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!

Michael Ilsley Michael Ilsley 7:35 pm 14 Jan 22

The ACT has certainly let down by self government.

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.

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

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

Mendy Smart Mendy Smart 9:31 am 14 Jan 22

Covid is State Governments' issue, not federal.

Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 9:25 am 14 Jan 22

I disagree, you could rightly blame Labor state premieres largely for creating these issues.

Am example on the RAT test shortage, they're made in Australia! Just 1 month ago their use was banned by QLD health. Low and behold they decree you need a negative test to enter the state of QLD to holiday, que the queues in Canberra for PCR tests ergo the testing clinics get overwhelmed as they are downscaled in operation over the holiday period creating incredible demand for covid tests. Rightly so RATs are now allowed to be used, alas our domestic manufacure is destined for offshore buyers as we couldn't use them here! Sounds like Scomo's fault... yeah right.

The States / Territories also dictate what they determine to be a close or casual contact and what isolation / restrictions are placed on those contacts hindering their capacity to work. Again must be Scomo's fault. Not.

    Jay Kay Jay Kay 10:07 am 14 Jan 22

    Nathan Burraston Christmas was two weeks ago, still having issues with getting PCR tests. Whilst certainly not helped, the reality is you can't be posting 100k+ known cases a day, with the likely number being around 250k, and say that travel restrictions requiring testing was the cause of the issue.

    Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 10:34 am 14 Jan 22

    Likewise blame NSW Premier Perrottet for the rapid spread of the virus by abandoning mask wearing and other measures. This was such a catastrophic failure those measures had to be reintroduced. Morrison needs to be proactive not reactive.

    Sirpa Fromm Sirpa Fromm 11:07 am 14 Jan 22

    Nathan Burraston the issue with the Oz made RATs is that most companies are waiting for federal TGA approval before they can be distributed here. One Qld company, Ellumes, is manufacturing 100,000 RATs per day and sending all to USA. They don't expect to distribute in Oz until mid year. Go figure 🤷‍♀️

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 4:35 am 15 Jan 22

    Nathan Burraston That wasn't just Qld Health. The states were acting on medical advice and National Cabinet.

Craig Dingwall Craig Dingwall 9:22 am 14 Jan 22

Could we mobilise army truck drivers to help in the interim?

    Mary Ann Rodgers Mary Ann Rodgers 9:45 am 14 Jan 22

    Craig Dingwall And help in aged care too.

    Jay Kay Jay Kay 10:16 am 14 Jan 22

    Craig Dingwall Distribution centres are being hit more than truck drivers. By their nature, Truck Drivers are pretty solitary, and those who caught it at Christmas should be coming back to or at work already

Chris Thomson Chris Thomson 9:09 am 14 Jan 22

everything is the fault of the government, especially in an election year ;)

Michele Balcomb Michele Balcomb 9:09 am 14 Jan 22

The past 2 years have demonstrated an appalling lack of leadership!

Maree Commens Maree Commens 9:02 am 14 Jan 22

And we hear about staff shortages and food shortages but nobody talks about customer shortages as people lock themselves down too afraid to leave their houses.

Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 9:01 am 14 Jan 22

This government has overstayed its shelf life by at least two years and has been slowly rotting from the head down like a dead fish in the sun since then.

Jan Gulliver Jan Gulliver 8:39 am 14 Jan 22

I’m angry as hell at this pathetic excuse of a federal government even more angry at Morrison. 🤬🤬🤬

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