Latest Australian COVID-19 measures driven by concern about profits, not health


Newest Australian COVID-19 measures pushed by concern about income, not well being

Mike Head

25 March 2020

Whilst Australia’s COVID-19 an infection fee accelerated, the nation’s emergency “nationwide cupboard” final night time adopted additional insufficient and contradictory partial shutdown measures and insurance policies designed to learn huge enterprise.

All of the federal and state authorities leaders concerned, Liberal-Nationwide and Labor alike, are shutting chosen industries, however protecting retail retailers, main companies and colleges open for the sake of company revenue, regardless of the ever-more current hazard to public well being.

At this time, these governments intensified their collaboration by appointing a COVID-19 Coordination Fee, led by company leaders, with unspecified powers to “remedy issues” within the “non-public and public sectors” created by the pandemic. The navy can be “on the disposal” of the fee, Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced.

This probably intensive state intervention into the economic system demonstrates the failure of the capitalist market system to deal with the catastrophe. Nonetheless, even when new preparations are wanted to beat essential medical shortages, they’ll stay dictated by the profit-making necessities of the firms, moderately than the wants and democratic rights of staff.

To make sure that the commerce unions will proceed to police this corporate-driven response, towards more and more struggling and indignant staff, the fee’s board options ex-Labor cupboard minister Greg Combet, a former long-time Australian Council of Commerce Unions secretary.

Asserting the most recent restrictions at a media convention final night time, the prime minister channeled US President Donald Trump, voicing extra concern about protecting “the economic system” going than defending the well being and lives of hundreds of thousands of working-class folks.

Trump yesterday despatched the share markets surging by declaring that he desires the US economic system “raring to go” by Easter, whatever the rising coronavirus loss of life toll throughout America.

Morrison’s line was solely barely much less blatant. First, in an try to blame unusual folks for the sky-rocketing an infection fee, Morrison mentioned his “frequent sense” message was: “Keep at house.” He “strongly inspired” folks to depart their houses just for “important causes.”

But, he then contradicted himself. He declared: “However it will be significant for folks to go to the store. You will need to go to the procuring centre … It’s additionally essential for our economic system that it continues to function and performance as a lot as attainable.”

By “economic system,” Trump and Morrison imply monetary and company income—which capitalist governments all over the place are desperately enhancing by pouring billions of {dollars} into handouts and tax breaks—not the hundreds of thousands of staff being thrown out of labor by these similar firms.

Morrison spoke on behalf of all of the state and territory authorities leaders, none of whom voiced any dissent. Whereas Labor state premiers, similar to Victoria’s Daniel Andrews, feign dismay over the affect of the well being disaster on working folks, they’re simply as intent on bailing out the banks and employers.

Equally revealing was Morrison’s denunciation of Australian Broadcasting Company political editor Andrew Probyn for stating the “actually incongruous” resolution to maintain colleges open, making them “human petri dishes for a virus.”

The prime minister condemned Probyn, and by implication all journalists, in a threatening method. Morrison mentioned it was “crucial” that “media don’t use that form of alarmist language. I don’t suppose it helps.”

Morrison claimed that such discuss “could cause pointless alarm” at odds with the “medical recommendation” that the federal government leaders cite as authority for his or her restricted measures. He insisted colleges should keep open in order that “important” staff—together with these within the now-unsafe factories—could possibly be saved on the job.

However one other journalist then revealed that final Sunday the nationwide cupboard acquired recommendation from a gaggle of 22 well being consultants and legal professionals, commissioned by the federal chief medical officer, to launch an “fast and laborious line lockdown” in an effort to “flatten the [infection] curve instantly.”

The journalist requested: “Why was that recommendation dismissed, and what was the dialogue of that recommendation?”

Morrison answered along with his most express Trump-style response.

“We’re coping with two crises,” he mentioned. “We’re coping with a well being disaster that has induced an financial disaster. And I’m very involved in regards to the financial disaster that would additionally take an amazing toll on folks’s lives, not simply their livelihoods … I’m as involved about these outcomes as I’m in regards to the well being outcomes of managing the outbreak of the coronavirus.”

In actuality, Morrison and his fellow authorities leaders have such contempt for each the lives and livelihoods of staff that their failures to take the mandatory steps to avert a disaster—similar to mass testing and the pressing equipping of clinics and hospitals—have led to an infection unfold after which enterprise shutdowns.

That contempt is being furthered displayed within the Nice Despair-style queues of jobless staff on the authorities’s Centrelink welfare places of work. The brand new unemployed are compelled to line up for hours due to the cuts and privatisations all through the general public service over many years, identical to the persistent under-funding of public hospitals and well being providers.

Employees queuing at a Centrelink workplace in Sydney yesterday

The pressing wants of those staff for fast earnings help could possibly be met by diverting into their financial institution accounts the billions of {dollars} going to enterprise, however the governments’ response is the entire reverse.

Each the well being and jobs tolls are rising quickly. Coronavirus infections are hovering towards 3,000, now doubling each two to 3 days. The deaths rose yesterday to eight, however well being and epidemiological consultants warn that fatalities are attributable to surge.

Hundreds of docs have signed petitions, and well being staff are talking out, warning in regards to the lack of fundamental assets, similar to medical masks, private safety gear, ventilators and intensive care beds wanted to cease the well being system being overwhelmed, as in Italy.

For these dire must be met, industries have to be taken beneath public possession and democratic staff’ management to provide the critically required gear, however that’s anathema to capitalist governments.

Likewise, the firms shedding staff by the hundreds—similar to Virgin, which yesterday axed 8,000 jobs, or 80 % of its workforce—have to be taken beneath social possession, with all staff assured their incomes.

All of the assets exist for this, however as an alternative the federal and state governments are handing over mountains of money—that’s, social wealth—to prop up the monetary and company elites.

The mass unemployment already attributable to the closures of hospitality and journey industries will worsen because of final night time’s expanded restrictions.

Companies and actions ordered to shut from tonight vary from actual property auctions to nail and wonder salons and different private service suppliers, besides hairdressers and barbers. Galleries, museums, libraries, youth centres, neighborhood halls, golf equipment, social sports activities and swimming swimming pools are additionally closing.

The colleges, nevertheless, should keep open, with the settlement of the principle academics’ commerce union, the Australian Training Union (AEU). Its leaders met with Morrison in the present day in what he described as “optimistic” talks to work out a deal to power most academics to stay within the school rooms.

Morrison in the present day praised the AEU and different unions for his or her “effective spirit” in working hand in glove with the governments and employers.

Regardless of some obvious rifts between Morrison and a few state premiers on Sunday because the calamity intensified, the Labor Occasion and the Greens collaborated carefully along with his Liberal-Nationwide authorities in parliament on Monday.

In a rare one-day rump session, consisting of naked quorums in every home, all of the MPs helped push by means of an enormous bundle of payments that authorise the spending of $189 billion, overwhelmingly for the advantage of the banks, finance homes and companies.

In reality, Labor chief Anthony Albanese and his shadow ministers have been so supportive that they moved an modification to spice up to $40 billion a particular discretionary fund that the federal government is free to make use of handy more cash to huge enterprise.

One other characteristic of the payments was the enlargement of government energy, together with to alter welfare profit necessities and cut-off guidelines by decree, and to additional enhance the police-intelligence-military companies, whose perform is to suppress the mounting social discontent.

Whereas the Greens expressed disquiet over a number of objects, similar to giving non-public colleges one other multi-billion greenback enhance, they backed all of the pro-business laws.

“It’s our job in the present day to move a bundle of payments that won’t solely stimulate our economic system however ensure no-one is left behind,” Greens chief Adam Bandt instructed the Home of Representatives.

Bandt spoke for all of the parliamentary representatives of the capitalist ruling class, declaring: “At this second, we’d like to have the ability to belief our leaders and our establishments as a result of lives rely on it.”

The one concern in these ruling circles is that the social misery will gas the already rising disaffection with the political institution.

Hundreds of thousands of working-class households, having misplaced their livelihoods, will not be simply being “left behind.” They’re being financially ruined by the capitalist ruling class, whose brutal response to the COVID-19 catastrophe was summed up by Gerry Harvey, the billionaire proprietor of a big retail chain.

“Why are we so scared about getting this virus?” he declared on the “60 Minutes” tv program on Sunday. “It’s just about nothing to get terrified of.”

When the interviewer talked about the hundreds of households, notably in Italy and China, who’re affected by it, Harvey replied: “However that’s there, we’re right here.”

Harvey mentioned gross sales had elevated at his Harvey Norman shops and described the disaster as “a chance.” He gloated: “Our gross sales in freezers are up 300 %. And what about air purifiers? Up 100 %.”

That is the genuine voice of the monetary and company aristocracy, whose income pursuits all capitalist governments are in search of to fulfill on the expense of the working class.


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