Pandemic shows our political ‘leaders’ are not fit for the job
Piers Akerman The Sunday Telegraph July 3, 2021
The Wuhan flu virus has exposed what many have long thought – our elected leaders at the state and federal level are incompetent. The national cabinet which replaced the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March last year has been as burdened with backbiting jealousy and petty rivalries as the most parochial local council.
Meant to have the same status as the War Cabinet which met during the Second World War, it has dismally failed to rise to anything near the same level of authority let alone competence.
Continued below the fold.
James Bolt The Spectator Australia 7 July 2021
Annastacia Palaszczuk should absolutely be denied an exemption to leave Australia. Queenslanders are just picking up the pieces after another foolish lockdown, families separated from each other are coming to terms with the halving of international arrival caps, and the Queensland Premier is finalising her plans to travel overseas. This is an absolute betrayal of those she is supposed to lead.
Not a single state leader has an unblemished record and neither have the chief health officers each has used as a shield to deflect legitimate criticism.
Major errors have occurred since the arrival of the Ruby Princess in Sydney at 3am on March 19, 2020, from New Zealand (where she left a trail of Covid-19 infection) was permitted to disembark passengers who (just imagine) spread the virus across Australia and internationally as they flew to their homes.
Five days after the ship crept into Sydney Harbour it was revealed that one passenger had died and 133 on the ship had tested positive for the coronavirus. By March 30, at least 440 passengers had tested positive and by March 31 five of them had died, one in the ACT, two in Tasmania, one in NSW and one in Queensland.
By April 2, the number testing positive, excluding those who had left Australia without being tested, had risen to 337 passengers and 3 crew members.
But nothing was learnt from that experience.
In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews locked down public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne without warning at 4pm on July 4 in a move that the Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass found was not based on direct health advice and was in violation of the state’s human rights laws.
The lockdown flowed from a Crisis Council meeting of the Victorian Cabinet but she was denied access to documents from that meeting.
Victoria’s inept handling of the virus has seen it contribute 820 deaths to Australia’s total 910 toll.
Chillingly, the same premiers and the same health officials are still in place and still contributing to the confusion and hopeless ineptitude that passes for health policy at every level of government.
Under these “experts” vast swathes of NSW are enduring yet another lockdown brought about because no-one foresaw a need to ensure that drivers of international aircrew be required to be vaccinated.
Unvaccinated health workers were also permitted to work in multiple hospitals – what could possible go wrong?
Cities in Queensland are similarly in lockdown because an unvaccinated student was permitted to work in proximity to a coronavirus ward for days though she was sick and exhibiting classic virus symptoms.
The Queensland chief health officer Jeanette Young seriously undermined the effort to encourage vaccinations with her confidence-sapping remarks about the risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already appointed her Queensland’s next governor. Seriously.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approach to the pandemic has been little better than that of the premiers. Granting indemnity to GPs administering vaccines but not to those who may suffer is hardly confidence boosting.
The majority of Australians have been unable to leave the country since March 2020 and there is still no clarity about when the travel ban will be lifted even for those who have received a full course of vaccinations.
If anything was designed to reduce confidence in the efficacy of vaccinations, this half-hearted measure seals the deal yet the risk from the vaccine is less than that of a road accident, or death from murder.
The damage to the national economy caused by this bungling has been as harmful as anything the global warming Greens would wish upon our hugely successful energy exports and the remnants of our manufacturing industry.
The lack of leadership from both federal and state politicians reflects the lack of real world experience among our politicians.
On both sides of politics we have former staffers who have never worked in private enterprise, let alone run a small business, making decisions without any basis in skill or experience.
Leaders are meant to quell panic and confusion, not create chaos.
Can’t go, shouldn’t go, must not go:
petition “Deny Annastacia Palaszczuk an exemption to leave Australia to attend the Tokyo Olympics” now has over 10,000 signatures, after Palaszczuk defended her decision to travel to Japan later this month in order to secure a future Olympic games for Brisbane on Q&A.
Leaving aside the enormous waste of money that securing the Olympics would be for Queensland and Australia, Palaszczuk’s decision to travel overseas is tone-deaf and completely unfair to mainstream Australians.
And it just goes to prove what we have learned time and time again the last 15 months – we are not and nor have we ever been ‘all in this together’. Those senior politicians and bureaucrats who set the restrictions do not suffer the effects of them.
Just last week, Palaszczuk asked National Cabinet to reduce the caps on international arrivals. “We are at capacity,” she claimed. “We’re stretched, and we need an immediate reduction by 50 per cent.”
Her deputy premier Steven Miles joined in, lamenting “every month, about 40,000 Australian citizens and about 6,000 permanent visa holders are allowed to leave the country [then] going back through hotel quarantine, putting our community at risk.”
Which is now literally what Palaszczuk is doing. Perhaps this will tell Palaszczuk that there is little difference between her desire to travel and anyone else’s.
Defending her decision on Q&A, she claimed that her trip to Tokyo would not just create wealth and jobs for Australia, but also give people “hope” and “opportunity.”
But those journeys now cancelled as international arrivals are slashed do exactly the same thing.
Any Queenslander able to travel overseas to visit family they haven’t seen in over a year will feel hope.
Queenslanders travelling for business can bring wealth and jobs to Australia, and opportunity for others. What makes Palaszczuk’s trip more important than any other?
Palaszczuk should do what the rest of us have been forced to do over the last year when denied the ability to travel: Fire up Zoom, ask if she’s on mute every 45 seconds and try and conduct business that way.
To think in this day and age that a meeting between the Queensland government and the International Olympic Committee must be held in person is farcical.
But if politicians and senior public servants have been insulated from so many of the other hardships their Covid polices have created, then it is naïve to think that the international borders would be treated differently.
IPA research this year found that between March and November 2020 private sector employment across Australia fell by nearly 300,000 while public sector employment rose by 25,800.
And in Victoria, while the state was suffering under its fourth lockdown, state politicians received an 11.8 per cent pay rise.
What we have here is a divided nation. On one side are the people designing the restrictions, and on the other are those who suffer under them.
And until those who enforce the restrictions can feel the same pressure that mainstream Australians feel underneath the laws, they are not going to change their ways.
If politicians and senior public servants do not experience the wage cuts, job losses and emotional turmoil that these restrictions are creating, then they are never going to truly see how destructive their policies are.
That is why Palaszczuk should be denied an exemption to leave Australia. She should make the decision to give up on the travel herself, to show some shared sacrifice with her fellow Queenslanders.
It will show Queenslanders who cannot see their loved ones and cannot improve their lives by travelling overseas that there is some commonality. That our leaders are having to make sacrifices like the rest of us.
Otherwise, the truth about Australia will be on full display: That there is one set of Covid laws for the powerless and one for the powerful.
Steven Miles last week said “It’s not good enough that just because you can afford a business class flight or a charter flight you can breach our closed international borders.”
He wasn’t directing those words at Palaszczuk when he said it, but on behalf of all Queenslanders he should direct them her way now.
James Bolt is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs. Join as a member at www.ipa.org.au.