Apart from the creation of a futures market in toilet paper, pasta and rice, the Coronavirus may also have a few positive political effects here and overseas.
Firstly, the messaging from the government regarding protection of you and those around you seems to be based on the recommendations from the medical community. Yes, there is a realisation that scientists who are experts at understanding communicable diseases do know more than politicians. In this case the politicians are taking the advice, even to the stage of Peter Dutton’s accepting Queensland Health’s recommendation for isolation in hospital when diagnosed with Coronavirus. While Morrison and the rest of Cabinet didn’t choose to self-isolate despite being in contact with Dutton in the period immediately prior to Dutton’s diagnosis, Morrison chose not to go to what was the first and may be the last opportunity to see his favourite football team play for some time the following weekend. Also to be fair, testing the Ministry and advisors in the Cabinet Room prior to the onset of symptoms is pointless — and a waste of resources.
Is it too much to hope for a recantation of the dodgy accounting and bluster in regard to the emissions targets and ‘carbon tax’ that have poisoned Australian politics for a decade? After all, the experts in environmental science have been warning of events such as ‘mega-fires’ and greater frequency of highly destructive cyclones for about the same length of time.
Secondly, the government released ‘scalable’ financial measures to attempt to keep the economy from diving into a recession. There are a number of measures that promote ‘instant’ spending as well as measures that will take some time to have an effect. Again the measures seem to be based on the advice of experts in their field at Treasury. It’s probably not accidental that the measures imitate to an extent those implemented by Rudd and his Treasurer Wayne Swan around a decade ago during the ‘Global Financial Crisis’ (you know the one that the Coalition has been arguing didn’t exist because Australia didn’t go into a recession). The Coalition have been pillorying the ALP for a decade about the measures that put the infamous “$900 cheques” into the hands of people that would ‘only spend the money on (the then new and expensive) flat screen televisions and at the pokies, built a large number of assembly halls and other needed infrastructure at schools and assisted a considerable number of people to be able to regulate the temperature in their homes in a far more environmentally sustainable way. Certainly the implementation at the time wasn’t gold plated perfection — but Morrison’s will probably come up against similar issues with his stimulus package in the months ahead including loading the $750 stimulus given to Centrelink ‘customers’ to the ‘cashless welfare card’ if it’s an option.
The Coalition’s carefully crafted ‘truism’ that they are the better economic managers because the ALP hands the cash out to anyone now has the same credibility as their line about ‘the carbon tax’ causing $100 lamb roasts, the wipe out of Whyalla and ongoing economic pain. Don’t forget former PM Abbott’s Chief of Staff told us the ‘carbon tax’ claim was just brutal retail politics. If you doubt it, the audio is here, courtesy of Buzzfeed.
It isn’t only Australian politicians that are eating humble pie — US President Donald Trump has been somewhat less than enthusiastic about vaccination in the past. Like the Coalition government’s budget cuts to the CSIRO, the editor of the USA’s Science Magazine reports
For the past 4 years, President Trump’s budgets have made deep cuts to science, including cuts to funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH. With this administration’s disregard for science of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the stalled naming of a director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy — all to support political goals — the nation has had nearly 4 years of harming and ignoring science.
Suddenly, a change of tune
“Do me a favor, speed it up, speed it up.” This is what U.S. President Donald Trump told the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference, recounting what he said to pharmaceutical executives about the progress toward a vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
It would be easy to comment that “karma is a bugger” and leave it there. But there is something to consider further here. While Morrison (and Trump) have been caught out playing politics, Morrison at least is also finding out that reacting to changing circumstances can be accepted if it is seen to be in the public’s best interests. Let’s hope he joins the dots and figures out most of us couldn’t give a damn if there is an economic surplus or not, it is far more important to produce meaningful reductions in emissions (without dodgy accounting) and demonstrate kindness and compassion to refugees, the jobless and those that genuinely need a hand in our society. The UK and USA have been printing additional money for years with apparently little adverse economic effect.
You and I need to tell all those that run for political office that we no longer have the appetite for a winner take all competition. We need to know why you are doing what you’re doing (even if it takes longer than 30 seconds on the evening news to tell us), if the situation changes it is acceptable to change tack and leaving a healthy and liveable environment for our descendants is of utmost importance. In addition, all those elected to office (regardless of political ‘colour’) have the right to have a seat at the table and their opinions heard and considered.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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