Mungo MacCallum on Covid-19

As so often with Morrison, there is no overall strategy – simply a series of reactive measures which, he hopes, will do the job unless a next one is needed. and then another one, and another one …

Scott Morrison insists that his message is clear – the government is fully on top of the coronavirus crisis, there is no reason for doubt or uncertainty.

Well, up to a point, prime minister. Viewed individually, ScoMo’s present barrage of edicts are indeed firm and unequivocal. If they are taken at face value, there is no room for confusion.

But the problem is that, taken together, they are not only confusing but often self-contradictory. As so often with Morrison, there is no overall strategy – simply a series of reactive measures which, he hopes, will do the job unless a next one is needed. and then another one, and another one …

The basic dilemma that has still not been resolved is whether we are to treat this as a disaster on a truly monumental scale, a crisis like the great pandemics of the past, rivaling world wars and the Great Depression in their long term destruction; or a temporary set back – a severe one, no doubt, but an aberration that can be managed with a shit load of taxpayer money a dash of discipline and patriotism until we bounce back and a resiient Australia resumes its triumphal progress under the steady and stable hands of the coalition.

In the first scenario, we have closed our borders, the Reserve Bank has taken unprecedented steps to save the remnants of a devastated economy and a quasi state of emergency is in place – there is even talk of the free-enterprise government considering nationalising sections of industry and rationing essential goods

But on the other side, gatherings have been limited but not shut down, schools, universities and even casinos remain open for business, and although I have been condemned to home isolation, I am able — indeed encouraged – to watch TV sport in which groups of athletes indulge in as much close personal contact as possible.

And there is confusion at all levels. In spite of Morrison’s worthy initiative in bringing the state and territory leaders into a national cabinet, he has mean-mindedly excluded the federal opposition .. Anthony Albanese has pointedly not been offered a guernsey. Although the idea is apparently to coordinate a nationwide approach Tasmania has effectively seceded from the mainland. Mixed messages galore.

And there is little point in telling everyone else to shut up and do what we are told, when those telling us admit that things are changing too fast for even them to catch up. The chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, said last week that the schools would, must, stay open – for now, but if circumstances changed, so would the policy.

Fair enough, but hardly reassuring to those who are already conflicted about what to do with their children. The Catholics are in open warfare, and some others in the private sector are voting with their feet. The arguments are complex and there is sense on both sides.

Morrison is adhering to the official, current, advice – he says he is happy to send his own children to school and for what it’s worth I feel the same about my grandchildren. But I do not regard Morrison’s – or my own – preference as making the position, or the message, unequivocally clear.

It would be nice to think that the resumption of parliament will sort it all out. Perhaps such wishful thinking is about all we have left.

Republished with – I devoutly hope – the kind permission of John Menadue

324 thoughts on “Mungo MacCallum on Covid-19

  1. Well, if anyone is going to catch it …

    Mass-funerals still being held in ultra-Orthodox Jewish circles in Israel are threatening to accelerate the spread of the virus in the country, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

    An estimated 300 people ignored social distancing rules and participated in the funeral of Rabbi Tzvi Shinkar in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak on Saturday night.

    The coronavirus is now spreading fastest in ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel, according to internal Health Ministry figures obtained by Haaretz.

  2. The US ,as with other places, is facing a shortage of ventilators. A shortage that will mean many deaths, It turns out they started prepping for such a shortage 13 years ago but………
    The U.S. Tried to Build a New Fleet of Ventilators. The Mission Failed.

    As the coronavirus spreads, the collapse of the project helps explain America’s acute shortage.

    Thirteen years ago, a group of U.S. public health officials came up with a plan to address what they regarded as one of the medical system’s crucial vulnerabilities: a shortage of ventilators.

    Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway.

    And then things suddenly veered off course. A multibillion-dollar maker of medical devices bought the small California company that had been hired to design the new machines. The project ultimately produced zero ventilators.

    The federal government started over with another company in 2014, whose ventilator was approved only last year and whose products have not yet been delivered.

    Today, with the coronavirus ravaging America’s health care system, the nation’s emergency-response stockpile is still waiting on its first shipment

  3. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Michael Koziol reports that public health experts have called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to release the modelling the government is using to make major decisions on coronavirus shut downs, arguing it would boost confidence in those choices and give people more clarity about when life may return to normal.
    And Sean Kelly says Morrison must give us more detail if we are to trust his judgment.
    Michael Bachelard gets out the crystal ball to see what lies on the other side. Well worth reading.
    So does Sean Carney who says nothing will ever be the same again.
    Scott Morrison has offered coronavirus wage guarantee for those who have lost jobs, but details still to come writes Amy Remeikis.
    Economist Angela Jackson writes that our social safety net faces its biggest test in generations. Shea says the age of thriving not surviving is over for the time being.
    A combination of wage subsidies and loan guarantees is the only way to hold together employers, workers, and ultimately the Australian economy writes Kevin Rudd who takes the opportunity to put the boot into the critics of his handling of the GFC.
    The SMH editorial makes the point that this pandemic will demand a dramatic expansion of our mental health system.
    We cannot wait two weeks – we must go into lockdown now for the sake of our healthcare workers writes immunologist Professor John Dwyer.
    Michelle Grattan asks, “Which leaders and health experts will be on the right side of history on COVID-19 policy?”
    David Crowe says that foreign buyers will be slapped with tougher rules to prevent them acquiring Australian companies during the coronavirus crisis amid plunging share prices and fears of predatory takeovers.
    Our greatest failure has been the decline of our democracy laments John Lord.
    It looks like it will be another brutal week for retailer stores.
    Dr Steven Hail believes that government spending can save the economy from serious recession in the wake of Covid-19.,13726
    Sydney scientists have developed a world-first COVID-19 diagnostic tool to help frontline healthcare workers rapidly identify patients. The free online program trains doctors to spot COVID-19 in CT scans of patients’ lungs.
    The coronavirus is the worst intelligence failure in US history writes Mikah Zenko. He says Trump’s judgments are highly transmissible, infecting the thinking and behaviour of nearly every official or adviser who comes in contact with the initial carrier.
    Research scientist Tosh Szatow writes that it’s not too early though to start laying the groundwork for measuring our response and the critical data needed for the next pandemic.
    In scenes reminiscent of September 11, 2001, emergency service workers are battling to save the dying in New York as the impact of coronavirus worsens.
    Bloody idiots!
    Today’s “Arsehole of the Week” nominee.

    Cartoon Corner

    Alan Moir

    David Rowe

    Matt Golding

    Jim Pavlidis

    Mark David

    Glen Le Lievre

    Michael Leunig

    Johannes Leak

    From the US

  4. Just what the bushfire-devastated NSW south coast didn’t need – cruise ships infested with COVID-19 unloading passengers.

    A coronavirus cruise ship was about to dock in a bushfire-ravaged community until local doctors intervened

    7.30 can reveal that the bushfire-affected Bega Valley narrowly averted a potential health crisis after a plan to divert several cruise ships to the port of Eden to disembark passengers in the days following the Federal Government’s cruise ship ban was abandoned.

    One of those vessels, the Voyager of the Seas, was due to arrive at the port on 15 March.

    It has since had several confirmed COVID-19 cases after it left passengers in Sydney on March 18. One of those who tested positive, Garry Kirstenfield, died on Wednesday last week.

    But a local campaign saw medical practitioners, including GPs, anaesthetists, ICU doctors and respiratory physicians, unite to warn state authorities about the risks they believed passenger cruises presented to the regional NSW community, which was hit hard by bushfires over the summer

    As an example of sheer, utter stupidity among the cruise ship brigade what about this, from “Sydney-based teacher” Helen Watson (what was a teacher doing on a cruise in March anyway) –

    She questioned why the cruise was allowed to depart, given the increasing risks around COVID-19.

    “I don’t think we should have been allowed to sail,” she said.

    “We should never have left port given the conditions at the time.”

    “Given the conditions at the time” with the Diamond Princess already in quarantine for a month and the virus already in Australia for over a month and spreading throughout the world why the hell did she still take the damn cruise? Why did she get on board? Why are humans so stupid?

    This particular cruise left Sydney on 7 March for what was supposed to be an 11 night Pacific cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu, due back in Sydney on 18 March. The original itinerary went nowhere near Eden. The cruise was booked out. Why didn’t the cruise company cancel it, instead of allowing the passengers to board? Greed?


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