The virus and the fragile state.

Photo: ABC News (Patrick Rocca)

For those followers outside Australia, we are a Federation of six States and ten Territories, two of which are part of mainland Australia (Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory) and each State and mainland Territory has its own legislature.

I have lived in four of those States (Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia; I know, we’re an imaginative lot).

I was born in Victoria and lived there on and off for 29 years, hence my tragic association with the Melbourne Demons AFL club, which hasn’t added to its silverware collection since I was 13 years old. I’ve lived in South Australia (SA)  my current home  State, on and off for 32 years, with the remaining 8 years in three other States and Territories. To complicate matters, my English ancestors settled in SA in the 1860’s and remained there until the 1940’s. To locals, that is of no consequence; the bottom line is that we, unforgivably, left and there’s no coming back.

Fast forward to July 2020 and our hitherto heroic success with containing Covid-19 compared to other countries, assisted by an unprecedented peacetime National Cabinet arrangement between the Feds and the States and Territories in the national interest.

And then the State of Victoria went pear-shaped very quickly and is well into a second wave, driven by community transmission as a result of inadequate tracing, less than vigilant private security companies controlling quarantine centres (rumours of bonking and gambling with those in quarantine abound) and the early relaxing of social distancing measures to kickstart the hospitality industry.

To cut to the chase, Victoria is now a pariah State, with closed borders to every other jurisdiction, enforced by the police and military, and it is assumed that all Victorians are Typhoid Mary in disguise. The Prime Minister is going through the motions of national unity and universal brotherly and sisterly love but the average punter outside Victoria is furious that this may have set a national economic recovery back by at least six months.

None of this is helped by media and Government dog-whistling that this has emanated from Muslim communities in Melbourne. The State Health Minister announced that one of the triggers was the celebration of the end of Ramadan amongst the Sudanese community and then had to extract her foot from her mouth the next day when it was pointed out that 90% of the Sudanese community in Australia are Christians.

The current hysteria in a country where we have had something like 107 deaths from Covid-19 since the beginning of the outbreak (think about that number, my international friends) is alarmist and shameful in that it points to how easily national civility is punctured.

Statistically I have been counted as a resident of several States and Territories (and a subject of the bureaucratic nonsenses that entails) and as a citizen of Australia. None of these has ever trumped my allegiance to humanity, wherever it lives. That said, no-one is truer South Australian than me at the moment. 😉

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