Menu

Thus Spake Mungo: come on in, the water’s fine

Finally it’s safe to get back in the water – well some bits of it, some of the time, as long as you behave.

And make sure you stay in the water – keep swimming or surfing. Sitting on the sand is still decidedly unsafe.

This can hardly be called liberation; the relaxation of the bans for elective surgery and even the confusion over getting the schools back in operation are far more significant on the national level.

But there is something deeply symbolic in allowing Australians to dive back into the shore break. Finally, perhaps, the curve has been flattened, the surf is up, and we can say with some degree of certainty that the immediate crisis is over.

The hospital system, including the vital intensive care units with their lifesaving ventilators, are not only coping, but managing with considerable surplus capacity. In most places, more people are recovering from the virus than there are new infections. Even the distant indigenous outstations have been largely spared.

It is still far too early to declare victory and leave – there are, as always, no precedents. There is no model to follow; around the world different countries are reporting wildly different results, and not all are favourable.

Most ominously, several – Singapore is probably the most definitive example – are now facing a second wave, which may not be as severe as the first one, but is a clear warning against premature celebration. As some of the more pessimistic experts have predicted, we may never totally eradicate the bug.

Home detention has worked – or at least is working; there is, as the man keeps telling us, no room for complacency, we need to remain relatively isolated for a few more weeks yet

But with a serious policy response, it can be, and apparently has been brought under control – for this time, at least. Home detention has worked – or at least is working; there is, as the man keeps telling us, no room for complacency, we need to remain relatively isolated for a few more weeks yet.

Obviously this will not be popular. After all, if we can go for a swim, why can’t we go to the gym? Or the café? Or even to church? And the hardline entrepreneurs are becoming more militant. Let’s get business moving again, secure the jobs and the profits and the dividends.

On a cost-benefit analysis, quite enough lives have been saved; time to get back to work. The enormous sums already expended can now be seen as overkill, a panic reaction even beyond Kevin Rudd’s extravaganza over the Global Financial Crisis. We will be paying the bill for years, decades, so let’s get on with it.

But has it been overkill? We don’t know, and we will never know. But we can be sure of one thing; it worked once and it is working again. The Keynesian response – using public money to boost failing demand, in order to save jobs and avert a more serious downturn – has triumphed over the neo-liberal formula for austerity and restraint, for keeping the public sector depressed in the hope that private enterprise has the skill and nerve to bounce back with the resilience that Scott Morrison saw as his panacea only a few weeks earlier.

His latter, and better, choice has been to drive the economy into hibernation through the isolation program to save lives and then give it a giant kick along through targeted subsidies and handouts to give it a decent chance to recover once the emergency has passed.

In hindsight, it may be thought that the stimulus has been too large, just as Rudd and his government were castigated over the GFC; but rather too much than too little

In hindsight, it may be thought that the stimulus has been too large, just as Rudd and his government were castigated over the GFC; but rather too much than too little.

And it cannot be over-emphasised that the greatest benefit has been the intangible one of restoring some measure of public confidence in what has been increasingly seen as a timorous and dithering administration. ‘Whatever it takes’ may not be an attractive slogan, but it is a bloody effective one.

ScoMo has gone to the top of the polls, not just through marketing – although it must be said he has been very good at that in recent days – but through taking the tough decisions. Now, it seems, he is delivering on the promise. And more swiftly and efficiently than any of us dared hope, which is why we are ready to brave the sharks beyond the white water.

It is not clear just what is waiting out there; the future Australia is still very much a work in progress, which is why the usual suspects are already jostling at the front of the queue, determined not to miss out on their place at the trough. But the heavies – the Treasury and the Reserve Bank – are both making optimistic noises.

Both seem confident that, as early as the September quarter, there will be a genuine bounce back in the growth figures – probably not quite enough to offset the falls we are seeing at present, but enough to set a foundation for a recovery in the many months ahead.

One long-standing insight into our situation should not be overlooked. Not for the first time, the tyranny of distance has been a help as well as a hindrance

And that’s the good news. But how did we manage it? Well, one long-standing insight into our situation should not be overlooked. Not for the first time, the tyranny of distance has been a help as well as a hindrance.

Both migration and tourism have become common, but those arriving in Australia, both people and viruses, have to come by plane or by boat, which means that the pandemic could be both traced and controlled far more easily than it could in countries with porous land borders.

The cruise ships, of course, were a disastrous miscalculation, but by and large the process bought us time to devise a considered and, it now seems, a superior response. And, in due course, the politicians responded – perhaps not as promptly as they might have, but at least Australia has been able to avoid some of the worst mistakes made by those forced to act in undue haste.

So this time, un-ironically, the lucky country. The ocean welcomes us back for the last month of autumn, and it still serves to protect us from unwanted invasion. Australians all, let us rejoice – our land is girt by sea.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


25 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: come on in, the water’s fine”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    Finally its time to take your bat and go home for it is now unsafe to play on the road. The cars are getting more prevalent and if you have a cough or a sneeze and feel run down its because a car hit you and not because of any virus.

  2. Yes Len. The lift on elective surgery interests me as my 2 cataracts are well beyond daylight. Now that’s a ‘plus’. It’s another chance at normality.
    The ‘middle eye’ is still working, so let’s never forget that ‘trust’ isn’t a 4 letter word.

  3. John May says:

    At the moment, I am proud to be Australian, as we, through our sense of community, and, to at least some extent, have been one of the few societies which met, so far, the challenge of this contagion.

  4. Richard Swinton says:

    My fear is that, as Covid 19 becomes less threatening, Scomo will have the support to re establish the capitalist model with an increasingly polarised society. Yet we are having lessons in better ways to structure our society. We recognise that the essential people to keep our society operating are not the billionaires, but are the workers, the supermarket staff, the truckies, etc. Yet they will be treated as disposable as in the past. The neo-libs have spun around their ideology to allow them to spend to keep things going – none of the austerity bit that in the past has been the only way they think to increase the economy (funny that, how do you develop markets if the consumers have no money!?) But they’ll fall back into their comfort zone without learning the lessons.
    This is a golden opportunity to rethink how our society operates – how we listen to experts, not ideologues – and we move towards a more equitable model in which polarisation collapses and division is not seen as a political tool.

  5. Ray Armstrong says:

    When Smoko gears down there will be a return of tax gifts to the rich and big business and renewed attacks on the few of us who have jobs and their unions, Its gonna be great fun watching Smoko trying to claw back the Newstart increases. With business learning to live with a leaner workforce are you expecting them to all get their jobs back? Pigz A they will.

  6. Allan W. says:

    Allan W. Sign of the times….my TV recorder scared me last week, has started to record programs without my assistance… wondering what it is trying to say… Botched one night then the next night it decided I might like the movie Contagion! Is there a message here?

  7. Joachim says:

    John May, proud of The Ruby Princess catastrophe; proud of the millions that Team ScoNO has left behind by deliberately denying them JobKeeper or worse deny any assistance such as for International Students and Migrant visa holder workers. If you one of the lucky ones to be ‘selected’ on Team ScoNO then sure be proud as punch. There are plenty of citizens are not sharing the ‘proud to be Australian’.

  8. Agree with that Ray. And the saying ‘pigs might fly’ is a sure fire one. Maybe Smoko, his party & the Opposition
    could fly too along with those stashing away their billions. There’s been a lot of movement-at-the-station going
    on during COVID 19 so don’t be surprised at all over the extra fracking, coal, & oil curdling that will take place.
    Ah… my elective surgery’s been sat-on again along with many others. I’m learning how to see in the dark of
    day.

  9. Barrow says:

    Listen here Ray !! yes there will be a stop to the
    Extra payments to all welfare recipients
    Once this Virus is under control !! If you personally
    Want to contribute all your wealth to help out
    With further assistant go for it mate ?
    But the Taxpayer wont be Ray !! Generation
    After Generation will be burdened with this
    Debt ! Maybe you should be asking yourself
    How did it come to this? not only for Australia
    But the rest of the world, trillions and trillions
    Its costing , not to mention millions of job loses
    And who knows the final count for loss of lives !!

  10. Barrow says:

    Captain Planet Joachim !! International students?
    And migrant students! Were not one of the lucky ones? What are you implying? That non – citizens
    Of this country are to receive taxpayer handouts ?
    Are you delusional ? Ask there own government’s
    You really dont have a clue do you Joachim?
    Australia supports its own citizens, and there
    Is no big endless pit of money like you may
    Think there is . And as for the Ruby Princess
    Yes was handled poorly, but was primarily
    A state government issue !! Not Morrison!!
    Proud to be AUSTRALIAN you bet iam !!
    NZ borders will be open very soon Joachim
    Will be happy to pay for your one-way ticket!!

  11. Ray Armstrong says:

    Well Barrow old mate can you justify the $80billion in tax cuts in the pipeline for the big end of town when the average tax rate paid by this mob is only is only 17cents in the dollar against the going rate of 27.5% (Already reduced from 32cents in the dollar for them by the Looting Liberals). Salaried workers cannot access this lurk. Their tax is gone before the ink is dry on their payslip! We have billion dollar turnover companies finding loopholes with their fancy accountants to evade paying ANY tax at all. Again workers do not have this avenue to pursue.

  12. Barrow… what exactly is your problem? Joachim has a
    right of way with speech. As for you, just because your
    Morrison God is mentioned in a way you ‘won’t accept’
    is pitiful. You are coming across as a ‘nasty little man’
    chucking tantrums when things don’t go as you think
    they should. You owe Joachim an apology. She’s
    clued in… think about who isn’t.

  13. Barrow says:

    Ray not Quite sure want you are thinking mate
    With respect!! Unless you were not in the country
    During the last election? On Tax alone PAYG
    Labor were to increase my bracket from
    47 cents in the Dollar to 50 percent! They made
    No secret of this tax and grab ! Tax and spend
    Policies.. and yes you absolutely correct
    Big end of town multinationals in some
    Circumstances pay less tax then i do …
    And i can assure you ALL that if the Greens
    Were in it everyone would be paying 50 – 50
    Socialist they are

  14. Ray Armstrong says:

    Mate the greatest taxers have always been your mates the Liberals-address the FACTS:-
    ANDREW BOLT, Nov 5th, Daily Telegraph:- “The Liberals have delivered record debt, record spending, record taxes and record electricity prices.” Magic stuff this from the most right wing journalist in the land.
    Top 10 tax to GDP ratios in Australia’s history
    2004-05 24.3 Howard
    2005-06 24.3 Howard
    2000-01 24.2 Howard
    2002-03 24.0 Howard
    2003-04 24.0 Howard
    2006-07 23.8 Howard
    2021-22 23.8 Morrison
    2007-08 23.7 Howard
    2020-21 23.5 Morrison
    2019-20 23.3 Morrison
    Source: MYEFO-the government’s OWN figures!!
    The seven highest TAXING years in the history of our country have ALL been under Liberal governments. The ten highest SPENDING years in the history of our country have ALSO been under Liberal governments. There have been only seven occasions where the tax to GDP ratio has been in excess of 23.5 per cent of GDP and all seven were under the Howard government.

  15. Casuals… not having worked for the same employer
    for 12 months are not eligible for any $$$ support.
    Morrison’s law, Barrow. I’m talking Aussie workers
    Barrow. And don’t continue to say ‘with respect’
    because that’s a lie, Barrow.

  16. Joachim says:

    Yo Barrow old son, that’s the shot my man, The Ruby Princess was NOT a State matter. It was a Federal matter as was revealed in Senate Estimates. We invited International Students to this country, took their Uni / Education money, took their Labour services ( for which many were dudded ) all for OUR collective gain. But when things got a bit sticky with COVID-19 ScoNO couldn’t get rid of them quick enough. The same with Migrant visa workers who we again invited to this country for OUR collective gain. No duty of care for o/seas students or workers from Team ScoNO, it all take and no give with ScoNO. There will be a reckoning to come in future where overseas students and workers, in view of ScoNO’s COVID-19 attitude and action, will have 2nd thoughts about coming to Australia. It will be our loss, so thank you NOT in advance to ScoNO. Save that one way ticket money to NZ for your self Barrow old son!

  17. Barrow says:

    Obviously you are one of the lucky ones Joachim?
    So many complaints !! All forms of government’s
    Vote on these laws , including the Greens , labor
    And the Senate.. you keep on referring to team
    Sco.NO team Morrison and the remainder of all
    Government’s do not have any money Joachim
    What part of that are you not understanding?
    TAXPAYER’S are you one Joachim? And have no desire to live in NZ , that was your wish to
    Relocate for Ardern !!

  18. Ho-Ho & not a bottle of rum… while parliament is on its
    ‘paid for by the people’ long holiday the Resources min
    -ister Keith Pitt calls me [& my lot, wait for it] “a cashed-
    up activist who holds up mines, dams & deforestation
    because I can afford it?” I’m an aged pensioner so it’s
    supposed us oldies have some loot. Get real! It’s all
    too odd for my liking. Be very afraid of who – any of
    us – vote for in the near future.

  19. While we’re still here – the latest News feed reads…….
    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ‘forgets to declare
    a million dollar commercial property in Townsville’s
    Wulguru.’ It’s a serious breach of rules but Dutton
    says “It was an error.” A previous declaration says
    he has a 5 million investment portfolio that lists
    the above along with a holiday home at Palm Beach.
    Thank goodness he’s not ‘a cashed-up activist’ or
    maybe there are different forms of activism??? I do
    wonder about the other Ministers; broke, semi-broke
    or could be broke in the future. The law will provide.

  20. robot says:

    I am just amazed how quickly the Left redirects its influence. A few months ago we were all facing extinction from too much heat. Now a virus has probably caused a drop in our greenhouse gases. No it’s all politics face it guys, if someone like Orson Wells declared we were being invaded by Martians, you’d all be out there with your anti-whatever signs.

  21. Barrow says:

    Stefanie the on going pile – on, on this forum from
    You and others toward the current government
    Is relentless!! What do you expect Stefanie
    That you will never be challenged ? And when
    Someone dos how dare they !! As for the Aussie
    Workers casuals who do not fall into the bracket
    12 months or more for to to eligible for the 1500
    Per fortnight, well tough luck as there has to be a
    Cutoffs..and in any case its taxed ..and the
    Alternative 1150 is not ..stop complaining its FREE
    Stefanie

  22. If Wells arrived… I’d shake his hand [he was a very
    intelligent man] because I’d know the connection
    of sense & fantasy would be definitely harmless.
    As for challengers, I’ve had many. Who hasn’t. So
    instead of a reply from me I’ll repeat an Analysis
    for today that’s a finger on the country’s pulse….
    ‘All of us might now be paying the price for the
    Government being untrustworthy.’

  23. CLIMATE STRIKE MAY 15. A climate emergency…
    Build a better future – interactive live stream : JOIN
    US. While the Government rushes to respond they
    are leaving behind millions of people & protecting
    Mining companies & Fossil Fuel projects which
    threaten our future. N.B. The Climate Crises is
    very much alive.

  24. Joachim says:

    Barrow old son, you not getting it are you. Supposedly with the COVID-19 “we are all in this together” but clearly that NOT the case no matter how much ScottyfromMarketing keeps saying it so. You right about the piling on with this Abbott / Turnbull / Morrison administration, it has been a terrible government. Three different PM’s and each time the country dives further down. It is the pits when a government deliberately divides the citizenry but its just “tough luck” according to you. Sadly there are so many people like you who willingly support this current duplicious and deceitful government.

  25. Barrow says:

    Joachim , you can please some of the people some of the time !! But you cant please all the people all of the time !! It would not matter if the present Government had 2000 a week welfare for all
    Recipients!! Limitless open borders !! Complete
    Shutdown of all the resources Industries!!
    100 percent Renewables, deployment of
    Socialism in Australia, and the greens running
    The country!! You would still find something
    To complain about with this present Government!!
    Now may recommend comedy for you to watch
    Faulty towers !! Episode Mrs Richards !! Now this person cannot be pleased , and there maybe just
    Some similarities!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers.