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Politicians play on pandemic fear

THE fear of Covid is keeping everyone on high alert and politicians are playing to that fear. However our hospitals have seen systemic failure over decades, failures that are now coming home to roost as we deal with the pandemic.

Ingrid Harrison
Ingrid Harrison
1 week ago
The pandemic politics of fear


By INGRID HARRISON

THROUGHOUT Covid, the question of opening the states to the rest of the country, and indeed the rest of the world has become a political football in Australia. And the reason? Everyone is in fear of the virus, and all politicians have played on that fear.

Instead of praising leaders for keeping us safe, we should be looking at the failure of hospital systems – a systemic failure over decades that is now coming home to roost and a failure for which we are paying an enormous cost. All the new hospital equipment and buildings under the sun are great but if there is insufficient frontline staff then the rest is pointless. Instead, we are congratulating state premiers for keeping us safe. But they're doing it because of the poor state of the nation's health systems, comforted in the knowledge voters will applaud their hardline approach.

State of hospital system

All state premiers are at fault because each states’ hospital systems are failing not only their staff but the patients they have to treat. Premiers are governing through the pandemic politics of fear by closing borders while holding on to their significant power base. Those premiers who have used the 'keep the doors closed' policy are now desperately trying to play catch up with vaccinations. Their constituents have been lulled into a false sense of security not having to face community transmissions and therefore ignoring the importances of getting a vaccine that would keep everyone safe.

Meanwhile more and more businesses have closed their doors because they can't afford to stay open any longer. Tourism operators have suffered and many workers have lost their jobs because of closures. And what about the personal toll ? The mental anguish is happening now and will continue to manifest itself in coming years on both young and old, is yet to be gauged.

While Australia’s small businesses, employees and our students are suffering, those making the decisions to keep us apart, the politicians and the health bureaucrats, are comfortably collecting their taxpayer-funded salaries.

Fear mongering

Disappointingly we are being spun a line because throughout the pandemic the goal posts were regularly moved and the messages became more dire. Daily press conferences spouting transmission statistics and death numbers didn't help. And many people, particularly in closed states, accepted these messages without question with their fear of the pandemic exacerbated. The opening of borders for each state is just around the corner and the fear mongering has begun again. With each border transgression, an exposure site or someone simply skipping quarantine, there is collective drawing in of breath. The more extreme comments revolve around not opening up at all.

We simple can't do that. If we want life to seemingly be normal, we have to live with this virus but at the same time do as much as we can to prevent it from spreading to loved ones and friends. That means abiding by Covid protocols. And politicians and particularly leaders need to change their tone of voice. From finger pointing and blaming too acceptance that systems which should have been in place decades ago, need to be fixed so frontline staff in particular don't have to face what they have faced in the past couple of years.

In the meantime, we can only hope 2022 brings less angst and greater movement towards more normal living and maybe a modicum of truth from those we vote in to lead us.


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