I’m worried about my country, I really am. Seems to me too many of the State Premiers are setting themselves up as petty dictators, proclaiming that everything they do is for the good of Queenslanders or Tasmanians, or West Australians or Victorians. As it happens, I’ve lived in several states over my lifetime. And first and foremost, I’m an Australian.
Last year, you might notice a sign saying “Welcome to Queensland” as you whizz past in your car. Entering West Australia was always a bit more difficult to prevent the spread of pest and bugs found in the rest of Australia, but not WA. But even so, it was a simple search of the car and caravan at the border.
Today, I need reasons to cross borders, and I’ll be quarantined coming and going. I think too many of the people put in charge of policing these border policies have let the power go to their heads. There seems to be little room for common sense or compassion. We read in the news recently where a new mother from NSW was denied the right to enter a Queensland hospital where her new born son was fighting for his life. [read more] That wasn’t an isolated case, either. Another woman lost one of her unborn twins. It’s a big country. For those up in the northern regions of NSW, Brisbane is closer than Sydney – and all hospitals are open to all Australians. Except when there’s a pandemic.
Many rural towns straddle borders. Albury and Wodonga provide an excellent example. It’s essentially the same town on opposite banks of the Murray River. And there’s Echuca and Moama – same situation. Woe betide you if you happen to work on the other side of the river from where you live. Sure, the states are creating ‘border bubbles’ to accommodate this requirement – which wasn’t a requirement a year ago. A border bubble is an area straddling the border where people commonly come and go to go to school, work, shop, carry out their business. Within those boundaries quarantine is not required – provided you have a permit. But it has all been very much a case of ‘make it up as we go’.
I appreciate that in Victoria, where covid-19 spread like a bush fire, tough measures had to be taken. The spread was due to incompetence in quarantining and contact tracing – provided by the state government. The social measures Chairman Dan has taken for his lock down are the most draconian ever made in this country. Not even during the world wars have Australians had to endure a curfew. And for what? If you can’t go to restaurants, clubs, pubs, why not allow people out? And a few days ago a mother was arrested and handcuffed in her home in Ballarat, a lovely town west of Melbourne. She was in her PJ’s and the police cuffed her in front of her husband and kids. Her crime? Trying to organise an anti-closure gathering through Face Book. Wow. Welcome to the police state. Sieg Heil!
Remember when all these lock downs started, eight months ago? The idea was to give the hospitals time to prepare for a flood of patients and give the states time to prepare for the exercise of containing outbreaks through testing and contact tracing. Nobody with a functioning brain would have believed covid-19 would be completely removed from the face of Australia. Not even New Zealand could manage that.
The only Australian state that’s doing it right is New South Wales, under Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
She hasn’t closed the borders to any state but Victoria. Whenever an outbreak flares it is contained and contact tracing and testing carried out. Businesses continue to operate provided they follow the covid safety rules. People can still work, still live relatively freely.
In contrast, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk won’t open Queensland borders to tourists from other states – unless they’re Australian Football League officials, visiting for the AFL grand final, which will be played outside Victoria for the first time in its history. It all smacks of a dose of hypocrisy while she keeps her eye on the October state election.
Good for Gladys. I think it’s time we all became Australians again.
Oh, and while I’m on the hobby horse, what about the twenty-three thousand Australians stuck overseas and wanting to come home? The number of arrivals from overseas is currently capped at four thousand a week and planes can’t carry anywhere near their capacity. A Boeing 787 carries between 242 and 290 passengers but at the moment their capacity is set to just thirty. Needless to say, the seats up the front are given priority. Unsurprisingly, fares are necessarily inflated to cover the cost of flying the plane. Meanwhile, these Aussies have to cover the cost of living OS while they’re repeatedly bumped off flights.
Here’s an idea. If the government insists travellers are tested for covid-19 before they get on the flight (allowing time for results, of course) and they are subjected to fourteen days quarantine when they arrive, why not fill the plane? These people are Aussies trying to get home.
If we don’t start getting life back to some sort of normal – albeit with masks and social distancing – the toll on young people will be horrific. We’re already in a recession. It will be a depression any minute now. People have mortgages to pay, kids to feed. And government handouts can only go so far. People who aren’t working don’t pay taxes and we can’t keep borrowing forever.
The vast majority of covid-19 deaths in Australia have occurred in aged care facilities. Whatever else we do in the rest of the community, those nursing homes must be protected. So the residents can keep doing this.