What is good for Sydney in fighting this cluster is good for all of us
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As Sydney is moving through a nerve-racking stretch of COVID transmission, I am torn in my reactions.
Good Jon says: “I sincerely hope no one gets sick, and no one dies – what a pity they couldn’t avoid a major lockdown. I hope that their contact-tracing system is up to the challenges posed by the hyper-infectious Delta strain. May NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her highly credentialed team live up to their reputation of standard-setting. What is good for Sydney in fighting this cluster is good for all of us. Go Team Sydney.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian fronts the media on Saturday, before announcing a two-week lockdown.Credit:Getty Images
Bad Jon says: “I sincerely hope no one gets sick and no one dies, but gee their two-week lockdown, as opposed to the stay-at-home rules, will prick their self-righteous balloon and put an end to the partisan, condescending and patronising nonsense that has been raining down on Victorians for months. It proves for once and for all that the virus doesn’t care which political party is in power and ram home that COVID transmission is as much about luck as it is about any other single factor. It will do Sydney some good to be knocked off their high perch.”
Then I find myself thinking: “NSW Health has been showing the nation how to avoid jumping fast into lockdowns and although this will test their systems and protocols, let us all cross our fingers that their processes and personnel are as capable as claimed.”
Or, as evil thoughts creep into my mind: “NSW Health have been making brave and exaggerated claims that have been undoubtedly putting their own people and the rest of us at risk. Then they made the absurd and irresponsible decision to defer a full lockdown to justify their thinly disguised political posturing. As things go wrong, it is on their heads and they will regret not going into lockdown when they found significant transmission.”
I watched a press conference with Premier Gladys. I ponder: “I am so impressed with the decorum with which the Sydney media pack conduct their press conferences with their Premier. They show respect, listen carefully, interrupt rarely if at all and we are all the wiser for it. And doesn’t the Premier show grace under pressure?”
Will Sydney regret not going into lockdown earlier?Credit:Janie Barrett
But then, I stop in my tracks. “What an unbelievable double standard. The reptiles in Melbourne, weaponised by the Murdoch tabloids and Sky News, ripped into Dan Andrews and Brett Sutton every bloody day for weeks on end, repeated the same questions a gazillion times hoping to trip them up, shouted at them, harangued and argued, stopped asking legitimate questions and instead made unfounded assertions and then demanded that mere rumours be proven untrue. How dare they?”
The generous me realises: “Sydney is such an important centre for commerce and tourism. It is in the national interest to throw everything at this cluster and get it under control no matter what it takes. As Sydney shuts down, even for a short while, the national dynamic changes.”
But less generously, I think: “Sydney is so smug and self-important. The federal government is so Sydney-centric and so partisan in its unquestioning support for Gladys. Too many people regarded COVID as a Melbourne thing; now they have to accept it is more than that. At least as they now have a decent cluster in Sydney, Scott Morrison will finally be forced to fast-track mass vaccination with the urgency it requires and stop dawdling on getting the nation inoculated.”
I weigh up the economic impact, and think to myself: “The federal government has been bipartisan and generous in their support for business and the inspired commitment to JobKeeper was vital in keeping the national economy from collapse. Although some isolated examples of rorting have been detected, it has served its purpose well and been money well spent.”
Too many people regarded COVID as a Melbourne problem.Credit:Eddie Jim
On the other hand: “The federal government has been taking sides and undermining the Victorian health response purely because the Andrews government is from the other side of the party divide. They have tried to give their mates in the state opposition some leverage but it has all amounted to nought. JobKeeper has been massively rorted and now we learn that Wesley College siphoned off $5 million to their scholarship fund instead of giving it back to the Tax Office – that almost makes Harvey Norman look ethical.”
Optimistically, it occurs to me that: “Maybe this is the catalyst the federal government needed to prioritise a clever and witty creative ad campaign to inspire confidence in and improve take-up of the vaccine rollout. Countless examples have circulated online, and they can start with the NZ adverts as inspiration.”
More grimly, I wonder: “The Health Department must have been vaccinated against creativity. It is absurd to believe that an ad featuring a finger-wagging doctor in a white coat telling us what to do, will get anyone across the line. If people are anxious, harbouring vaccine hesitancy and therefore wavering, the carrot will work where the stick fails. That is obvious to anyone who has ever tried to sell anything to anyone. What is wrong with these bureaucrats?”
Good Jon says: “I’m so sick of COVID but we just have to stick together, follow the advice and get through somehow.”
Bad Jon says: “I’m so sick of COVID but we just have to stick together, follow the advice and get through somehow.”
Jon Faine is a regular columnist.
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