What is this “National Cabinet”?

So the “National Cabinet” imposed draconian measures yesterday on Australian to lesson the further spear of the Covid-19 virus.  Not just me saying “draconian” – I think both Scott Morrison and the federal Chief Medical Officer nearly said that word too.

But before I talk about that train wreck – Scomo did well, but it was still a train wreck – let’s talk about the “National Cabinet”. This is what it is:

Formed at the Friday Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting, the “wartime” national cabinet is made up of the nation’s first ministers – the Prime Minister, premiers and territory leaders – to co-ordinate and deliver a consistent national response to COVID-19.

Why should we be concerned?

Australia’s first national cabinet is finally doing what countless reviews, academics and government watches have pleaded for. Governments of all colours, and their agencies, working as one, in a form of co-operative federalism many officials had only dreamed of.

Hmmmmmm.  “Co-operative” federalism? Let’s consult the actual constitution.

61. Executive power

The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth.

62. Federal Executive Council

There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Council shall be chosen and summoned by the Governor-General and sworn as Executive Councillors, and shall hold office during his pleasure.

63. Provisions referring to Governor-General

The provisions of this Constitution referring to the Governor-General in Council shall be construed as referring to the Governor-General acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council.

64. Ministers of State

The Governor-General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor-General in Council may establish.

Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. They shall be members of the Federal Executive Council, and shall be the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth.

Ministers to sit in Parliament

After the first general election no Minister of State shall hold office for a longer period than three months unless he is or becomes a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

Seems to me that there is no constitutional authority for this “National Cabinet”. As an aside, there is constitutional authority for “closing” the state borders despite s 92 of the Constitution.  The notion that the borders are being “closed” is not quite correct – the borders are still open, it is just that many people crossing them will be required to go into 14 day quarantine.

This is what I think is happening. The Commonwealth might not actually have the power to do many of the things that are currently being done. The States do. The “National Cabinet” is an unconstitutional fig leaf that allows the States to coordinate their activities while appearing to have a unified national approach. That is NOT how a federal is meant to operate.

Now the counter-argument is this: This is a national emergency and we all need to pull together to pull through. This is not a time for constitutional niceties.  We can all argue the toss after the fact. I think the legal doctrine is that a constitution is not a suicide note.

I’m not unsympathetic to that notion – but I’m not yet convinced we are at that stage yet.

So what about the press conference last night? Scomo performed well. Smacking down journalists earned him a lot of applause from many of my Facebook friends who are totally non-political. So the politics and the optics were good. What about the policy?

Well, not so good.

It is an incoherent combination to simultaneously argue that kids should continue to go to school while also bringing the school holidays forward. Incoherent. If we truly that kids might lose a year of school (Scomo is right about that) then the correct policy would be to cancel the school holidays and push through as far as you can. The States have closed their school as fast as is practical. The media did pick up on that last night.

It is also incoherent for Scomo to argue that panic buying is unnecessary (he is correct here too) while also saying that undefined “stage 2” restrictions could be imposed at an undefined time with an undefined trigger. The media picked up on that point too.

For all this talk of  “national unity” the state premiers have gone awol.

State and territory leaders lost their nerve and incited panic across the country by announcing they were effectively shutting down their economies.

Nothing so far in this crisis has had the potential to confuse Australians more than the behaviour of the Victorian and NSW premiers, primarily, and the other state and territory leaders who fell in behind them.

Queensland was the only state to display any common sense. The unilateral decision to announce school closures and a lockdown of all but essential services before the national cabinet was reckless. And possibly the most irresponsible act since Federation. What they appeared to be proposing without any proper detail or explanation would have shut down 70 per cent of their workforces.

Update: There have been some great responses in the thread to this post.  But here is additional information:

The national cabinet is not a war cabinet which includes members of the opposition as members of the government and it is not a rebadged COAG leaders meeting. It is a formally constituted federal cabinet committee, the members of which are heads of government.

That is a precisely what I thought it was and precisely why it has no constitutional authority.

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53 Responses to What is this “National Cabinet”?

  1. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    chinese virus, lets not allow WHO to let the communist party of china off the hook.

    if there is any blame for this bioweapon to be released and the following cover up, it rests solely with the chinese communist party

  2. Rex Mango

    Covid 19 is a state thing. The Federalles had their chance back in January to seal the borders and dropped the ball. Over to states now to each run their own race.

  3. Driftforge

    This is kind of silly. There is nothing in the constitutional material quoted that says that the various government bodies may not form a council of some name and act together.

    This is not the Federal Executive Council; that is a thing, but it is not this thing.

  4. stackja

    Rex Mango
    #3370992, posted on March 23, 2020 at 9:36 am

    WHO said not a problem. Trust WHO? And the racist card in January? ALP?

  5. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    It’s time to shut these dangerous staggeringly useless incompetent totalitarian imbeciles down before they completely destroy the country and our way of life.

    This madness must stop.

  6. Iampeter

    Did anyone ask the PM about what the next step of the plan was now that he has shut everything down?
    Or are we just saving those conversations until AFTER people are breaking into Zoo’s to kill the animals for food?

    This madness must stop.

    Madness? Totally closed borders and control of trade is exactly what conservatives have been calling on the government to do for years.
    Why aren’t you all celebrating? This is every Trump supporters dream.

  7. Mark

    Instead of all this madness, why don’t they direct the absolutely insane amount of money being spent to the people actually at risk (elderly and people with pre-existing condtions).

    There is actually no need for business shutdowns, etc for the broader population, if there was self-isolation for those at risk. That would be significantly cheaper and likely more effective.

  8. Tel

    The WHO was notified about the escalating problems in Wuhan at the end of December … if they had done their job and passed this notification on to the various effected governments (including Australia) and if the Australian government had done their job and closed the national borders right away and kept them closed without any back doors … if those people had done their jobs then we would not need any “wartime” bullshit right now.

    It’s almost like they wanted it to end up like this! Now they want to stick their noses into everyone else’s business after demonstrated incompetency doing the very simple things that were entrusted to them.

  9. Professor Fred Lenin

    Its finally happening ,my old saying is finally coming true ,for ages I have been calling our career polliemuppets The National Gangrene Laboral Psrty, NGLP and here it is !
    It will be a carbon copy of those two great globalist institution the UN and EU ,consuming OPM,enriching its career nenbers and servants and as handy as an ashtray on a motor bike .
    Once the alp crims and gangrene fools are admitted it will be impossible to remove them ,short of a revolution like the French one .
    Poor fella my country! what have the bastrards done ? And we bloody well let them !

  10. Just Interested

    I’m not entirely sure what this article is driving at.

    It correctly points out that the ‘National Cabinet’ is as constitutional (or unconstitutional) as COAG. It is merely a bureaucratic artefact designed to coordinate action.

    However, ultimately the jurisdictions do run schools and the hospitals and so (as happened here) the Vics went there own way about school closures.

    (In passing, it should be said that all jurisdictions had agreed to the ‘shutting down (of) their economies; the only real difference was schools).

    The article also correctly notes the Feds have been less than clear in the messaging.

    One of the terms of reference of the Natural Disasters Royal Commission is:

    Whether changes are needed to Australia’s legal framework for the involvement of the Commonwealth in responding to national emergencies, including in relation to the following:

    i. thresholds for, and any obstacles to, State or Territory requests for Commonwealth assistance;

    ii. whether the Commonwealth Government should have the power to declare a state of national emergency;

    iii. how any such national declaration would interact with State and Territory emergency management frameworks;

    iv. whether, in the circumstances of such a national declaration, the Commonwealth Government should have clearer authority to take action (including, but without limitation, through the deployment of the Australian Defence Force) in the national interest;

    Is the article arguing for a Commonwealth takeover of responsibility where there is a ‘national emergency’.

    I’d like to see what the lefties do with such a power when they decide to deal with a national (climate) emergency!

  11. Roger

    Seems to me that there is no constitutional authority for this “National Cabinet”.

    The Executive Government is the arm of government capable of and empowered to respond to a crisis be it war, natural disaster or a financial crisis

    High Court of Australia, Pape v Commissioner of Taxation [2009]

  12. Ed Case

    Its good politics. He’s sidelined Albanese and put the acid on the Premiers to put the National Interest ahead of partisan pointscoring.

  13. OldOzzie

    For all this talk of “national unity” the state premiers have gone awol.

    Premiers lost their nerve, they should be ashamed

    Simon Benson

    State and territory leaders lost their nerve and incited panic across the country by announcing they were effectively shutting down their economies.

    Nothing so far in this crisis has had the potential to confuse Australians more than the behaviour of the Victorian and NSW premiers, primarily, and the other state and territory leaders who fell in behind them.

    Queensland was the only state to display any common sense. The unilateral decision to announce school closures and a lockdown of all but essential services before the national cabinet was reckless. And possibly the most irresponsible act since Federation. What they appeared to be proposing without any proper detail or explanation would have shut down 70 per cent of their workforces.

    What is clear now is none of the states had any idea what they were doing. NSW was clearly skittish after the Ruby Princess cruise ship fiasco. Victoria appeared to need little convincing to go the same route. The Australian understands that what transpired after their announcements was akin to public revolt. A source said that businesses such as accountants, law firms and farm equipment makers began bombarding the government, asking if they needed to close their doors.

    Schools were also to be closed within 48 hours, which would have stranded millions of parents.

    Fortunately, Scott Morrison managed to walk the states back from the brink following clear and direct medical and health advice that much of what they were proposing was not only unnecessary but absurd.

    All leaders signed up to the national cabinet for a reason. It was meant to provide a unified position on a national crisis. Instead the premiers wet the bed and went it alone.

    This was a major breakdown in policy response and communication. The net effect of this is critical. People will lose trust in governments to manage the crisis. The NSW government is arguably already at this stage. This directly impacts on the ability of the federal government to convince people to stick to the rules. How can they if they don’t know what the rules are from one minute to the next?

    Morrison was clearly agitated on Sunday night when he had to reassure the nation that all the governments were on the same page. The only positive thing to come of it was that it is now very unlikely to happen again.

  14. stackja

    Why not stop all restrictions. Let the virus spread. The old and sick go, making things better for all. Survival of the fittest.

  15. Rex Mango

    How quickly can we get a High Court injunction ennacted to stop the next National Cabinet meeting?

  16. Sinclair Davidson

    roger – indeed. The Constitution defines the executive as being members of the Federal Parliament.

  17. Sinclair Davidson

    How quickly can we get a High Court injunction ennacted to stop the next National Cabinet meeting?

    We can’t – Australians do not have automatic standing to sue the government.

  18. Tim Neilson

    Madness? Totally closed borders and control of trade is exactly what conservatives have been calling on the government to do for years.

    Please feel free to give examples of anyone calling for “totally closed” borders before COVID 19.

    Obviously you’ll be able to do that. It’s not as if you’d spout an absolutist dogmatic generalisation without being able to substantiate it with facts.

    As for “control of trade” I don’t recall anyone saying that governments should dictate what Australian citizens should do with their own businesses. But again, feel free to give examples.
    I mean it’s not as if you’d stupidly conflate previously expressed concerns about foreign governments’ manipulation of cross border trade with current concerns about our governments’ micromanagement of local corner shops, cafes and pubs.

  19. Roger

    The Constitution defines the executive as being members of the Federal Parliament.

    Yes, but in light of how our government actually operates, the HC defined it as the PM and cabinet.

  20. Roger

    Sorry, meant to use italics, not bolding.

  21. Roger

    How quickly can we get a High Court injunction ennacted to stop the next National Cabinet meeting?

    The High Court isn’t sitting.

  22. Just Interested

    I’m still missing the point of the article.

    The ‘National Cabinet’ artefact recognises the effect of Pape

    The ‘NC’ does not purport to exercise executive power.

    The legal instruments that do have legal effect are made by the jurisdictions.

    Is the point of this article either (a) the Feds butt out once the bug has entered the country; or (b) there should be no coordination, or what?

  23. Sinclair Davidson

    the HC defined it as the PM and cabinet.

    Yes – they have to be federal MPs not state MPs.

  24. Lutz

    7 people have died so far!

  25. Archivist

    Australia’s first national cabinet is finally doing what countless reviews, academics and government watches have pleaded for.

    Right. So we can conclude that it wasn’t Morrison’s idea.

    In that case, whose idea was it? How was the idea presented to him by bureaucrats? Did they use their position of influence summon a pet project into existence during a crisis?

    An Insiders panelist (Karen Middleton, I recall) yesterday made a pertinent point:
    “we need to know who are the experts, and who is advising the government.”

    That is always true. It’s a pity it takes a pandemic for it to occur to the press gallery.

  26. DHS

    Please feel free to give examples of anyone calling for “totally closed” borders before COVID 19.

    Iampeter believes there is a strict dichotomy between believing in complete open borders and believing in complete autarky. You can’t possibly believe that trade is good and should be open as possible but still think that only those people who are invited should be allowed to come here.

    To be fair, his words on this hysterical overreaction to this virus are spot on.

  27. min

    I have 3 family members at the coalface , 2 in medical clinics , 1 in a hospital. Also have friends who have kids who are specialists in different hospitals and I seem to be getting a different story of what it is like out there.
    Friends have also recently returned from overseas who was on Emirates flight with a passenger who collapsed on arrival with covid 19 . Like the cruises nothing said and no checks , they found out from family
    It seems to me that when these regulations are put in no one follows through . I live in retirement apartments where there are notices on front door, sanitiser, and temperature checks at reception abd still people ignore instructions .
    Young or old a severe bout needs a respirator and are there are not enough if rate increases as it has done overseas

  28. Roger

    Yes – they have to be federal MPs not state MPs.

    Right.

    But there are existing mechanisms in place that can be utilised to bring the states on board in a national emergency.

    The Commonwealth should exercise its native powers (e.g. national borders) and act as coordinating power over the states. Eg If the Commonwealth recommends lockdowns, the states then enforce those lockdowns in their jurisdictions.

    Given that we haven’t had a national emergency of this scope since WWII * (the GFC notwithstanding) it’s to be expected that the working of these arrangements would be a little unwieldy at the outset.

    * For argument’s sake I’m accepting that this is a national emergency; we’ll only know for certain when the dust settles on the graves.

  29. Archivist

    But there are existing mechanisms in place that can be utilised to bring the states on board in a national emergency.

    They weren’t needed for World War 1 or World War 2. Federalism worked just fine.

    Morrison needs to kick the premiers out of cabinet. No good can come of it.

  30. duncanm

    Can someone explain to me why newstart people need their payments doubled?

    Not as if they’re losing income like actual taxpayers.

  31. max

    Quarantine and the Supply Chain
    by George Friedman
    The global medical community appears to have devised a strategy for mitigating the coronavirus that depends largely on quarantine, or limiting contact among the infected and potentially infected, thereby limiting the virus’ spread. The hope is to keep it at bay long enough for it to fade away on its own or, as many experts believe, die in the more hostile conditions of warmer weather. In the meantime, it’s possible that scientists will develop more effective treatment for the disease it causes.
    …there are three indispensable supply chains: food, pharmaceuticals and energy. The need for food is obvious. The inability to obtain pharmaceuticals for pre-existing medical conditions could kill more people than the coronavirus itself. Electricity is essential to refrigerate foods and possibly pharmaceuticals, allow information to flow, and drive facilities needed for the supply chain. Gasoline must be delivered if the trucks that distribute food and pharmaceuticals are to run. There are undoubted other supply chains we have missed, but these are the essentials to get us through until the weather turns.

    https://geopoliticalfutures.com/quarantine-and-the-supply-chain/

  32. max

    max
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    #3371267, posted on March 23, 2020 at 11:37 am

  33. one old bruce

    Rather than wreck the economy, cheaper to build temporary hospitals and deputise temporary med workers – but just who will want to work in those wards is a difficult ask. Plenty of old people like me would volunteer, and there are lots of us, but we are ‘at risk’. Honestly though I’ve done everything I ever wanted to do (ever!) and would not mind taking on the risk. I even have some nurse aide training and experience.

  34. Ed Case

    Can someone explain to me why newstart people need their payments doubled?
    Not as if they’re losing income like actual taxpayers.

    Newstart recipients have to report income. Every dollar earned reduces the payment by 50c.
    Since the likelihood of recipients earning any income from today onward is next to zero they’re getting a top up. A couple of hundred thousand taxpayers who’ve been laid off will be joining the Rolls today through no fault of their own. $729/Fortnite including rent assistance of $139/f won’t be enough for them to pay the rent let alone buy food.

    Some will say what about the losers who don’t earn anything?
    The policy is designed to help people in need rather than punishing them in the neverending hunt for the mythical dole bludger.

  35. Driftforge

    Yes – they have to be federal MPs not state MPs.

    Only for permanence. Anyone can be pulled onto the Federal Executive Council for three months.

  36. Driftforge

    That said, this doesn’t pretend to be the Federal Executive Council. Anything run through Federal Parliment still passes through the FEC on the way to the Governor General.

    This is a coordination body, pulled together for this purpose. Doesn’t change anything constitutionally.

  37. Ed Case

    According to Dennis Shanahan in the Oz its a ”formally constituted Federal Cabinet committee the members of which are heads of government”.

  38. Alan

    No constitutional authority for this “National Cabinet”?

    51 Legislative powers of the Parliament
    The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

    (xxxvii) matters referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the Parliament or Parliaments of any State or States, but so that the law shall extend only to States by whose Parliaments the matter is referred, or which afterwards adopt the law;

  39. Iampeter

    When your government is taking action to shut down industrial civilization does it really matter if it’s constitutional?

  40. Pyrmonter

    It’s been a while since I studied the question, but does cabinet as a deliberative or administrative body ‘exist’?

    It didn’t used to. It has some special status in FoI matters, and has had various public service departments allocated to servcing it (at one stage Hewitt was a departmental head, while there was a separate head of the PM’s department) but I thought it was still, strictly speaking, a political and not a legal arrangement of the ministers?

  41. Alan

    This book may assist:
    Helen Irving (2004) Five Things to Know about the Australian Constitution (and here)
    Regards the ‘Cabinet’: see Chapter 2

    [p.31] But that’s not all: the ‘Prime Minister’ is not described in the Constitution. He is not even mentioned in the Constitution. The very words do not appear. Not anywhere. Nor does the word ‘Cabinet’. Section 61 simply says that the executive power (that is, government) of the Commonwealth is exercised by the Queen and the Governor-General.
    [p.37] This is one of the mysteries, perhaps difficulties, of having ‘unwritten’ parts in the Constitution. We do not know whether, or when, a departure from its practices is actually unconstitutional. Is an unwritten constitution (as the joke goes) really not worth the paper it’s written on? What are the limits? If Australia stopped having a Prime Minister and Cabinet, this would certainly be ‘unconstitutional’, at least as things stand today.

  42. Sinclair Davidson

    I’m going to go with the “not worth the paper” hypothesis.

  43. Professor Fred Lenin

    Petrograd 1917, “Now -gentlemen during this crisis we will form a Government of National Unity with the Bolsheviks ,I am sure messrs Lenin and Trotsky are reasonable men and will join us in saving Russia for zdemocracy “. That worked well didnt it ?

  44. Elderly White Man From Skipton

    There are two ways to view this.
    One is that our Federation and the limited scope of defined powers for the Commonwealth is a handicap in matters of health emergency. Largely because the health expertise is essentially in the States.
    The other is that despite a very large budget for health policy at the national level, we did not learn what Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam appear to have learned from the first SARS outbreak. (Or if we did, nothing effective was done.)

  45. Squirrel

    To paraphrase Churchill, it’s probably better than all the alternatives but yes, it’s basically COAG in CMF uniforms.

  46. Peter Maynard

    The “National Cabinet” is an unconstitutional fig leaf that allows the States to coordinate their activities while appearing to have a unified national approach. That is NOT how a federal is meant to operate.

    True enough – I agree but make no criticism about it. It seems to me to be an entirely pragmatic approach given the circumstances where a truly national approach is needed to combat such a problem. And anyway is it really THAT different to COAG or any of the other state / federal bodies in principle? As an ex state and Cth public servant I have participated many of them myself in an advisory capacity and as member of state and Cth Committees reporting to them. I am also sure that this National Cabinet makes no formal “cabinet” decisions – such decisions still have to be made formally by the state or Cth Cabinets depending upon which has the relevant constitutional power.

    In this respect the “National Cabinet” is rather like the “Cabinet Committees” which exist in at least some jurisdictions. The Committees typically have no formal power to approve anything – they are specialist bodies which consider specialized issues (which then still have to go to full Cabinet to receive its formal authority to act.)

    It also strikes me as being a bit similar in some respects to say the War Cabinet set up by Churchill which involved leaders from both sides of the House.

    Finally , you overlook the fact that “Cabinet” is an extra constitutional concept. As far as I recall it rates no mention in the Constitution at all. For that matter s others have pointed out neither do the concepts of Parties or Prime Ministers.

  47. Sinclair Davidson

    Peter – I agree the constitution does not mention the PM. But it does establish the “Federal Executive Council” i.e. the cabinet and specifies its membership.

  48. Peter Maynard

    Peter – I agree the constitution does not mention the PM. But it does establish the “Federal Executive Council” i.e. the cabinet and specifies its membership.

    Sinclair that is partly correct but with respect you may be misunderstanding the specific function of Exec Council. The way government functions in a formal sense is that submissions come to Cabinet (in both state and Cth jurisdictions) and if approved by Cabinet the necessary legal instruments are prepared to go forward to Executive Council (or more formally the Governor /or Governor General in Executive Council) for that body’s formal approval which gives constitutional effect to those decisions. This is not always necessary – some Cabinet decisions (e.g. political ones as Cabinet is a child of politics) do not need the approval of the Governor in Executive Council. But legislation, regulations and decisions made that require Government Gazettal, for example, all do. In other words Executive Council is the formal constitutional body to make such decisions on advice of Cabinet (though the concept of Cabinet itself is not mentioned specifically, being assumed.)

    This is what I meant when I said that Cabinet is merely an extra constitutional organ which is in itself a pragmatic way for governments to make decisions and advise Executive Council.
    The Australian Constitution says:
    “S61: The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth.”
    In relation to Exec Council the Australian Constitution also says “S62: There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Council shall be chosen and summoned by the Governor-General and sworn as Executive Councillors, and shall hold office during his pleasure.”

    Effectively Exec Council does consist of certain members of Cabinet in practice but the Constitution makes no mention of Cabinet as such (though in practice its members will include Cabinet Ministers). Much the same obtains in state constitutions (I was for a time Executive Officer / Secretary to Executive Council in a state so have a few year’s experience of how all of this arcane machinery works).

    As I said I would be very surprised if the “National Cabinet” is in principle anything much different (other than its badging and the immediacy with which it can meet and decide things) t0 COAG meetings (which are held much less frequently). Decisions made in COAG still have to come back to relevant Cabinet and thence to Executive Council for formal decision which gives the necessary Constitutional authority to those decisions. And I am sure decisions made by the “National Cabinet” do likewise.

  49. procrustes

    Just interested, I think you’re on the money on this one.

    Recall that K Rudd ran six COAG meetings in the course of 18 months during the GFC. All of COAG’s decisions resulted in “years of productive work” in each jurisdiction (including states legislating to recognise other sates’ law in some cases).

    I think constitutional issues are a side show here. What is worse is the muddling of State and federal roles and responsibilities – including through all of that over-reaction by ScoMo that you list in relation to the Bushfires inquiry.

  50. procrustes

    Peter Maynard I agree with your reading of the situation.

  51. Iampeter

    It seems to me to be an entirely pragmatic approach given the circumstances where a truly national approach is needed to combat such a problem.

    What’s the problem they are trying to combat?
    So far we have had shortages of basic goods caused by government induced panic and nonsense about “self quarantine” with no time-frames.
    We now have a mandatory lockdown with no time frame.
    We have talk of bailouts for those rendered “non-essential” to an economy, which is pointless since you can’t even buy toilet paper.
    We have no money going to hospitals for supplies which may have helped deal with sudden influx of those affected by a virus, which I think started all this.
    And we have all the economic collapse still to come thanks to these inexplicable actions taken by our government to date that couldn’t be undone at this point even if the government immediately reversed course.

    The only problems caused so far have been entirely by government action. Them forming a committee to oversee a complete lack of any plan or time frame to deal with I forget what at this point, doesn’t seem super useful. But good thing it’s pragmatic, right?

    PS sorry for the sarcasm. I really couldn’t help it.

  52. Peter Maynard

    “Iampeter
    What’s the problem they are trying to combat?
    So far we have had shortages of basic goods caused by government induced panic and nonsense about “self quarantine” with no time-frames.”

    I am inclined to agree in many respects. When I said the approach is pragmatic I was talking purely about the mechanism used to involve states and the Commonwealth, not necessarily the outcomes from those deliberations. I have serious questions about locking down the economy on an open ended basis, with no clear fall back, no clear end date and no clear decision points about what’s next. That has to change. Quickly.

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