Welcome to Notes from the Sydney Lockdown. This is a random daily (or close enough to daily) diary of thoughts during the Sydney lockdown. I’ll try and focus on things that are slightly off the daily news round – but I probably won’t stray too far. I grant myself broad discretion…. Check us out on YouTube too.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant are the most prominent faces in managing Sydney’s response to the current COVID Delta variant outbreak. Like many people in Sydney, I have disagreed with their handling of the crisis from the beginning.
But right now, each time I look at both of these women, I mostly feel pity. Imagine the anxiety of having confidently made the choices that have led us to this disaster that looks set to get worse?
Gladys’s anti-lockdown responses to previous COVID outbreaks worked… until they didn’t. That’s the case with all precautionary measures. Seatbelts aren’t a necessity till someone dies because they weren’t wearing one. Lifejackets and fire precautions are an annoying waste of space and energy until the boat sinks or the fire ignites.
Hard and fast COVID lockdowns of the kind deployed by all other Australian states are excessive. Until there is an outbreak of a more serious strain of the virus and a longer, more painful lockdown becomes necessary.
The PM Scott Morrison and his Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, men who seem to be wrong on everything, always, have pushed Gladys into a corner. They forced her to put her reputation as an outlier, bucking the paranoid approach of other states, ahead of good sense and a precautionary lockdown. But it wasn’t just them. Gladys has many in her party who are opposed to lockdowns.
Outside of our parliaments, the Murdoch lunatic fringe that underwrites coalition rule, is unconcerned with logic and science – in its opposition to lockdowns. Check out recent pieces from Alan Jones on Sky News.
So yes, I do feel sorry for Gladys. But I have far greater sympathy for Kerry Chant. Chant, the Chief Health Officer, is a public servant and a health professional.
Each day, Gladys and her colleagues assure us that NSW follows the recommendations of our health professionals. That passes responsibility for our devastating delayed lockdown onto Chant and her team.
So did Kerry Chant insist that Gladys not lockdown early? Did she actively defy the approach taken by all other Australian jurisdictions? Did she put the pursuit of some high-risk political outcome that put the economy ahead of the well-being of the citizens of Sydney?
That would be a terrible breach of her health responsibilities. So I doubt she did it. We may never know. But a credible health professional could not have taken such a risk in the face of a national consensus – especially when facing a new and more dangerous variant that’s been creating havoc around the world.