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

934 thoughts on “Mungo MacCallum on Covid-19

  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    One-third of people in the latest Guardian Essential survey believe there has been an overreaction to the threat of the coronavirus, and only 35% of the sample trust the media to give them honest and reliable information about the pandemic. These are the “quiet Australians” I presume.
    Peter Hartcher describes Australia as the Commonwealth of confusion.
    The Canberra Times editorial says that the national cabinet has failed to deliver unity through the pandemic.
    Paul Bongiorno describes Morrison as a “besieged PM caught in the coronavirus swamp, up to his neck in alligators”.
    Trump, unquestionably, is an idiot. A dangerous one.
    And the progress of the massive coronavirus stimulus bill was blocked by Senate Democrats late on Sunday night, local time, as partisan disputes raged over the legislation that’s aimed at arresting the economy’s precipitous decline. The stoush is over what the Democrats say is the big bias in favour of business.
    It is much-derided big businesses that will do the heavy lifting of keeping Australia moving — and help bring it to the other side says the AFR editorial.
    As the country runs short of critical medicines and life-saving protective gear, Michael West reports on those profiting from the tragedy.
    Our politicians scramble for hope as Australia, one of the most gregarious nations on earth, folds in on itself writes Katharine Murphy.
    Behind the facade of high-level consultations among state and federal leaders, there are growing disagreements on everything from schools to travel bans. No wonder the public is confused writes Jennifer Hewett.
    Michelle Grattan believes that a contest of credible views should be seen as useful in a national crisis.
    Berejiklian’s decision to keep children at home while schools remain open has created confusion and anxiety among parents craving certainty.
    At the risk of infuriating every aged person in Australia, asking them to self-isolate at home for a few months could go a long way to reducing the strain on hospitals urges economist David Bassanese.
    Dana McCauley reports that doctors are arguing hospitals are putting lives at risk by continuing with “non-essential” operations while stocks of protective masks run low.
    Anatomy of a coronavirus disaster: how 2,700 people were let off the Ruby Princess cruise ship by mistake.
    As the country moves into lockdown mode in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are increasingly faced with serious ethical questions about what ordinary people should be obliged to do for others writes ethicist Professor Hugh Breakey.
    Sam Maiden reports that teachers are threatening to walk off the job in New South Wales and Queensland unless greater protections are put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    Stepping up to the plate is going to cost banks’ balance sheets, revenues and profits writes Elizabeth Knight.
    Australia’s COVID-19 testing regime is among the world’s best, health experts have said, despite test kits for the coronavirus running low.\ reports Isabelle Lane.
    Some countries are better equipped than others to handle a pandemic. Alan Austin assesses readiness in Australia and the USA for the coming storm.,13718
    When it comes to unemployment in Australia, definitions have been broken writes Greg Jericho.
    AFL players have offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut until football resumes, and are struggling to come to terms with life without football.
    Josh Taylor explains how the government services minister, Stuart Robert, has had to walk back a claim that the MyGov website suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack yesterday just as people were logging on to register for welfare services.
    Why housing evictions must be suspended to defend us against coronavirus.
    With the economy coming to a stall, the Federal Government should remap Australia’s energy landscape, writes Tim Buckley.,13720
    New Zealand is moving to a near-complete societal lockdown within 48 hours as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern aims to seize on a “window of opportunity” to contain COVID-19. Military personnel will join with police in enforcing nationwide self-isolation under the unprecedented restrictions.
    Coronavirus cases surge in Italy, Iran, US while Pope calls for prayer. That will be a great help!
    Adam Triggs writes that a wave of financial crises is looming and it’s clear what needs to be done.
    We can’t let the coronavirus lead to a 9/11-style erosion of civil liberties writes Samuel Miller McDonald.
    More than 2 million Australians could be without a job as companies sack workers due to restrictions to stop infection.
    Rachel Siewert writes that the government should suspend mutual obligations for JobSeeker payment.
    Private schools are expected to get a $3.4 billion boost over the next decade under measures passed by federal parliament. Why now?
    Regional media owners are asking the Morrison government to release funds from the small and regional publishers innovation package as they scramble to adapt to market conditions caused by COVID-19.
    Infections have soared across New York state, which now accounts for roughly 5 per cent of the world’s confirmed cases.
    Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters tell us that the AFP has interviewed former SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith over allegations he kicked an Afghan prisoner off a cliff in a serious development in the long-running saga involving Australia’s most decorated Afghan veteran.
    And for nomination for “Arseholes of the Week” we have this charming couple.
    And this mongrel!

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe

    David Pope

    Dionne Gain

    Andrew Dyson

    John Shakespeare

    Peter Broelman

    Johannes Leak

    From the US

  2. Did the 7AM thing at Woolies today

    Toilet paper: none
    Pasta: none
    Rice: minuscule
    Anti-bacterial stuff: none
    Fruit: fine
    Vegies: fine
    Meat: just OK
    Canned vegies: just OK
    Eggs: I think I saw 10 cartons

  3. Why would asking over-60s to self-isolate for a few months be “infuriating every aged person in Australia”?

    More ageism – sigh.

    Why single out over-60s? Won’t self-isolation be just as infuriating, annoying, difficult, whatever, for younger people? I get the point David Bassanese is trying to make, but he could have chosen better wording.

    • Luckily we don’t do a lot of socialising, so it doesn’t feel much different for us. But we will miss going to the local footy instead this winter we can look forward to not leaving the nice warm fire in the middle of winter. I feel more sorry for the teenagers that won’t be able to mingle with their mates to keep them occupied. I worry for some that might just get into very bad mischief.

    • 2gravel –

      Same for me. I don’t go out much, I prefer being at home. Self-isolating would just mean getting the groceries etc delivered and not seeing my friends. I’d cope well because I am almost self-isolating now.

  4. Thanks to Truffles and Tones this is something we won’t get to hear from NBN. Should be “fun” when the lock down tightens up .
    And Chorus says fixed-line broadband had no problems – and despite escalating use, it still has a lot of headroom thanks to upgrades over the past decade associated with the public-private Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) rollout and other projects.

  5. A lament from Robert Fisk. Pity it is paywalled but the gist resonates.
    Will this nonsense language dull our reality or will we be bored to death before the virus reaches us?

    The outbreak of coronavirus has led to loaded phrases, a rash of cliches and weary metaphors. This contamination of our speech is isolating meaning, destroying semantics and, worse still, trivialising the crisis, says Robert Fisk

    …….Few of us now question the loaded phrases, the old cliches put to new use, the tired metaphors and the weary references to war and frontlines – even, inevitably I suppose, to the Second World War.

  6. Hello all, I am back from the Great Ocean Walk. There are no backpackers to bring in the potato harvest. Perhaps laid off cleaners could be redeployed to fumigating every public transport carriage, bus, ferry daily

    PatriciaWA – sorry to hear about the loss of your dog

    Why would people have confidence in the Morrison government when he has proved to be mean and tricky at every turn
    1. his kids not at school for last 3 weeks, I understand one daughter has asthma
    2. bushfire payments not made
    3. drought payments not distributed
    4. people retrenched now will not get Newstart/Job Seeker until 27 April
    5. still insisting on Mutual Obligation activities

    I hadn’t realised that with libraries closing that many people can’t use MyGov

    Although Dr Norman Swan says everyone should be on My Health record I opted out because the government was selling the health data

    • oh I forgot the confusion about the two-tier Job Seeker payment and does the higher payment cut out after 6 months

      The walk guides were laid off as the walk completed. we gave them large tips so they had petrol money to get home

      I have changed my shopping patterns to shop like a Russian, out daily looking for things, ready to buy if they are available. My closest supermarket is stocked around 11am on Fridays and Tuesdays so its worth queuing at Aldi which is restocked daily

  7. I don’t know how many people realise this, but we have pretty much had a coup.

    Parliament won’t sit again until at least August, possibly October. (Maybe never, if the CrimeMinister gets his wish to be Supreme Dictator.)

    It is a big worry to know our parliament will not sit for months. If there is any emergency needing urgent legislation then what happens? Parliament could sit by video link, should be doing that, but our troglodyte government can’t manage that.

    Yesterday an omnibus bill was passed – it did not just contain the stimulus packages. It also contained the delay of all committee reports and the delay of all programs up for review until October/December.

    That includes a review of the cashless debit card, so for anyone hoping they might soon see the death of this card – well, tough. It also means all those currently registering for Centrelink payments in CDC trial areas will be put onto the card because trigger payments have not been changed.

    From yesterday –

    Just now in #QT, a government speaker has just announced that part of the omnibus bill is a ‘sun-setting clause’ that will enable government to move back all legislation that is likely to expire before Oct 2020 by six months.
    What this means for us, given Indue Card policy is set to expire June 2020, is that it is very likely now that the CDC legislation and therefore all CDC trials could be extended for six months ( from June to Dec) without debate in order to pass the stimulus package.
    At this time we do not see ANY amendments disavowing this on the bill sheet. This is devastating news. Please see the bill link below: Chapter 16:: Deferral of Sunsetting: page 157.
    It seems yet again the most vulnerable sector face supporting the national economy.;fileType=application%2Fpdf

    Ministers now have new powers. For example Anne Ruston, one of the most braindead in a ministry of incredibly stupid people, now has the power to change stimulus packages. As she knows bugger all about what the packages contain as it is I can’t see this ending well. Yesterday she was using weasel words to tell new Centrelink clients they would be paid from the day they registered. True, but what she wasn’t saying was they will have to wait weeks for their first payment. I hope the lady in tears outside a closed Sydney Centrelink office yesterday with only $10 in her wallet has family or good friends who can support her until she gets her payment.

    Here’s Ms Ruston today –

    Just ring Centelink, she says. Doesn’t she know it’s impossible to get through?

    • And for those already on Jobseeker payments who have to register fortnightly … how are we to contact MyGov when it is already overloaded? Will our payments be automatically paid because of this kerfuffle?

    • They should waive all obligations.

      The government did suspend mutual obligations for single parents on the awful ParentsNext scheme, but not for JobSeeker.

      It will be good to see all those now suspended/out of work ParentsNext caseworkers lining up outside Centrelink offices. That’s a whole tanker-load of karma.

  8. Katharine is so over it

    It’s unusual for the opening sentence of a radio interview by a government minister to serve as giant billboard for why the minister in question should be cleaning out his desk to spend more time with his family – but we, as everyone says 24/7, are in unusual times.

    So here was the first clue, at least in this particular interview, that Australia’s minister for government services is a bloody idiot.

    It is not open for comment 😀

  9. I think there are hard days in front of us. I went to IGA , just the local shop. I had my scarf, used distancing. At the teller, I put my scarf over my mouth. There weren’t 2 metres between a client and myself. I think I offended her. Alternatively, she could have thought I was infected…

  10. I’ve had it with stupid, selfish old people who have returned from overseas with COVID-19, have travelled home from Sydney scattering germs on the way, infected who knows how many others and finally twigged they have the disease when it was too late.

    Over the last few days the local count of infected persons has gone from one to nine. All of them – except the schoolgirl who was the first local case – are over 50 and recently have returned from overseas. You have to wonder if any of them were on the Ruby Princess or other plague ships.

    Why were these people not forced into quarantine in Sydney or wherever they landed, instead of being allowed to travel up the coast?

    The government tells us there are still a few thousand Australians on their way home from overseas. Will they be allowed to wander in untested and unchecked too or will they be taken from their ships and aircraft straight into quarantine? I very much suspect it will be Option 1.

    We need to do better, much better if the government is serious about containing contagion and lowering that curve.

  11. From my email

    Tony Burke #5and5

    Sack Peter Dutton, For Humanity’S,

    Okay so the subject line isn’t really true. We only sat for one day so a typical #5and5 doesn’t really work. But I want you to know the full story – including some of the behind the scenes information that wasn’t reported – of an extraordinary day in the parliament yesterday. Here’s the timeline:

    At 12:15pm Speaker Tony Smith and I spent about an hour in the chamber trying to work out how we could make parliament work under the new social distancing rules. Each side had organised for 30 members to stay home so we never had more than 100 people in the room. We decided to spread everyone out and only have one person to each bench. We organised for extra seats at the back. The public galleries were closed and the media had to observe from the glassed-in galleries normally reserved for school groups. Even something as simple as where the tellers stand to count a vote had to be changed to avoid having a heap of people next to each other during a division. Doors were kept permanently open to stop lots of people using the same door handle. We had to make sure that parliament set an example of how the new rules need to be observed to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

    At 11am the Government announced new economic measures and Jim Chalmers is sent updated copies of the legislation that needs to go through the parliament the next day. While the public confusion was continuing over schools and what people should and shouldn’t do, Labor Shadow Ministers and their staff were working through the legislation.

    7am – Meeting with Leader of the House Christian Porter to agree on procedures for the day.

    8am – Labor tactics meeting to work out question time approach

    8:30am – Shadow ministry meets to discuss the Government’s package

    9am – Caucus meets and resolves to support the legislation and move a number of amendments.

    10am – Parliament begins with all of us sitting 1.5 metres apart. In the House the Speaker opens with a statement explaining the procedures for the day. Next Christian Porter moves the motion to suspend standing orders for the day and I indicate Labor’s support for the motion.

    Social distancing in the House. PHOTO: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

    10:12am – Statements from the PM and Anthony Albanese. There was a fair bit of coverage of these statements and I’ve linked to Anthony’s speech here. He made clear our approach for the day would be to support the measures that needed to go through the parliament but to still propose amendments where we believed they could be improved. He said we’d be supporting the measures not because they were perfect but because they were urgent.

    10.46am – Josh Frydenberg introduces the eight bills and speaks to them together.

    11.07am – Jim Chalmers responds and calls today a “defining test for our country and its leaders, and a test for our people and their parliament”. He then points out some of the key problems with the bills, including that the Coronavirus supplement will not begin until 27 April 2020; expanded access to the Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance won’t begin until 27 April 2020; most people won’t receive the first payment to households until April 2020 or the second payment until July 2020; pensioners won’t see a boost in their income due to the change in deeming rates until 1 May 2020; and employers won’t receive a cash flow boost until 28 April 2020.

    11.30am – Chris Bowen outlines the health challenge and tells a heartfelt story about how his grandmother lost her mother in the Spanish flu pandemic:

    “102,000 Australians gave their lives in the flu pandemic. One of them was my great-grandmother, Magdalene McNally, who died at age 29 a few years after giving birth to my grandmother. Obviously, I never knew her; she died 50 years before I was born. I don’t know what her personality was, what she felt about life, what she felt in her dying days—I have no idea. I have one photo of her, her wedding photo. That’s all I know about my great-grandmother. But I know this. The impact was long lasting. Eighty years after her death, as my grandmother was dying, and it was obvious to all—to her and to us, her children and grandchildren—that she was dying, we asked her: ‘Where would you like to be buried, Nan?’ Eighty years after the death of her mother, she said, ‘Put me next to mum, please’, which is exactly what we did. Eighty years of grief that she went through, not having really known her mother—her mother died when she was an infant. Eighty years later we remedied that the best we could, by burying her next to her mother, burying them together, reuniting them.”

    11:42am – Richard Marles talks about how he had once believed that September 11, 2001 would be the defining, historical moment of his life.

    “From that day until now I have absolutely believed that that would be the most significant historical event that I would live through. But as we look at what’s playing out in the world today and we think about what the next few months hold for our country, perhaps, amazingly, a different story is actually going to be written.”

    11:56am – Anthony Albanese speaks again to outline Labor’s response to the stimulus bills. Confirms we will vote for the package but also has concerns about gaps and inconsistencies. Also expresses concern that bushfire-affected communities are being forgotten because of this crisis.

    Keeping our hands clean. PHOTO: Alex Ellinghausen/NINE

    12:10pm – I outline why the package doesn’t do enough for workers who are now losing their jobs en masse. I also point out it doesn’t do enough for the arts sector, which is being decimated.

    12:22pm – Catherine King talks about the effect on airlines and transport companies as travel restrictions and social distancing bite.

    12.38pm – More Labor speeches. Brendan O’Connor also talks about the effect on workers, and particularly on small business; Jason Clare calls for new laws to stop people being evicted from their homes during the crisis; Stephen Jones talks about the long-term risks of letting people access their superannuation accounts now; Bill Shorten speaks of the effect of the crisis on people with a disability and their carers; Joel Fitzgibbon talks about the effect the crisis might have on rural and regional Australia: and Andrew Giles speaks against the racism that has been emerging against the Chinese community since the pandemic began.

    2pm – So for question time I’ll give you all our questions so you know what we pursued. There’s a link here if you want to read the full Hansard with the answers. But if you wanted to know what an unusual question time it was think about this: no one interjected, no one was warned, no one was ejected, no points of order were raised, and at no stage did a Government minister blame Labor for anything! Truly historic.

    We asked:

    Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the Opposition) (14:01): My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the number of COVID-19 cases in Australia is doubling every three days and if this continues the pressure on our health system will become enormous? Does the Prime Minister agree that our national objective must be to bring this outbreak under control, as South Korea has done?
    Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the Opposition) (14:07): My question is again to the Prime Minister. What steps is the Prime Minister taking to improve the communication of measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the rules on testing, advice to parents on school closures and the difference between essential and non-essential activities?
    Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (14:13) My question is for the Prime Minister. I refer to the government’s expansion of Medicare telehealth rebates to some patients and services. Will the government expand telehealth rebates to all patients and services so that Australians don’t have to visit a health provider during this crisis when it’s not absolutely necessary? In particular, will the Prime Minister agree to expand telehealth rebates to mental health services and also provide mental health screening to people affected by COVID-19 and ensure dedicated services for children, parents and health workers?
    Dr FREELANDER (Macarthur) (14:24): My question is to the Prime Minister. Frontline health, aged-care and home-care workers have said that Australia’s response to COVID-19 has been undermined by shortages of personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns. What is the government doing to address this urgent shortage?
    Ms CATHERINE KING (Ballarat) (14:32): My question is to the Prime Minister. Who is responsible for allowing passengers to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship, many of whom are now presenting with coronavirus symptoms? Why isn’t Australia taking the temperature of all international passengers on arrival at our airports and ship terminals still today?
    Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (14:37): My question is for the Prime Minister. What are Treasury’s forecasts for the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, including on growth, jobs and businesses?
    Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the Opposition) (14:42): My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. According to the government’s proposed legislation before the House, the coronavirus supplement will not begin until 27 April, most people won’t receive the first payment to households until April and the second payment until July, pensioners won’t see a boost in their income due to the changing deeming rates until 1 May, and employers won’t receive a cash flow boost until 28 April. When we all agree that the economy needs immediate support, why will these payments take so long to start?
    Mr BURKE (Watson—Manager of Opposition Business) (14:49): My questions to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that, under the business cash flow measure, businesses will be paid based on their staffing levels in the first quarter of this year, not on how many staff they have kept on through the crisis? Doesn’t that mean that employers who stand down staff will receive the same assistance as employers who keep people in work?
    Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the Opposition) (14:54): My question is also to the Minister for Government Services. I refer to the fact that the myGov website crashed shortly before 9 am this morning. Was this because the site only permits a limited number of people to access the site at once and was simply overwhelmed, or was there another reason? When will the delays be over?
    Mr BRENDAN O’CONNOR (Gorton) (14:59): My question is for the Prime Minister. In response to COVID-19, other countries are providing wage subsidies of up to 80 per cent. The Australian government hasn’t guaranteed any worker will benefit from a wage subsidy and, for a worker on a medium wage, that subsidy could be just 20 per cent. How will the government guarantee employers are able to keep workers on during this crisis with only a 20 per cent wage subsidy?
    Mr MARLES (Corio—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:06): My question is to the Prime Minister, and it concerns the critical importance of education. Will the government guarantee resources to ensure that all students who can’t attend school during the COVID-19 crisis won’t miss out on learning opportunities?
    3:20pm – After that it was back to the Bills, with further speakers including Pat Conroy, Mike Freelander, Helen Haines, Rebekah Sharkie, Zali Steggall and Adam Bandt.

    4:00pm – Some of the people who read this email love parliamentary procedure. If you don’t then (1) you are a normal human being, and (2) feel free to skip this section. One of the things we had to work out was how to avoid having too many members of parliament touching the same surfaces before we returned to every part of the country. We were about to have divisions on amendments moved by Jim Chalmers (dealing with the gaps in the payments system), me (dealing with the fact that the package gave the same payment to businesses even if they sacked all their staff) and Stephen Jones (about the need to not wreck our system of compulsory superannuation). So normally you can only have one amendment at a time. The only way around this was for me to move an amendment to the amendment and for Stephen to then move an amendment to the amendment to the amendment.

    But for these votes to take place it would mean we would all move to the government benches and they’d move to ours. So to avoid this instead of asking “that the amendment be agreed to” the Speaker put the question “that the amendment be disagreed to”. We were asked whether we disagreed with the amendment to the amendment to the amendment moved by Stephen Jones and voted “No”. And for the first time in a very long time all three amendments were defeated because the majority had voted “yes”.

    5pm – Bills pass the House and are sent to the Senate. We then went straight on to debate the supply bills so the Government has the money to deal with this crisis. Jo Ryan, Tony Zappia, Patrick Gorman, Susan Templeman, Matt Thistlethwaite, Peter Khalil, and Milton Dick, spoke and then these bills also passed with our support.

    6.44pm – The Government introduces a new sitting calendar for the year. In the middle of a crisis they cancel every sitting day between now and 11 August. This was extraordinary. It’s true that given the nature of the crisis we may get to the sittings that had been planned for May and June and find that it’s logistically very difficult to bring us together. But to cancel them now and pretend that we don’t need a parliament for five months is absurd. It means there will be no parliamentary scrutiny of $84 billion of taxpayers’ money that is about to go out the door. It also presumes that even though the Government was adding and changing provisions right up until the day the bills were before the parliament that somehow we now have everything right and there’s no need for the parliament anymore. Watch this space. If the Government fails to bring parliament back before August it will simply mean they’ve refused to respond to what happens in our economy in the coming weeks.

    PHOTO: Alex Ellinghausen/NINE

    6.44pm – At the same time in the Senate they introduce the stimulus bills. Our speakers include Kristina Keneally, Katy Gallagher and Tim Ayres. In the Senate we helped achieve a number of amendments:

    The $550 per fortnight coronavirus payment will now be extended to students.
    We’ve secured a commitment to fix the income test to make it easier for people to get support by loosening the test on their partner’s income.
    We’ve also secured a new power for payments to people who fall through the cracks.
    10.10pm – Bills pass the Senate with these amendments.

    10.57pm – Bills return to the house amended and are passed into law.

    11:07pm – Changes were made to standing orders and a new sessional order was passed. Here’s the problem. We don’t know exactly what restrictions will be placed on movement in the coming weeks but it’s not unreasonable to imagine a situation where for parliament to sit many members had to arrive 14 days early and go into isolation. Then after the sitting they would have to isolate for a further 14 days when they return. In case we end up in a situation where meeting in the normal way is near impossible there’s a rule for this term only that the Government and Labor can agree to meet in a different “manner and form” if we need to. Hopefully we don’t have to, and the Government could only make changes on this if it was with our agreement.

    And that was Monday.

    Take care during all of this. It’s going to be the toughest time most of us have known and the Government’s new measures aren’t enough to avoid mass unemployment. Follow the health advice, especially the rules about keeping away from each other and regularly and thoroughly washing your hands.

    Can’t tell you when I’ll write next but I hope it’s well before August. To protect jobs we need the parliament to do its job.

    ‘til then,


    P.S. The moment the restrictions on gathering were put in place, hundreds of thousands of people in the arts and entertainment industry saw the next six months of their income disappear. The Government still hasn’t delivered an industry package for the sector and it needs one. Urgently. In the meantime, at least do everything you can to support our artists. If you are streaming music, stream a local band or muso. Right on the boundary of my electorate and Anthony Albanese’s electorate is the local Polish Club. It was the first place this week’s band played at and so they named themselves “Polish Club”. In honour of the daily mixed messages from Scott Morrison, this week’s song of the week is one of their hits: “Clarity”.

    • Sorry, it is a long post, but I am sure Tony would be happy for us to read his report. I notice how the government is trying to do the least at the latest and only Labor is standing up for students, Now they need to put pressure on for Disability Pensioners. It is not their fault they are not able to be in the workforce, as for looking for work or working,

  12. The gov’t should give the Virus Payment to every pensioner. That way it is more likely to be spent, sent into the economy. Especially with gambling venues closed, other ways of spending money like obt nline shopping will boost the economy, or allow people to pay down debt so they are able to spend when the time comes.

  13. I visited my local supermarket as it was unloading a delivery. A shelf stacker indicated that the delivery of mince was paltry, perhaps demand has outrun supply

    I think it’s time for rationing

    • Billie,

      I’m shopping at my local butchers (Kew East and Hawthorn). Apart from a huge run on my Hawthorn butcher last week, I’ve been able to get everything I’ve needed without a problem.

      I could count the number of times I’ve purchased meat from Colesworth in the past 2 decades on one finger.

    • We always have great in the freezer.If ever chicken pieces of any kind are on special my son and I get about 10 kilos, and the IGA staff are happy to them in 1kgish bags for us bless their cotton socks, and in the freezer they go. We buy mostly for our dogs but this is from the meat section of the supermaket. Also any meat on special is bought and frozen.

      My fridge was turned off for 24 hours when it was moved and failed to be plugged in again. The meat was refrozen and for the next months : whole frozen Duck, chicken, joint of beef chicken tenderloin, whole chicken, lamb roast, sirloin steak, sausages, lamb chops, chicken snitzchel hamburgers.

      My whole meat store, the lucky little bastards.

  14. The Drum rabbitting on about whether kids should complete Year 12 this year

    My take
    cancel all year 12 exams
    cancel all university classes and refund HECS fees

    ie 2020 is a dead year for this age cohort

  15. Twitter

    Bridget O’Flynn Retweeted
    DropletMichael Dowling Australia is led by idiots
    For 2 decades Singapore has set up its schools with e-learning & health check systems in preparation for a pandemic outbreak.

    What did Australia do?

    •Sabotaged nbn broadband
    •Cut health & Education
    •Cut training
    •Introduced School chaplains

    • My school in it’s 1896 charter stated as an aim “provision of officers for defense of Empire” . So cadets was a big part of school life. It also meant in the memorial chapel built after WWI the bronze plaque was chocka with names. Virtually all who graduated in 1914 and 1915 and most of 1916 were killed. Young kids straight from school to the cemetery. Because of their cadet training it was hey ho junior officers in no time and they at various points had life expectancy at the front of days and weeks.. What a pointless waste.

    • Kaffee
      My Mum’s great great uncle lasted 5 months at the Front. He was just a colonial private. His name is on one of the battlefield memorials in France. It seems his body was not found.

  16. That muppet Muirphy seems to think everyone lives next door to a city airport, or a cruise terminal.

    You leave the airport, you go home and stay there for 14 days, and the states and territories will be checking on you. We will not tolerate anybody putting the community at risk as a returned traveller.
    So returned travellers, please, stay at home, don’t go anywhere on the way from the airport or the cruise ship or wherever you are from.

    As I keep saying (and as he has not yet realised) people do go home when they arrive at airports and get off ships but that home may be in a regional town or even interstate. How have they been getting home? By taking a flight, or a train, or having a friend or family pick them up and take them home with stops along the way for meals. Plenty of chances to pass on the virus there.

    This is why country towns (like mine) are seeing increasing numbers of infections, with many more already incubating – they re from travellers returning home from their overseas jaunts and passing on their germs before they are diagnosed and decide to isolate themselves.

    We need places to quarantine travellers close to points of arrival. Travellers should be taken there in special buses with drivers and crew in hazmat gear. No going into the terminal, just straight onto the buses and off to quarantine, then staying there for the full fourteen days before they are allowed to go anywhere.

    Murphy admits the increasing number of infections is due mostly to returning travellers but he doesn’t realise what he and the government have to do to reduce that rate.

    It’s no good pleading with returning travellers who are self-isolating to stop going to the chemist or whatever. Humans are incredibly stupid, they are going to say “but I’m just going to the chemist to get some painkillers” and wander off, infecting who knows how many while they are out. Forced isolation in designated quarantine places is the only answer.

  17. Eh bien, Brendan is definitely NOT an immunologist …

    (not to mention his other defects, in particular, being well past his use-by date …….)

    • Oh good, Brendan! That makes me feel so much more comfortable and – y’know – SAFER!

  18. Kevin Rudd has some thoughts on how his using the ABC for education might work.

    Somewhere in this thread Therese Rein laments the state of the NBN, which would have been ideal for one to one coaching if Abbott and Turnbull had not killed it.

  19. Just watching ABC, with Annbelle Crabb going back to her childhood home. I did not know she was South Australian, living out past Two Wells. It is a quite a nice home, on a farm. They also went to her old school, and went into the nice school hall, airconditioned, that was not there when she was a student. (Two Wells is a rural town on the Adelaide Plains, very hot and dry in Summer. Crop country.)

    Just for interest, I did a bit of digging and found this in a report.

    A new Gym and Library were constructed as part of BER initiatives in 2009/2010.\

    The school hall was refurbished last year (sic 2018) as part of the state governments STEM initiative.

    It is a beautiful space. Both projects were financed by ALP governments.

    Click to access TWPS%20Context%20Statement%202019.pdf

  20. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. The Dow Jones is up 11.4% on its close.

    Rob Harris writes that one in ten Australians say they have lost their job in the past week, new research has found, while nearly one in four have had their incomes cut as the real-world impacts of the global coronavirus outbreak hit households across the country.
    According to The Australian Gladys Berejiklian told a confidential party room meeting on Tuesday that Australian Border Force officials were ­responsible for a catastrophic decision to release 2700 cruise ship passengers into the community, and that the agency should wear the blame for the risk of contagion ­unfolding in various states.
    Questions must be asked as to how the Ruby Princess was allowed to enter the country, writes Abul Rizvi.,13722
    The SMH editorial says the government must flood the media with its coronavirus message. It calls for a “Grim Reaper” effort.
    Meanwhile up to 1.6 million temporary workers are facing being trapped with no job or welfare.
    Lucy Cormack tells us that ventilators used in veterinary clinics for cats and dogs are being urgently sought for use in human hospitals to assist with the rising number of critical coronavirus patients.
    Australia is building towards about 10,000 ventilators for intensive care in the coronavirus crisis, a significant boost on the standing capacity in intensive care units around the country of about 2300.
    Public health expert Professor Gerard Fitzgerald explains what steps hospitals can take if coronavirus leads to a shortage of beds.
    The core calculation is that the community is better off with mass job losses than seeing the hospital system in intolerable crisis. Put brutally, the calculation is that people are better off unemployed than sick or dead writes Paul Kelly.
    Dennis Shanahan says that sidelining parliament is not healthy for democracies.
    A virtual Australian parliament is possible – and may be needed – during the coronavirus pandemic says Professor of Constitutional Law Anne Twomey.
    All Australians will have access to telehealth consultations with GPs, specialists, and mental health practitioners from next week, the government has said.
    Michael Pascoe tells us why the government must immediately give everyone $1000 and use the ATO to do it.
    We need to look to the radical action taken by China and South Korea to halt the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, or we’re headed for a long crisis says cardiologist Pankaj Jain.
    Thousands of doctors have made a desperate plea for a nationwide lockdown, warning there could be an alarming escalation in COVID-19 cases and preventable deaths without drastic and immediate action.
    Australia’s food supply relies on migrant workers who are facing coronavirus limbo.
    The only hope for limiting the duration and intensity of inevitable economic disaster is stopping all unnecessary activity sooner rather than later writes an angry Jennifer Hewett.
    Matt Wade explores the potential for the coming recession to further divide cities and regions.
    Matthew Knott updates us about Professor Trump’s latest idiotic pronouncements.
    Trump is a dead set dangerous fool!
    To watch Trump is to witness the awesome and terrifying power of the American president over life and death – a burden he is unqualified to bear writes David Smith.
    Police chiefs in the UK have warned the coronavirus pandemic could “bring out the worst in humanity” after a spate of opportunistic crimes hindered efforts to control the crisis. Just imagine what lies ahead for the US!
    The federal government must use “overwhelming force” to stop a virus-induced recession from snowballing into a prolonged depression, economists have said.
    Jonathan Watts says that the coronavirus pandemic has brought urgency to the defining political question of our age: how to distribute risk. As with the climate crisis, neoliberal capitalism is proving particularly ill-suited to this.
    The last global crisis didn’t change the world. But this one could writes sociologist and political economist William Davies.
    Stephen Bartholomeusz says that not even during the series of unconventional actions it took during the global financial crisis did the Fed do what it now plans: essentially becoming the lender of last resort for the entire US economy.
    Rod Sims is racing to give competitors approval to work together in the pandemic emergency, but some want him to go even further in relaxing anti-cartel laws.
    We face a pandemic of mental health disorders. Those who do it hardest need our support points out Paul Daley
    The COVID-19 pandemic has become a political crisis for Scott Morrison. He will survive for now, but as Martin Hirst explains, he will likely become a victim of the coronavirus soon enough.,13721
    ‘There is no money coming in’: Why the players’ sacrifice is not enough, writes Michael Gleeson as he looks at the trouble the AFL is in.
    And Chris Barrett writes that surging broadcast rights deals have made sports like the NRL billion-dollar businesses but the coronavirus pandemic has left their business models compromised.
    The AFR tells us that makers of surgical protection wear, hospital disinfectants and hand sanitisers are dramatically scaling up production with the aid of the military to meet the urgent demand from government and health authorities as the number of coronavirus cases in Australia passes 2000.
    American corporatism on display: The COVID-19 response.
    Stuart Robert’s incompetence on MyGov should accelerate his own social isolation says Katharine Murphy.
    There’s a load of fake news about coronavirus, much of it spread with good intentions. We need Facebook and other platforms to answer to regulators says Chris Cooper.
    Distrusting the information we receive, too many of us are carrying on business as usual says Peter Lewis.
    Just to divert from the pandemic Christopher Knaus reveals that the former resources minister Matt Canavan billed taxpayers for a $5,390 charter flight to travel 150km to attend the opening of a coalmine, where he gave a speech attacking “self-indulgent” environmental activists.
    According to Dana McCauley intensive care units need 10,000 more nurses to prepare for COVID-19.
    The federal government has rushed through an emergency regulation banning dentists from prescribing an arthritis drug being touted as a potential COVID-19 treatment, after reports some were prescribing it in bulk to themselves and their families. They must have been listening to Professor Trump!
    Westpac predicts the unemployment rate will jump to 11.1 per cent over the next three months, pushing up to 814,000 people onto the jobless queue. Shane Wright also tells us that it will push the deficit up to $160 billion.
    One in five road fatalities are now drug related, with the amount of ice, dope and ecstasy found in drivers and motorcycle riders increasing.
    Australia must demonstrate its commitment to human rights in the Philippines, where the Duterte Government is targeting union organisers, writes Timothy Ginty.,13697

    Cartoon Corner

    Alan Moir

    David Rowe

    John Shakespeare

    Andrew Dyson

    Simon Letch

    Dionne Gain

    Fiona Katauskas

    Johannes Leak

    From the US

  21. BK thanks for your daily round up

    Went on a fruitless tissue – hand sanitiser hunt through Coles Worth. Had to push past the homeless, so I bought a young man a banana to tide him through to 8am when he can get in & gave him some money. When we get locked down, we won’t need hand sanitiser because we can wash our hands regularly Woollies used to have free fruit for little kids, perhaps they should distribute fruit to the homeless when they open Local council washed down chairs, well through sudsy water over the seating. Our brand new square is going to be a disease vector

    The queue for Centrelink was 600 m long and had sprawled onto the road before 8am

    • Saw a clip on the news of queues for Centrelink. Was amazed to see how long they were. The last time I saw queues like that due to economic conditions was back when the @$@#$X$@ Rodent was treasurer. To this day I remember the tv footage showing a queue that went around the block as people lined up to apply for check out positions at a new supermarket. It really brought home how dire the “Howard” recession of 82-83 was.

    • For me and for anyone who has been on social security and has regularly faced the nasty comments from Australians lucky enough to have work there’s a lot of schadenfreude in seeing these Centrelink queues.

      People who once accused single mums of being bludgers having babies for government money and who glared at or made vile remarks to any mother asking for her pensioner discount are now lining up for a handout.

      People who accused anyone on the dole of being a deadbeat beachbum are now queuing for money to buy food.

      Australians who whinged about those on social security getting too much money are now whinging because their own social security payments won’t be enough for them to maintain their standard of living..

      Best of all is knowing those living in CDC trial areas will be put onto that card. Let’s see how much they enjoy being referred to as druggies and alcos. It’s weirdly satisfying to know a lot of those who referred to “the druggies card” will now be on it themselves.

      Maybe this will be a wake up call for the many Australians who have always despised anyone who needed help from Centrelink. Maybe (although I think it’s highly unlikely) Australia will come out of this crisis a kinder, more caring, more charitable nation.

    • where are the CDC sites?

      Hinkler would be the only white area
      does Hinkler usually have a strong tourist economy

    • Hinkler has Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, so yes, strong tourism areas. In WA the Kimberley and goldfields are part of the trial with a lot of problems around Kalgoorlie.

      Whether or not it’s a “white area” doesn’t matter, white people in all trial areas are still put onto the card if they have a trigger payment.

      Trigger payments – updated on 20 March this year.

      Trigger payment means a payment that will automatically activate (trigger) participation in the Cashless Debit Card Trial (8.7) for people who live in the trial area.

      The trigger payments are:

      a payment under the scheme known as ABSTUDY that includes an amount identified as living allowance
      austudy payment
      benefit PP (partnered)
      BVA, so long as the recipient has not reached pension age
      carer payment
      disability support pension
      jobseeker payment
      parenting allowance (other than non-benefit allowance)
      partner allowance
      pension PP (single)
      sickness allowance
      special benefit
      widow allowance
      youth allowance

      Best advice for anyone put onto this card – apply immediately to be taken off it. And don’t hold your breath waiting.

  22. A comment by Pinkie under the article says

    Davies is one of the most incisive thinkers around but there are problems here.

    If this crisis spelled the end of finance capitalism and birth of universal eco-socialism I would be cheering from the roof-tops. However, my overriding fear is that it won’t. What the left really urgently need to understand is that the socialism, or redistributive social democracy, is not the sole alternative to free-market capitalism. As Grace Blakeley recently put it:

    “Make no mistake, this pandemic is epoch-defining. It could herald the end of the era of finance-led growth and the beginning of state-monopoly capitalism.”

    That is a “state-monopoly capitalism” of the right – authoritarian, socially illiberal and state-nationalist. In other words: fascism. Indeed, given that much of the once liberal OECD is under the sway of authoritarian populists, any other outcome would be highly unlikely.

    The “universal civic society” of the eighteenth century (always something of a construct anyway) came after about two centuries of Europe being torn apart by war. If this crisis augurs anything it is the beginning of a new dark interregnum. With the global capitalist system unable to cope with the strain, power will fall to political gangsters and warlords.

    Hence I cannot help feeling dismay with sections of the left who are supporting the government in their authoritarian lockdown – imagining that if everyone stays indoors for 18 months we’ll all emerge into a sunny socialist utopia.

    It will be fucking horrendous. People confined to dingy flats on sink estates gradually deteriorating in mental health; a surge in suicides; neighbours reporting on neighbours; vigilante gangs; businesses going bust left right and centre. Total social collapse.

    What South Korea gave done is surveilled this thing to the point to the point where they can track it and live round it – imposing restrictions here, lifting them there.

    Something like that will have to happen here. The idea of a free market is of course a busted flush, but the economy cannot be allowed to just collapse and social life come to a standstill for a year or more. The consequence will be the 1930s on fucking steroids.

  23. BK

    Just imagine what lies ahead for the US!

    Which is exackery why there is some method in Trump’s madness in seeming so super optimistic. The US would be like that but on steroids and on crack cocaine and armed.
    Best keep them thinking “Happy Days Are Here Again” any minute now for as long as possible.

  24. We got a phone call from the medical clinic yesterday afternoon, asking if Razz would be okay with having a teleconference with the doctor for her appointment on Monday. We couldn’t say yes quick enough. I was going to ring them on Friday to see what could be arranged but so pleased I don’t have to tie up their lines now.

    The next venture is to ring the chemist to see if my medications can be put on Razz’s account and have all our medications delivered.

    Heard Grunt on abc/rn. FKelly was getting cranky with him and he got really uppity with her. For the first time I was on her side.

  25. The definition of essential services ain’t what it used to be 😆
    The mayor of Denver has been forced to re-open marijuana and liquor shops only hours after announcing their closure as part of a citywide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.

  26. With regard to the ‘plague ships” and the responsibility for the debacle. I still reckon ultimately it is the Reichspud’s responsibility. They were all over it when it came to people returning from China so why not the plague ships ? They are certainly involved with the ship currently over in WA waters .
    2 February 2020
    Joint press conference with CMO and Border Force about novel coronavirus

    Press conference at Parliament House with Professor Brendan Murphy, Chief Medical Officer and Commissioner Mike Outram, Border Force.

    Commissioner Mike Outram, Border Force.


    Thank you Minister, and good morning. As you’re all aware yesterday afternoon the Prime Minister made an announcement including that all travellers arriving from any part of mainland China, regardless of nationality, will be subject to enhanced border control measures to ensure the health, and safety, and wellbeing of our community of course.

    • They are all buck passing now. Gladys says it Dutton’s fault, the CrimeMinister says it’s NSW Health’s fault.

      No-one wants to admit they stuffed up.

      People returning from China came by air – airports are a commonwealth responsibility.

      Shipping is initially a state concern, it’s the states and the NT that control their ports. You might have seen Mark McGowan trying to stop a cruise ship with infected passengers on board docking in Fremantle.–c-758293

      But he is talking to the feds, especially Dutton, about what can be done – the ship has to refuel somewhere.

      It’s criminal that the NSW health minister wasn’t paying attention to his work the day he allowed the Ruby Princess to unload all its passengers. And it’s scandalous that no level of government wants to take responsibility.

  27. Getting serious over the Tasman. You can hear Molan and Adolph Kipfler salivating over such a prospect for Australia.
    “A state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand”\
    This afternoon a state of emergency was declared, handing emergency powers to authorities.

  28. billie11

    At work we are heavily involved with products the broad acre farmers need for their crops. Plastic container suppliers may not be able to supply us with any/enough containers. A simple thing like that could mean even if they tried for a crop the farmers would be in for a pretty dire crop. I’m sure other businesses doing the sort of stuff we do are having the same problem. There is a very limited numbers of places that make the bottles.Stock on food just in case !

Comments are closed.