The virus, humanity and policy…
I remember in February 2019 visiting my daughter in hospital where she had been rushed with suspected apendicitis. The hospital was eery with ward upon ward darkened and empty. The reason being the pandemic was just starting and there was a fear that the hospital system would become over-stretched. The government had ordered all unnecessary procedures and hospitalisations to be cancelled in anticipation of the nightmare scenario of mass death and illness. That fear never eventuated.
In retrospect, governments did everything right when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and almost everything wrong when Covid-19 became better understood. Adept at regulating, Governments responded quickly in the belief that up to 4% of the population were at risk of death or serious illness. However, when that percentage became more like 0.2 % or lower, they did not respond with similar pace of deregulation.
The lesson here is in the mathematics. The next pandemic requires a policy rule based on numbers to guide the response. The percentage of ‘death and serious illness’ would seem the logical metric to guide pathogen policy. A 4% number indicates code red while a 0.02% dictates a code purple (or something) with switching between the various responses based on real time data. This way we all know going into the next pandemic where we all stand.
…and the Queen and the Dismissal.
As we say farewell to the Queen and hello to the new King of England, revisionist history in Australia regarding the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government once again raises temperatures. I am one of the few people who vividly remember the sacking of the Whitlam government by the Governor General in 1975. I was 10 years old at the time and I remember the sense of relief that a scandalous, corrupt Labor government had been forced to go to an early election by the Queen’s representative. The Kemlani loans affair, the Junie Morosi scandal, reports of a future Prime Minister (Bob Hawke) kicking the door down to enter a room occupied by a female journalist during the National convention and a ream of other events made the Labor government a national embarassment. At the time, the ‘constitutional crisis’ of the Queen’s role played second fiddle to the practical imperative to kick the government out. This was sealed by a landslide defeat at the subsequent election a month later. While the Dismissal of an elected government by the Governor General created a republican vendetta from the Labor party, it was a practical relief welcomed by the bulk of Australia. The Whitlam government was dysfunctional and no-one can defend them.