Monday morning and I tuned into a press conference with Dominic Perrottet and Kerry Chant. Masochistic, I suppose. Indications are that 95 per cent of new cases are Omicron, we were informed. A mild disease, therefore we can now all get back to normal? You think? Not a bit of it. This is a never-ending saga
I couldn’t keep up with how many times the need for vaccinations and boosters was spruiked. Must have been close to 30 or 40, maybe more. Perrottet drones on. Hard to listen to. Even Dan is easier to take. Hmm? Maybe not. But, hang on, be fair, these politicians are only trying to keep us safe. (Last sentence to be read in a wheedling and plaintive voice.)
Prize for the silliest announcement of the week goes to Perrottet. To wit, that those who find they’re COVID positive at home by using a rapid antigen test must report the result to health authorities or be fined $1000. First, they have to be the kind of person who will keep the result secret. Second, at the same time, they have to feel guilty enough about it to dob themselves in. It’s bat-flu-crazy in circus Oz.
Not sure? Here’s Perrottet’s health minister, Brad Hazzard, the other day: “The booster is showing itself to be one of the vital tools in pushing back against the evil of this virus, the evil air can wreck upon us.”
Meanwhile in the sane world of benign air, Omicron is removing any excuse there ever was for restricting freedoms. Yet governments persist. Novak Djokovic is simply the latest person, at least who we’ve heard about, persecuted by the clowns running the country. As there were no medical grounds for booting him out, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke claimed afresh to a full bench of three judges that his very presence “may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment … potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest.” Civil unrest? Give us a break.
Unfortunately, the three judges found in favour of the government. Reasons to be given. An unhappy saga. An unhappy result. Boorish crowing expected, not only by government minsters, but by concerned citizens who believe that rules must be obeyed without question.
Precious sports reporters also wanted Djokovic out. Apparently, like Coriolanus, he doesn’t play nice enough to the Colosseum press gallery. But is he nasty enough to deserve being interrogated at the airport for eight hours and then kept incarcerated in a cramped room in a crummy hotel for days on end? Obviously, the Serbian president is less than impressed. Saying that Djokovic was “tortured” is over the top. But he was most certainly mistreated. He had a properly issued visa and should not have been detained under onerous conditions ill-fitting his trade.
The cost of this pandemic is superficially measured in case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths by governments and public health authorities. That, however, is the least of it. Another measure is the livelihoods, and physical and mental health, damaged and ruined by lockdowns and restrictions. When the dust settles that will turn out to be the greater cost. Yet a third measure dwarfs the others.
The pandemic has brought out what was better left contained and hidden. It’s been akin to Pandora’s box. It has shown politicians to be even more self-exculpatory, mediocre and incompetent than we ever dreamt of in our philosophy. And worse, it has shown how many scaredy cats and scolds are in our midst.
A final comment. Clownish behaviour on the part of political leaders is one thing. When it comes to propagandising parents of five-year-olds to have their children vaxxed against a disease which carries for them no risk, Pennywise comes to my mind.