What is this derelict PM’s shelf life?

Ian Bushnell 14 January 2022 95
Empty meat shelves

How did it get to this again? Empty supermarket shelves in Canberra. Photo: Enya Maxwell.

Before Christmas, I tried to be optimistic as the country, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his NSW acolyte Dominic Perrottet, blithely waltzed into the holidays as if the pandemic was over.

But I knew what was coming.

We were all relieved that some degree of normality would be restored, that we could see friends and relatives in person, and a summer of celebration was possible.

Omicron had arrived, but it was so much less severe than Delta, if more infectious.

What could go wrong?

Well, plenty.


READ MORE: Government, education union still grappling with return-to-school COVID policies


A health system at breaking point, supply chains disrupted, staff shortages, empty shelves.

As far back as August, the warnings were early, clear and urgent about the need to secure supply chains and workforces, and testing resources, including rapid antigen test supplies.

We were kidding ourselves, and as usual, in a pattern that is becoming depressingly familiar, the Morrison Government either ignored the advice available to it or is incapable of any form of risk management or planning.

The other concern is that the public service itself may not be capable or strong enough to provide that advice or execute the necessary planning.

Who would have thought that all those people would want to get on a plane over the Christmas holidays and need PCR tests?

Who would have thought that relaxing public health measures would turn Christmas and New Year into super-spreader events?

And guess what, Omicron is not just a sniffle. Just ask someone who has been run over by that truck, vaccinated or not.

The chilling thought is we won’t know the long-term effects of this virus for some time, but already the stories of those suffering from long COVID should be a reminder of how dangerous it is.

The blasé statements from Mssrs Perrottet and co about how we are all going to get it, which were so undermining to the public health measures required to manage an ongoing pandemic, should come back to haunt them.


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Omicron may have become the dominant strain, but there has been enough Delta around to keep killing people, and the new variant is still putting people into hospitals, and some will die or are dying.

And suddenly it was our responsibility as government melted away and attempted to redefine the relationship. There’s no such thing as a free RAT, the PM said, before quickly adjusting his rhetoric when the backlash hit.

What has happened over the past few weeks has been an appalling failure of leadership from National Cabinet, which the Prime Minister should lead, and NSW, which, as Australia’s biggest state, has set the pace, something Mr Morrison seems happy to have let happen.

And as an island within NSW, the ACT has had little choice but to conform in most things.

Governments were warned months ago, the scenarios were unfolding in Europe and the US before our eyes, but the PM went on holidays.

Nobody expected that we should go back into lockdown, but the ongoing pandemic and the Omicron wave still needed to be managed, especially through the challenges the Christmas period would bring.

Omicron may have finished off the contact tracing regime, but it was so predictable that governments, even gung-ho NSW, would have to reimpose some restrictions in the face of the obvious.

Governments, particularly the Commonwealth, could have and should have been more prepared, instead of allowing situations to deteriorate before belatedly taking action.

How many more press conferences of Mr Morrison blame-shifting, roadtesting slogans and mansplaining from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious can we stand?

I guess we will just have to push through to the election.


What's Your Opinion?


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95 Responses to What is this derelict PM’s shelf life?
Christopher Cuba Rabanal Christopher Cuba Rabanal 10:56 am 15 Jan 22

Come election time our feelings would be made very clear!

Futureproof Futureproof 9:47 am 15 Jan 22

The Omicron virus is running riot (excuse the pun) all over the world, with governments of all political persuasions. Aside from the Spanish Flu, this is unprecedented. Could the opposition have done any better – who knows? It’s easy to criticise when you can sit back and relax in the QANTAS lounge. If the coalition is tossed out at the next election, they too will be doing what Albanese is doing now, except, they will be bigger hypocrites for not doing now what they will whinge about in opposition. It’s all rinse and repeat really, regardless of who is in power

Michael Ilsley Michael Ilsley 7:35 pm 14 Jan 22

The ACT has certainly let down by self government.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:33 pm 14 Jan 22

If the opinion polls had been more accurate, and we’d gone into the pandemic with PM Shorten instead of PM Morrison, mistakes would still have been made and unpalatable choices would still have been forced on us by reality.

In essence, the national approach to the pandemic would have been closer to what we have seen, and are still seeing, in New Zealand. Maybe some of the people who want the best of both worlds should look at moving across the Tasman – until reality eventually catches up with NZ, and then they can move back to Australia.

    Mark Parton MLA Mark Parton MLA 7:52 am 15 Jan 22

    The single most sensible social media comment I’ve seen in the last 24 hours.

kenbehrens kenbehrens 5:55 pm 14 Jan 22

Well, there is no surprise that the author of this article is critical of the LNP, both Federally and in the State of NSW. I’ve read many articles that sprout a similar partisan view.
In fairness to Mr ScoMo, much of the longer term planning by medical advisors and National Cabinet was on the basis of 80% double vax providing some meaningful herd immunity.
All Governments (world-wide) have been caught out by the more infectious Omicron.
When it broke, National Cabinet should have reconsidered it’s original plan, but instead, National Cabinet (with the exception of WA) stuck with the original opening up plan and all things that came with that. These were decisions of all jurisdictions, not just the one lead by ScoMo.
In my opinion, a lot of very good work in all jurisdictions by medicos, police, pollies and us, the long suffering people, seem to have been undone, at least in part, by Omicron.
The Government hadn’t secured sufficient RATs, which in hindsight was a big error, but the “Let it Rip” attitude of the new boy – Mr Perrottet left me gobsmacked.

To this point I’ve been supportive of ScoMo, but his decision to refuse not to publicly fund RATs and to allow the private sector supply them, is aan absolute disgrace, one that I believe should cost him his job.

The sad thing is that for all of his criticism of the Government, I’m not convinced that Mr Albo would have done a better job. It’s very easy to be critical, with the benefit of hindsight.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:05 pm 14 Jan 22

    Ken,
    Once again I point out the fact that free RATs would make almost zero difference to the outcomes we are seeing now.

    They are only really effective for symptomatic people, who should just assume they have Covid in the current situation anyway. Asymptomatic or presymptomatic people will find RATS are not that effective regardless.

    Once again the public are trying to cling to things as if the government should have silver bullets to “fix” Covid. No such thing exists.

    JC JC 7:35 am 15 Jan 22

    Ken, I see you are cutting Morrison some slack on the basis that he was following the Doherty Institute modelling and recommendations.

    Now pointing out the obvious here but that report was commissioned by Morrison and if you watched the news conference when it was released it is clear as day that the sole purpose of that report was to justify political decisions by giving them an “independent” report to back them up.

    Now don’t get me wrong I believed then and now that we needed to move from the covid zero policy that the federal government and all states and territories had at the time and this report was good propaganda to show the way ahead.

    The issue for Australia is how that report was used to change the mindset in Australia but because of the way it was used when Omicron hit it was too late for the federal and NSW governments who were the main pushes of this report to put the brakes on a little.

    But like I said it was very much a political tool and it’s not something that Morrison should be forgiven for.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:45 am 15 Jan 22

    JC,
    Can you point out specific issues with the Doherty report and modelling that you think was “political”?

    Also, convenient that you, despite no evidence, want to mainly blame the Federal and NSW governments when all of the states (even the ALP governed ones you want to ignore) agreed that this was the best way out and have been acting almost identically.

    The partisanship is positively dripping.

Linda Seaniger Linda Seaniger 2:57 pm 14 Jan 22

Yes both the Federal & our local labor government do not deserve our vote in the next election. Both have poorly managed numerous issues. Transport, infer structure planning, education, health, maintenance, international affairs and our finances. Enough is enough.

    Futureproof Futureproof 9:54 am 15 Jan 22

    The job of a politician is to get elected, do nothing, but shine a red or green seat with their rear ends and then promise the world to get re-elected.

Elf Elf 2:49 pm 14 Jan 22

Is Albo already past his used by date too? The opposition sparks no confidence in me that they would handle the situation any better.

Christine Lawrey Christine Lawrey 2:04 pm 14 Jan 22

The PM is well past his Best Before Date, not that he was much good before that date judging by his employment history.

Reina Hill Reina Hill 1:58 pm 14 Jan 22

Is any of your rhetoric really helping the current Covid situation? Seems to me it is contributing to the empty loo paper shelves.

jorie1 jorie1 1:21 pm 14 Jan 22

The Liberal Party has done plenty of things wrong. They should not have set up the stupid national cabinet, nor allowed the States to take over what is federal policy (quarantine, medicare etc.) and they did not properly enforce Federal law as they should have done. Australian citizens have a Constitutional right to travel freely within Australia. The Federal government also should not have provided Federal Medicare data to the States and not have breached the Federal Privacy principles. The Liberal Party sucks big time, but taking a look at how the State Labor/Greens governments have behaved and the ALP is far worse. The State Labor/Greens governments have treated citizens appallingly as they are communist governments and do not care about breaching human rights; take a look at Victoria for example – longest and harshest lockdowns in the world and also highest numbers of covid deaths in Australia. I hope independent parties rise up and take over, as the Liberal Party and ALP/Greens all deserve to be booted out.

Futureproof Futureproof 1:11 pm 14 Jan 22

I wonder if the author would write the same scathing article if the ALP were in power

    JC JC 7:43 am 15 Jan 22

    Maybe not. But there would been plenty of authors who would have, mainly in the Murdoch rags.

    Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 12:28 pm 15 Jan 22

    So you’re saying it’s not the principle, it’s the side?

Rowena Parkes Rowena Parkes 12:57 pm 14 Jan 22

I can only hope people remember this when they go to vote.

Gabrielle Kuta Gabrielle Kuta 12:48 pm 14 Jan 22

Vote for the LNP and this is what you get 🤷

Greg Miller Greg Miller 12:38 pm 14 Jan 22

What's Morrison's shelf life? No longer than the next election

gooterz gooterz 11:11 am 14 Jan 22

Sooner or later there are going to be 7 billion variants of covid as everyone gets it.
When you have everyone infected there is a strong chance of a worse variant that will be immune.
Faced with a choice between defeating a virus (proper elimination) and thinning of the population of underlying heath effects (most costly to the health systems), which did they choose?

They’re not doing elimination but flattening the curve to take pressure off the heath system. AKA thinning the herd.

James Daniels James Daniels 11:03 am 14 Jan 22

Some stats - Australia's death rate in 2021 was about 5960 people per million. The leading cause was ischaemic heart disease at about 558 with total heart related deaths at about 1666 (2019 stat). Australians have died with covid at the rate of about 49 per million p.a. over the 2 years since it started. Other western countries like the UK, USA & Belgium have annualised covid deaths of 1444, 1300 & 1224 per million, up to 30 times our own. As with any 1 in a 100 year event, some things could have been done better, but there can't be much doubt the verdict of history will be that Australia's governments have done very well in protecting people from covid. If this article was printed on paper, I'd suggest it should be used to fill a particular type of gap on some supermarket shelves.

    Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 4:21 pm 14 Jan 22

    James Daniels He is constantly 2 weeks behind what needs to be done now. From strollout, "It's not a race" the Ruby Princess passengers walking off the boat spreading the virus interstate to not talking to the Pfizer CEO. Playing Labor States off against Liberal right up to recently buy your own RATS not everything is free then the backflip. Thank the States for the success, all the while Morrison was critical of border closures. You may not see it but I know Liberal voters that are just dismayed with him.

    James Daniels James Daniels 6:15 pm 14 Jan 22

    Rob Chalmers you're cherry picking a few instances where things might have been done slightly better. If the federal government had actually messed up everything as you suggest, we'd be in the same boat as those other countries, but we're not. Another stat I just looked up, Australia's flu death rate in 2019 was 36 people per million, dropping to 0 in 2021. The combined efforts of our governments have ensured that increased respiratory deaths due to covid are running about 0.2%. Many people who are upset seem to forget the simple fact of life that people die every day, and without covid many of those who passed away after catching it may well have passed away from the flu or other causes. Personally, I know more people who've died from other causes over the last couple of years than I know people who have caught covid. The stories I'm reading suggest that Omicron is plateauing and after that will come a decline. As people in the supply chains recover and test negative the odd shortages will be resolved. We couldn't stay locked down forever, even if just for the reason that other health conditions worsen when everything is subordinated to covid, so it was always a matter of experiencing a degree of spread through what is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. I'll also mention that NSW has said the majority of people in intensive care are those who are unvaccinated. For most of them that would have been a choice as there are relatively few people for whom vaccination itself poses a risk.

    Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 6:32 pm 14 Jan 22

    James Daniels Just because we don't have thousands dying is not proof of a great job by the LNP as the reputable commentators are pointing out daily and loudly. To suddenly switch to RATS after we have been using PCRs for 2 years was the final straw. Way to optimistic at every turn at every new development. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Scott Abela Scott Abela 11:03 am 14 Jan 22

50% of the trucking fleet is off the road as drivers self isolate... add in a little panic buying and apparently it's all Scomos fault..

    Keith Verrills Keith Verrills 9:34 am 15 Jan 22

    Scott Abela He repeatedly lies and says he opposes vaccine mandates! Then he TWICE tries to kick a tennis player out of Australia for not having a vaccine(?) that doesn’t stop you getting corona,and doesn’t stop you passing on corona .

    Scott Abela Scott Abela 10:49 am 15 Jan 22

    Yes mate, all true.. and it is the lack of testing that's got so many driver self isolation with no symptoms, the whole thing is a mess and they had 2 years to get ready...!

John Tolhurst John Tolhurst 10:47 am 14 Jan 22

Labour and Liberal scare munger tactics!! If both parties didn’t create the fear, people wouldn’t panic buy 🤷‍♀️

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 10:19 am 14 Jan 22

ScoMo is always 2 weeks behind what needs to be happening. The rush to have a "normal" Christmas was falling apart and NSW boy Premier and ScoMo were in denial.

    Christine Lawrey Christine Lawrey 2:06 pm 14 Jan 22

    Rob Chalmers Yes, even though he has a window to the future by looking at the Northern hemsiphere.

Jason Stone Jason Stone 9:48 am 14 Jan 22

Eat some fresh fruit and vege you slops, there’s always heaps at the supermarkets when every other shelf is empty. Focus less on smashing 10 kilo of meat, chippies, bickies and soft drink and more on some healthier fresher alternatives and you will be fine.

    Jay Kay Jay Kay 10:06 am 14 Jan 22

    Riiiiight. Taken at majura park yesterday in the fresh fruit & vegetable section

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