There are many who are better qualified than am I to try to change the world, while we have a brief moment in time to do so.
I do not believe (a word I normally try to avoid!) anything is impossible but I am well aware that significant change is a seriously hard battle.
It is patently obvious to an observer that the spread of Covid-19 is accelerated by selfish and thoughtless behaviour. Some can be excused because they do not fully understand the way the pandemic works or because they live in circumstances where the operation of social distancing is, itself, impossible.
Singapore is currently doing well, because its relatively authoritarian government is accepted by them, but only time will tell whether their taking precautions but pretty much continuing life as normal will enable them to avoid infection from spreading to a significant level.
China, also with an authoritarian government, once it accepted that the Corona virus needed urgent action, has been singularly successful in finally reducing its impact to manageable levels. Full recovery is some way off but it has been more successful in controlling it than have been many other countries, both some in Europe and the mighty USA.
By contrast, Indonesia, with an enormous, close-packed population, many members of which listen more carefully to their religious leaders than to the government, is likely to experience massive levels of infection and may well then also experience equally massive civil unrest.
Some other countries, where people were infected early on, seem to be breaking the back of the disruption, but life is not yet back to normal and infection is not yet fully eradicated.
Within Australia, significant differences between states and territories are evident. The more populous states are obviously most heavily affected, while, for example, the NT has (at the date of writing) only had 21 cases of infection, all acquired overseas, all, again to date, responding to treatment. But the low level of immunity for many in our more remote communities makes if imperative that the infection not be allowed to spread.
It is concerning that issues such as higher prices for many food items in the communities is significantly higher than in the main centres, which is likely to motivate them to travel to town for cheaper goods. In fact for those living in remote locations, lack of many services is likely to make staying away from the major towns much more difficult.
Many of the policies which the National Cabinet has approved have much merit, but the almost ad hoc way in which they are being announced, highlights the reactive nature of the planning. Had we still had CSIRO operating at optimal levels, planning for a contingency such as this pandemic would have been executed long ago, updated as necessary, and ready to roll out efficiently.
Forward planning for all contingencies is essential.
A petition is currently circulating, planned to be tabled during Parliament’s brief sitting next week, calling for the establishment of an oversight body to monitor the performance of the unelected National Cabinet while Parliament is not in a position to do so.
During the period that the Coalition has been in power, many changes have been made that give rise to major concerns over the whittling away of our freedoms. A national emergency provides a golden opportunity for a government, bent on retaining control, to have the excuse to introduce restrictions and prohibitions which might prove difficult to remove once the emergency situation abates.
Many people on our island are being ignored in the planning. Those on some kinds of visas are often overlooked, those who already destitute are also ignored and the time lag between realisation of their needs and making any effort to support them is inappropriately long.
We, too, must use this time well.
If we were not happy with the status quo before, we now have to crystallise our concerns, look really closely at what was wrong and how it can be rectified, and recognise that this brief respite from the number one concern of global warming remains just that – brief.
I was in Darwin for Cyclone Tracy and experienced being in the eye of the cyclone. Once it had passed, all hell was let loose again, leaving little time to even take breath.
We are in the eye of the storm as regards climate change and we have to be prepared to deal with it more effectively than we have been doing.,
The pandemic will not suddenly end – reinfection will keep it going for quite some time and it must take priority, for now, in our planning and thinking.
But not to the exclusion of necessary planning for action on climate change.
Just maybe a positive effect of the Covid-19 pandemic might be an increased awareness that we all live on the same planet and share, not necessarily equally, in its conditions. So we also share in the responsibility to maintain its ability to support life.
The future of Planet Earth is in our hands.
We must make a good job of it.
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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