Last week, Melbourne residents emerged from corona-hiding like the Munchkins after the death of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.
Led by the Lollipop Guild, they celebrated the end of the reign of terror, and with the urging of the Good Witch of the North came out to send Dorothy on her way down the yellow brick road.
In joining regional Victoria on Step 3, Melbourne’s munchkins took their steps towards change – not freedom – not normal – not Covid-normal. Just Step 3.
It has come at the most extraordinary cost – any way you look at it. But did it need to be this way?
Nationally 27,668 people have contracted Covid-19, with 907 deaths. Victoria has accounted for 819 of those deaths, or 90 per cent.
800 of these are directly related to the failings of the Daniel Andrews’ Labor government and its complete, embarrassing, deadly incompetence.
At one stage, the only place that the virus existed in Victoria was in hotel quarantine, a memory long gone.
Then again, amnesia is a state of mind in the State of Emergency.
The Ruby Princess was for some time the early runner in the Stuff-It-Up Stakes, but NSW quickly rectified its position and processes with 4,398 cases in that state and 53 deaths. In Victoria: 20,343 cases and 819 deaths: and counting.
In government-subsidised residential aged care facilities in Australia 2,051 people have contracted the virus: 1365 have recovered, 685 have died. Of those, 655 were in Victoria, or 96 per cent. Tasmania and Queensland have had one death each in aged care.
Globally, there have been 50.27 million confirmed cases of the virus and 1.25 million deaths – which means 49.02 million have recovered.
Financially, the handling of this virus has been a brute on our national and personal bank balances. Since the start of the ‘pandemic’ the federal government has injected an unprecedented $507 billion to support the economy.
But Victoria’s utter failings to keep the virus locked in, and security guards out, has belted the national accounts.
The betrayal of Victorian business owners is costing the nation $75 billion – a third of the Commonwealth’s direct fiscal support via JobSeeker and Job Keeper payments – a $200 million a day bill.
New figures show Victoria loses $100 million a day in economic output.
Daily jobs lost in Victoria are 1,200.
There are so many numbers it becomes a blur of zeros. A blur.
But take the numbers out of it.
Look at the people behind the numbers. It makes for incredibly uneasy thinking for the Lucky Country.
In the State of Disaster, the human toll of literally locking people up is a burden on our consciences. Yet the premier gloated about it then washed it down with a whisky.
Our students have lost six months from their classrooms – their friends, their fun, their learning, their sporting acumen, their ability to learn how to swim.
It has stopped more than five million people from going to work, from hugging a friend or family member, from having hope, from attending a funeral, from saying goodbye to the love of their life, or marrying the love of their life.
Last month, the Victorian parliament was told that the number of teenagers presenting to hospital because of self-harm and suicidal ‘ideation’ had risen by 25-30 per cent between July-September.
In March, before Victoria’s catastrophic leadership chasm fully revealed itself, the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre predicted mental health impacts on productivity would be $5 billion over the next five years, and with it, more than 750 suicides each year.
Regionally, the ratio of economic and personal loss compared with the virus levels has been stupid. Stupid:stupid.
More people have died in car accidents around Ballarat recently than have died of the entire virus in that area. There have been 40 CV-cases and no deaths.
In that regional city, a $200,000 monument has just been announced to remember those killed in workplace incidents – a sculptural memory and a spotlight on the new manslaughter laws that could see company directors jailed for workplace deaths.
Will that monument recognise the 800 lives lost in Daniel Andrews’ workplace tragedy? Or perhaps that deserves a monument of its own: a hotel maybe, called The Quarantine?
186 people have died on Victorian roads this year. Each a tragedy. But none a reason to stop people driving.
Billions of dollars have been lost to this virus. Billions of dollars more will go to the recovery.
But in the fickle place that is Victoria, when doors are opened and then closed, we can only hope that this time the open signs stay up.
As Queensland’s re-elected premier reminded us one day before that state’s weekend election, medical science has little to do with the border decisions: political science has plenty.
In 2019, 310,000 Australians got the flu and up to 3,000 people generally die of the flu in Australia every year.
About 430 people die every day in Australia – from cancers, dementia, neurological diseases, coronary heart disease, respiratory diseases, organ failures.
Those statistics have never caused us to close one shop, one school, one restaurant, one border, one nursing home, one road.
Imagine if Daniel Andrews had kept the virus in lockdown? Imagine if he had isolated the aged and vulnerable? Imagine – as Sweden did – that shops could stay open?
This should not be some imaginary Emerald City, somewhere over the rainbow.
It was do-able. Other states proved it. Thanks to his curfew, it wasn’t just a case of ‘no place like home’, as Dorothy expressed, in Dan’s Victoria, there was no place but home.
Dan Andrews is no Wizard of Oz. He is the Wrecker of Vic.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
Beverley McArthur is the Liberal MLC for Western Victoria Region
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