Full disclosure I’ve never been a fan of the Liberal government. I’ve always felt like they were more committed to capitalism than to, you know, their job   helping everyone, not just rich fucks get richer. But this? This current ignorance of public health and safety from Scott Morrison? This is next level shit, and I’m worried we’re going to forget how bad it’s been when it comes to voting time.

The pandemic was never going to be easy to navigate on a political level and we’ve seen that globally and state-to-state. All governments have struggled with the economic/public health push-pull. How do you keep businesses from self-imploding while also protecting people? How do you maintain hospital accessibility without sending masses into unemployment? I get it, it’s not an easy balance. 

A lot of the pandemic blame has fallen to state leaders, and sometimes rightly so. For example, as someone based in Sydney, I was disgusted by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s decision to reopen so quickly in December, a month where Christmas parties and mass socialising would no doubt lead to a huge spike in COVID cases right before we all went to see our vulnerable pops, nans and other family members. As expected, this has led to a surge in cases that has put unheard of pressure on our hospital system. That, I believe we can blame the Perrottet government for.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet during a Covid-19 update on December 15, 2021. Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images

But what is more abhorrent to me is how our federal government has handled this whole thing. We already saw Scott Morrison waive away the urgency to vaccinate because “it’s not a race”, which plunged NSW and Victoria into another lengthy lockdown as the Delta strain hit us hard. Suddenly, it did become a race one we weren’t remotely equipped for, because ScoMo hadn’t ordered enough vaccines. Even then, it was ex-PM Kevin bloody Rudd who fast-tracked Pfizer deliveries. How embarrassing.

You’d think a PM who screwed up so royally the first time around would do everything in his power to give his people access to COVID necessities, wouldn’t you. But no even though reports say the federal government was warned about the need for Rapid Antigen Test accessibility, it appears old mate did nothing. Again. Did this government even have a plan at all for how it would manage a COVID outbreak?

One plan was clearly put into place handing the power over to businesses when it came to RAT tests. Now, we’ve seen prices skyrocket as business owners decided to cash in on our desperation, hiked up the cost of RATs and pocketed bulk profits as we battled to, you know, protect those around us.

Seriously, no one is out here buying a RAT kit for selfish reasons. We’ve been desperately trying to protect our families and friends. Our communities. Those who are vulnerable around us. In response, Scott Morrison told us he simply can’t make them free, because that would “undercut” businesses. 

“Free” isn’t even the right term here, by the way. RATs wouldn’t be free, they’d be covered by the taxes WE PAY, taxes we expect to be used for the good of our nation. Instead the government recently spent our tax money on $3.5 billion dollars worth of army tanks

I feel powerless in the face of all this dystopian madness. I drive all over Sydney hoping to find RAT tests so I can see my parents and not worry that I’m passing COVID on to my dad, who is 70, has an ongoing lung condition, and is incredibly vulnerable even as a triple-vaxxed Aussie. 

I spend hours in PCR testing queues when I can’t find RAT tests. I get excited when there is chicken available to buy in the supermarket, because that delivery driver was thankfully COVID-free and able to work. 

My experiences are so, so privileged, too. They absolutely pale in comparison to the shit front-line workers are dealing with right now. We’ve all seen the exhausted faces of overworked PCR clinic workers wearing head-to-toe PPE and sweating in sweltering summer weather. I hear horror stories from nurse friends about being asked to do 12 hour shifts mere hours after a night shift, because “letting it rip” has led to countless staff needing to isolate, and hospitals are left with the awful choice of overworking staff or having no one there to care for sick patients. Floor after hospital floor being cleared for more COVID ICU beds. Local businesses that battled through extended lockdowns being forced to shut because they have no one left to work shifts.

NSW
Health workers are increasingly speaking of burnout and overwhelming work hours. Credit: Getty Images

The thing is, we did the hard yards. That’s the most fucked up part of this whole mess. We did the shitty thing isolated, battled through mental health spirals and the loss of pretty much two years of our lives because we were promised that in doing so, we’d come out the other side to a well-prepped country that could handle whatever COVID threw at it. 

Instead it’s like the Federal Government was just fucking around on the couch that whole time watching Netflix and didn’t bother to prepare anything at all. And then they tell us it’s our “personal responsibility” to protect ourselves and our communities? Are they fucking serious?

It was their responsibility. And they fucked it.

There isn’t much we can do about the state of things right now besides battle through, as we’ve been doing for the past two years. We can’t magically procure RAT tests. We’d have to go back in time to properly fund our hospital systems so they could hire more staff if we wanted to improve that situation. Victoria has started enlisting student and retired nurses, but that’s still a band-aid on a problem that is only going to continue.

But there is one thing we can do when the election rolls around remember. Remember all these governmental failures. Remember when Scott Morrison told us he was prioritising cash in business pockets and buying tanks over supporting public health. Remember how hard it’s been to get vaccinated, and now to get children vaccinated. Don’t forget when his government starts spinning the truth into fiction or promising you more shit they likely won’t deliver on. Don’t fart-ass your vote as a joke because you hate all the political parties. Yes, politics are politics and we don’t know what a Labor government would have done differently over the past two years, but goddamn, I don’t want to give this current one another chance after their debacle. 

We have the power to vote, at least, and we should not take it lightly. 

Melissa is a freelance writer. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.