Flat White

An open letter to Dr Norman Swan

29 April 2020

3:30 PM

29 April 2020

3:30 PM

Dear Dr Swan

Normally I merely read “Open Letters” from my supposed betters telling me why they are right and the rest of us amongst the great unwashed are wrong 

So, composing this one to you, the ABC’s medical correspondent, is a new experience for me. 

There are three lessons I have learned in my business and professional career that I now recommend, via this open letter, that you become acquainted with. 

I write because you use your public profile and platform on the ABC not to explain to your listeners the rationale behind the federal governments successful management of our pandemic emergency,  but rather to criticise and second guess it and stir up considerable community concern by stridently advocating your own views.   

First, when training as a chartered accountant, I was explicitly told that the sign of a professional person was freely admitting what you did not know to those otherwise not in a position to judge the limits to your skill and experience.  However, you also had an obligation to consult with those who did know in order to solve their problemYour role was to act as a bridge between the expert and the confused. 


You don’t dance around in football boots where angels fear to tread.

Secondly, when dealing with a business crisis, I learnt that the biggest impediment to good decision making was panic.  

Also, that when decisions had to be made with imperfect information, a decision made via the right process, for instance by the National Cabinet after the Prime Minister and each Premier had received expert medical advice from their own independent health bureaucracies, was more likely to be the right decision, rather than one made in a knee-jerk fashion, for instance by a single GP not expert in epidemiology. 

Finally, when caught out doing unnecessary work already dealt with by others more capable in the area than myself, an angry client who was paying for my time snarled, “… when you have a great watchdog there is no need to bark yourself. 

Relating that advice to the pandemic crisis it means when the government is getting its COVID19 infection modelling done by the world-leading Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Victoria, it’s a bit silly for you as a mere medical correspondent to Tweet, as you did, “Primary School maths. Someone should go figure….” 

Having got this open Letter off my chest I am waiting for the warm inner glow and community approbation that I am sure is the reward for such conspicuous virtue signalling

At the very least I hope it makes it easier to attract the attention of women now that I am single again.  

Yours sincerely 

Kim Jacobs  

Manly, NSW 

Illustration: ABC.

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