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Caring for the carers and others in distress

Watching the Four Corners program (ABC 04/05/20), I was struck by the extent of the potential mental and physical health damage that will have been suffered by so many of the medical personnel who were interviewed.

And there were other groups which were not included in those interviews – cleaners in those hospitals, and low-paid staff in the many Aged Care facilities, where protecting the elderly from infection has not always succeeded.

Throw the net wider, and and there will be many in the community both citizens and visa holders alike, whose loss of work and income has left them destitute and often homeless.

For the sake of the exercise, let all these people register in what, for convenience, we will call the Pandemic Victims group, which will entitle them to assistance, and maybe it would be best situated in the Future Fund.

Then my thoughts turned to a couple of wealthy suburbs of NSW, where several residents, having enjoyed skiing holidays in Aspen, Colorado, USA or holidayed in other overseas locations, continued to party on, carelessly ignoring social distancing and creating a hot spot for spreading COVID-19.

We have one of the most effective national health schemes in the developed world and it has been stressed almost to the limits by the pandemic – with no certainty that there will be no more major outbreaks.

People like our wealthy party-goers put unnecessary stress on its resources – and put others lives at risk!.

In the next few months we will, hopefully, start to move on to a new normal and it is critically important that we learn from this experience that the old ‘normal’ is no longer valid.

For starters, expert health science has been our guiding light in manoevering our way through the chaos created by the pandemic. That same pandemic, while it has destroyed many lives, also did us a favour by indirectly reducing emissions.

For the last 10 years the Australian government has reacted too often to political pressure from their back bench, and turned a deaf ear to the rising demand to develop an energy policy and take action on global warming. Scientific advice supporting these demands has been readily available and ever more urgently offered over time.

Listen to it!

Australia is not alone in being affected by the pandemic. Very few countries have remained untouched, and countries like Russia, Japan and the USA, which were reluctant to recognise the need to combat the existential challenge of climate change, have also been behind the 8-ball in tackling COVID-19.

Whatever we do in the immediate future – and which might act as an incentive to those countries named above – we need to build climate change policy into every action.

It is too soon for anyone to have put forward a clear plan for moving on, let alone for paying our way, so I would like to throw in some suggestions.

Firstly, a regular cause for complaint has been the extent to which major corporations seem able to avoid paying much or any tax, yet some of the allowable deductions are ridiculous.

One of these is the cost of preparing a tax return.

There is no cap on the amount that can be claimed!

There is a source for significant saving!

My apologies to all the accountants whose incomes will be decimated by such a change, but the days of champagne and caviar are over!

Secondly, at present the Medicare surcharge, in addition to being levied on those who are without Private Health Care cover and with an income above a certain level, is also used to help fund NDIS.

Unfortunately, because of the Coalition’s predilection for privatisation, this is currently run very inefficiently, and many of those with a disability, and in desperate need for a funding package, are getting a raw deal.

So provide government employment for properly trained assessors to operate the scheme, and, at the same time, increase the Surcharge Levy further.

The additional funds which are generated should be invested in a fund to be drawn on by the Pandemic Victims.

Some of these Pandemic Victims, the gig workers, those employed in the arts and entertainment plus non-citizens, will have been dependent on charity or loans and may be in need of immediate assistance.

Some will not need help for a while but may find that they need to take earlier retirement than anticipated and may need a boost to their superannuation.

At least we should try to repay all those whose labours and suffering was on behalf of others, or, in the case of those not eligible for current government assistance and relief, loss of employment for which they had no choice.

Australia’s multi-millionaires and major corporations could also be invited to donate to the fund, as it needs to be available to be drawn on, long before the Medicare Surcharge levy will reach its coffers!

They could gain great kudos by contributing to the fund rather than making political donations!

This is only intended as a very sketchy outline of something this country has a duty to do. It is surely a matter of honour?

The above needs a lot of refinement but, one way or another, many people have been damaged, both by working to combat the pandemic and because of the necessary actions taken by government to prevent a greater disaster.

We owe them – in the case of the carers – big time!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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  1. Vikingduk

    One law for the mega wealthy has been on show here in Noosa recently. A squillionaire, who does not have a home here, has been staying at one of the beachside apartment complexes. No doubt the private jet flew him here, though how he was able to bypass the border restrictions and compulsory lockdown, well money speaks, eh. And then this pretentious wanker had his sleep disturbed by maintenance workers at nearby apartments, of course he is most upset and remonstrates workers for ruining his equilibrium. Poor dear, and yes, we know who you are. Please take yourself and your baseball cap and oh so perfect mullet and pissoff.

    Laudable sentiments, Rosemary, but we know, don’t we, that this farce of a government is not for changing, business as usual, ignore climate change, more coal is what we need and gas, of course, more raping and pillaging of the environment, more bashing of the unworthy. One of life’s certainties is that this conglomerate of liars, spivs, deadbeats, narcissistic sociopaths and hypocrites will grab every chance to display their complete and utter incompetence, not shy to show how unsuitable they are for the job at hand.

    With the enormous assistance of repulsive rupert and his sycophants many will sing the praises of the messiah from the shire, the government we have to have to take us through these challenging economic times. A sickening state of affairs as we contemplate the collapse of the environment, the destruction to come. All due to wilful ignorance and evil, poisoned beings.

  2. A Commentator

    I don’t wish to be inconsiderate, but… we are fortunate that the pandemic here was about 1% or less, of the forecast.

    We didn’t ultimately require (fortunately) all the ventilators. Medical practitioners didn’t have to make the decisions about who lived and who died, as foreshadowed a couple of months ago.

    The stress on our health system, and those that work in it, has been the anticipation rather than the reality.

  3. RosemaryJ36

    A commentator- did you watch Four Corners? The stress was very real in terms of fearing that they would pass on the infection at home and – for many – having inadequate PPE Yes we were lucky in the context you describe but that is only part of the picture.

  4. RosemaryJ36

    Vikingduk – pessimism is often warranted but optimism is healthier..

  5. Vikingduk

    And wishing for it will not make it real. Tell me, what is there truely to be optimistic about? The planet is very near or quite possibly passed a couple of tipping points, we are on the verge of completely out of control climate change no matter what actions, as minuscule as they are, are implemented. We will have the choice of the smirking jerk or me too albanese, whilst the actions required are ignored world wide. I would rather look at the reality of now and not kid myself that the necessary changes will happen willingly. Nature is pissed, sick to death of destructive, ungrateful humans. Change, of course, is the nature of nature, nothing is permanent, we are all subject to the relentless forces of nature and the changes required, unfortunately due to our wilful ignorance, will be harsh and very destructive. Cheers to your optimism, I prefer reality.

  6. RosemaryJ36

    I have 4 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren and I will move heaven and earth, knock on every door, chew whatever ears I must to ensure that the Australian government not only adopts policies which ensure those children have a future but also that they in turn work their butts off to ensure that those countries lagging behind in accepting the need for action are persuaded to change their minds!
    Already many in business are saying in public that the government must take action. Alone we make little difference but united effort with other countries – many of which are way ahead of us – will have impact enough to provide the momentum for others to join in.
    People power is our best tool and if you hope to succeed you might surprise yourself, but if you give up without trying, you guarantee failure.
    We are not yet too late to make a significant change but delay and doubt are our biggest enemies.

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