I think there would be many people who would agree that to return to ‘normal’ – ie to try to pick up the threads and get back to where we were before Covid-19 started on its destructive path – is not necessarily a good idea.
For starters, we were still dithering about how to deal with global warning, and the time we were taking, to decide what, if anything, we should be doing, was time wasted, as the problem increased with inaction.
One blessing in disguise, which has given us a smidgen more time, in climate change terms, has been that, world-wide, the appreciable downturn in manufacturing and vehicle movement has had a significantly beneficial effect on the atmosphere. Pollution has perceptibly decreased, although commonsense says that lifting the lock-down will change that situation, but at least we have had a glimpse of what we could achieve.
We tend to measure a country by its leaders, and the last few months have shown how misguided that is.
During the bush fires – spawned by the climate change which our elected leaders chose to ignore – the stand out actions came from our ‘Firies’ – a high proportion of whom are volunteers, who forgo income from employment AND put their hands in their own pockets for necessary gear.
They truly deserve a holiday in Hawai’i – or some other destination of their own choosing!
During the Covid-19 crisis, many of the lives lost have been among those working hardest to help others – nursing staff, doctors, hospital cleaners and even airline staff, working on planes which flew many people who were – knowingly or unknowingly – infected.
Whatever decisions were being made by our leaders, those we should be respecting and honouring are those who risked their own lives to try to help others.
Like in wartime, it is the politicians who decide to declare war, but they are not the ones putting their lives on the line in battle.
Joe Hockey rattled on about lifters and leaners. In my eyes, he is clearly among the leaners, while thousands of hospital staff and fire fighters have proved to be superb lifters.
One of the major flaws which has been highlighted in the crisis has been the complexity of our tax and welfare systems. Some people are still waiting to receive any financial assistance.
Over the years there have been many discussions about a Universal Basic Income, and Canada did, in fact, start a 3-year trial, with a group of low income earners, which was abandoned, when there was a change of government, as being too expensive.
But what has come to light, from further research, has been the cost savings resulting from better health outcomes for those included in the scheme. As this article notes, there have been other trials, but the Canadian trial, had it not been abandoned, might have given a clearer picture of the competing benefits and disadvantages.
Without a shadow of doubt, had such a scheme been in place when the coronavirus crisis hit, life would have gone on much more smoothly for many people than has been the case.
I am sure you would be aware of the number of times we have been offered a complete review of the tax system. Cynicism rears its head in wondering whether conservative governments are reluctant to commence such a review because, horror of horrors, it might end by benefitting the undeserving poor, while disadvantaging their wealthy donors.
But when the least well paid are dying, while saving the lives of others, and few millionaires seem to be coming forward to make substantial (and not necessarily tax-deductible) donations to smooth the path for those in desperate need, we need a better way of running this country.
When crisis follows crisis, people overlook important issues. What help is being given to those dispossessed by the bush fires?
Why is the Parliament on hold, when there are outstanding issues ranging from the relatively trivial (the ‘sports rorts’ affair), the need for Australia to intervene in the extradition proceedings for Julian Assange, the undercover trials of Witness K and Bernard Collaery over the Timor-Leste bugging (which we all know about, so where does secrecy in the name of national security come into it???), right through to action on the climate emergency. Yes – it remains an emergency, and Parliament could be formulating plans for dealing with it while the National Cabinet concentrates on Covid-19 – and on finding who the hell was responsible for the Ruby Princess debacle?
Given the record to date for incompetence of Home Affairs in general and Border Force in particular, if they are, as it appears, implicated then that whole mega Department needs a complete reassessment. General belief is that it was Malcolm Turnbull’s bribe for holding off a challenge from Peter Dutton. Is that scuttlebutt or was there some less ulterior reason for creating such an unwieldy and poorly run monster?
For me and for many others, a further blessing in disguise has been the sidelining of the completely unnecessary push to protect those who wish to practice a religion.
As noted in an earlier article of mine, I think we need a Charter of Human Rights which could be all encompassing and which, along with environmental issues, should be referred to in drafting all other legislation, and reviewing existing legislation.
The states are still raping the environment in order to maximise profits, and the pigeons will come home to roost when more remote communities run out of water.
Overall, Neoliberalism has done a brilliant job of further enriching the wealthy and enlarging the gap between rich and poor. They sneer at welfare recipients as bludgers, yet the present situation has driven many to Centrelink who would normally see it as a shame job!
Experience is showing that even getting a response from Centrelink is mind-blowingly frustrating, and jumping through the hoops, erected to ensure that the help-seeker is genuine, is soul-destroying. Yet the wealthy can circumvent the tax system with few consequences!
It is ironic that Labor policies, applied during the GFC, and derided ever since by the Coalition, are now being embraced, to stop the country from sinking into an even worse mess than necessary, as a result of a virus infection which was predicted, but without any preparations being made to handle the ensuing crisis.
As a believer in social justice, there are many areas where I find Labor policies more acceptable than those put forward by the Coalition. If all political parties could work towards consensus, rather than being aggressively adversarial, we would all benefit.
So – stop the sledging for party political purposes, remember that the government is elected to run the country, not to sneer at the Opposition, and get down to working for the benefit of the whole nation – PLEASE!
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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