The family of a well-known Brisbane businessman has cancelled a Halloween/election night party because there is still a limit on gatherings to 30 people in private residences (see the healthdirect website). Is it still necessary to have this restriction in place? The Government is happy to let 30,000 people attend the AFL Grand Final at the Gabba the weekend before the election, but it still imposes a range of costly restrictions on our lives, including the interstate border restrictions. As I’ve discussed on this blog before, the decision making framework being used by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer is unclear, and the public deserves greater clarity and transparency (e.g. check out this QEW post from mid-September).
The ongoing restrictions on our freedom of movement should be the central issue for debate during this election campaign. Instead we’ve seen the usual, trite photo ops in high-vis vests and a range of lavish funding announcements, even though the Queensland Government has failed to produce a full budget and it’s unclear what the state of the budget will be beyond the end of this financial year. I was critical of this failure on Steve Austin’s Drive program the day after the Government released its woefully inadequate fiscal update (check out the interview), and Joe Branigan and I reiterated this point in a report we prepared for the Australian Institute for Progress (check out Qld Budget update report).
The need to debate ongoing restrictions is amplified by the huge revelation that the WHO only ever saw lockdowns as a temporary measure, to allow governments time to put in place adequate coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and to provide relief to over-whelmed public health services (e.g. see WHO doctor says lockdowns should not be main coronavirus defence). ABC reporter Michael Doyle summarises the latest message from the WHO as:
“…health measures which involve strict personal hygiene, effective contact tracing and isolating when ill are the essential measures to be taken.”
With our economy still operating substantially below where it was pre-COVID (see chart below), we really should be focussed on removing all costly and unnecessary restrictions, and this should be a key issue in the election campaign debate.