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What have we learned from COVID-19?

A message given to those who are selling or promoting commodities and ideas, and trying to succeed in gaining a client, is along the lines of “You have two ears and one mouth and it’s best to use them in that proportion”

Listening is so important, and without doing so, we run the risk of failing to understand other people’s needs, or to encourage them to see the value in the message we are hoping they will hear.

This is a lesson many of our politicians have yet to learn. They are far more skilled at telling us what they think we need and what they are prepared to offer, than they are at listening to us telling them what we know we need!

One thing we have learned from this crisis is that the people who have been of most value to us, as individuals, are the ones who are least well paid, often less highly regarded and certainly least interested in promoting themselves in the process of helping us.

They are the undervalued health care workers, cleaners and many others doing essential but often menial work.

Many more people would have died, or been permanently and adversely affected by the novel coronavirus, had not these carers put their own lives on the line to help us.

This year’s Australian of the Year should be granted, en masse, to this group of people.

And they should be recognised by a significant review of their pay and conditions!

Those of us living in the NT have had no community transmissions of COVID-19, but we have listened in horror to what has happened elsewhere in Australia – particularly in Victoria and NSW.

We closed our borders because a significant proportion of our population is comprised of ATSI people, whose health and living conditions would make them singularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

We have had pressure exerted, by tourism, politicians of various flavours, and by mining, with its FIFO workers, to relax restrictions, but we have, rightly, resisted, because the mighty dollar does not have a value sufficient to cover the cost of the lives that would be put at risk by opening our borders.

This country, in recent years, has seen an alarming growth in government policies which exhibit an attitude of outright cruelty.

Cause and effect are a phenomenon which we have become very bad at understanding.

How long has it been that scientists have been warning us that there would, sooner or later, be another pandemic like the Spanish flu?

Is it not a responsibility of governments to take precautions and prepare plans for likely eventualities?

And to regularly update them – after all we have had warning signs through SARS and MERS, not to mention HIV-AIDS and a host of other less recent ones.

The Coalition government has been complimented on the extent to which it has been listening to the appropriate scientists in dealing with the pandemic, but how thoroughly was it prepared to think these through properly?

It has also not been sufficiently proactive in ensuring that we have an adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or that those most at risk in fighting the pandemic and protecting us are properly informed in the appropriate use of PPE.

The disastrous situation in those ‘private’ Aged Care institutions, which are the responsibility of the Federal government, has been appalling, including the lack of plans, the lack of inspection and control and the conditions which applied to staff.

The Disability inquiry is finding these same criticisms apply to service for the disabled, who, along with the elderly, are the most vulnerable members of society. Because the NDIS is a more recent introduction, this might be excused, but for the fact that it shares so much in common with Aged Care needs that, had plans for the care of the elderly been in place, the needs of the disabled could have followed on similar lines.

For a normal household, living with and adhering to a budget is important. But many households do not receive enough to be able to set down a budget and are forced into a hand-to-mouth existence of choosing between putting food on the table or paying the power bill.

In a wealthy country like Australia, this is inexcusable, and it is often the result of policies being made by politicians with no experience or understanding of situations which face a large proportion of the population.

The real cruelty has crept in most obviously in two areas, and politicians of more than one persuasion must be held guilty here.

Not surprisingly, these two areas are linked – they are refugees and the Department which is responsible for administering Immigration and Citizenship – Home Affairs.

Those refugees arriving here by sea after a certain date have been denied the right to ever settle in Australia.

Maybe the Labor government of the time thought it might be able to find homes for them elsewhere, but they made the really big mistake of failing to line up those prospects before making that decision.

Big mistake!

Some limited efforts have been made subsequently by the Coalition – although the massive gift to Cambodia must have been a result of a regrettable brain storm – and the lives lost and damaged by this policy is a black mark on Australia’s history which can never be erased.

Is the mind-set which supports this attitude a consequence of the cruelty underlying the foundation of Australia as a penal colony?

Who knows.

But the malign forces which led to the establishment of the appallingly-managed Department of Home Affairs, and even more evil decision to put Peter Dutton in charge, have left most people of conscience confused as to the path Australia is following to Hell!

The entire Department should be sub-titled Cruelty Incarnate!

Families remain separated by unbelievably idiosyncratic decisions about visas, while families with a child suffering an incurable – but manageable – disease are deported.

And let us keep hope alive hope that the Biloela family will be quietly returned to the community where it has been so loved.

Some of the problems can probably be laid at the door of an AAT, which has been loaded with members lacking legal experience but being ardent adherents of the Coalition parties!

Most recently, carelessness by an official of Home Affairs, resulted in the release to a member of the public, in a seriously criminal breach, information regarding a whistle blower and – wait for it! – which has been passed back by the Ombudsman to Home Affairs for them to investigate and deal with.


How inappropriate can you get?

I have a sneaking suspicion that it was Malcolm Turnbull who created Home Affairs and put Dutton in charge, in order to remove Dutton from the pool of those seeking to be rid of and/or replace Turnbull. If so, then that may well prove the greatest disservice to the people of Australia in Turnbull’s entire career.

The Coalition government, no doubt due to heavy pressure from the national Cabinet, has provided financial relief, temporarily, to most people, but has inexplicable excluded some specific groups.

These include non-citizens on various types of visa, Australians in various specific categories of employment, including the vast majority of those engaged in any and all aspects of the arts and entertainment, and university staff.

Incidentally – I am sure that the government has a moral responsibility to provide continuing financial assistance to those people forced out of work by government decisions. Is there also a legal responsibility placed on the government?

The only aspect of education which appears to have support from government, is private schools – a puzzling conundrum.

And for those seeking past-secondary education, beware, as a wrong choice of specialisation might leave you with a debt you cannot repay.

The ideology underlying the government’s most recent policies is really dangerous and is one of the issues which leaves me hoping against hope that the Pandemic will abate sufficiently that we can get out in the streets, en masse, to protest coalition mismanagement.

When it comes to the Coalition’s favourite – the economy – we have yet to learn how many people will retain a roof over their heads.

The banks and landlords are getting antsy over lost mortgage payments and rental revenue, and, as yet, the government has done nothing to provide mortgagees and tenants with any sense of security for a future, while unemployment soars.

The published figures bear no relationship to the truth. (Is the ABS revising its website because of the pandemic, or was the process underway before disaster struck?)

Being an optimist, and having had the most incredible run of lucky breaks in my own life, I realise that a reality check would reveal that my hopes that this government would even consider, let alone act on any of the above, stem from La La Land!

Before I go – my last vain hope is that, having used scientific advice during the pandemic, maybe, just maybe, the government might follow suit in reassessing action on climate change!

Oh! Another thing we have learned – the Australian Constitution is well and truly out of touch with the modern world and needs to be totally replaced with one including a Bill of Rights!

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. pierre wilkinson

    while we are on a wish list, I would like a unicorn…
    or an early election

  2. Mysay

    What we have learnt from this crisis is the way the government has treated our loved ones in aged care , Without this crisis they would have continued to suffer the appalling treatment

  3. My say

    What we have learnt from this crisis is the way the government has treated our loved ones in aged care , Without this crisis they would have continued to suffer the appalling treatment

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