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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: Cyclone COVID 19

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The COVID 19 pandemic is no longer just a cloud on the horizon – it has developed into a full scale cyclone, and its effects on Australia, while still unquantifiable, will clearly be severe if not disastrous.

The health experts now tell us that the virus cannot be contained – in time every Australian will become infected.

The good news, such as it is, is that in some 80 per cent of cases, illness will be minimal – no worse than a severe cold. Not bad odds for individuals, and they can be improved further through elementary precautions. But that still leaves some five million who will be seriously affected, and some fatalities are inevitable.

This is an emergency, a crisis in anyone’s language. But like so many catastrophes in the making, in political terms it can also be seen as a challenge, an opportunity. And Scott Morrison is not one to let a chance go by.

Desperate for political rehabilitation after his negligence and mismanagement after the bushfires, our leader has taken full control of the situation, with daily bulletins designed to show that he is on top of things, balancing warning and reassurance, offering both strength and comfort to his chosen people.

And just by the way, coronavirus makes a very handy excuse for the broken promise of the rolled gold surplus he prematurely announced two years ago. It can still go horribly wrong: if casualties mount and the measures provided prove ineffective, Morrison will not be absolved from blame. But if things work out, he will receive a lot of the credit.

There is another risk to the political health of ScoMo’s government – the stench of festering pork now breeding maggots and disease across an increasing part of the country

And brother, does he need it. COVID 19 is obviously the big one, but there is another risk to the political health of ScoMo’s government – the stench of festering pork now breeding maggots and disease across an increasing part of the country. And as with coronavirus, it is proving almost impossible to limit the ongoing damage.

The opposition and sections of the media are determined to bring it to a head, to force Morrison to drop his risible defence against the clear and present subversion of taxpayer funds for party political advantage.

This has now gone far beyond the initial revelation of sports rorts and the ritual defenestration of Bridget McKenzie

This has now gone far beyond the initial revelation of sports rorts and the ritual defenestration of Bridget McKenzie; it has embroiled much of the government up to and including the office of the prime minister, whose noisy and manic insistence that black is white and two and two actually makes whatever he chooses have now become so unconvincing to lead to the suspicion of a major cover-up among his own staff, not excepting the leader himself.

The most ludicrous argument came last week after the revelation that Sydney’s Olympic Pool, just out of the city’s CBD, had received $10 million just before the last election under a program designed to aid rural and regional area.

Morrison said in his announcement of the handout it was for communities around the country – technically true, but he and everyone else took it to mean what his department actually said, that it was for needy rural and regional communities, not for one of the wealthiest Liberal electorates in the nation.

Others said the fact that people from rural and regional communities sometimes visited the pool made it legit

Others, even more absurdly, said the fact that people from rural and regional communities sometimes visited the pool made it legit – it was actually a rural and regional facility in its own right. On this basis, the obvious fact that people from the bush sometimes come into the big smoke means that rural is actually urban, or perhaps vice versa – nothing to see here.

On any test in any pub in any part of Australia, this will not wash and it is puzzling, to say the last, that Morrison will not let it go. Presumably he is adamant that he must not and will not give an inch to the opposition – maybe he is afraid to, given the fragile nature of his fractured majority. But as the allegations of corruption, as Anthony Albanese now characterises it, multiply, the gangrene has to be cauterized one way or another.

The smart way would be to admit the obvious – pork-barreling has been part of political life in Australia since well before federation

The smart way would be to admit the obvious – pork-barreling has been part of political life in Australia since well before federation, and all parties exploit it when they can, although the scale of the current malfeasance is remarkable, if not unprecedented.

Once again, an opportunity: accept the reality, but do something about it – take action to reform the culture, restore a modicum like faith in the ailing system. But to Morrison, that would look like weakness, and so he will go on blustering until something breaks.

The way he keeps shouting it may well be his voice – on this issue at least, his credibility is beyond repair. But coronavirus may offer a path, if not to redemption, at least to a breathing space in which he can regroup – until the next disaster/challenge/opportunity.

If things go pear-shaped, there may or may not be a time to start apportioning blame, but now is the time for solidarity

And so far so good – he had carefully avoided politicising the issue, and Albanese has been caught flat-footed and ungracious when he attempted to do so. If things go pear-shaped, there may or may not be a time to start apportioning blame, but now is the time for solidarity. Albanese has claimed bipartisanship on many issues, some of them highly dubious, but this one is a no brainer. National emergency, national unity. So Morrison is going to use it for all it is worth, and fair enough.

And perhaps he has noted a bizarre coincidence in history. The last time the word corona came in to the political lexicon, it was in 2014, when the then Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and the then-and-now Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, were snapped puffing their corona cigars in triumph after delivering their first budget.

The budget was deemed a disaster, breaking election promises and grossly unfair and divisive, and the coronas became a symbol of everything that was wrong with the nascent government of Tony Abbott. Scott Morrison, as a cabinet minister at the time, copped a bit of collateral damage from the fallout.

Six years later the word corona may be brought back into a more useful political context. And so, ScoMo devoutly prays, may his tattered regime.

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  1. The COVID 19 pandemic is no longer coughed at in this country while people in other countries are hospitalised. The coronavirus is now here in Australia and fear is developing like a bushfire setting alight worry and stress, masking a community that could divide and become mistrustful

  2. Leaping fleas! What really happens when
    we practice to deceive. The 10 million
    pool’s for the wealthiest electorate in the
    nation although the loss to rural regions
    has not really been lost because people
    from the bush can come to ‘the big
    smoke’ & paddle around too. Still, rural
    is urban as well & we now know the
    same applies – & is fair dinkum just
    like Red is Green at the traffic lights.
    Corona cigar, anyone?

  3. Morrison is really thriving on COVID-19. That his performance is more credible than the absolutely disgraceful and “true-character revealing” bushfire performance is simply because COVID-19 plays to, well not so much “strengths” as not to his areas of weakness, although areas of abject failure wouldn’t be far from the truth. With COVID-19, he can prepare his script in advance and then read from it and so appear calm and in control. His alleged “captains call” to treat the outbreak as a pandemic may have been necessary, but more likely it was him desperately trying to appear decisive. The contrast with his bushfire mis-management could not be more stark if he tried. The bushfire situation called for the ability to show leadership (fail); to think on his feet, (fail); show empathy that was genuine (fail); to be able to handle people under great stress rejecting his false overtures of warmth (fail); to be able to rise above his innate petulance and lack of emotional intelligence (fail) and to respond to pressure like an adult instead of a puerile teenager in a boofhead’s body (yep, abject fail on that one too). Our memories tend to be short, so a performance giving the appearance of competence will drown out the repeated and monumental corruption displayed so consistently by his excuse for a government and whilst so much of what he has done provides ready material for the next election campaign, we are so collectively stupid, that might be seen as Labor simply being churlish, when the reality is they should be reminding us of just how awful and flawed Scotty from Marketing and his inept government really are. And I have yet to get to how Rudd’s handling of the GFC and Swan’s budget deficits were excoriated by a shrieking LNP and how the LNP will use any form of deception to deflect attention from their appalling mismanagement of the economy – but the bushfires and COVI-19 provide a perfect cover for the LNP’s lack of credibility on economic management and they will be lying for all they are worth.

  4. Mungo,
    as usual well put. Personally, I think the latest Flu virus will be over & done in a few months. There will be a few deaths, but Flu normally is fatal for a few, so why all the fuss? Of course, delaying the start is wise because that will reduce the number affected.
    On the other Government sickness, I feel what is required is an amputation. To my mind, Gough was fired for far less than the current diseased bunch. Where is the GG when he is needed (the GG is probably at his Pentacostal church praying for a divine intervention)

    Personally cannot wait for the next Election where I will vote for a good independent.

  5. The lovely pork dished served up to safe seats still logically confuses me. I fail to see why anyone would throw money at a sure thing unless it was a racehorse.. Spend big and wave your arms around in less popular places to make yourself popular. Whether the progressives want to believe it or not the conservatives vote the way they do because of conviction not swimming pools! Really how many blue bloods have the figures to strip off and have a swim…think of Barnaby striking a pose in his budgie smugglers. More likely to lose voters!…

  6. Seasonal flu kills 291 000 to 646 000 people worldwide each year, as the US Center for Disease and Prevention has published on December 13.th 2019 in the Lancet medical journal.
    The potential of the corona cover 19 virus is uncharted due to its recent appearance, so to all punters out there:
    hold on to your towels and don’t panic just yet.
    The flu has had a much greater toll so far and nobody seems to be scared of it.
    As far as ScoMo is concerned, I agree with Mungo wholeheartedly.

  7. Disgusted the PM should see an epidemic that will create misery and tragedy as political opportunity.
    As with fires and floods, Australia is unprepared and underfunded to care for it’s people. Our defunded medical systems will doubtless do their best, but years of downgrading community services does not bode well for us all.
    Doubtless the wealthy will be cared for at the expense of the majority, just as the LNP likes.

  8. Seasonal flu kills 291 000 to 646 000 peoples worldwide each year, that is 15 million flu patients and
    140 000 hospitalised and 8200 death in the US alone. Numbers stem from the US Center for Disease
    and Prevention published on Dec.13 2019 in the Lancet medical journal.
    Now, for all the punters out there: don’t panic and hold on to your towels.
    Cover 19 is propably not going to interfere with your life. You will live.
    Mungo is dead right about Scomo, though.


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