As the coronavirus crisis unfolds, it is clear that the political class has no strategic plan underpinning its day-to-day panic. Short-term crisis management fills the space where leadership and strategic thinking should be.
Our Plan has five components:
1. All arrivals at the nations’ airports and sea terminals should be subject to mandatory 14 day quarantine under strict medical supervision.
This measure ought to have been the first thing done by authorities back in February. The bulk of Australian coronavirus cases are directly attributable to arrivals by air or sea from overseas. A significant number of the rest have been infected through the absence of quarantine processes at these points of entry to the country.
2. All people over the age of 70 years should be isolated from the public with a designated Circle of Support around them of 6-8 family, friends and neighbours, under strict medical supervision.
Circles of Support are an established social mechanism widely employed in the disability and mental health fields to build an intentional network of civil society support around vulnerable people. In this crisis, their role is to secure the basic needs of people over the age of 70 while in isolation from the public.
Circles of Support are employed in several policy areas in the work of The Sensible Centre. www.sensiblecentre.org.au/policies/
3. Build civil defence infrastructure at micro-local levels.
The formation of Circles of Support for every person over 70 years is one function that would be assigned to civil defence infrastructure, which will have to be built from scratch.
We favour precinct-level networks (200-400 households), connected online and in-person, as infrastructure through which to enable mutual supports and information flows that involve the whole of the population in mitigating risks and ‘looking after each other’.
This civil defence infrastructure would also serve as working infrastructure for natural disaster prevention, preparedness and response; climate change mitigation and adaption; and national security organisation.
4. Economic activity should continue as normal.
The emergency economic measures to date of $189bn and $320bn from the Commonwealth with additional measures from states, and an estimated $250bn extra in public debt, are massive wastes of money. With measures 1, 2, and 3 above in place, and with diligent practicing of social distancing, there is no need to shut down the economy.
Any emergency support measures for businesses should be undertaken on the basis on loans, not gifts, to be repaid over time.
5. We need a Government of National Unity.
The country can not afford governments based on the old party politics. If any of us were selecting people to manage this crisis, we would seek out people with a track record in solving problems and fixing things. Instead, we have Premiers, Federal Ministers, Oppositions (and political commentators) faffing about trying to lead when virtually none of them have a track record in solving anything. They are mostly hacks, the least likely people imaginable to lead us at this time.
The economic devastation imposed by the political class will have to fixed after the next federal election in 2022. At that election, The Sensible Centre will put forward candidates across the country, and seek a mandate for a Government of National Unity.
Your involvement is essential if we are to come through this crisis. Join The Sensible Centre. Put your hand up to lead. Join up here.