THE new wave of coronavirus restrictions that began at midnight Wednesday are a major departure for a country that supposedly embraces rebellion against authority in its national ethos.
Such limits may not be easy to accept, but as we observed here yesterday, a Hunter New England health region case total of 72 on Monday night could become 73,000 by the end of April if infections keep doubling every 3.5 days.
To underscore those implications, Hunter New England numbers rose by 31 in 24 hours to 103, the biggest increase since the region's first reported case on March 10.
The rapid-fire nature of the changes that Australia and other democracies are demanding of their populations have no obvious precedent outside of wartime and the federal and state governments should not expect that all of their edicts will be accepted without demur.
Australia's peak union body, the ACTU, yesterday demanded UK-style wage subsidies of up to 80 per cent for employees of "hard hit" employers, as we had foreshadowed would occur.
There is no time to waste. With scenes of heartbreak on the streets of Australia as people join endless queues at Centrelink offices and workers face a future full of crippling uncertainty. A wage subsidy can be simply understood and simply administered through the existing ATO arrangements.ACTU Secretary Sally McManus
The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association wants an "essential service payment" of $5 an hour for workers in "frontline" retail outlets staying open during the shutdown.
The shop union's concerns are understandable but demanding "danger money" when others are being thrown out of work signals a social fracturing we cannot afford.
The heart of the question is individual or group advantage versus the overall good. Such choices are already being made internationally.
Russia, for example, has begun a 10-day ban on the exports of some grain products to ensure sufficient domestic supplies of staple foods.
It may not have been the first nation to take such measures and will not be the last.
International cohesion will take careful managing in the months ahead, with the United Nations likely to play a growing role.
At home, there are strong arguments to bring the federal Labor opposition leader - at least - into the "national cabinet" of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, state premiers and territory chief ministers.
As things stand, those who did not support the Coalition at the last federal election lack a seat at the table.
Given the undisputed correlations between wealth and health, it would reassure many to know the "other side" of federal politics is present when the big decisions affecting all Australians are made.
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