Crisis causes power to aggregate centrally

By Carolyn van Langenberg*

Like many of us, I don’t like the way the government is consolidating power into the hands of a few during the virus crisis. Parliament doesn’t need to be suspended. Teleconferencing is available.

Parliamentarians ought to be discussing a variety of administrative solutions to deal with the virus and the economic chaos it’s causing. They are paid to represent the people and that’s what we expect, not the avoidance of scrutiny.

I’m not sure why the budget has to be delayed until August 2020. What benefit lies in that decision? Does the delay bury Taylorgate, the maladministration of the Murray-Darling Basin, water theft, and the corruption of the sports grants?

The National COVID-19 Commission has been set up to coordinate the strategies required to administer medical and economic aid and assistance to the nation. It is headed by a former mining magnate, Mr Neville Power. He has been appointed Chairman and “brings both high level business expertise and a strong commitment to social issues”. As a former CEO of Fortescue Mining, should we expect the recently unemployed to be pushed onto Andrew Forrest’s welfare card rather than onto the progressive Universal Basic Income?

The National COVID-19 Commission Executive Board includes leaders across the private and not-for-profit sectors: Mr Greg Combet AM, Ms Jane Halton AO, Mr Paul Little AO, Ms Catherine Tanna and Mr David Thodey AO (Deputy Chair).They will be joined by the Secretaries of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Philip Gaetjens and of Home Affairs, Mr Mike Pezzullo.

Halton, Pezzullo and Morrison are experienced in social isolation, not necessarily to all the peoples’ benefit (the Tampa vessel, as well as Manus, Nauru and Christmas islands)

Empathisers are lacking

On the Executive Board, there are no sociologists, no psychologists, no experts in trauma, medical or otherwise. Combet is the only one who has experience with how ordinary people live, and survive, sometimes by being too rash or too slow to adjust to legislative changes, and often by making mistakes.

The others on the Board haven’t a clue about uncomfortably lived lives. And Pezzullo, aka Dracula, is experienced in crushing ordinary people and punishing them for their missteps. To include him on the National COVID-19 Commission Executive Board does not inspire confidence in the Morrison government ‘s best intentions to administer government under the fair go principle through a difficult crisis.

We have a national emergency. We need doctors of body, mind and society, men and women of integrity to be at the forefront of guiding public health policies and ensuring people are kept well by being able to pay for food and lodging.

How can we be sure of the good faith of the National COVID-19 Commission Executive Board when almost all of its members are historically tainted?

  • Carolyn van Langenberg is a CLA member from Blackheath in NSW. These are her personal opinions.

 

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One comment

  1. Thank you and well done Carolyn. Your succinct observations are welcome and in my view soundly based, unlike the “cures” proposed by omniscient authorities devoid of respect for the citizenry. Speculative risk treatments based in fear and panic are usually if not invariably costly, ineffective and damaging.

    Mark Jarratt

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