Fresh from destroying Australia’s vaccine rollout, the Morrison wrecking ball is now hurtling towards state borders, pushed as always, by the interests that swing it any way they like. Via the AFR:
The Morrison government has declared Friday’s national cabinet meeting a flashpoint for the future of the federation, amid an avalanche of business criticism over the economic and personal tolls being caused by arbitrary state border closures.
With pleas pouring in from almost every sector, including travel, tourism, agriculture, retail and manufacturing for a more co-ordinated approach, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will push the states to agree to nationally consistent principles governing interstate travel.
To the frustration of the federal government and business, states have enacted their own closures with next-to-no consultation or consideration of the unintended consequences outside their jurisdictions, especially among border communities.
When the pandemic began, the power vacuum created by the Morrison wrecking ball had to be filled by somebody and state premiers did it, as they should.
When the Morrison wrecking ball repeatedly arced towards reopening borders as the pandemic raged worldwide, states shut theirs making it impossible.
When the Morrison wrecking ball gyrated wildly from lockdowns in some states to suppression in others as if there were no state borders, state premiers did what they had to protect constituents.
When the Morrison wrecking ball swerved behind a mad billionaire’s attempt to crush borders and democracy, state leaders blew it aside.
When the Morrison wrecking ball crashed into stimulus mid-depression, state leaders forced him to keep writing the cheques we can so very obviously afford.
When the Morrison wrecking ball smashed the virus into aged care centers (yes, that is s federal responsibility) across the east coast, driving a much higher death count, states picked up the tab in their health systems.
Now the Morrison wrecking ball wants to knock down borders again, to spread the contagion to the virus-free states that are operating at economic capacity far above the virus states. This will only end in the Morrison wrecking ball demolishing all national economic activity and driving more deaths in every state to boot. Economist Richard Holden sees it clearly:
Prematurely relaxing restrictions risks undermining the very significant progress we have made in suppressing the virus. Let us not forget that only a few weeks ago, with case numbers rising, there was the very real possibility of NSW going back into lockdown.
The border closures have been a key part of getting the current case numbers down to the mid-single digits. But the fight against COVID-19 is not over yet in NSW.
Allowing more people to travel freely into Queensland from NSW thus risks further damaging lives and livelihoods there. The same is true, on an even greater scale, for movement from Victoria into NSW.
The impact of the current virus count and necessary government response to that, in Victoria, is already costing NSW hundreds of millions of dollars. But that number would rise exponentially if more cases spread from Victoria to NSW and NSW were forced to go back into category 3 or 4 lockdown.
The answer to the current border issue is not to lift current border restrictions but to fine-tune them to work better for residents of border communities.
State leaders should again duck the random Morrison wrecking ball and keep their internal borders shut in the national interest. What they should not do is open their borders internationally to foreign students who will also bring in waves of virus.
That is what the Morrison wrecking ball really wants to demolish. It wants the virus to spread to all states so it can crush the international borders and resume mass immigration to support house prices. That’s the wrecking ball’s only, openly stupid, demolition plan.
Instead, by staying shut, state leaders can move Australians out of the path of the Morrison wrecking ball and swing it instead towards the budget, to keep the eminently affordable fiscal stimulus flowing, as it should, until the pandemic passes or a vaccine arrives (which, sadly, the Morrison wrecking ball has already smashed into yesterday).
The longer states keep the out of control Morrison wrecking ball away from their borders (and everything else for that matter) to drive down the virus count, the better off we all shall be.