Running dangerously low on political oxygen.

The Federal government is proving itself to be a pretty poor manager in a time of crisis. Last month I wrote that the government had a pandemic plan (of mostly platitudes) in search of a strategy. I wrote that its logic was internally inconsistent had no exit strategy and was predicated on dubious modelling.

Having vacated the field of decision-making (i.e. their job) and deferred instead to a panel of Chief Medical Officers motivated by the precautionary principle, what started off as measures to prevent the hospital system from collapsing morphed into eliminating the virus (which is next to impossible) and saving every life regardless of cost.

At the time the stage three lockdowns were introduced it should already have been apparent to government that Australia was not heading for a Milan or New York type scenario and epidemic model forecasts of between 5,000 and 17,000 people in ICU were never going to happen.

Active cases had arguably already peaked before the end of March (i.e. discounting the bulk processing of recoveries on April 5 and 6 which had presumably recovered earlier). It was already known that Australia’s cases were directly linked to international travel and by closing the borders and quarantining returning travellers (good and timely measures by government), with robust testing and tracing procedures, we had already prevented a mass break out of the virus.

The government therefore didn’t need to panic but that is exactly what they did throwing  evidenced-based and proportionate policy-making under a bus contrary to the national plan. Some will argue that it would have been courageous (in the Sir Humphrey sense) of the government at that time to have adopted a wait and see approach.  If the virus had got out of control, a failure to have acted decisively would have been political death.

I disagree with this supposition because the high economic and associated longer-term political cost was always known whereas the pandemic risk was always highly uncertain and speculative, but in any event, based on Australian data / evidence at the time, looked well under control and hence buying us time to better assess. Hence, from a policy risk perspective it was always smarter to ramp up hard and fast if and when the metrics turned for the worse rather than pre-empt the evidence on doomsday scenarios and commit to added economic catastrophe.

Being even handed I will accept it wasn’t completely irrational (politically) to consider a worse case scenario than Australian data suggested, given the medical and virology uncertainties involved and the rapid deterioration in hotspots like Northern Italy and New York.

What I cannot understand however, is why government refused to adapt when the evidence was overwhelming that we were not facing a northern Italy or New York type catastrophe and the health system was never about to be swamped. It is one thing (barely) to excuse an initial over-reaction, it is quite another to excuse the duration (in fact, intensification) of that over-reaction when all evidence pointed to the contrary.

When the tsunami of COVID-19 patients failed to wash up at our public hospitals (much less the empty private hospitals that were nationalised) in early April the government should have immediately eased off the restrictions it arguably should never have implemented in the first place. That failure has contributed to hundreds of thousands of job losses.

Instead, our political leaders doubled down and shifted the narrative from hospital capability to the absurd notion that every life must be saved, in keeping with the CMO’s preferred narrative of one COVID death is one too many, regardless of the cost or collateral damage in trying to save it. This has led to the dilemma whereby absent a vaccine or cure there is no way out, but if we don’t get out life as we know it is doomed (probably already).

Which leads us to where we are today are with the embarrassing phased opening up of the economy that should arguably never have been closed (to the degree) in the first place. The timing or metrics of why we are opening up are completely unknown and /or random. What is the material difference today versus two, three or four weeks ago? Active cases have been in steady decline since the beginning of April with recoveries outstripping new infections.

Moreover, what is the rationale for a phased approach given such a low level of active cases? I can only presume it is to see if infections start to take off  thereby triggering another lockdown and/ or the prevention of subsequent phases of re-opening the economy (hardly a boost for business confidence and planning).

Yet Morrison has said he hopes we can move through all 3 stages by July. Given the incubation period of the virus and speed at which Morrison hopes to progress he may as well have junked a phased re-opening. At the very least we should moved straight to phase two given how minimal the easing of restrictions are in stage one. For most businesses it would  hardly be worth the effort. It will be undetectable in epidemic models even if you ignore how useless they have been in the first place.

To say this is farcical is an understatement. What took minutes to shut down apparently takes months to re-open, this despite every month delay allegedly wiping $16b from the Australian economy, taking with it businesses and jobs that will never return. But the politicians are absolutely in no rush. Quite the contrary. We need to protect ourselves against a second wave ignoring the fact we never had a serious first wave.

Then there is the sheer arbitrariness of it all. You have to love the precision of our CMO’s and Treasury officials that managed to come up with 10 people and 5 visitors for phase one. On what scientific basis are those numbers based on? Apparently, those are the magically safe numbers we can live with for two weeks thereabouts, but sadly they don’t add up in any logical sense. For example, Justinian’s family numbers five. So if both sets of grandparents pop over for Sunday lunch we will be under the threshold of ten and also meet the criteria of no more than five visitors to Justinian’s home. If the same nine people congregate at one of the grandparents abode they will have broken the law because there were seven visitors. Go figure. Same nine people sharing lunch but at the wrong house they are endangering lives and face the prospect of police fines or worse.

Moreover, despite Morrison’s yearning for a return to semi-normal in July there is no guarantee his National Cabinet colleagues (for that is what they now are – colleagues – not stakeholders or political foes) will follow the script. Dan Andrews in particular threatens to upset the applecart and refuses to open cafes or restaurants in Victoria, while Steven Marshall and Mark MacGowan show no sign of easing the 14 day quarantine on domestic travel that effectively closes these states off from the rest of the nation. Goodbye AFL!

The creation of a National Cabinet has allowed the tail to wag the dog. Morrison is in huge political danger of being owned by the state premiers and as a consequence owning their economic failures. This will become especially apparent during the recovery / stimulus phase. Morrison no doubt believed a National Cabinet would elevate his stature as Prime Minister – the national leader in a time of crisis – and probably thought such a structure  would buy political cover through a bipartisan decision-making framework.

However, as the debacle over school closures show, he never contemplated the downside of this approach notably, that the state premiers would be elevated to his level, but given the constitution would be able to call most of the shots, leaving Morrison owning all the downstream adverse political and economic consequences.

The only thing the National Cabinet has achieved politically thus far is raising Morrison’s personal brand (from bushfire lows) to a level below that of Dan Andrews, but with a primary vote still below the last election and a two party preferred vote tied with Labor. Having failed to build a buffer throughout the crisis Morrison is facing electoral annihilation if the recovery falls flat and stalls over the next 2 years, which according to the RBA’s economic assessment is a distinct possibility.

Which brings us to Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg. Its bad enough the government hasn’t had a strategy for managing the virus but not having a strategy for fiscal and economic recovery is even worse. This seems to be the key take away from the Treasurer’s speech to parliament on Tuesday.

The Treasurer’s speech was completely hollow and offered nothing new to the high level speeches and opinion pieces he had already delivered more than a week before. What was meant to be an economic update on the day the Treasurer should have handed down the budget, he delivered a political excuse that was totally devoid of content.

The speech was little more than a shopping list of expensive measures the government has put in place to “cushion” the very people it has belted. Frydenberg was unbelievably arguing these measures were necessary to buy time and build capacity for a hospital system without any patients, while simultaneously implying that an increase in cases at 20% per day meant the virus was spreading uncontrollably and had nothing to do with the ramp up in testing and tracing.

Adam Creighton in The Australian gave a scathing critique of Frydenberg’s speech to parliament that was spot on. It was little more than spin hoping to deflect criticism that the government has seemingly panicked and its budget and economic narrative (such that it had one) is now in ruins.

If it thinks it can return to surplus by simply slowing the rate of spend while running historically high rates of tax (receipts to GDP) going forward it is delusional. What are the new spending priorities? How will funding be reallocated? How will the APS be restructured? Where are the savings to fund the new cost pressures? How aggressive will be the target to return to surplus? Will it be tax or spend dominated?

The new narrative is apparently building a “bridge to recovery” (seemingly discrediting the independence of the RBA not funding fiscal policy) but given the absence of any policy, fiscal or economic substance going to any of the questions above it looks destined to be a bridge to nowhere: a world of flowery rhetoric, cliched slogans and worthless platitudes.

That there is no strategy for economic recovery was made plain when Frydenberg reaffirmed Morrison by conceding they were: “not about to announce a shopping list of reforms. We are in the harvesting phase, during which we will look at new and old reform proposals with fresh eyes.”

This says it all really. Not only do they not have a strategy (i.e. a business case for reform and recovery) but the process to get one involves dusting off old proposals they previously ignored or failed to implement. Simply, incredible. Presumably many of these will hark back to when the Treasurer’s was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister in charge of the government’s deregulation agenda that went nowhere.

The 6.8 million people either now on Jobseeker or Jobkeeper payments – over half the 13 million people that made up the labor force in February – deserved a lot more than a puff piece about Coalition “principles” and “money trees” from a government that has hasn’t managed to get spending under 25% of GDP (on average) over the past six years and is significantly higher than that under the much maligned Whitlam Government.

Unbelievably, with government having largely wiped out much of the private sector the Treasurer had the temerity to shift the burden of job growth back on to the private sector his government had decimated. While I do not disagree that the private sector needs to do the heavy lifting, the problem is that lifting is pretty hard to do when you are weighed down by the heavy hand of big government (never more so than during the inept handling of the crisis). On this the Treasurer had nothing of substance to say.

The Morrison Government seems shell shocked and in denial about the situation it is facing and clueless about the economic-political disaster it has unleashed . While it cannot be blamed for a bad situation, it can be blamed for making a bad situation worse which every decision after travel bans and quarantine imply.

If the Morrison Government fails to quickly develop a coherent economic narrative going forward (i.e. a business case for economic, fiscal and monetary reform that relates to everyday Australians and gets people back into work with meat on the bones) and fast, it will end up one more coronavirus victim that no amount of ventilators will be able to breathe political life into.

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49 Responses to Running dangerously low on political oxygen.

  1. egg_

    From previous, ScoMo will be hung out to dry over the Economic fallout of this fake pandemic, Bushfires MKII.

  2. BrettW

    The 10 people rule in restaurants is a perfect example of CMO’s being in another world from the rest of us.

    It takes no account of how big a venue is.

    I was just in a place getting take away. They are doing very well and had 8 people fully engaged serving the take away customers. They are probably doing as many meals as would be doing on a normal night.

    The actual dine in areas were still closed but they have two premises side by side. They could easily seat 40 without people being near each other. Am basing that on 5 groups of 4 in each premises.

    Likewise there are some huge venues that have multiple areas where people would be well spread out.

    All these venues are probably still having to pay full rent.

    It appears to me CMO’s like to have “phases” and restricting dine is one of them. Meanwhile the venues are losing huge amounts of money they will never get back.

    If the state Governments were responsable for paying Jobkeeper they might be a bit more concerned with the economic effects of what their CMO’s are dictating.

  3. egg_

    The creation of a National Cabinet has allowed the tail to wag the dog.

    Likewise, the CMOs were the tail wagging the dog of the National Cabinet – an inverted pyramid of non-leadership.

    Modern retail politicians at play.

  4. Roger W

    As Currencylad pointed out yesterday:
    “Dr Jeannette Young’s admission that she mum-lied to the Queensland public about the safety of schools. She wanted to teach non-essentials a lesson about the alleged “gravity” of the pandemic. I followed it up (below) via Adam Creighton. I add my WTF to Warren Mundine’s. Note that his “WTF!!!!” wasn’t a question, as it customarily is. Mundine knows what without asking. This ‘crisis’ has become an elitist ruse to con the public into believing the destruction of their lives and businesses was justified.”

    The CMOs lie, blatantly and apparently proudly. This woman was boasting about her lie.

  5. C.L.

    Great analysis. One of the best posted here.

    What I cannot understand however, is why government refused to adapt …

    You ask this in a few different guises in your essay.
    I’ve been arguing – and believe it to be true – that having panicked during the Italianate stage of the pandemic and shut down the economy (and society), the government subsequently 1) realised it had blundered on an unprecedented scale; and 2) could not then re-open everything on the understanding that it had been foolish and wrong. And so the theatre began: not about ICUs now but saving every life (as you note) – coupled with malarkey about ‘phases.’

    This is why I argued last week that the government is, in fact, Swedenising its approach but in a gradual way that is meant to look like an organic policy outgrowth of its earlier – epic-stupid – panic.

  6. Chris M

    Jobkeeper is lie pink batts with a kazillion more batts.

    I’m thinking the same goat ass public servants that come up with this stuff with glaringly obvious problems remain in power (for they have the true power) and are common to whichever figurehead party is supposedly in charge? ….Or they are not so much klutz dweebs and it was all intentional.

  7. Megan

    Great analysis. One of the best posted here.

    Agreed! If only I could memorise it and calmly trot it out to all the bleeding heart hysterics I have discovered amongst friends, family and acquaintances. They all seem to think that we had to hide from the death virus and that the economy is like a parcel left on a counter somewhere that we can just stroll over to and pick up as if nothing had happened.

    We are all about to get a very hard belting from the reality stick,

  8. Greg O'Donnell

    I would appreciate it if all of those commenting on this would declare their position. For example, please declare if you are an employer who was forced to shut down your business and stand down your staff. Also please declare if you are a government employee who has not been affected significantly by the lockdown and is still receiving their normal salary. I hope that you can see the difference, in particular I hope the author declares his position.

  9. David Brewer

    It should have been obvious from the beginning, and even before the beginning, but it still isn’t obvious to the government now. When will they ever learn to

    1. Never base expensive policy decisions on dire model forecasts of what might happen.
    2. Never focus on “saving lives” from only one danger – consider all dangers to life, including those posed by the measures you are introducing to confront the danger du jour, and their costs.
    3. Never introduce long-term welfare schemes for short-term problems that are changing every day.

  10. Steve

    Plandemicmovie.com

    Blows the lid off it all.

    Many in the US are calling the whole thing a hoax, the globalists are now panicking to maintain the scare tactics so Trump will use the military to forcibly vaccinate the whole population against an Elite-created bioweapon that only kills thd elderly…..its main aim, with govt help, was to destroy the economy and cripple America from the inside.

    The US is done for…..the Elite have almost destoyed it. US citizens nay wind up fighting thier own military if they refuse the vaccine. Trump a month ago activated 1000000 military reservusts, now we know why. Its been planned all along.
    Thats messed up….

  11. Steve

    Isreal wants to microchip kids to enforce social distancing…this is turning into a dystopian nightmare. The Israelus are just obeying thier Elite paymasters…

    https://biohackinfo.com/news-israel-coronavirus-microchipping-benjamin-netanyahu/

    We need to push back against the evil elite…..or there will be no fredoms left soon.

  12. min

    What I am seeing are Jim Hackers being run by Sir Humphreys . They hired management consultants to work out how to get people back to work who were working up in Canberra very early in the piece until the work from home instructions ( I know this as I know someone working for the consultants) . Not too many politicians have run a business and been responsible for profits and paying staff , Craig Kelly maybe one , otherwise all those ridiculous numbers would never have been put into returning to work stages. Clueless being manipulated by even more clueless . God help Australia , the other side would have been a bigger catastrophe.

  13. Russell

    It’s gonna be really hard to get a lot of these people back to work.
    How do they stop loony activists saying they are withdrawing JobKeeper way too early?
    Can hear them saying “With all the mental health issues it will have to go on for ever for many workers.”
    What slogan will be used to coerce (or embarrass?) the lazy people back to work?
    “Flatten the curve” was great on the way in but what cute words makes sense on way out?
    Some folks are getting more $$ than they normally earn and won’t be able to go backwards.
    Many businesses will give up and just go and get new staff and leave Gov with the problem.

  14. egg_

    Jobkeeper is lie pink batts with a kazillion more batts.

    GFC MKII – analysts are saying it took employment a decade to fully recover from the GFC, and this (Government imposed Economic hardship) is worse.

  15. egg_

    1. Never base expensive policy decisions on dire model forecasts of what might happen.
    2. Never focus on “saving lives” from only one danger – consider all dangers to life, including those posed by the measures you are introducing to confront the danger du jour, and their costs.
    3. Never introduce long-term welfare schemes for short-term problems that are changing every day.

    Nailed it.
    I’d have thought the Govt would have had Economic advisers countering “terrified” Medicos re balancing a short term death spike versus long term* financial penalty in shutting down an Economy.

    *It’s the long term that does the most damage financially – LTIs outweigh deaths financially in Industry.

  16. JC

    They may appear to be Swedenizing, CL but I very much doubt they would allow it to run its course. If those new case numbers look like inching back up, they will close the economy down again without taking a breath.

    Look, I don’t fault the government for taking the action it did, Justinian. Yes, looking at Italy and seeing what occurred there quickly frightened the living daylights out of them. We had little information about this pandemic to go on. It was touch and go which course to take – Sweden or the lock-down.

    Having said all this, they had better figure out a recovery plan asap or this place is in serious trouble. It’s very difficult to justify the highest minimum wages in the world and an inflexible labor market. It’s hard to justify energy prices at the top of the league.
    They’re like scared deer in headlights.

  17. egg_

    It’s gonna be really hard to get a lot of these people back to work.
    How do they stop loony activists saying they are withdrawing JobKeeper way too early?

    Tony Burke said on Insiders last Sunday that SloMo will have to extend the current level of support beyond 6 months.
    A problem of the Govt’s own creation – paying people NOT to make lattes, due to the Notaflu.
    Hunchback’s Melbourne latte Economy being propped up by Sino dollars c/- OBOR?

  18. egg_

    looking at Italy and seeing what occurred there quickly frightened the living daylights out of them.

    Now you’ve had your shutdown placebo, it’s time to swallow the bitter pill of costs.

  19. Beachcomber

    Courtesy of Delta, from ‘We could open up again and forget the whole thing’.

    spiked: Is Covid-19 dangerous?

    Knut Wittkowski: No, unless you have age-related severe comorbidities. So if you are in a nursing home because you cannot live by yourself anymore, then getting infected is dangerous.

    In other words, it’s the ‘flu.

    But we can’t forget the whole thing. Not only has the economy been gutted by the Government- Deep State, but a 1984 police state of arbitrary and humiliating regulation has been imposed, with generally enthusiastic support from the “citizens”.

    This phoney pandemic has shown that if the the Government-Deep State has the backing of the ABC-media then it can do whatever it wants. The Constitution and “democratic” processes are irrelevant. That has changed everything and the “new normal” does not include the freedoms and prosperity that we once enjoyed.

  20. Colonel Crispin Berka

    This is a pearler from Justinian:
    >> ignoring the fact we never had a serious first wave

    Yes, and why do you think we never had a serious first wave?

    JC has correctly understood the situation. Learn from JC.

  21. BorisG

    1) realised it had blundered on an unprecedented scale;

    This is a conspiracy theory. There is zero evidence any government (fed or state) realized that’s they have done anything wrong.

    Usually when it does happen, there are whistleblowers, dissenters, deserters etc. None in this case.

  22. BorisG

    I agree with JC. Sweden has shown you can avoid exponential growth and overwhelming hospitals by mostly voluntary measures. But they still have too many deaths in my book. They will likely have at least 400 deaths per million, which translates into 10,000 in Australia. I think this would be way too many, especially if it all happens over 2 months. And I suspect would have a greater demoralizing effect on society than a short lockdown. And Sweden’s economy will suffer even with vluntary measures, plus they are part of the EU etc.

  23. BorisG

    We are constantly told that we are not Italy and not New York. But what about New Jersey? Massachusetts? These are wealthy and largely suburbian states not very different from Victoria or NSW. Each still has over 100 deaths a day.

    NO THANKS.

  24. Beachcomber

    Each still has over 100 (Coronavirus) deaths a day.

    Sigh ………. in the Covid-1984 era Everybody Now Dies Of Coronavirus.

    If they’re going to say everybody who dies does so of coronavirus, well, it will be one way to bring the reported counts in line with model projections. They can then say the models were right, and that our well designed PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! strategy was fully justified.

    But you already know that. It’s there for anybody to see. Grovelling Statist drones just ignore the evidence and keep peddling the lies and hysteria-mongering.

  25. David Brewer

    We are constantly told that we are not Italy and not New York. But what about New Jersey? Massachusetts? These are wealthy and largely suburbian states not very different from Victoria or NSW.

    Population density per square mile:

    New South Wales 26
    Victoria 75

    Massachusetts 840
    New Jersey 1,210

  26. Sydney Boy

    Look, I don’t fault the government for taking the action it did, Justinian. Yes, looking at Italy and seeing what occurred there quickly frightened the living daylights out of them. We had little information about this pandemic to go on. It was touch and go which course to take – Sweden or the lock-down.

    100% with JC.

    But don’t you also think it is weird that “Jacinda Ardern has received international praise for her handling of the pandemic”? What did NZ do that Australia didn’t? Their lockdown was more stringent than Australia’s – except for Victoriastan. Yet NZ actually has more cases per capita and the same rate of deaths per capita. And Jacinda Ardern receives “international praise”?

    Just another example of the side which matters more than the facts.

  27. egg_

    But what about New Jersey? Massachusetts?

    Ever been outside of US major cities?
    More talking from the @rse by the parody sock.

  28. Ian of Brisbane

    Morrison never misses an opportunity to disappoint

  29. egg_

    We had little information about this pandemic to go on.

    And you cite Northern Italy as a reference?

  30. Nob

    Boris,
    What do you call a short lockdown?
    Six weeks?
    Three months?
    Six months?

    At what point do you reckon the lockdown is causing more damage than the virus?

  31. egg_

    And I suspect would have a greater demoralizing effect on society than a short lockdown.

    What’s a “short” lockdown, sock?
    How less damaging on the Economy?
    Tony Burke is saying 6 months Govt assistance isn’t sufficient and must be extended.

  32. egg_

    There is zero evidence any government (fed or state) realized that’s they have done anything wrong.

    Da curve did not significantly change, innumerate.

  33. egg_

    At what point do you reckon the lockdown is causing more damage than the virus?

    The instant they closed restaurants and bars.

  34. min

    What we had in common with Italy was the number of Chinese in our communities . Australia with the number of Chinese students and Italy workers.
    Italy kept quiet about how the Virus got a hold there for fear of looking racist. i read Corriere della Sera, Italian version , as I could not understand how certain towns In Northern Italy were being overwhelmed so quickly., places like Bergamo and Cremona . The first case was a A 17 yr old in a town outside of Milan , no ethnicity mentioned but explosion happened when Chinese returned after zChinese New Year. . Luxury designer manufacturers sold out and Chinese eventually got rid of Italian workers and brought in 30,000 Chinese who got paid less . We had the equivalent in students.

  35. yarpos

    Politcians at all levels abdicated their role and responsibilities to the white coat brigade. Instead of taking advice then balancing it with the needs of society overall they have let the Medical Orifices run the country. Now they converted a good proportion of the public into cowering handwringers who hide under their doona awaiting the next set of instructions. They have broken so much, its going to be intersting see what it all looks like when the pieces are finally reassembled, if I live that long.

  36. jupes

    Politcians at all levels abdicated their role and responsibilities to the white coat brigade. Instead of taking advice then balancing it with the needs of society overall they have let the Medical Orifices run the country. Now they converted a good proportion of the public into cowering handwringers who hide under their doona awaiting the next set of instructions.

    Excellent post yarpos. The quality of leadership in Australia is appalling.

  37. NoFixedAddress

    If the Morrison Government fails to quickly develop a coherent economic narrative going forward (i.e. a business case for economic, fiscal and monetary reform that relates to everyday Australians and gets people back into work with meat on the bones) and fast, it will end up one more coronavirus victim that no amount of ventilators will be able to breathe political life into.

    Justinian – A great summation.

    But I doubt that Australian Parliaments have politicians with the capacity “to quickly develop a coherent economic narrative going forward and fast“!

    Ad we now know conclusively that Parliamentarians only represent the so called Public Service who look upon ordinary Australians as a mob to be controlled and directed at the whim of the PS through the cover of Parliamentarians.

    The chances of a realistic “business case for economic, fiscal and monetary reform that relates to everyday Australians and gets people back into work with meat on the bones” are somewhere between buckleys and none.

    I think you will see the recovery plan/s as per the American Democrats US$ 3 trillion budget just scaled to Australia’s population.

    More windmills, carbon sequestering, more university spending and research grants and a national wage rise with increases in taxation, energy costs, excise, payroll taxes, local governments rates, stamp duty, you name it.

    And a high speed rail line from somewhere to somewhere!

  38. NoFixedAddress

    And we need more Public Servants to serve the public better.

  39. Kneel

    “These are wealthy and largely suburbian(sic) states not very different from Victoria or NSW.”

    NY (state): 350k cases, 27k5 deaths
    NY (city): 195k cases, 20k deaths
    Florida: 44k cases, 2k deaths
    Texas: 45k cases, 1k2 deaths

    Note that Florida has a larger population than NY(although, being run by R’s not D’s, Florida’s state budget is only about half of NY’s).

    So the question is: is Australia more like NYC, or more like Florida, or more like Texas?
    I would suggest Texas is closest: several large cities; rest is sparsely populated; mostly warmer weather; other than some parts of big cities, almost no public transport. Just looking at stats, looks kinda close: we had what, 5K cases and 100 deaths? Pretty close to 1/10th Texas.

    Until – what? last week? – NYC kept the “subway” running and didn’t even disinfect trains AT ALL.

    So looks like what we really needed to do was shut down public transport and discourage large gatherings (sporting matches etc), encourage social physical distancing, restrict access to retirement complexes et al and not much more.

  40. Modelling – the basis for much of the failed policy execution. even worse, dimwits of the “Left” equate guesswork (modelling, albeit educated) with science.
    Modelling is a failed hoax.
    The one scientific fact we have learned so far is that the “scientific method” still works well. If we hadn’t panicked a la Dads’ Army’s Jones’y, the economy would not have been decimated to the extent it now has been. The Left media have played their typical wrecking role. The same journalists, pundits and keyboard warriors who loudly proclaim on the Twitter sewer that “every life is precious” forget about rising Tuberculosis rates, resistant bacteria and numerous other health concerns we now face. Comparisons with the 1918/19 pandemic are meaningless given the increase in life expectancy. Does the immutable value of life apply to abortion too? Oops, I meant female reproductive health.
    So what now?
    No international travel until 2023. No herd immunity.
    What a cluster!

  41. Leo G

    So the question is: is Australia more like NYC, or more like Florida, or more like Texas?

    Don’t fall into the “herd theory” trap of comparing epidemic thresholds and reproduction numbers between different cities, states or continents as if those model parameters are uniform across each location and only vary in unison within each location.
    From the anthropomorphic perspective of an infectious virus, the people in a city don’t present equal opportunities for reproduction. The city is stratified by complex and variably overlapping subpopulations, and even within each it can be difficult to quantify the epidemic parameters.
    What we can see from media reports, is the low threshold and high reproduction numbers in certain communities once the virus is introduced (residential aged-care, cruise ships) and high thresholds and low reproduction rates in others (school-aged children). We also see high-risk activities which modulate the transfer of infections between sub-populations (air travel or commuter train travel, mass gatherings, hygiene protocols etc).
    There is also the appearance of a resistance to infection at a more-or-less uniform high rate across all subpopulations (or conversely a lower rate of high susceptibility).
    In the early stage of an epidemic, the infectious agent may appear to have a high reproduction number because it is reproducing in some high-susceptibility subpopulations following close contacts within those subpopulations with an infected “super-spreader”.

  42. Lilliana

    If only I could memorise it and calmly trot it out to all the bleeding heart hysterics I have discovered amongst friends, family and acquaintances. They all seem to think that we had to hide from the death virus and that the economy is like a parcel left on a counter somewhere that we can just stroll over to and pick up as if nothing had happened.

    This is my experience as well. I am surprised how many people think the Government has done a wonderful job ‘protecting’ us. To me, the number of people that have downloaded the app shows just how many people are happy to be nannied.

    On another note. The overly generous welfare payments have exacerbated the entitlement culture already entrenched in Australian society. Weaning people off will be a battle – get ready for the cries of ‘living wage’, ‘mental health issues’ and ‘I’ve got rights’ . The Gov. clearly didn’t think this through to the end before they started giving out the cash.

  43. BorisG

    What do you call a short lockdown?
    Six weeks?
    Three months?
    Six months?

    Less than two months. We are gong to stage 2, which is not that far from normal, on Monday.

    Australia has beaten the virus, completely smashed the curve, and can now reopen. They are reopening more cautiously than I would like but I can take it.

    The economic effects will be definitely much less in Australia than in countries hit much harder with this virus. Many countries are now ‘opening’ but they are opening those things that weren’t even closed here at all. For instance in Ontario they are opening shops that have direct entrance from the street (malls are still closed). We never had malls closed. Schools remain closed.

  44. BorisG

    In contrast, in WA schools are compulsory from Monday. Getting back to normal, in my book.

  45. BorisG

    On another note. The overly generous welfare payments have exacerbated the entitlement culture already entrenched in Australian society. Weaning people off will be a battle – get ready for the cries of ‘living wage’, ‘mental health issues’ and ‘I’ve got rights’ . The Gov. clearly didn’t think this through to the end before they started giving out the cash.

    This may be true. With one caveat: if people lose livelihood as a result of a government decree, this is a case for government support if there was ever one.

  46. candy

    The Italian situation did scare the daylights out of everyone. After two weeks or so though Australia’s death toll ( to use a harsh term) still only went up by about one per day. The borders were barricaded enough although maybe our warmth and sunshine and space just stopped it in its tracks too.

    Perhaps PM Morrison should have been more positive at that time when the major fear passed. Instead of indicating that the government would support everyone for at least six months and throwing money away even free child care, he should have talked in terms of 6 weeks, not 6 months.

  47. Cynic of Ayr

    Craig Kelly is probably the most switched on Politician anywhere at present. But… he’s whistling in the wind.
    Nice bloke, but zero public charisma. Morison et al will take no notice, because to take notice now, is to admit they should have taken notice before.
    If, instead of invading Australia with a Virus, China had militarily invaded Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, or Vietnam, Morrison would have gleefully sent our military to “help” and the casualties would have been 100 times that of the Virus, but it would have been OK.
    It’s sad, but true. The deaths have been overwhelmingly elderly people, more or less on death’s door. They may not, in the majority, had long to live any sort of pleasant life. Nursing homes are just that. Nursing homes. They nurse people until they die. No way to know, but I wonder how many that died from complications of the Virus, would have died anyway, in the last three or four months.
    We all cling to life, myself included. A good friend was committed to a nursing home some years ago. He was of quite good mental acuity, but was a paraplegic.
    I asked, “How many in this wing?”
    He replied, “Twenty.”
    I said, “That’s not so bad. Twenty people to talk to and react with!”
    He laughed, and said, “Fuck no! There are only two who can talk. The rest are basically vegetables.”
    I’d guess very few of us, outside those with family of friends in these institutions, are aware of what it’s really like. Even I, who visited ever few weeks when I was up that way, have no real idea of what it’s like. I did see my friend fatten up to the point he could hardly move, then deteriorate, and eventually die. Took a year or so. Merely three or four times the shutdown.
    So, harsh as I sound, it may well be that we kill the economy, kill many young people from despair, to save a number – I dunno? 5 ,000? – from death that they may well have experienced in the next six months anyway. 58,000 odd people dies from illness in 2017.
    Finally, what has Morrison planned for the next Virus? Opinions bandied about are that the economy will take 10 years to recover. I’m very realistic of the Chinese government, in that, whether this release from Wuhan was deliberate or not, they are very, very, very interested in the result.
    This means that there cannot be another virus, or similar, in the next ten years, or Morrison will – assuming he’s still there, which I doubt – he will have no money.
    Something I can guarantee. This government, or any other, will not create a “razor gang” to cut government expense. The first class travel will continue. The expensive meals and meetings will continue. The grants to Clementine Ford and her ilk will continue. The one car per politician will continue. The number of boards, quangos, and public servants will continue. And, lastly but not leastly, the subsidies for RE will continue!
    I also guarantee that NO ONE in Government employ will lose their job because of stupidity, or reckless predictions, or lying.

  48. Rockdoctor

    I also guarantee that NO ONE in Government employ will lose their job because of stupidity, or reckless predictions, or lying.

    Yup bumbling Hazzard still Minister, Public Servant who was responsible cries crocodile tears to commissioner but still in a job. I think you’ll be right on this one.

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