More action, less talk needed on vaccines

Business people know meetings can crowd out action and, hence, meetings should be minimised to only those absolutely necessary and they should be action-focussed (e.g. short and sharp Scrum meetings of the team members directly involved in a project, meaning those actually doing the work). Unless the PM and state Premiers are the ones on the phones with the vaccine suppliers, it’s difficult to understand how twice-weekly National Cabinet meetings (see this Brisbane Times report), with all their associated paperwork and bloviating, will help speed up the vaccine rollout.

It’s possible a twice-weekly National Cabinet meeting could distract the people actually trying to secure vaccine supplies and make them less effective. As an example of meetings not guaranteeing outcomes, consider that the Rudd Government was characterised by a high rate of Cabinet or, more precisely, Cabinet committee meetings, but ultimately it failed to get the major elements of its policy agenda implemented.

Meetings are no substitute for doing the work. Twice-weekly National Cabinet meetings should not be required and may be counter-productive. Rather effective delegation to the officials securing the vaccine supplies and arranging vaccine distribution is what is required.

It’s pretty obvious this vaccine rollout delay is bad news for our economy, which to date has been recovering strongly based on jobs, vacancies, and the latest NAB business conditions survey data (see chart below), although it remains to be seen how it will fare with JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement being removed. With the vaccine delay, it’s more likely we’ll experience future lockdowns, as it will take longer to reach herd immunity, and those tourism, hospitality, and other businesses reliant on international travel will experience more financial stress and many more of them may go under. Sure, a sizable portion of the money Australians would have spent overseas on holidays, which would have been more than foreigners spent here, has been re-directed to domestic spending, but it’s not all going into domestic tourism. Many of our tourism businesses on the Gold Coast and in Cairns and the Whitsundays, for example, will struggle over the rest of the year.

To keep the economic recovery on track, we need to prioritise the securing of new vaccines and their distribution. I hope twice-weekly National Cabinet meetings will help, but I’m sceptical.

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