At the moment, some Premiers and Chief Ministers are being described as heartless, without compassion, cruel and nasty. The descriptions are being applied because of decisions made by the individual Premiers and Chief Ministers or their delegates to contain, to the best of their ability, the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
While it might be ‘heartless’ for one to miss the interstate funeral, is the risk of inadvertently infecting 90-year-old Aunt Doris at her dear husband Bert’s funeral worth it? Don’t forget there are all the other mourners, the funeral home staff as well as hundreds of others that could be infected through community transmission of a virus with no prevention or treatment medication available at present. It is certainly heartless to run the risk of inadvertently infecting the Uber driver that takes the infected person to the airport, to infect a number of passengers on the plane seated around the infected person, infect the relative that picks up the infected person at the destination, infect the staff in the coffee shop and incidental contacts along the way because you didn’t know you had COVID-19 when you went to pay respects to Uncle Bert.
If we are talking about heartless, is it heartless to insist on indefinite detention of refugees who have a legal right under a United Nations treaty signed in 1951 by an Australian Government led by Liberal Party founder Robert Menzies that clearly states that people who determine themselves to be refugees have the right to seek sanctuary in any country around the world? The treaty doesn’t specify how or when the refugee has to travel to the country, so the argument of the Rudd as well as the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government that flying into the country is acceptable while arriving by boat is not only illogical but just plain wrong. Those that do arrive by plane have some documentation to get out of their country (which makes the refugee status questionable). Those that overstay visas to enter Australia are acting illegally despite Border Force usually allowing them to stay in the community rather than being sent to some detention facility – which might not be Australian mainland if your only choice is a probably leaky boat.
If we are talking about heartless, is it heartless to insist on those requiring support to find a new job live on $40 a day for months or years on end as practiced by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government while federal politicians ‘living away from home allowance’ for one night is $288? And arguably even more heartless, if that is possible, after initially increasing the unemployment rate to something that people can actually live on due to COVID-19, they start reducing it during the worst recession Australia has ever encountered.
If we are talking about heartless, is it heartless to ask why airlines who are still flying into Australian airspace are allowed to price gouge because of limited capacity as this ABC News article discusses?
If we are talking about heartless, is it heartless to discuss the commodification and lack of care given to our elderly and infirm in what the Federal Government ironically calls an aged care system? Certainly the rot set in a long time ago and both sides of politics deserve some of the blame. This article in The Saturday Paper (paywalled) discusses how various federal governments in Australia have stood by for nearly a quarter of a century and watched while the care for our elderly was corporatised and the residents seen as profit generators for the large corporate entities that own a large percentage of Australia’s aged ‘care’ homes. The current Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government seem to have known about the problems and only acted to ensure greater profits for the corporate entities.
If we are talking about heartless, is it heartless to only be critical of some state premiers for their responses to COVID-19? It seems the criticism from Morrison and his cheer squad are targeted at the border restrictions implemented by the Queensland (ALP) Premier on residents of NSW, the ACT or Victoria rather than the Tasmanian Liberal Premier who is using his island to advantage at the moment, or the South Australian Liberal Premier who opened his borders to residents of the ACT on 15 September (provided they fly direct). It would have nothing to do with the Queensland state election in late October, would it?
If we are talking about heartless, is it heartless to insist on some state premiers opening their borders using examples of those who can’t attend significant life events in Australia while insisting on those wishing to travel overseas to go through a bureaucratic process to leave the country?
Governments around Australia have significantly reduced service capacity in areas that at some point will be required to be delivered urgently. The Federally funded and managed aged care system, Victoria’s public health system and LNP Minister Peter Dutton’s Border Control system have all been found wanting in the current pandemic. Conservative Governments promoting ‘small government’ or ‘reducing waste’ (such as Campbell Newman’s sacking of some 14,000 Queensland public servants when coming to power in 2012) while demonising and withdrawing funding from well-regarded services such as Medicare, the ABC, TAFE, ensure that when suddenly required, our society gets a sub-standard response to an abnormal event. Then, the politicians and vested interests look for someone to blame.
COVID-19 is a health crisis which leads to an economic ‘flat line’. If you don’t fix the health crisis first, you won’t have an economy to take off life support. In a statement distributed on 15 September, 35 eminent economists agree that the health problem needs to be resolved first. They probably have a better idea of economics than the editors of various newspapers and most conservative politicians.
The heartless ones here are Morrison and his political and media cheer squad, who despite claiming ‘we’re all in this together‘ never let a chance go by to gain a perceived political advantage.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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