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. Business applies for JobKeeper, if successful given $750 a week for each person employed on March 1. Employer passes money to stood down employee.
    How tight is business eligibility?
    Who checks $750 paid to worker?
    What about new hires?
    What if work closed?

    • It’s estimated that more than 6 million workers will get payments
      There are 1.1 million people working without residency who aren’t eligible
      [economist hat] If workforce churn is 20% then another 1 million people are ineligible new hires
      workforce = 13 million
      1+ million on Newstart

      That’s about 66% workforce locked out, predominantly hospitality, service, non-food retail

  2. from Twitter

    Mike Carlton
    I’m told that Greg Combet was the architect of the Jobkeeper Plan, with Sally McManus. They sold it to Christian Porter and Treasury. Morrison took a lot of convincing, but eventually got on board. This is leadership and national unity of a high order from all concerned.

  3. Worst part of the JobKeeper payment – apart from it being weeks too late – is the money going to employers, not employees.

    Do we trust them all to pass on that money?

    I don’t. Especially not the ones who have been underpaying their staff for years.

    • Apparently it is tied to the employee’s tax file number, so audits later on are possible. As I told my kids, you may lie to me, you may lie to your partner. you may lie to god, but never, ever, lie to the tax office. (at least before it was emasculated by Liberal governments).

    • There are some businesses that stood down their workers last week who are marginal, they are not going to reopen their doors. They would be very tempted to steal from their former workers.

      When the ATO ever catches up with them, will ATO be able to recoup the monies

  4. I think I was supposed to feel sorry for this woman. I don’t.

    $500 a week is more than the age pension, more than DSP. (Rent assistance pushes those payments up to just over $500 a week, but that assistance is inadequate).

    I’m assuming this woman owns the home she lives in, if she does then she will be fine. Paying market rent on a pension or DSP is a killer. In Sydney there is no affordable accommodation for people on these payments, I suppose other capital cites are the same. Even in regional towns it’s almost impossible.

    If this woman is finding it hard to manage then she can sell the unit and live off the proceeds.

    We have a homelessness crisis in Australia and nothing is being done to improve that situation. And then we have secure people whining because they lost a tenant from their investment property.

    • The fact she is “self funded” shows she is well off compared to most other retirees. Perhaps we can make her swap places with someone relying on the full pension and see how she likes it after a few months. Bet there would be a rapid ‘attitude adjustment” .

    • I have a friend who is a landlord. She is absolutely terrified of a tenant leaving or being stood down over Covid19 because her land tax & mortgage leave her with just $10000 pa to live on, her words. She is demanding the state (Labor) premier develop a package so she isn’t out of pocket

      I have spent 12 years listening to how hard she has worked to house her perfectly competent adult children but now times are tough in my family she isn’t sympathetic. We can support the stood down worker but not sure the worker’s budding relationship will survive. RFFWU got another member today.

      I can’t see this friendship surviving

  5. Trump, Palmer and their alleged “cure” for COVID-19.

    I have sarcoidosis, an auto-immune condition. It’s in remission now, has been for a few years, but could flare up again at any time. It affects my eyes – lucky me, I’m an unusual case. Most with this condition have lung or skin involvement.

    One of the drugs used to treat affected skin is hydroxychloroquine, the same stuff Trump and Palmer are touting as a cure for COVID-19. It’s not.

    It’s an anti-inflammatory, used to treat things like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus as well as sarcoidosis that affects the skin. It has also been useful in treating malaria. Like other anti-inflammatories it has side effects. The usual ones are gastrointestinal upsets, headaches, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, skin rash or itching, mood changes. All those are bad enough, but there’s a rarer one that those pushing this alleged COVID-19 cure either don’t know about or won’t mention

    It can damage your eyes. It attacks the retina bringing on macular degeneration and eventually, blindness.

    So if you take Trump’s advice, or Palmer’s advice and manage to wangle yourself some hydroxychloroquine you will risk macular degeneration and eventual blindness.

    Do not take drugs recommended by idiots like Trump and Palmer. They are not doctors, they just hear about something and use false claims to attract attention.

  6. From one of my favourite satire sites – not really satire, just a statement of fact.

    PM Rules Out Policy He’ll Announce In 48 Hours
    By Situation Theatre 31/3/2020

    “If Australians wanted to elect economic panic merchants who would stimulate the economy, blow the surplus, double Newstart, and spend $130bn on a wage subsidy, then they just had to vote Liberal and wait a few months.”

    Scott “Che” Morrison is famous for his playful attitudes to the concept of time. Back in May 2019, he rambunctiously said “we brought the Budget back into surplus next year”. What a prankster, punking the notion of accurate English grammar as is his want.

    Fast forward to next year, and Morrison is now also monkeying around with the concepts of opposites and certainty. What fun he’s having, saying he definitely won’t do something and then doing that very thing just days later.

    There’ll definitely be no stimulus before there are three stimulus packages in three weeks, there’ll absolutely be no budget deficit until it’s incalculably large, there’ll surely be no Newstart increase until it’s doubled, and there’ll absolutely be no wage subsidy until it’s worth $130bn.

    Just this morning the PM has ruled out transforming Australia into an eco-socialist utopia, so expect the revolution to kick off in 48-72 hours

    In case you forgot about that surplus comment here it is –

    There’s a video too, if you can bear it. It’s all over by 24 seconds in, no need to suffer through it all.

  7. Just back from podiatrist apt, which is in an area behind, but attached to, the hospital. Had to drive around to the front of the hospital to park (luckily it was early and quite a few parks) then we had to give our name and phone number, have our temperature taken, given a visitors pass, and on to our apt. Will be the same routine from now on. Plenty of apologising for the inconvenience. We think it is fantastic, can’t be too careful.

  8. How about this “oldster”,107 living independently, still driving and having to be told by his son “The car is now parked out front and has not moved since lockdown started.I had to say: ‘No, you can’t go out, Dad. The family wants me to take the keys off you’,” 🙂 Boy does he have good genes. Looks good to outlast both the Spanish Flu and the ‘WuFlu’ epidemics.


  9. Re Jobkeeper Payment:

    What about those employees who changed their job in the last 12 months? Am I correct to assume that they are ineligible?

    Ps. Great to hear from you Scorps. I found that one of the best ways to keep the “black dog” at bay is to take “it” for long walks.

    • Samantha Maiden seems to think employees hired in the past 12 months not eligible for JobKeeper allowance. I used to work on 6 month contracts, I bet they aren’t protected by JobKeeper

      I would like to know workforce churn rate

      They say that Greg Combet devised JobKeeper payment. I wonder what the differences are between what he proposed and what has been implemented

    • Post-Mortem P.Mail from Tacker who agrees with you about long walks.

      “Woof from up here where there are lots of lovely posts among grass and flowering shrubs! I think it is called the Garden of Eden! I got too tired for those am and pm walks recently, particularly when they were before sun-up and after-dark. Pw explained it had to be in the dark ‘cos it was easier to isolate herself indoors in daylight and then sneak out at dusk to just catch the sunset! I think she was surprised how many other people thought so and were out walking too! More social contact than we’ve ever had before with neighbours after years of passing their gates and just nodding or saying Hi! Those new ‘social isolation’ rules mean no real contact for the humans however; both arms’ length-wide apart seems to be Okay. There are no rules about bottom sniffing though! I’ve always enjoyed that! Though it seems now humans have to wash their hands every time they even pat a dog – a bit hard when they’re out walking! Early mornings I guess it’s easy for them to delay showers until they get back home. Before dawn too there’s another plus – the birds are out there singing their usual chorus which many humans often sleep through!

      You know the words, “Cheerup!” “Cheerup!” Perhaps pw should check that spelling?

  10. This morning after a great deal of deliberation I went veggie shopping for the fortnight at Covid central. I wore a mask. I don’t find the Colesworth fresh food people that fresh. Aldi is good but I won’t go to either of my usual stores.

    Could park right outside green grocer. Upon entry to shop was issued with silicon gloves, The point of sale had screens erected. The trolley couldn’t leave the shop and the shelves were wiped down between each customer and people were cleaning the floor and surfaces continuously

  11. Australians becoming more anxious about coronavirus threat, Essential poll finds
    While one-third of people in poll last week said the response was an overreaction, only 18% now have the same view

    And here’s the actual report, because I always find tit’s better to look at results yourself instead of relying on journalistic interpretations.

  12. I need help after listening yet again to Morrison’s mouthing off. Did he end all that verbiage by confirming that his policies were all aimed at ensuring that…. “Australians are not in the strongest positions to face the challenges ahead?”

  13. I believe that moderators should enact an edict that V1J should be required to post a comment at least once per diem because the gravatar gives a me little flutter in the heart muscle and reminds me of a time when we had some hope for humanity and good government.

    All those in favour say ‘Aye’.

    Seth Meyers –

    Brian Tyler Cohen –

  14. Not highly recommended for content but just a bit of time consumers if you wish –

    Stephen Colbert –

    Jimmy Kimmel –

  15. Nothing like the possibility of being blamed for a mountain of dead bodies to concentrate the mind of a pollies. Even on dense ones. Worked a treat for Bo-herd immunity-Jo and now it has even managed to penetrate the orange leather hide of Trump…
    The Numbers That Drove Trump’s Reversal on Reopening the Country

  16. For once I agree with Barilaro.

    Just stay home. We do not want your infections and we have enough trouble getting the supplies we need without thoughtless tourists hogging what we do have.

  17. On a similar note to that, this mocking TikTok video amused me.

    [video src="" /]

  18. I also like this. Jordies explaining the Scarcity/Abundance mentality, that hoarders are in the Scarcity mentality, but having an Abundance mentality is overall better for people.

  19. Scrott has been asked to release the modelling for the virus and has said ‘nyet’ .NZ released theirs and bloody hell now even Trump’s US of A has. What are ya hiding Morrison ?
    Models Forecasting Grim Coronavirus Toll in U.S. to Be Released

  20. There was an assessment of readiness of countries to deal with a pandemic. USA ! USA ! USA ! was rated most prepared in the world. 😆

    Australia scored a very high placing of No.4 .

    Welcome to the

    2019 Global Health Security Index

    The GHS Index is the first comprehensive assessment of global health security capabilities in 195 countries. Read more about the Index and the international panel that…….

  21. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Chris Uhlmann writes that we need to take a long cold look at the world and recognise that the Chinese Communist Party is a strategic threat and that, in a crisis, the United States will look to its own interests first and they might not align with ours.
    Eryk Bagshaw and Shane Wright state the obvious in saying that the whole taxation system will need to be seriously reckoned with on the other side of this.
    Michael Pascoe shares some thoughts on how we’re going to pay for our changed world, once coronavirus is gone.
    Paul Bongiorno is pleased that the government finally took notice of what the Labor Party e=was saying.
    Michael West writes about neo-conservative socialists and the victims of the big bail-out.
    Adele Ferguson tells us that the corporate regulator is examining whether Qantas breached the law and engaged in false or misleading statements about rival Virgin Australia which could have influenced moves in the share prices of both airlines.
    Paul Kelly begins this contribution with, “The wartime analogies in the fight against COVID-19 are accurate, but with two crucial differences. First, this war is being fought on home soil, not abroad; the civilian population is the frontline, and the measures governments are implementing at home are more onerous than applied during wartime.”
    Greg Sheridan writes that the government’s massive fiscal intervention in the Australian economy, entirely justified by the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis, will change centre-right politics in this country forever.
    Matt Wade writes that in his two decades working as an economics journalist, there’s never been anything like March 2020.
    It looks like we have reached “peak toilet paper” and it’s booze and office supplies that will be next.
    Clancy Yeates says that while fixing is not for everyone – and comes with its own risks – there’s a good chance fixed rates will play a bigger role as we enter the world of ultra-low rates and “unconventional” monetary policy from the Reserve Bank of Australia.
    The captain of a US aircraft carrier deployed to the Pacific Ocean has pleaded with the Pentagon for more help as a coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship continues to spread, officials said. Military officials said dozens of sailors have been infected.
    We can deal with the most pressing aspects of immediate threats while already contemplating post-virus reconstruction writes Jim Chalmers.
    This guy who helped prepare Australia’s pandemic plan says that so far it’s unfolding reasonably well.
    Michael Koziol reports that anyone in NSW who leaves their house without a “reasonable excuse” could spend up to six months in prison and face an $11,000 fine under an emergency ministerial directive gazetted overnight.
    The horror films got it wrong. This virus has turned us into caring neighbours opines George Monbiot who says that we are watch neoliberalism collapsing in real time.
    The JobKeeper Payment is a massive tourniquet for the Australian economy and society. But for over one million temporary entrants, the allowance is a gun to their head writes Abu Rizvi.,13746
    According to Christopher Knaus a manufacturing industry leader and member of the government’s ventilator taskforce says he is “very confident” there will be enough of the life-saving machines to meet even the most dire of Covid-19 scenarios.
    Transurban will not freeze price increases during the pandemic, arguing the revenue is funding projects that are keeping people employed during the crisis.
    The AFR reports that the federal government looks set to reject Virgin Australia’s initial request for a $1.4 billion bailout loan, as Qantas pressures its debt-laden rival by insisting any government assistance be proportional and tensions between the two airlines reach new heights.
    Many are relieved by the JobKeeper payments, but the key figure is now the number of local cases of COVID-19 with no identified contact writes Jennifer Hewett.
    Allowing cash-strapped people to access to their super early in this time of crisis has merit but the government has to be careful in how it is implemented writes John Collett.
    Elizabeth Knight says that a bailout for Virgin is Alan Joyce’s worst nightmare.
    The AIMN opines that the chickens are coming home to roost.
    Two dozen Victorian gun shop owners could be involved in legal action over the ban, which they say they will cause collapse.
    As listed companies pull guidance en masse and all certainty about the future evaporates, the market operator, ASX, needs to lay out how disclosure obligations should be handled demands commercial law expert Jonathan Wenig.
    For years homelessness has been on the rise and with the COVID-19 pandemic, over 116,000 Australians currently without a home are experiencing a crisis within a crisis.–unless-youre-homeless,13745
    Anthony Galloway reports that the Australian Defence Force will deploy teams in each state and territory to track down infections, help police enforce quarantines and ensure people are complying with self-isolation directions under an escalation of military’s response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
    John Lord laments a government trying to fix everything while they’re not even working.
    With the coronavirus pandemic and the postponed Olympic Games, the world’s third largest economy, Japan’s, is bracing for a tremendous blow.
    A reset of the global sporting ecosystem is inevitable but as long as money, politics and ego are involved, elite sport will always be a mercenary environment says Phil Lutton.
    The coronavirus crisis has exposed the ugly truth about celebrity culture and capitalism says Arwa Mahdawi.
    How not to fall for coronavirus BS: avoid the 7 deadly sins of thought.
    And today’s nomination for “Arsehole of the Week” goes to . . .

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe

    David Pope

    Andrew Dyson

    Mark David

    Alan Moir

    Matt Golding

    John Shakespeare

    Simon Letch

    Johannes Leak

    From the US

  22. The AIMN opines that the chickens are coming home to roost.

    They ain’t no chickens and they ain’t coming to roost.

  23. Cuomo is getting feted at the mo but that particular ‘white knight’ has a few spots of rust. Oh and the committee he appointed as of 20th of March voted to cut a further US$400 million , US$186 million of it to public health.

    The US’s shit performance will be sheeted home to Trump but the disaster has been decades in the making and has been a largely bipartisan ‘project’ .
    How to Fix a $6.1 Billion Budget Hole? Attack Health Care Spending
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to cut New York’s Medicaid costs by $2.5 billion.
    Jan. 21, 2020

    ALBANY — Facing the worst budgetary crisis since the early days of his decade-long tenure, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled plans to seek billions of dollars in savings from what he described as the primary culprit: runaway Medicaid spending.

  24. An excellent question –

    Where is Dutton, anyway? Is he still alive?

  25. We are governed by idiots, the biggest idiots are the CrimeMinister and his buddy Fraudenberg.

    Not exactly “Where’s the money coming from”, which is all we heard whenever Labor spent money, but close. This time it’s “How is the government going to pay for this debt?”

    Deficit blowout threat to tax cuts

    The Morrison government says it will proceed with hundreds of billions of dollars in legislated income tax cuts and defence spending, as economists estimate the impact of the coronavirus will create a budget deficit of up to $200 billion and see debt blow out by twice as much.

    As 277,000 businesses registered for the $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy within the first 24 hours of it being announced, the government said it remained committed to the $80 billion submarine contract as well as the stage two and stage three income tax cuts, which begin in 2022 and 2024 respectively.

    Based on the coronavirus emergency measures and its economic impact, leading economists forecast a blowout in federal government debt over the next 18 months by as much as $400 billion, to more than $1 trillion, with the federal deficit to reach as much as $200 billion

    Former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Bernie Fraser says government policies including tax cuts face a “reckoning” in the face of public sector debt that could reach $1.5 trillion, with a potential budget deficit of $200 billion this year thanks to essential spending on stimulus packages.

    Government faces fiscal reckoning as taxes collapse and spending soars

    A new tranche of company tax cuts for firms earning under $50 million starts next financial year, while personal income tax cuts worth $132 billion over a decade begin in 2022-23.

    “The packages that have been put together in recent times are very expensive,” Mr Fraser said. “There is going to be an awful overhang of debt and at some point there is going to have to be a bit of reckoning with that and some winding back.”

    Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said the government had to deliver a budget update by May so decisions about future spending could be debated now.

    “That then gives us the real basis for deciding what is needed next, particularly for the long-term repair of the revenue base, which has been the central problem for the Australian budget for a decade,” he said

    Guess where the inevitable winding back Bernie Fraser mentions will be? It won’t come from big business, that;’s for sure.

  26. One for any tempted by the “meh it’s only oldies” spiel re virus. From an NZ medic in NY. sounds grim in the Big Apple.

    “I’ve seen it wipe out an entire family over the course of three days – different ages, different health statuses.

    “There was this belief that it preyed upon the elderly or those with [existing health issues] … but it has zero regard for how old you are, it has zero regard for how healthy you are.

    “That was probably the most heart-wrenching thing.”

    She told 1 News medical staff are risking their lives and personal protective equipment is running out fast, saying nurses are having to wear rubbish bags for protection.

  27. Oh for frack’s sake!

    Scott Morrison prays for Australia and commits nation to God amid coronavirus crisis
    The prime minister offers a prayer for the national cabinet and says his faith gives him ‘enormous encouragement’

    Morrison offers a prayer that begins “heavenly father, we just commit our nation to you in this terrible time of great need and suffering of so many people”.

    “And we do this also for the entire world – in places far from this country there are people suffering even more, going through tremendous hardship, crying out.”

    Morrison also prays for “colleagues in parliamentary roles, it doesn’t matter what party they’re from”, ministers in his cabinet, and again for the premiers and chief ministers.

    “Pray that you’ll keep the national cabinet strong and united, and we may be able to face each day and each challenge with unity and purpose.”

    Hasn’t this nutter noticed whatever god he and his fellow evangelicals pray to isn’t listening? The CrimeMinister’s fellow evangelicals are being struck down as we speak, some have died, more will become ill, and yet they still tell us their god or his blood will protect “people of faith”.

    The CrimeMinister can shove his preaching and Bible verses and just get on with his real job – looking after all Australians, not just the ones who attend his church. Coming up with a real plan would be good, instead of a series of knee jerk reactions. So would allowing those waiting for stimulus payments to access them immediately instead of waiting until the end of the month, or next month. People are wondering how they will afford food for their families, they are going without vital medication and wondering how they will pay their rent or their mortgage and all this freak can do is pray to whatever evil god he worships. And we are supposed to see that as a good thing.


    • Exactly. That’s the big question.

      If you believe whatever god the CrimeMinister prays to is omnipotent and created everything on earth, as he does, then that god must have created the virus, therefore this plague must be his will.

    • Doesn’t this current crisis fit in with his religions view? I.E the rapture? We’ve already had fire, flood and now pestilence. Is this why he does bugger all, so the process is hastened?

  28. Good thread on the CrimeMinister’s little prayer meeting.

    Watch the video only if you have a strong stomach.

    • I’m always fascinated by the reliance of these “modern christianist” movements on the words of the ‘Old Covenent’ rather than the new one. In which case my grandmother (a Salvation Army officer, back in the day) would have made a particularly pointed remarks about Luke 20:46-47, or possibly Matthew 23:27-28.

      What I am finding amusing, in a warped way, is that all these quotes from my childhood have been raising their collective memory the longer this government drags its collective heels in so many ways, and particularly in reference to the PM and his sadducee cult.

    • I always think of whited sepulchres when the CrimeMinister starts preaching, and also Matthew 19:21 –

      “Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

      How do the evangelical and Pentecostal fake Christians reconcile with that teaching?

  29. Rapid tests ? A bit of a fly in the ointment.
    Multiple companies are rolling out the superfast pin prick tests that can take as little as 15 minutes to deliver a result, but they only pick up COVID-19 once a person has developed antibodies to the virus.

    “Patients may only make antibodies to COVID-19 infection a week to 12 days after they first become sick, therefore, if doctors rely on these rapid tests early in the disease, their diagnosis will be wrong,” president of The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Dr Michael Dray said.

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