14 January 2022

What is this derelict PM's shelf life?

| Ian Bushnell
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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.

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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

HiddenDragon6:33 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 MLA7:52 am 15 Jan 22

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

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.

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.

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.

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 Seaniger2:57 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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

Mike of Canberra12:28 pm 15 Jan 22

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

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.

Crikey. The pearl clutching from some quarters for the collective governments to “do something” is perplexing. Do what specifically? Even the most draconian measures might only bend the curve a little, the trajectory will be the same. What happened to proportionality? Of course it’s disruptive, but look how good you have it in this country.

Just come out and say it – you want a lockdown, a harsh lockdown where all movement is restricted and monitored. Turn back on the magical tap of ‘government support’ and we can all then sit at home and turn our collective moaning back to how harsh lockdown is.

We demand constant perfection and it’s exhausting; do you manage your own life perfectly? Covid is here to stay and the road will be bumpy but we’ll get through it. There’s only finite resources in society to deal with these problems, the strategy has pivoted and so must we.

His shelf life is longer than the author of this article who is long past his use by date continuing to write this one eyed Labor garbage.

Australia continues to do really well fighting COVID-19, the government is following the expert advice that life now needs to continue and we need to live with and manage the virus. Every country around the world is in the same situation and is acting and making changes to their responses as they go.

There is no road map or rules for a pandemic response, so mistakes will be made, things will change. If you expect perfection, you’re a delusional idiot. Every government from every party across Australia has made mistakes in their own COVID-19 response. I wouldn’t be voting against anyone for that – which hasn’t happened yet in COVID. Looking Federally, Labor has gone missing and we haven’t heard much more than a peep from them in years, I don’t hold high hopes when they’re not a viable alternative.

Who would have thought that a NSW Liberal premier would bring in $1000 fines for not reporting your own positive rapid antigen test result? Before the usual spontaneous justifications from the usual defenders of all government impositions of yet another dictatorial Covid over reaction, think about the implications. Fining people for not reporting themselves is yet another violation of privacy and basic civil rights, ticked off by the complacent media, judiciary and HRC without a whimper of alarm. It is an extension of mandatory vaccinations and other Covid rules devised by medical committees. What comes next? Police checks and a RAT squad? A dob in line where you can report a family member for not reporting themselves, or your neighbour, or even yourself for not reporting yourself? Getting Covid or getting ill is not a crime (yet) and if people don’t want to report a positive test, which simply shows they have an illness, they should not be compelled to. The result will be they will not get the test, which will defeat the whole purpose of having tests and getting tested. Ludicrous fines for not reporting yourself sets a worrying precedent, limited only by the imagination of those who would propose, enforce and justify them.

I would have said it a little more simply. It is an example of futility. It is something that more or less cannot be enforced and in a way creates the mentality of not getting a test. The latter may be the main goal actually.

I think Ian has done himself a disservice with this article. Journalists need to provide objective commentary that allows the reader to consider and arrive at their own conclusions. This comes across as an emotive tirade which adds little to the ongoing conversations on battling Covid

Stephen Saunders7:46 am 14 Jan 22

Devious and personality-disordered, Morrison made early exits from Australia’s Tourism Task Force, NZ Office of Tourism and Sport, then Tourism Australia.

Despite that, prayerful Howard and Baird pitchforked him into parliament in 2007. Another prayer group pitchforked him into leadership in 2018. But don’t expect any apologies from god squad for the visible damage he’s done to Australia.

How delicious, that “Brother Scotty” now leaves “Brother Alex” to make the impossible call on the hyper-religious Djokovic. Perhaps there is a god after all?

At least Mr Bushnell has dropped any pretence of objectivity and non-partisanship with this article, what a woeful effort.

What we are seeing with Omicron, is exactly the type of controls that have been discussed since March 2020 (and before). But so used to being completely locked down and having their “daddy” government control them and tell them what to do, certain bedwetters have completely lost all sense of proportion and rationality.

Strange also, that there’s no real mention of Victoria, QLD or even our ACT government’s here, when they are also taking the same approach and are part of the national cabinet that have agreed on the way forward.

The facts are that despite the whinging, our health system is coping well and is not even close to its actual capacity yet, despite the difficulties currently occurring.

Governments at all levels ARE following the expert advice on how to move forward, protecting the health system and flattening the curve was one of the main components of all our Pandemic planning. So it’s mighty hilarious to see people complain when the actual expert advice is finally being enacted.

The current Omicron wave will peak in the next week or so (if it hasn’t already) and we will come out the other side better off in the long term through increased natural immunity in our already highly immunised population and a recognition that our systems are resilient even when challenged.

But when that happens, will we see any kind of apology from people like the author about how the pathway was the correct choice in a difficult situation? I won’t hold my breath.

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