THE debacle of Australia's so-called "travel bubble" with New Zealand is the latest and potentially most damaging chapter in a saga of government incompetence.
A saga that only reinforces the view that our nation's minimal brush with coronavirus has had much more to do with our geographical isolation than the supposed smarts of our leading politicians and bureaucrats.
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With all camps blaming each other for somehow "wrongly" allowing New Zealanders into Victoria, the obvious question has to be asked: how could those involved in the planning of this minor border opening not realise that once here, our international visitors could become domestic travellers, should they wish?
But as long as coronavirus roams the globe, any effort to reopen borders will be met with resistance in some quarters.
Call it institutional xenophobia, or NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome, COVID-style.
Despite the high-level finger-pointing over the Air New Zealand flights, Australia's relatively mild brush with the virus shows again the extent of our escape, so far, from this invisible scourge.
The speed of infection continues to rise.
Global case numbers plateaued in May, at about 80,000 cases a day, and again in August, at 275,000 a day.
But both pauses proved temporary.
A month-long rise in daily infections resulted in the latest record of 406,660 new cases set on Thursday, and broken on Friday when the total hit 411,337.
More than 1.1 million people have died from a reported 39.7 million COVID cases.
Since March, when the global lockdown began, fatalities have averaged about 5300 a day.
Although rates of some other illnesses - influenza in particular - are down, statistical analysis shows the pandemic has indeed resulted in above-average death rates - or "excess mortality" - in many countries.
Our leaders are still encouraging expectations of a return to normality sooner rather than later.
Although a very minor hitch in the greater scheme of things, the trans-Tasman imbroglio shows how many hoops will need jumping if Australia tries to more broadly reopen international travel while the virus is still afoot.
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