When a nation needs a leader, when the people need a voice, an ordinary (wo)man would help him find the courage.
My thoughts on what Scott Morrison should have said:
“We need approximately X* number of workers for cleaning and sanitation services, food production, retail and delivery, transport, healthcare, childcare, key manufacturing etc.’ All other people of working age will be ensured a temporary living wage while forced into quarantine. All people of retirement age will also be ensured a living wage. While we can’t overgeneralise from the experience from other jurisdictions, including Italy, it is safe to say that the time is now to shut down all non-essential services including schools, so that we can flatten the curve.
We will ensure the health and safety of all workers in sectors at increased risk of infection due to exposure to the pathogen via person to person contact or infected surface contact, by ensuring essential PPE and cleaning agents, but importantly, by reducing the contact frequency, and therefore the infection rate, in the community by enforcing the shutdown of all non-essential business/services. We will urgently need to increase our testing capacity to ensure our strategies are working and we are effectively protecting our key workers and the broader community.
We will ensure that no-one is at risk of losing their fundamental right to shelter, which means we will need to implement a mortgage holiday and an eviction moratorium. We may also need to commandeer empty accommodation, such as empty investment properties and hotel/motel rooms so to ensure that all have a roof over their heads.
If the COVID 19 pandemic teaches us anything it’s that we were fatally unprepared for a crisis, foreseen by many with epidemiological and public health expertise, of this magnitude. We have learnt our lesson and now will do whatever it takes to build a resilient economy that can withstand future serious, existential shocks such as this, and that guarantees that all of our citizens have the opportunity to flourish, with genuine ability to participate fully in our society – an ability that will be ensured by their democratically-elected, monetarily sovereign government.
For too long, decades, in fact, we have sacrificed the many for the sake of few; through enforced unemployment, through privatisation of public services, through our support of the fossil fuel industry, essentially through our misguided belief that government exists to promote the private gain of the few namely, the finance and corporate sectors. Trickle-down economics is bunk – if we had have paid attention to those that have been challenging this orthodoxy over decades then we might have avoided not only the deaths that are occurring and will continue to occur due to COVID 19, but also the probably millions of deaths that have resulted from the scourge of neoliberalism.
We should have learnt that lesson much sooner than this and so I would like to offer my deepest and most humble apology and my absolute commitment that we will turn this around starting from now. May I not go to hell for my past grave errors.
To achieve this we will:
1. Introduce a permanent, federally funded job guarantee program which will not only provide a guaranteed job for all who want to work, but will also serve as a more superior and humane way of ensuring price stability – time to put an end to the NAIRU approach.
2. We will nationalise and appropriately fund all services with public goods characteristics – hospitals, transport, roads, banks, schools, telecommunications, energy, R&D etc
3. We will appoint Professor William Mitchell as our chief advisor on achieving a JUST TRANSITION away from fossil fuels. This will commence as of immediately, and is of utmost importance in this crisis as our over-dependence on fossil-fuel industry, with the consequent environmental impacts manifested in our extant climate emergency, are inextricably linked to the occurrence of this pandemic and to the risk of future pandemics. A JUST TRANSITION recognises the workers and their communities that rely on this sector should not bear the economic burden and will need to be supported during this transition.
*X is the number determined by reliable modelling
Jayne is an Occupational Therapist and Teacher’s Aide. Jayne works with children with Special Needs.