Go now

I suspect as this progresses, the days will begin to blur, and the distinctions between them fade. For the record, it’s Saturday. When I got up this morning, I did some work. My excuse is that there’s still a lot to be done – but it’s easy to sit in front of a monitor that hasn’t been switched off and get back to the job wearing a pair of tracksuit pants and a torn t-shirt.

I got up late, though. I turned the light off early last night because I needed the sleep, but when I woke this morning at the usual time, I felt unrested. I turned over again and for the next two hours slipped between drowsy, cosy, half-sleep, and the real thing. I got more out of those two hours than I did a night full of sleep.

My usual routine on Saturdays is to read the paper, catch-up for a coffee and a pastry with Cheeseboy maybe, then up to the shops for my weekly shopping. There’s no coffee happening these days, but I read the paper. There were things I needed at the shops, but I hesitated. Eventually, I went and got the necessary stuff – nothing for lockdown as such, but ingredients I needed for some recipes I planned to make this weekend (a beef stroganoff, a pot of tomato sauce). I got home, and I figured that’ll do me now. If I can – lockdown is imminent, I reckon – then I head up again in a week for the perishables, but that’s it. I’m playing safe.

I feel healthy still, though that’s no guarantee of anything. This thing is the real McCoy and lockdown needs to be announced. I think it should have happened a fortnight ago.

One day when we look back, the mistakes made that seem obvious now will be glaring then. The federal government responded early to the threat of C-19 by closing borders. That was the right thing to do and slowed the infection down. The time saved was wasted, though. Instead of acting decisively, the government dithered. At first, I don’t think they took it seriously enough (a mistake I made, though I quickly repented). Even though they’ve figured it out, even now, they’re conservative, as if afraid of what they might do, not understanding that to do nothing is much worse than doing something. Now is the time to go big.

Somehow, the government believed they could come out of this unscathed. That was their mistake. Had they acted quickly, they might have saved the patient by amputating at the knee. Instead, they went back, again and again, cutting here and there, while the infection continued to spread. Now the knee’s at threat, and we’ll be lucky if the leg can be saved – but the operation has to be now.

That extends to the economic measures, which have been piecemeal, slow to enact, and not considered fully. The result is thousands of people lining up outside Centrelink offices in the middle of a pandemic. It’s almost funny.

I have much more faith in state premiers than I do in the federal leadership. I’m hard on Scomo, but I feel some pity for him – these are tough times, and he’s not up to it.

It’s pretty sad when someone like Boris Johnson makes you look bad – but the Brits, after being slow to act, have at least been bold with financial support. So too a bunch of other countries. In the meantime, Australia faces huge unemployment as systems crash. I agree the economy has to go into hibernation but to enable that you have to support business to retain workers, and landlords given support so that the jobless have a home to live in. Far better, I would have thought, to administer measures through existing payrolls and maintaining employment, than to send everyone to Centrelink.

Whatever that takes – reduce company tax rates, suspend state payroll tax for six months (Victoria have done this), offer wage subsidies as other countries have done, look at income tax options, as well as stamp duty, and so on. It’ll cost, but that’s minor in the current scheme of things, and money’s never been so cheap. We can afford it.

Much better to go bigger than you need to than too small, because there is no other priority now.

I’m just a schmo in the suburbs. Another guy online with an opinion – but you don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to know that something has to be done, and done immediately.

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