Does the Australian Government Have a Duty of Care?

The motivation for our government’s inadequate economic stimulus and overall paltry policy response to the coronavirus crisis can only be understood as their fear that spending in ‘whatever-it-takes’ amounts to secure the wellbeing of all its citizens during this frightening time, will show up their government budget surplus obsession as the scam that it is.

Our government is not financially constrained – it can afford to provide the necessary support to tide people over while they stay home from work, to socially distance or self-isolate, to reduce the transmission in the community, to recuperate from the virus and to care for loved ones. Whether or not the government chooses to implement such macroeconomic policies will have life or death consequences. In other words, the costs associated with the government’s refusal to commit adequate spending to address this crisis will result in lives needlessly lost to COVID-19.

When I hear people ask how parents will be able to afford to miss work to care for their children after school closures, I know that this is a question that should be confidently answered by our monetary sovereign government with:

“We will support our community to do whatever it takes to stop this crisis becoming the catastrophe we’ve seen in other countries. As the monopoly issuer of the currency, we are not financially constrained in our spending – we have the fiscal capacity to ensure all citizens have sufficient income, food, shelter and high-quality health care during a mandatory shut down.”

Right now, our government is definitely putting ideology before our well-being and leading us into a potential catastrophe. People won’t socially isolate if it means their well-being isn’t secured – that is the responsibility of our government. We need to demand they use the fiscal power at their disposal to support what a majority of public health experts are recommending – immediate shutdowns and extreme social distancing.

When you understand Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) you understand how this is possible. I’d love it if more people took the time to understand it – it really is a game-changer. There are so many excellent resources out there, but the best is, of course, Bill Mitchell’s daily blog – here’s a recent post addressing the Coronavirus.

This is an article by Jayne Flanagan of Modern Money Australia. Jayne is an Occupational Therapist and Teacher’s Aide. Jayne works with children with Special Needs.

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