Winter is coming, and with it another chance for the virus to have its way with us. The new variants emerging in India and Brazil are better at spreading through host populations, and way better at killing more of those populations than the plain old vanilla-flavoured Rona Version 1.0 we’ll soon be recalling with fond remembrances. Scott Morrison recently told a party room meeting that the threat from COVID-19 was growing, not receding, and for once he wasn’t selling a metric shit ton of scurrilicious pork pies. The metastasising spread through India and South America are catastrophic for those regions and a looming tragedy for everyone outside them. It’s just math. The more the virus grows, the more variants it throws off, raising the chances of spinning up some really exciting new pathogen that blows right through our current defences.
It’s a scenario calling for much greater rigour and focus.
Instead, we’re about to see what happens when a government more comfortable with astroturfing than crisis management, turns the amp to eleven on its bullshit.
Today, May 21, is the final date by which the constitution requires the Commonwealth to hold an election in 2022. By close of business in Canberra we will be less than a year away from Judgment Day for Morrison and his clown car full of juggalo grifters. He set a couple of hundred billon dollars on fire last week, hoping to light up a clear path to victory over Anthony Albanese. (And seriously, how hard should that be?) But it didn’t give him a dead cat bounce in the polls. So now we are to undertake a grand experiment in which a government that blunderfucked each and every one of its responsibilities during the pandemic, will attempt to weaponise those responsibilities in the service of keeping Smirko’s dimpled arse cheeks firmly stuck to the prime ministerial leather.
Having comprehensively munted up the country’s quarantine arrangements by refusing to build out the capacity he knew was needed, Morrison this week fell back on the theatre of the absurd, trolling Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over a proposal for a new, fast-built 1000-room quarantine facility outside of Brisbane. He complained the plan lacked detail.
"We've written to them and they won't tell us how much it costs," he said. "They won't tell us whether they're going to run the facility. They won't tell us whether it's being in addition to bringing Australians home — so supplementing what is already being done — or is to replace it? Where's the workforce going to come from? Who is running the infection control procedures, or where is the security workforce coming from? All of this needs to be established.”
Wagners, the private firm proposing the build, were never going to publicly release their construction cost estimates because that’s the sort of commercial information competitors would use against them in future government tenders. But that doesn’t mean withholding the data from the state or commonwealth authorities. It just means providing the quote in confidence. As for facilities management, Wagners is proposing to run the joint itself, in the same way that hotel chains run hotel quarantine, with the state government absorbing the cost of testing and any police presence. When the pandemic recedes, the site can be reduced, with the accomodation re-used for mining camps, and the grounds adapted to commercial use for the nearby cargo airport.
None of this needs establishing.
But Morrison is now viewing every decision he makes through the lens of an approaching election. His thoughts, tiny as they are, are not knowable, but it’s entirely possible trending likely he could fly into Queensland in the weeks before the election to announce that he’s spending a couple of hundred million on the Wagner plan, paid for from that ten billion dollar slush fund Joshy set aside in the budget.
Everything is about to become political.
The Fukushima-grade omnishambles of the vaccine program will be magically rebooted as a triumph, even while Greg Hunt fans the fires of vaccine hesitancy by playing three card monte with the Pfizer, Moderna and Astra Zeneca jabs. The glacially slow start to inoculating the population will speed up. Again, it’s just math. As the US reaches vaccine saturation and its pharma giants switch to exporting their production surplus, the figures for the number of doses administered will climb steeply.
And then, as the polls approach, having a bunch of simple graphs trending up every day on the front pages of the Murdoch and Ninefax papers and websites will do a lot more for Smirko’s chances of keeping his job than having met the basic minimal requirements of that job at any point since he took it.
Which is good for him. Because he never really managed to do that.