Now for the seemingly impossible – a tight-rope, Pollyanna-esque attempt at ten propositions on the virus, masks, vaccines, and lock-downs on which the whole entire North Coast will unanimously agree. Dare me?
One: that Annastacia Palaszczuk is just plain mean. She’s the nasty smug schoolyard bully who won’t let kids with cancer get treatment over the border, who blocks children from visiting their dying parents, who has isolated pre-term newborns and who has made the border impassable for essential workers. It is state jingo tribalism gone mad – impassable, except if she needs to go to Japan unnecessarily for the Olympics of course. Or to let football teams in. Or celebrities.
Two: Gladys is like the prefect at school who savoured dobbing in the gentlefolk having a bong behind the metal-work shed. The NSW team at Gladys’s press conferences reek of racist, classist, anti-immigrant dog-whistling. Roughly translated, the message is ‘If you Westie others/new immigrant/sub sub sub subcontractor/non-Anglo/
Let’s not dwell on the inevitable neoliberal consequences of overcrowding, disengagement, or insecure employment. Or what we Marxists used to call ‘alienation’. Nor should we dwell on her failure to lock things down early, or on the previously unavailable vaccines. We should just blame the victims.
The deputy health officer (since disappeared) nailed it when she went off-script and said that the vast majority of cases were not from people doing the wrong thing at all! It was because they were essential workers and lived in larger households.
Three: Scott Morrison is all smoke, no mirrors. He reminds me of the kid in the playground who you just know is going to end up being a pastor in a one-tent uncharismatic church somewhere west of the great divide. When he says “the national plan is crystal clear” I can’t decide to laugh, cry or poke myself in the eye. I usually do all three.
Four: ‘The rules’ (all 57 pages) are so ridiculously complex and ambiguous that you need a whole team of lawyers to work out what you can and can’t do. And I know this because my legal eagle mates are failing and flailing. Just for example, here is the key rule when in stay-at-home lockdown; you must stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse to leave. A reasonable excuse includes ‘to obtain goods or services… for the personal needs of the person’s household or for other household purposes, including for vulnerable persons or pets’. So, what if you have a ‘household purpose’ (whatever that is) which is not a need, but just a want? Like, say, getting some new tiles for the bathroom? The sad truth is that the more ambiguous a law is, the more it hands powers to the enforcers – so don’t worry too much because the police or soldiers will soon set you straight.
Five: Our fortress Australia rules have led to grave injustice and hung citizens out to dry. The way we still have Aussies overseas who are desperate to come home is just cruel and incompetent. The caps are an indictment of our federal government, which promised to have them all home over a year ago. Different rules, of course, for those who are on a business trip, and for politicians. To top it off, there was also the Kafkaesque rule on stopping people from leaving. WTF!?
Six: They need to stop showing the Full Monty of injections on the television. I have to watch the news with my hand over my eyes, which is juvenile-precious but there you go. At the start, syringes puncturing skin were blurred, or hidden, or just implied. Now it is the whole vaccine porn over and over again. How can I eat my dinner on my lap with that nauseating squirm-inducing vision?
Seven: My trusted health advisors tell me there is no harm and lots of potential help, vaxed or not, in taking zinc and vitamin D. The case for building immunity, decreasing obesity and wellbeing is overwhelming. It’s called preventative health. So, where’s the education campaign? Not a peep.
Eight: And this is good news, in the last few weeks the federal government has introduced its vaccination compensation scheme for adverse effects. This is Australia playing catch-up with the rest of the world.
Nine: There is a second pandemic – of videos. There is a reason that education and research is based on written material with references, and not three-hour raves without any. The former allows for checking, mulling over, comparing and critiquing. The latter permits sleep, hoodwinking, and boredom. I recently was emailed a list of sixteen videos that I ‘must watch’ totalling eighty hours of viewing pleasure. Who has two weeks spare for that when Netflix’s offerings are so much more fun?
Ten: Lockdown is really really hard on families with school-aged children. For myself, I can readily confess that if this had all occurred when my children were young, my career would have been interrupted with a stint in detention for committing acts of cruelty or violence on them, or me, or both. We must make safe return to school a priority.
So, is there more that unites us than divides us? Probably not. But it is worth remembering that we can at least chose things to whinge, worry, and rage about that are common to us all.
And as Norman Swan recently quoth, ‘for every complex problem there is a solution which is clear, simple, and wrong.’ (–H.L. Mencken)
May peace be with you.