to exercise our Australian larrikin spirit, by getting governments out of our lives. Remember who is speaking here; this freedom fighter is a devotee of a church which believes the bible is literal truth, and who will not be guaranteed a place in heaven unless he is publicly baptised. A man who voted against same-sex marriage, because he believes so strongly in freedom.

And yet we are continuing to die, at a steady rate, and rising. Sydney and Melbourne today, total deaths 50. Not so mild, if it has the ability to regularly take our lives. Remember his executive action when someone was putting pins in strawberries? Very strict laws, his most rewarding legislative triumph, we presume.

What about ensuring we have the necessary testing equipment before throwing the old and the sick to the wolves? How about telling the truth when asked about the kids’ vaccinations? What about the matter of free RATs, for everyone. Because it works. Even his role model, Boris the party boy, gives RATs away.

He is still pushing the Religious Discrimination Bill, which is so important that no-one in the country cares. Oh, except for the homophobes and the Christian lobby, who want to be able to discriminate against Muslims and gay school kids. And gay teachers, or even teachers who don’t see anything wrong with being gay.

He won’t even introduce his Federal Integrity Bill, though. It is interesting to watch the goings on inside this man’s head, even as the death toll mounts, and he continues to go missing when the going gets tough. Is this a good time to say, God help us! But no more tennis players, please.

Early days in this pandemic, but we CAN do this


The ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic of 1918-1920 bears a strong resemblance to the current pandemic. Although the actual virus causing the disease is different, the result of the infection is similar. It causes pneumonia, and people die, in large numbers. There is no vaccine, so it needs to be managed. We can starve the virus, by limiting its hosts, and it will disappear. Or we can allow it to run through our community, until it decimates the population.

There are a range of self-help measures we can use. People need to physically distance themselves from others. They need to wash their hands regularly, using soap and water, or alcohol based sanitiser. They need to clean up their coughing, and even their breathing protocols, so that they ensure that they do not pass the virus on.

People coming in from overseas need to be quarantined. Not because they came from overseas, but because the virus, to this moment, has spread mostly from those who have recently returned. They need to be policed in this quarantine, because many have been found to be untrustworthy. And these rogues are not only annoying – they are potentially killing people.

We know these things because we have had time to study what has worked, and what has not worked, overseas. We also have the historical record. The Spanish Flu was another pandemic, and we know what worked then, and we know that the same measures will work for us, now.

We have watched China, South Korea, Singapore, Italy, Spain and the U.S. As the pandemic unrolls we know where the mistakes were made, and what worked. We know that physical distancing works, and yet last week we had the fiasco of the ‘hairdressing edict’, where hairdressing was treated as an essential service, and we even extended the time allowed.

We had the saga of the Ruby Princess, where Border Force had responsibility for allowing 2700 passengers to disembark, and to then disperse throughout the country, from Sydney, which was already carrying the burden of the largest number of confirmed cases in the nation. That might turn out to be the defining moment of our battle with the virus, when we realised this was serious, and we needed to wake up.

Is health more important than wealth?

We have had the argument about whether this is a health or an economic emergency. It is a HEALTH EMERGENCY. If we don’t survive this there won’t be anyone around to enjoy the bounce-back.

Eventually, and very haltingly, the Federal Government has responded with emergency measures, although the division of resources, or the balancing act between health and economy has meant that we have seen more of a financial response from the Feds, and more of a public health response from the States. This repeats the mistakes of the Spanish Flu response.

In late 1918 Victoria withheld its statistics on Spanish Flu cases, leading New South Wales to allow travel from Melbourne, when it was actually unsafe to do so. This proved to be extremely dangerous, and it led New South Wales to close its border with Victoria. Co-operation between the states collapsed. This time around, the Commonwealth seems powerless to act, and instead the states are acting alone, closing borders, closing schools, closing hairdressers even.

Scott Morrison is a man divided. He looks like he wants to lead, but his caution and political cunning holds him back. Every press conference concedes some ground, but it lacks what is needed now. We need the leader of the country to catch up with his premiers, to decide on positive action to stop the virus, to throw away the political handbook, and to worry about Australians’ health, and never mind the cost!

He should immediately sack Dutton and Robert, for gross incompetence, and he should include members of the Opposition in a type of ‘wartime cabinet’. This is not the time for politics, but for national mobilisation, using the best minds we have, so that we do not lose lives meaninglessly.

This virus seems to be most dangerous to the elderly. We cannot afford to lose them, as we could not afford to lose our young men, which we did, during the Spanish Flu. Australians who, by stupidity, or inability to act for the common good, should not be allowed to endanger the rest of us.

We need, to put it bluntly, to pull our finger out.