Greater Melbourne has been hit again. Not so much this time by WuFlu, but more by heavy-handed officialdom and a panicky government too spooked by its pathetic contact tracing infrastructure and track record.
All for a contagion that, while still dangerous, has claimed just one Australian life since Christmas.
Greater Melbourne is masked up again. Public and private gatherings are curtailed. Queues at Covid testing stations in the suburban areas where the known cases have occurred are over a kilometre long. Sporting and cultural events await their fate amid warnings of tighter measures to come.
And – surprise, surprise – contact tracing has been botched because it took several days to realise the Epping supermarket identified as a place visited by one of the five was the wrong supermarket.
That the error was related to the person’s credit card transactions was additionally disturbing. Most Victorians are resigned to giving away their privacy in swiping QR codes whenever they visit a café or whatever, but didn’t realise the government is also tracking you by other very personal data without their awareness.
Big Brother may be watching Victorians, but he didn’t apologise for yet another stuff-up.
Victoria’s contact tracing regime is a farce, especially compared to New South Wales. It is impossible for the regime to take localised containment action in the way New South Wales can.
Still, it could be worse.
If Greater Melbourne were Greater Perth, Mark McGowan would have had us locked down by now, detained at his pleasure.
Perhaps that’s what Daniel Andrews’s surrogate James Merlino prefers. But after three lockdowns, including the mother of all Australian lockdowns that suffocated Melbourne for four months thanks to his government’s hotel quarantine monumental incompetence, Merlino would have judged, correctly, that the ‘I stand with Dan’ Stockholm syndrome mentality, that hitherto insulated the Andrews government against the consequences of its own catastrophic failures, would not work its political magic yet another time.
Indeed, with only one WuFlu-connected death so far this year across Australia, and the vaccination effort finally ramping up, one wonders why we are still resorting to such crude 2020 tactics at all.
Unless, of course, it’s for political and bureaucratic arse-covering.
Terry Barnes is a former adviser to Tony Abbott during his time as health minister. He edits our daily newsletter, the Morning Double Shot. You can sign up for your Morning Double Shot of news and comment here.
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