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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: the COVIDSafe economy

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The latest catchphrase from our government spin doctors is ‘a COVIDSafe economy’ – optimistic and reassuring. And, unfortunately, a cruel hoax; a contradiction in terms.

The economy is not safe from this coronavirus, and almost certainly never will be. Even if a vaccine can be created (and it may not be) it will not be foolproof – there will always be outlying cases, or clusters that lie dormant, only to suddenly reappear.

Some people will personally be immune, but will remain carriers – Typhoid Marys. And it is always possible that the virus will mutate and return in a new and even more virulent form.

We may, hopefully, repress it – have it sufficiently under control to claim that it is time to get back to something like normality. But to declare that ‘the war’ is over is not only untrue, but dangerously so.

This is the problem with magic bullets, and it is now clear that Scott Morrison’s key initiatives have not, and cannot, deliver the rainbow gold he desperately craves. His two king-hits – JobKeeper and the COVID app – are now revealed to be both flawed and incomplete.

This is not to dismiss them as failures – they are both thoroughly worthwhile policies that will save many lives and bring us closer to dismantling the lockdowns for which we are yearning –but it is to warn against false complacency.

The outbreaks in the Newmarch nursing home and the Cedar abattoir are ominous. And more worryingly still, the emergence of cases of infection with source unknown, can all too easily be seen as the start of a second wave

The outbreaks in the Newmarch nursing home and the Cedar abattoir are ominous. And more worryingly still, the emergence of cases of infection with source unknown, can all too easily be seen as the start of a second wave. It is not yet time to excise the ‘dem’ from pandemic, but we will need more than well-marketed nostrums before calling the situation safe.

JobKeeper, apart from not including well over a million affected workers declared as non-essential, has not been taken up with the gusto that was promised; almost a fifth of the six million Australians said to be eligible for assistance have not been drawn into the safety net, and probably will not be.

Business, as always, blames red tape and bureaucracy, but it is likely that many employers simply do not regard it as worthwhile – they are happy to abandon their employees to the dubious mercies of Centrelink and concentrate on looking after their own welfare and that of their shareholders.

And the app is not the universal panacea that was hoped. Some people cannot use it at all, others don’t understand the technology, sceptics don’t trust the government, and even when it is working (which is not always), it may not produce the results Morrison regards as necessary for the great roll-back for liberation.

Isolation is becoming intolerable; suicides are increasing, the economy is disappearing further down the toilet, the political pressures can no longer be withstood

But what the hell – isolation is becoming intolerable; suicides are increasing, the economy is disappearing further down the toilet, the political pressures can no longer be withstood. So, coming ready or not – as one earwig said to the other, “‘ere we go!”.

Well, up to a point. A more accurate summary of Morrison’s three-stage road map is that we are starting to prepare to consider how, when and where we can be freed from lockdown, and even this will be a piecemeal business with the states moving (or not) in their own ways, and in their own directions.

Not exactly a roadmap, more as Victorian premier Daniel Andrews put it, a menu, from which they can pick and choose from the decisions of what is misleadingly called the national cabinet. And it is already clear that there will be vast and confusing disparities.

The most obvious one is that the outlying states and territories are moving much faster than the powerhouses of New South Wales and Victoria; where the combined activity of the CBDs of their two capitals account for more than 20 per cent of the entire national economy.

And there, Andrews and Gladys Berejiklian are being very cautious indeed. They have comprehensively rejected Morrison’s gung ho, crash through approach in favour of tiptoeing towards progress – no snapback there, more a matter of sidling through the partly open doors of detention.

There is to be a review of the landscape in three weeks, and the hope is still that something vaguely approaching normal conditions may be reached by the end of July

It may speed up in due course – there is to be a review of the landscape in three weeks, and the hope is still that something vaguely approaching normal conditions may be reached by the end of July. But it will be a long way from Morrison’s aspirations.

The prime minister tells us that Treasury is forecasting that some 850,000 of the million-plus jobs lost during the restrictions will return, or be replaced, by the end of July. Given the reluctance of the business community to embrace either JobKeeper or JobSeeker this seems more than a touch rosy-coloured, but it is, after all, his mission to talk things up – as far as possible without being absurd – and it must be said, he is making a pretty good fist of it.

Governor Philip Lowe anticipates unemployment will reach over 10 per cent at the end of June, falling only slowly to nine per cent by the end of this year, and 7.5 per cent by the end of next year, leading up to the federal election, due in the first half of 2022

But it is dubious that his sanguine predictions will be believed by the public, which may also be aware of the more dire (and perhaps more realistic) premonitions of the Reserve Bank. Governor Philip Lowe anticipates unemployment will reach over 10 per cent at the end of June, falling only slowly to nine per cent by the end of this year, and 7.5 per cent by the end of next year, leading up to the federal election, due in the first half of 2022.

This is not the scenario Morrison was parading last week, and it is certainly not the return to normal that the voters were promised, and expected.  They have been kept in suspense for a long time, and last week’s announcements may be seen not just as an anticlimax, but as more implausible pie-in-the-sky, jam tomorrow, the Christmas that never comes.

At best, Morrison’s announcement may be regarded as encouraging; at least there is some kind of a plan, whether it’s called a road map, a menu, or a laundry list. But as the man says himself, what matters is the outcome. Obviously we are still a long way from that, and it may not be pretty when it comes. Not COVIDSafe, and, perhaps more importantly from the government’s point of view, not the guarantee required for ScoMo’s own political survival.

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  1. Trying times… the 1/5 of the 6 million Aussies eligible
    for assistance are damned. No ‘hoot in hell’. That is
    sick & undeserved. App flaws were always expected
    along with my Grandma’s talk of what Typhoid did
    back then. Also I cannot & will not ever believe that
    ‘football will fix it.’

  2. In trying to catch a bank that is open, the latest phrase to catch in trying to ward off the winter cold is ‘a COVIDSafe economy’, so optimistic and reassuring. Then put your cash in a safe.
    When the economy is not safe a safe is safe from coronavirus as it is a safe place for all the welfare you are getting in Jobkeeper payments. Remember when the PM said the people on Newstart were getting other payments so there was no need to increase Newstart. It seems that is about tho change.

  3. It’s LIFE ! …but not as we know it.
    Things have certainly changed, but is it all so negative ?
    Pollution levels have plummeted worldwide, politicians have demonstrated that they knew all along that $40 per day is a cruel and unjust level of support, and definitely inadequate for those who may be called upon to vote for those paragons of financial management, who now have been forced to recind the mantra that Labor frittered away the governments coffers ,that were so skillfuly gained by means of screwing the environment and the overworked and underpaid population. Yet these bastions of balanced economics have just outspent the wildest dreams of Keynesian advocates in the Labor Party .
    Luck has definitely been with us, this and the “sober ” response of the people to isolation, have combined to deliver us from the woefully inept, and in all cases at least a month too late, actions of a government focussed more on the effects on tourism and the industries concerned with releaving, mainly Chinese students, of their overweight wallets. this attitude allowed tens of thousands of the students into the country after China acknowledged the disaster and closed it’s borders, meanwhile allowing the Ruby Princess to disembark 2,800 passengers, while awaiting the results of the virus testing of those who were already displaying Corona Virus symptoms.
    I suppose this truely is “the lucky country”, however what happens if the people start to wonder if we should just rely on luck or do we really need to spend four hours per day commuting to an office in the city or could we organise this economy to accomodate the needs of the people and not just cater to the 24/7 multi-national ratrace. perhaps it would be better to see a little more of our children.
    This could be our chance to change this country for the better !
    …….or not . Cheers , G”)

  4. Why don’t we hear the daily updates on how the App detected carriers and how it saved all who came in contract with this carrier? Could this silence be because the App has not found anyone yet? A poor performance if this is so.
    Harald Ehrlich

  5. We will not ‘snap out of this’ economic downfall any time soon.. With gross debt as far as the eye can see (approaching $1 trillion, $230 billion when Labor was accused having horrendous debt and that was bad enuff!). It could be years before we get over this. People forget the economy was approaching recession long BEFORE the virus-wages growth at 20yr lows, unemployment of 750,000 with under-employment of 1 million (people in part time jobs that need extra hours), the lowest business and consumer confidence in 10yrs.The usual solution to problems like this is to return to the old ways the Liberals do things-a return to the tired old ideas of cutting taxes for corporations, demonising workers and unions and weakening protections for workers. The last billions of tax cuts handed out by Morrison did NOT flow on to workers and in fact the Business Council of Australia was quite open in saying many businesses needed the money to expand their own businesses rather than employ extra staff. If you want to stimulate the economy and create jobs, give the tax cuts directly to workers who spend most of their disposable income on food, services and essentials. Not to businesses that pay bugger all tax anyway-Keep in mind. Many of Morrison’s own people from the hard right in his party-Barnaby Joyce, Angus Taylor, Craig Kelly, Michaela Cash, George Christensen, Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Dutton, the IPA (Institute of Public Affairs)and the HR Nicholls Society (hard right organizations which most of the Liberals are members of) have violently opposed Morrison’s stimulus spending/JobSeek proposals.

  6. ‘CovidSafe economy’, how about we aim for a CovidSafe society and environment. Afterall that is what we live in as opposed to living in the economy that ScoNO wants us all to believe. The CovidSafe app, talked up by ScoNO and the Chief Medical Officer, was what was going to get us back to some sort of normalcy.Get 10 million Aussies downloading the thing and we’ll unlock the lockdown was the call. But the app has been a fail, with only half the number of people that ScoNO wanted downloading the app and the app hasn’t even been working properly. Yet the Lockdown is starting to be unlocked. Mixed Messages Morrison at your service once again. Ruby Princess, JobKeeper, Newmarch Nursing Home, CovdiSafe app, none of which are the finest hours on ScoNO’s watch.

  7. Anything else to whinge about mrs Richards
    Joachim! !! Why dont you join parliament
    But who would the lucky party be ? ..well of course the Greens !!

  8. What a great idea ‘Barrow’.
    I rarely agree with the direction that you’re pushing that same old barrow , but this time I agree wholeheartedly.
    All those thousands that are appalled by government inaction and ineptitude should heed ‘Barrow’s’ advice and become politically active and join the only party He, and I, believe are likely to make any meaningful changes,…….well of course the Greens !!
    Cheers G”)

  9. Barrow old son, I see your mentor the ScoNO has taught you the art of deflection and diversion. Stick to the issue old son. Your mentor the ScoNO has not done a good job.

  10. Hi Harald Ehrlich. The answer to your question is that the CovidSafe app is not working yet. NO one has been saved for the simple reason that the ‘disease detectives’ haven’t completed their training yet in the use of CovidSafe app. The data being collected ( since April 28 ) is sitting somewhere in cyberland waiting to be used when the ‘disease detectives’ are up to speed in their training. Apparently sometime this wee’ the CovidSafe app goes fully functional. You are right, “poor performance” because there has been ‘zero performance’ thus far.

  11. It’s very doubtful that our “Govt” is really up to the task of doing anything constructive either about Covid 19 or the economy, because it is dominated by Morrisons “Scamvangelical” faction, that really do not have the commonwealths interests in focus.
    It has failed us on the economic retail recession, multiple ministerial corruption accusations that are never investigated, sports and other election rortings, bush fire catastrophe, Ruby Princess and Hillsong covid virus clusters?
    There have been reports that some 1300 Evangelicals have “joined” Liberal party branches, resulting in evangelical branch stacking.
    The result has seen Morrisons manipulative and completely out of depth evangelical faction now controlling our Govt.
    All Morrison seems to do is manipulate the narrative on a 24/7 media spin?
    Here is an article on the problems with these “Evangelicals” dominating Govt strategy and responce in the USA, that are also the same problem in Australia.
    There seems to be a media gag on evangelicals in Australia, this needs to be lifted immediately, our media needs to have a good look at itself and ask why are they allowing the Govt to be completely unaccountable?

  12. Meaningful changes for the better for this country
    KEN? the Greens in power !! There would be no “welfare” under a Greens government because there would be no resource industries Ken .
    Who and how do you think pays for welfare
    Dreamer Ken !! And in any case , where has
    Socialism ever been successful in any country
    In History Ken ? The Greens leader is a self proclaimed socialist, and Educated as just that !!
    “Socialism is Communism without the enforcement ” 10 percent of the Vote .
    And for good reason ! If the majority of the country for any extraordinary reason wanted the Greens in power they would have voted accordingly at the last election. Just the usual few noisy one’s!!

  13. I guess I’m noisy. Not because I’m green – because I’m
    not. I was born with a brain & use it when needed. Ah,
    Mungo must be wondering what all this is about? A
    frog princess… a toad perhaps?

  14. Yes apologies to Mungo .however he once was a Conservative Stefanie! And do hope you are doing well Mungo ! We may all have our political bias
    With robust debates, views , opinions, but in the
    End we all want whats best for this wonderful country that is Australia Stefanie ! Be that if Labor
    The Greens or the coalition were to be in power!

  15. Yes we all have our own political bias, but it does tend to make us blind to what is really going on (I’m looking at you Barrow). I currently have not identified anyone in the coalition government who deserves to be there. Scott Moronson definitely not. Peter Dutton? You must be joking! Josh Fraudenburg, ha. George Christensen???? Senator Cash (how can you trust someone whose hair won’t ruffle in a cyclone)? As for Labor – Anthony Albanese – is he still there I haven’t noticed. All of the far left in general? No thanks. Penny Wong is a standout though. I may not agree with her politics but if you want a calm clear intelligent point of view she’s the one to listen to. As for the greens? Germany voted in a green government a short while back. Next election the voters dumped them before they sent the whole country int a massive depression (my view). Australia thrives on a government with ‘centralist’ views. Right about now this fence I’m sitting on is getting quite comfortable.

  16. Gandalf !! Well put together , only opposite viewpoint i have , is i think Morrison is okay !!
    Constructive Gandalf ?

  17. Hi Gandalf. The Greens in Germany are coming back and they picking up the punters from both the left ( SPD ) and the right (CDU & CSU ).

  18. Joachim where exactly are you getting your Propaganda from ? Have friends in Germany
    And your info is way of the Mark as usual ! Incidentally
    What materials are used in the making of Renewable
    Energy supply Joachim , for example wind farms
    Solar panels, so you purchase an electric car
    What power source re- charges the batteries?
    and what materials are used to make the Batteries?

  19. Barrow old son. Those ‘friends’ in Germany must have been hiding under ScoNO’s doona or not been paying attention to any of the most recently held state / regional elections. The message was as clear as your Covid test result old son – The Greens the growing force! And true to form there you go again off topic / issue with somehow trying to demonise RE. Your distraction and diversion not working with me old son. Time you ask your mentor ScoNO for some new distraction and diversion tips but even your mentor ScottyfromMarketing has his limits and must eventually scrape through the bottom of that barrel.


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