We’re publishing a guest post this morning by Steve Waterson, Commercial Editor of the Australian. He is concerned that a myth is quickly growing in Australia that the country managed the pandemic rather well. As he points out, that’s only true if you ignore the curfews, the house arrest, no visitors, toilet paper battles, five-kilometre limits, an hour a day of exercise, closed borders, internationally and internally, closed pubs, restaurants, shops, parks, gyms, beaches and golf courses.
At a Sydney restaurant last month I found myself sitting next to a woman I’d never met before, the wife of one of the other guests.
We’d already endured the unattractive, passive-aggressive, American-style formulation of “I need you to check in”, from one of the staff, who then “needed” us to wear a mask for the five metres and six seconds between the entrance and our table.
My old-man mutterings about a time when people began such requests with “Would you mind …” or “Could I trouble you to …” were interrupted by my cheery new dining companion. “You shouldn’t really be complaining,” she smiled. “Australia has done better than anywhere else in handling the pandemic.”
Heroically resisting the urge to up-end the table, I made a few polite observations in response, until my wife gave me her “nobody needs another rant from you” look and piloted the conversation into more tranquil waters.
It’s barely two years since the Covid lunacy first infected us, but already its history is being rewritten. In newspaper columns and on television, opinion-laden pundits are patting the enforcers and the obedient on the back, reassuring themselves with this dazzling myth that we managed our pandemic with admirable wisdom and efficiency.
Lacklustre politicians are understandably keen to embrace and promote this view, starting with the Prime Minister’s mantra that we “saved 30,000 lives”. Did we, though? Figures emerging from the few places that didn’t impose life-changing restrictions on their populations suggest they made next to no difference.
At best we tacked an extra couple of months on to the lives of some very old people in nursing homes, then immediately cancelled whatever benefit that afforded them by turning their last weeks into a lonely, bewildering, miserable slide towards the grave when they were forbidden to see family and friends and were attended by carers dressed like astronauts. They’re mostly dead by now, but I trust they slipped away with a message of gratitude on their lips.
When it Comes to Managing the Pandemic, is Australia Bottom of the International League Table?Read More