Oh 2021, what hopes we had for you.
When the clock chimed midnight on New Year’s Eve, a national sigh of relief could be heard gently breezing across our wide, exhausted land.
Hope was on the horizon and liberation was at the back door.
But weeks on from the fireworks Australians remain tentative.
Not even the extraordinary scientific and medical efforts to develop vaccines in rapid time have eased the unease.
The bug itself does not have us worried, or the ability for hospitals to cope should all go south. It is the Premiers and their penchant for power that has us holding our collective breaths once again.
To put it simply – the borders are bonkers.
Red, amber and green traffic lights, apps, permits, codes and zones are ruling our national capacity to move, trade, educate and tour.
Confusion rules. Each state demands its own attention – its own set of guidelines. People are sick of downloading the demands simply to find out they’re doomed.
The Victorian Government sent a shudder down our spines on New Year’s Eve. With just 24 hours’ notice, it ordered all Victorians home if they wanted to avoid the border barriers.
It was just like that. You could hear Premier Andrews’ fingers click.
No notice. No care. No concern for the upside-down flurry he had just caused to thousands of people’s lives. Rush, rush, rush. Book flights, pack the car, kiss the family good-bye, cancel the bookings, hit the road.
It was like the clarion call of Caesar Augustus demanding citizens of the Roman Empire return to their homes so they could be numbered and better accounted for in the taxation stakes. We became modern-day Mary and Josephs – grabbing our donkeys for the journey – not from Nazareth to Bethlehem, but Newcastle to Ballarat.
What Andrews did – or his deputy at that time – was to create a national game of musical chairs – a mad dash while you can – knowing the music will stop, but not when.
Never before in our nation’s history have invisible lines left thousands so torn. Letters are written to authorities, tears shed, voices raised, bank accounts emptied, stress levels sent north.
The problem now is a matter of trust.
Are we game to cross a border lest the fingers click or the music stops? Can we afford to wake up with one rule and go to bed with another?
Our internal borders are a medical nonsense.
The height of that was the cruelty imposed by the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in the lead up to the Queensland election: “In Queensland we have Queensland hospitals for our people”.
The extension of that rhetoric is abhorrent. Un-Australian. And not pursuant to the Federal funding system.
What if a Queenslander surfing at WA’s beautiful Cottesloe Beach got nibbled on a toe by a shark? Would the WA Premier send the Queenslander back home to stop the bleeding in a Queensland hospital?
Given Mark McGowan has an election in March, he just might.
Unfortunately, the absurdity is real. His Queensland Labor colleague set a precedent.
There should only be state lines on a map for tax or competitive sporting purposes: perfect for netball, football, rugby, cricket, soccer and snooker. In this way, the borders unite, not divide.
Australia is an island nation. Our national borders do not snuggle against multiple others. We nod to the real estate maxim of location-location. We avoid the international border angst.
Yet we have found a way to create our own demons.
Australians are being treated worse than criminals by some megalomaniac Premiers. The snap-of-the finger border closures have forced our own citizens to be called detainees and locked-up in hotels.
They are afforded no fresh air and, in New Year’s Day cases — for example — no food or water for hours and a security presence to attend the toilet.
Even alleged criminals get bail.
Around this time last year, as smoke billowed across the eastern states, the Federal Government was wearing the heat of certain finger-pointing Premiers wanting to offload their emergency responsibilities.
If we accept that national approach to fire emergencies, then surely the same should apply to health ones? The flames cross invisible borders just like viruses. And both can kill.
Then again, hypocrisy has risen high on its horse of late.
Premier Andrews allowed a Black Lives Matter protest of ten thousand – with virtually no arrests – but then handcuffed a mother in her own home for even suggesting a mask-wearing 1.5 metre-distanced protest against his tyranny.
He talks about medical evidence but never releases it.
He talks about an inquiry to get to the truth, but then doesn’t tell it.
He talks about being sorry, but doesn’t accept the accountability that goes with that word.
He talks in soft, soothing tones about caring for Victorians – but then clicks the fingers and separates families across states lines.
The reality is cruel, the words are kind.
These Labor Premiers would no doubt make the perfect ‘remainers’ in a Brexit world – happy for others to keep the boat afloat – but then on a whim apply power-grabbing borders on their own citizens based on never-seen medical evidence from handpicked ‘health’ bureaucrats.
A comparison of independent medical advice against the bureaucratic medical advice across this pandemic would make for interesting reading.
The point is this: no Australian family should be separated due to isolation diktats.
As it does in other states, contact tracing in Victoria should be able to easily track the movements of those in home isolation and waiting test results. Only a breach – for no good reason – should result in mandatory quarantine.
The Victorian Government’s permit system effectively demands Victorians stay in Victoria. For those innocently caught elsewhere, the government must do much, much better in the facilitation of their return and unification with family.
To do otherwise is cruel and without justification. Just plain wrong.
Andrews closes the border to Victorians but opens it for international superstars.
2021 is but a pup. But it will grow up under Daniel Andrews’ reign.
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