Leading article Australia

Apoxalypse now

21 March 2020

9:00 AM

21 March 2020

9:00 AM

Last week we asked whether Scott Morrison and the Australian medical authorities would learn the lessons of Italy and impose strict quarantineing regulations while there was still time to get ahead of the coronavirus curve. As is often the case with this government, the answer is a qualified but encouraging ‘yes’. Some sensible measures were quickly announced (such as a mandatory 14 days of self-isolation upon entering the country), whereas others (banning crowds of over 500) were clearly illogical half-measures that then required revisiting and tightening only a few days later.

Of course, events are now moving so rapidly that yesterday’s draconian measures seem like today’s common sense and by the time this or any other article gets into print it is likely that further measures will have been introduced. Thus far, however, the government appears to be getting on the front foot. Scott Morrison is to be commended for his most recent announcements. The more aggressively we act now, the sooner and less troublesome the pandemic will hopefully prove to be, on our shores at least. Complacency and apathy are the virus’s best friend, a fact most Australians appear to have now accepted. There is a perverse logic to Covid-19: the more seriously we take it now, the less serious it will turn out to be. The more dismissive of it we are now, the more harm it will do.

What is crystal clear is that those countries that have acted swiftly and decisively (Singapore and Taiwan) have got off a lot lighter than those who have faffed around (i.e. most of Europe.) As for Australia, like a frantic surfer desperately paddling to catch the wave at the right place, hopefully we will just! manage to avoid the worst of the coronavirus wipeout.

Sadly, there will be several weeks if not months ahead of us that will certainly be testing, trying and in many cases tragic. There will be more stories of greed, stupidity and vile behaviour, no doubt. Equally, there will be heartwarming stories of those who help and assist others in greater need. As we head into winter there will inevitably be severe repercussions from the slowdown in economic activity and unquestionably the threat of a nasty recession looms over our heads.

But we will bounce back, and we will do so in surprising and unpredictable ways. Funnily enough, for many businesses the option of getting staff to work from home has been far easier to organise and implement than they would have guessed, largely because of advances in technology and changes in personal work patterns that have been under way for several years. Similarly, online shopping and other home services that have been creeping into our lives will come into their own over the course of the pandemic, with financial winners no doubt popping up alongside the losers.

Events of this magnitude can usher unpredictable changes into our lives and invariably lead to a re-thinking of previously-held dogma. Surely we must now regret our lack of manufacturing self-sufficiency and the degree to which we have outsourced and/or sold so much of what we rely upon to China. Both Rebecca Weisser and David Samuel discuss the Chinese problem in this issue.

Indeed, the political ramifications of the virus will of course be enormous, including the destiny and legacy of ScoMo, BoJo and Donald Trump, among so many others.

Equally intriguing will be the fate of the climate alarmists. Reaching fever pitch over the last year, the apocalyptic pronunciations of everybody from Prince Charles to Greta Thunberg to Malcom Turnbull now look or certainly should look idiotic and hysterical to any calmly rational person. Like the bedraggled donkey trying to pass itself off as the lion Aslan in C.S. Lewis’s final Narnia novel, the ludicrous doom-mongers of the laughably-named Extinction Rebellion can now be seen for the frauds that they are. Faced with a genuine crisis and genuinely preventable mortalities, these fools are exposed as nothing but charlatans and terrorists. Let’s hope the climate alarmism fiasco has had its high-water mark. Reality has shown it up for the silliness that it is.

Similarly, the idiotic cult of globalism can now be consigned to the dustbin. It is only nation-states with secure borders than can cope with challenges such as this Wuhan virus.

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