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

    • Oh Dear KK, and I’ve just this minute been grateful that Sheba at least is keeping to routine and turning up for our morning stroke sitting on my tummy as I read. Tacker and she had fourteen years together and he always gave way to her cuddle time in the mornings with the papers and at evenings for the 7.30 Report. She’s been restlessly wandering around mewing softly and, I thought, grieving for Tacker. She seemed to know what was happening in his last moments with me and eluded joining us with our visitor on verandah. I wonder
      if she knew that if she’d stayed to investigate I meant for her to go too! Instead she’s here to help!

  1. From The Saturday Paper piece on Jane Halton and the UQ vaccine development –

    When Covid-19 broke out, CEPI’s leaders knew there were two projects it had funded that could be marshalled at lightning speed to protect the world from this major threat. One was in the United States and the other was at UQ, led by Professor Paul Young.

    More money was needed, however. Almost three weeks ago, Halton wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Australian government on behalf of CEPI, urging significant investment.

    “We haven’t had a response yet,” Halton says

    And yet the CrimeMinister had the gall to lecture the G20 on the need to contribute funds to develop a vaccine!

    Never forget – since it’s first budget the ATM government has been slashing away at funding for the CSIRO and for medical research. Now, suddenly, the CrimeMinister realises how important that research is but in his usual way he wants others to provide the funding while he sits back and claims it was all his idea in the first place.

  2. Also has approval rates for the Candian PM & Premiers

  3. Patrick Cockburn ponders whether this pandemic will the US’s “Chernobyl moment” .
    The US has faced decline before – but nothing like what’s to come

    As with the nuclear accident in the Soviet Union in 1986, a cataclysm is exposing systemic failings that have already weakened US hegemony in the world. Whatever the outcome of the pandemic, nobody is today looking to Washington for a solution to the crisis…………… The change in attitude is important because superpowers, such as the British Empire, the Soviet Union in the recent past or the US today, depend on a degree of bluff.

  4. He DID manage to find a bit in the slush fund for Rex

    The deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, is speaking in Wagga Wagga in the NSW Riverina and says the aviation industry is one of the hardest hit due to Covid-19, with cuts to flights especially harsh on regional Australia which relies on planes to bring in essential supplies.

    Today I’m announcing $198m as part of an aviation network support measure to help subsidise the 138 or so communities that rely on aviation. These are airline companies that are flying in and out of centres such as Wagga Wagga, where I am now, the home of the Wagga Air Centre and Rex. They will be subsidised so that regional airlines, the dozen or so regional aviation companies, and others, [can continue to fly] in each and every day.

  5. Razz got a phone call yesterday from the local council because she is on the vulnerable list. We don’t know how she got put there, but during the bush fire we had local cop and another bloke turn up. Anyways, if Razz has any difficulties or problems she is just to call them. We don’t know what sort of ‘difficulties’ or ‘problems’ they mean, but if the time comes that we cannot get any toilet paper, we might give them a ring. 🙂

  6. OK people, let’s get something sorted.

    The National Cabinet – the group Albo wanted to join but the CrimeMinister refused – is made up of the PM and the state premiers and chief ministers.

    There are nine members – only nine.

    Four are Libs and five are Labor.

    So can we please stop all this crap that’s all over Twitter about it being 100% “LNP”.

    It is not.

    It is the only reason things are being done to deal with the virus. Without it we would be totally at the mercy of the incompetent loon masquerading as PM and his farcical ministry.

    Then there’s the new National COVID-19 Coordination Committee – this is the body with an alleged overload of former mining executives. Greg Combet is also part of this body, so no-one can claim it is 100% LNP.

    I’m cranky about the misinformation being circulated by Labor types who just grab onto lies in another ill-informed tweet, believe it because it comes from someone they follow and then repeat the same crap.

    • That photo includes everything that is dear to him, his wife (his property), his pastor and OUR dining table

    • I wonder how dear to him his wife really is. I think he would push her under a bus (literally and metaphorically) if an opportunity arose.

      He did this to his own daughters – blamed his trip to Hawaii on them, saying he had promised them a holiday. We know why he went – because he wanted to go on a trip with his QAnon mates.

  7. I wonder what a Labor/Shorton government speech would have looked like to address the country on the virus.

    • Obione,

      Very similar to the current NZ government. That is: talking to the nation without condescending; being honest; being practical; being open; being supportive.

  8. Fiona

    Yep, we coulda been like New Zealand and lead the world again like in 2008. I am worried about how Australia will end up after all this, providing I survive this pandemic.

    • Gravel,

      We have only one choice:

      We will be kinder, more considerate, more caring, more tolerant. At the same time we will also be far more questioning, demanding proof, rigorous in analysing and dismissing quick-fixes. We will consign spivs, shonks, and snake oil merchants to the bin (next stop: the incinerator).

  9. Apart from their leaders be envious of NZ for another reason. They have large toilet roll paper production facilities 🙂

    Also from over the Tasman a neat idea. I wonder if it can/will/needs to be done here.
    Kiwi 3D printer owners in garages scattered across the country are answering an online call to print 8000 plastic masks to protect frontline medical staff from Covid-19.

    Over the last 48 hours, private 3D printer owners have downloaded a free open source design from a Czech Republic site to hurriedly print the plastic masks.

    • I doubt it. There were a number of snakes in there working against action on Climate Change. I think the rw troglodytes were quite powerful. So at some stage I reckon they would have pushed her out.

  10. ‘They haven’t listened’: Medical professionals skip quarantine and fly interstate

    Thirty-three medical professionals who landed at Sydney Airport on a flight from South America on Friday night disobeyed police orders to go into quarantine at an airport hotel and instead headed to the domestic terminal to fly home.

    Police Minister David Elliott said he was “disappointed to hear medical professionals chose to ignore rules in place to save lives and protect the most vulnerable in our community”. “No one is above the law,” Mr Elliott said

    No doubt some will be seeing patients on Monday.

  11. Been seeing rumours about this for a few days. No idea if it is true or not, but most likely is.

    Delegates to this women-only conference came from the US, the UK and who knows where else. Other international Colour Conferences have been cancelled but the Sydney one went ahead, thanks in part to the CrimeMinister delaying his ban on meetings until it was all over.

    • The yanks and locals returning from the US of A have been an el primo source of ‘plague ‘ victims and carriers. The visitation of a stack of Scrott’s flavor of loon will for sure see infections.

      Great LOL though is Mexico’s deputy health minister said they were looking at clamping down on the border with El Norte . Sensible and 😀 irony. They won’t as the yanks by force/bribery/skullduggery will ensure the border is not closed. The American “business community” under NAFTA shifted a ‘yuge’ amount of production over the border so as to exploit Mexican workers even more than they had the American ones. The Yanks would never tolerate that supply line being closed. As it is a ‘Nelson Muntz’ ‘Haha’ that they are now finding shifting so much of the production of medical supplies and production offshore may have been great for CEO’s bonuses but there is a price when it is needed.

  12. I had a pretty poignant conversation with a friend in America today.

    Friend: And climate change, obviously, is a huge effing deal down under. And everywhere, but very much there.

    Me: Yep, absolutely. The coal lobby here is as bad as the gun lobby over there

    Friend: Where do they even get all their money? They aren’t profitable.

    Me: Government subsidies and tax loopholes pretty much. And governments are forced to support them even if they don’t want to, thanks to Rupert Murdoch’s hold on mass media here – Coal is praised with associations with “manliness, traditional, strong power, plentiful, reliable, cheap, good for economy, rugged”, while renewable energy is ridiculed as “weak, feminine, new and scary, hippies, expensive, bad for economy, unreliable, sjw” and is made as politically unpopular as possible, to the point that it was a deciding factor in the election last year.

    Friend: What’s better for the economy than innovation? What’s more plentiful than sunlight?

  13. Closing down private hospitals? Oh good, we really want sick people wandering the streets.

    They should want all hospitals at 100 % ready for the “influx”. You know, there will not be a huge surge and they can ban categories 3, then 2 as things worsen.

    But, hey, why should our national “leaders” care?

  14. OH and I went to our local shopping centre (Kippax) around lunchtime today. Everybody was being more considerate. More smiles. Shortages on shelves were met with reciprocal smiles, shrugs and a little badinage.

  15. This little black duck
    March 28, 2020 at 10:18 PM

    OH and I went to our local shopping centre (Kippax) around lunchtime today. Everybody was being more considerate. More smiles. Shortages on shelves were met with reciprocal smiles, shrugs and a little badinage.

    It mirrors the sort of thing a number of the writers in this collection of little stories from NZ. Although this wee bit in a sentence from the author of Goodbye Sarajevo was a bit of a worry 🙂

    …….the Auckland mum-of-two, who with her sister later co-wrote the book Goodbye Sarajevo, says.

    “This reminds me a lot of the start of the war…….

  16. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Matt Wade writes on how unemployment has made a huge comeback.
    Crispin Hull tells us how lives are in the balance as a result of Trump’s pathological personality traits.
    It’s difficult to see how the Coalition will ever be able to rely on muscular “tough on borders” slogans again says Jacqui Maley.
    Mark Kenny looks at how the coronavirus will change the way we interact with each other.
    Caitlin Fitzsimmons reports that thirty-three medicos who landed at Sydney Airport from South America on Friday night disobeyed police orders to go into quarantine.
    The AFR says that the federal government is planning to pay a generous share of wages for closed and hobbled businesses that retain their employees during the coronavirus recession.
    Think when coronavirus is over Australia’s economy will snap back into place? Good luck with that writes Greg Jericho.
    Eryk Bagshaw tells us that Scott Morrison will move within days to plug a hole in the welfare system that would have seen up to 400,000 laid off during the coronavirus crisis miss out on Centrelink.
    The most remarkable thing about these remarkable times is having so little idea when and where this story will take us. Its arc is a mystery writes David Marr.
    While Australia’s attention is focused on managing the early part of the COVID-19 epidemic, small teams around the country have begun planning for the later, darker consequences. This makes harrowing reading!
    When the coronavirus pandemic is over, we need to take a serious look at the leaders who made a bad situation worse, writes John Wren.,13738
    Michelle Grattan explains how all Australians will be able to access telehealth under new $1.1 billion coronavirus program.
    Peter FitzSimons’ weekly column.
    Adam Morton reports that engineers, economists, energy specialists and environmentalists are calling for a final decision on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project to be delayed to allow an independent review, claiming it will cost far more and deliver far less than has been promised.
    Michael Koziol writes that many experts say a full-blown lockdown is desirable and more bearable for people than the protracted semi-shutdown we are experiencing now.
    The Morrison government has announced another $1.1 billion in health and social support amid disturbing signs domestic violence is already on the rise as the coronavirus wreaks economic havoc.
    Accommodation giant Quest has offered all of its 140 hotels across the nation for Australians undergoing mandatory two-week isolation.
    Throughout various crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government has shown negligence towards the good of its people, writes Grant Turner.,13737
    A new study by influential researchers at Imperial College, London finds that COVID-19 is more infectious and deadly than scientists had thought. The new Imperial study finds that had nations done nothing, COVID-19 would have killed 40 million and infected seven billion.
    Michaela Whitbourn reports that a raft of companies has applied to register trademarks in Australia including the words “COVID”, “Corona” and “Quarantine”.
    Australia’s blood supply could face critical shortages if donations continue to fall as more people stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
    A US company has developed a point-of-care coronavirus test that can purportedly tell if someone is infected within five minutes. The device is said to be no bigger than a toaster and is thus highly portable and can be used in just about any setting.
    Morrison abandons democracy and installs an junta to cope with COVID-19 writes David Tyler.
    An open letter from Andrew Hornery. “Dear Gerry, Alan and Kim: learn to read the room – or zip it!”
    Nearly 300 people are reported to have been killed and more than 1000 have become ill after ingesting toxic methanol across Iran amid rumours it can help cure coronavirus. Gullibility and religious devoutness seem to go hand in hand.
    Trump says he is considering sealing off New York and parts of neighbouring states in response to the worsening coronavirus crisis. But on the face of it Governor Andrew Cuomo knew nothing about it.
    ‘Quarantini hour’ could become one of our great new traditions writes Gemima Cody.
    These three pricks have earned nomination for “Arseholes of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner

    Mark David

    Alan Moir

    Reg Lynch

    Matt Golding

    Dionne Gain

    Jim Pavlidis

    From the US

  17. ” Gullibility and religious devoutness seem to go hand in hand.”

    I think more like it is a demonstration of ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ . Someone hears that alcohol kills “bugs” and hey presto dead people who don’t realise a) Not for internal use b) methanol is v poisonous.. Just look at the silly bugger in the US who drank some fish tank cleaner after hearing about chlorquinone.

  18. The playground cartoon reminded me of something –

    Two days ago my daughter-in-law drove past a local playground, one dearly loved by her almost 2 year old daughter. Our council has wisely closed all their playgrounds because of the virus. This particular playground has a fence and a gate. The gate was locked and on it was a big sign clearly saying “Closed”.

    Despite that a woman and two little kids were playing on the equipment. They had ignored the sign and climbed over the fence.

    The kids should have been at home, not out playing and possibly picking up COVID-19.

    Just goes to show, once again, that too many Australians are not taking this threat seriously.

    Another incident – an example of why we need a shutdown now.

    Someone who works at a big kitchenware shop in a local shopping centre has taken two weeks off work because she is sick of dealing with idiots.

    She reports –

    Droves of old people, mostly in their 70s and 80s, browsing. They have nothing else to do, their clubs are closed so they are wandering about the shops instead. Maybe some of them are friends of the 16 oldies in this area diagnosed with COVID-19 over the last week. Maybe they too have the virus but are not yet showing symptoms.

    Hordes of younger women, some pregnant, also browsing because they are bored. The clubs and cinema are closed, there’s nothing to do at home, they are too dumb to know how to entertain themselves let alone their kids, too stupid to be able to read a book or binge-watch Netflix so they too are wandering around the shops.

    Lots of kids, not all accompanied by adults, many with bare feet, left to wander around while their mothers browse. Obviously these kids have been kept out of school, so why allow them to wander around the best possible place for picking up the virus – a big shopping centre.

    Let’s get that lockdown happening. Close all retail businesses now, except for supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies, and put a stop to ty\his stupid behaviour. Too many Australians will not take the coronavirus threat seriously until they are forced to stay home.

  19. As a break from the COVID-19 stuff I’ve been working my way through all the Asterix books that I haven’t read since iI was about 8 years of age. I’d forgotten how funny they can be, especially some of the names. Stay safe and keep your sanity people.

  20. Last week the government closed down all elective surgery. That has had a disastrous flow-on effect with nurses in private hospitals put out of work by their profit-hungry employers.

    These private hospitals rely on elective surgery to keep the money flowing in. No elective surgery means no need for nurses, so they are stood down without pay.

    600 nurses stood down after elective surgery misfire, more to follow

    The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has heard more than 600 private hospital nurses have been stood down over the past 24 hours, and hundreds more could follow, all casualties of the Federal Government’s bungled announcement regarding non-urgent elective surgery.

    Nurses employed by Healthe Care, the third largest private hospital operator in the state, behind Ramsay Health Care and Healthscope, were notified by letter that they would not have work to support themselves and their families for the next four weeks.

    NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, has this afternoon issued a scathing rebuke of the Federal Government’s mishandling of the decision to cancel non-urgent elective surgery, including Health Minister Greg Hunt, for failing to consider the dire workforce consequences.

    “We’ve now got a situation where more than 600 nurses are being forced to take accrued leave, or are scrambling to find another job elsewhere, before needing to join the queue for benefits,” Mr Holmes said.

    “We know nurses at Forster Private Hospital on the Mid North Coast have been stood down and also nurses at Hirondelle Private Hospital at Chatswood on Sydney’s Lower North Shore

  21. Additionally, 245 passengers from the Roald Amundsen and Scenic Eclipse cruises who arrived on Friday night were screens for Covid-19 at the airport and were required to isolate for 14 days.

    This was before the new hotel isolation orders for every single arrival came into effect, but Nine newspapers reported 33 of those ordered into hotel quarantine by NSW Police attempted to depart on domestic flights. A total of 27 of those are believed to have left on those flights.

  22. NSW Health has also advised there are now 215 cases of coronavirus from passengers on the Ruby Princess, up from 172.

    There are now 59 confirmed cases in NSW from the Ovation of the Seas, and 23 cases from the second cruise of the Voyager of the Seas

    And all those cases passengers, mostly older people, have been wandering around their communities after travelling home, possibly by air or rail, while they were carrying the virus.

    Will we find out how many infections were caused by contact with these people? I very much suspect that will be hushed up.


  23. Stupid, stupid people.

    ‘Our biggest fear is getting ill’: NSW couple stuck on ship where four passengers have died

    An Australian couple trapped on board a cruise ship off the coast of Panama in South America have spoken of their fears they will get sick in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak and be unable to return to Australia.

    Peter and Carole Burke, of Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid-North Coast, are trapped in their cabin on board the Zaandam, a Holland America Line ship, where four elderly passengers have died during the COVID-19 outbreak.
    Ms Burke said the pair boarded the ship on March 7 in Buenos Aires in Argentina. On March 14, the ship docked in Puntas Arenas in Chile, where passengers were told the trip would be cut short and they would head back to Australia on March 21

    Why on earth would any sane person have got onto a cruise ship on 7 March, after flying overseas to do that, when the world already knew about cruise ships being in quarantine and being refused entry to ports? The Diamond Princess had already been in quarantine for a month by the time these two idiots and their braindead shipmates embarked.

    I’ve heard a lot of excuses lately, mainly “I took the cruise because I couldn’t get a refund”. So what? What price do you put on your own life? Wouldn’t it be better to stay home and live than go on a damn cruise and risk dying?

    This will sound harsh, but thank goodness that ship did not return to Australia. If it had we would have had another Ruby Princess type debacle, hundreds more infected people on the loose and possibly thousands more cases of COVID-19.

    And even harsher – these fools have what they deserve. If we are supposed to feel sorry for them then no, I don’t. They went on their cruise despite knowing the risks, they can cope with the consequences.

  24. This has just been released by the Federal Government and is aimed at every one over the age of 50 years of age.

    Due to the current financial situation caused by the Corona Virus and the slow down in the economy the Government has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 50 years of age and above on early mandatory retirement thus creating jobs and reducing unemployment. This scheme will be known as RAPE, (Retired Aged People Early).

    Persons selected to be Raped can apply to the Government to be considered for the SHAFT program. (SPECIAL HELP AFTER FORCED TERMINATION).

    A person who has been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW PROGRAM (System Covering Retired -Early Workers).

    A person maybe Raped once, Shafted twice, and Screwed as many times as the Government deems appropriate.

    Note. There has been partisan support for this scheme.

    • Apart from the corona reference, the rest of this joke has done the rounds of the APS everytime govt has gutted the APS with (in)voluntary redundancies. I remember seeing it way back in the nineties – still funny in a not completely sarcastic way tho!

    • Was around in the 80’s as well. Pops up somewhere no matter the government of the day.

  25. Interesting that Dylan has released this 17 minute track at this time . About JFK it looks to be of the view that it woz an ‘inside job’. Coincidence or Bob a “conspiracy theorist” re virus ?
    “Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car / Shot down like a dog in broad daylight / Was a matter of timin’ and the timin’ was right / You got unpaid debts we’ve come to collect / We gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect / We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll grin in your face / We’ve already got someone here to take your place”

  26. This mob can’t get anything right!

    While we have a bit of time before National Cabinet breaks up, have a read of this piece by my colleague Amy Remeikis on a refugee who was denied the right to board a flight from Indonesia to Australia because of his visa status.

    Amir, a young Iranian refugee on an Australian safe haven visa, has been sent back to Turkey amid the coronavirus crisis, despite being granted permission to leave Australia to visit his mother in early February.

  27. Naomi is right.

    • She is getting some flak on twitter, even Antony Green has chimed in. I say there is none so blind that cannot see. Have never read any history on Germany in the 1930’s, but I do know that Hitler was democratically elected, then look what happened, step by step.

  28. Yes.He did say that.

    I will give you an example. Our kids are at home now, as are most kids, and Jenny went out yesterday and bought them a whole bunch of jigsaw puzzles. I can assure you over the next few months we will consider those jigsaw puzzles absolutely essential.

    It is important that parents and families and households can get the things that they need to completely change the way they are going to live for the next six months at least and so what we have done is sought to be practical about these issues. I mean people are buying sporting equipment at the moment, gym mats and things like that so they can exercise at home. These are things they are going to need

    Jigsaw puzzles can be bought online, so can sporting equipment. Has Mrs CrimeMinister not heard about online shopping?

    Life must be extremely boring at Kirribilli House if jigsaw puzzles are seen as prime entertainment.

  29. Clearly the CrimeMinister doesn’t know any people over 70, except for his mum, John Howard and a few aged Liberals.

    He seems to think we are all so frail and incapacitated that we need a support person to take us into our own backyards.

    The Prime Minister also advised people over the age of 70 should not leave the house and self-isolate for their own protection.

    “This is not a compulsion, this is strong advice,” he said, adding people aged over 70 could still go outside.

    “They can go outside and be accompanied by a support person for the purposes of getting fresh air and recreation but should limit contact with others as much as possible.”

    How freaking insulting!

Comments are closed.