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.


READ ALSO: Solar powered electric appliances’ hot options’ as ACT homeowners go green


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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95 Responses to What is this derelict PM’s shelf life?
Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 7:18 am 14 Jan 22

This demonstrates selfishness by the general public and plain stupidity

Nothing to do with the government

It’s like the toilet paper craze

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 7:39 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy well said! Can’t blame anyone apart from people being dumb🤬

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 7:52 am 14 Jan 22

    Pam Gulliver you mean those same people the Gov’s strategy relies on to self-isolate, self-test, check in, get vaccinated etc? 🤦‍♂️

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 8:01 am 14 Jan 22

    yes whatever happened to personal responsibility

    Brian McKenzie Brian McKenzie 8:10 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy how can you take personal responsibility when you require a test to work but there are no tests available? We have followed all the rules for two years to allow government to prepare and yet they did nothing. The situation we are currently in is entirely due to the failure of government not the actions of the population

    Millie Clark Millie Clark 8:17 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy it’s not even the public this time. NSW had 92,264 new covid cases on January 12. Many of those are truck drivers who we depend upon to transport stock around the country. This is what happens when nearly the entire country gets sick all at once!

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 8:28 am 14 Jan 22

    A plague will do that

    Make everyone sick that’s it’s job

    Closing borders and forcing everyone to stay home caused mass mental health issues

    Remember that?

    There is no answer we just have to get through it the best we can

    The rats are on their way

    Stock and food will come back

    Truck drivers will get back on the road

    It will happen

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 8:29 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy That is not at all what those with expertise in analysing supply chain issues say. It's got nothing to do with panic buying this time.

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 8:32 am 14 Jan 22

    No I guess millions of people just had pain all at the same And needed pain killers all at the same time

    But yes it is a supply chain issue

    It will get resolved

    The pm is doing everything he can to resolve it

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 8:33 am 14 Jan 22

    The rest of the world is going through this as well

    It’s not just us

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 8:36 am 14 Jan 22

    Brian McKenzie- so government- which ever party-have to do everything for us? We have done really great compared to other countries. Believe me I have family all places overseas. Sure we are tight on tests-but so are lots countries! We do what we can at the time. Move on🤷🏼‍♀️

    Brian McKenzie Brian McKenzie 8:39 am 14 Jan 22

    Pam Gulliver the point of lockdowns and restrictions was to give government time to prepare. What did they do? The shortage of tests is because the government failed to procure them.

    Where did I suggest government have to do everything? All I expect is for them to do as they said they would yet they failed at every single turn

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 8:42 am 14 Jan 22

    Brian McKenzie do you know why they haven’t been able to get them although ordered awhile ago? I have family in Health in Canberra-there’s world shortages.., and they were ordered just not last month either 🙄 we live in the best country.

    Brian McKenzie Brian McKenzie 8:45 am 14 Jan 22

    Pam Gulliver there is a manufacturer in Brisbane who tried to sell tests to the federal health department who told them they were not required, the stock was instead sent to the US. Over a million Australian manufactured RAT tests are being sent overseas due to government failure. Defend them all you like but the majority of the population won’t forget their incompetence come election time

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 8:47 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy amen to that. I have a family member in Colorado on a ventilator double vaccinated. A son caught it twice double vax. People just are selfish, it’s sad to see in our country. Rapid A tests aren’t going to stop it. So you & I move on and the rest can complain my dear. ❤️

    Jo Hann Jo Hann 8:58 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy the issue is with distribution, which is not something determined by "selfishness by the general public and plain stupidity".

    It's definitely a government issue.

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 9:20 am 14 Jan 22

    Well it will be interesting to see what the labor/greens government miraculously does when they get in

    All they have done is whinge and complain and lay blame

    I’m yet to hear their solutions

    Nathan Horton Nathan Horton 9:20 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy what PM?

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 9:22 am 14 Jan 22

    The one that works tirelessly to try to help us

    Do you not watch press conferences

    Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 9:23 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy The TWU warned the Morrison govt in October last year that without RATs for transport workers this would happen. They were ignored in exactly the same way the ex fire chiefs were in 2019.

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 9:25 am 14 Jan 22

    It honestly makes me wonder how this country survived 2 world wars the Spanish flu and the Great Depression

    Because we obviously don’t have the toughness anymore to get through this

    Christine Hamilton Christine Hamilton 9:39 am 14 Jan 22

    Pam Gulliver Dumb that's a bit rich. How about people just being scared of the unknown...

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 9:41 am 14 Jan 22

    Brian McKenzie what has testing got to do with people hoarding food?

    Lee Powell Lee Powell 9:51 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy are you seriously suggesting we are not going to get through this? 🤦‍♂️

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 10:02 am 14 Jan 22

    No

    And this is not perfect

    But we can’t expect every single person to be happy with outcomes

    It’s difficult for government companies work places child care etc

    Personally I’d like to hear some positive instead of negative

    The news just hypes all the negative and rarely reports on positive stories

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 10:04 am 14 Jan 22

    we will get through it and so will the rest of the world

    It’s unprecedented in 100 years since the Spanish flu

    Brian McKenzie Brian McKenzie 10:04 am 14 Jan 22

    Tina Newsome there is no food to hoard. This is a supply chain breakdown due to staff isolating without being able to get tests. Food is literally rotting in warehouses because it can not be delivered.

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 10:16 am 14 Jan 22

    Christine Hamilton life is unknown. We knew nothing about smallpox or even the flu! We just have to move forward & trust the experts 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 10:20 am 14 Jan 22

    Jane Kennedy between the rot with Prince Andrew, Djovic & people here all panicking & blaming govt or whom ever else .. turn off the news I say!

    Pam Gulliver Pam Gulliver 10:21 am 14 Jan 22

    Brian McKenzie ah well they can’t pick it up from suppliers then if they are all down at home can they- stop panicking people!

    Christine Hamilton Christine Hamilton 10:53 am 14 Jan 22

    Pam Gulliver Correct. Still not a reason to call people dumb.

    Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 11:24 am 14 Jan 22

    Brian McKenzie yes there is supply chain issues but people have also been panic buying. Again, nothing to do with testing.

    Brian McKenzie Brian McKenzie 11:27 am 14 Jan 22

    Tina Newsome the supply chain issues are entirely related to testing. I work in the food industry and have done for 25 years. On this issue I know exactly what I am talking about

    TrishnBill Palmer TrishnBill Palmer 10:05 am 15 Jan 22

    Brian McKenzie exactly, its not hoarding, there is nothing to hoard because the workers are not able to work, either isolating or with Covid.

chewy14 chewy14 7:46 am 14 Jan 22

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.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 7:46 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?

Malcolm Campbell Malcolm Campbell 7:50 am 14 Jan 22

Compared to the rest of the world we are doing fine. And scomo will be the next PM weather we like it or not.

    Millie Clark Millie Clark 8:19 am 14 Jan 22

    Malcolm Campbell I dunno man. I’m hear that this reopening this is starting to help us catch up to the absolute chaos. With our covid rates we’re bound to overtake if something doesn’t change!

    Ryan Cantrill Ryan Cantrill 8:33 am 14 Jan 22

    Malcolm Campbell typical right-winged response, makes a claim with zero facts to back it up. How are we doing fine when you can’t buy a loaf of bread at your local store because people can’t get tested ? How are we doing fine when a truck driver loses his business because there is no ADBLUE to run his trucks? The Fed Gov was told to plan and prepare by informed medical professionals and scientists 4 month before the implementation of their magical reopening strategy. Now here we are again. You take basic healthcare, food and livelihoods away from people, they get desperate.

    Maree Commens Maree Commens 9:03 am 14 Jan 22

    Ryan Cantrill and more struggling small family businesses lose their livelihoods

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 9:24 am 14 Jan 22

    Malcolm Campbell can I have some of what you’re smoking? 😳

higgo higgo 8:04 am 14 Jan 22

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

Acton Acton 8:08 am 14 Jan 22

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.

    JC JC 7:39 am 15 Jan 22

    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.

Sherie Heather Sherie Heather 8:23 am 14 Jan 22

This is an ongoing issue since before covid and fires down on our coast. These companies are not stocking enough product and people rely on these stores. Currently growing my own food and supporting my local farms around us. Stop supporting these big food chain suppliers and do it yourself. Buy from small local businesses

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. 🤬🤬🤬

bd84 bd84 8:42 am 14 Jan 22

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.

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.

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.

Michele Balcomb Michele Balcomb 9:09 am 14 Jan 22

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

Chris Thomson Chris Thomson 9:09 am 14 Jan 22

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

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

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.

abstract44 abstract44 9:27 am 14 Jan 22

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.

Mendy Smart Mendy Smart 9:31 am 14 Jan 22

Covid is State Governments' issue, not federal.

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

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.

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 🤷‍♀️

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