It's time to live with Covid and get on with our lives

Australia and North Korea. There’s no comparison – democracy and dictatorship, freedom and feudalism, and untold wealth and unbelievable want.

The odious comparison by QANTAS boss Alan Joyce does get one pondering though about our pandemic response.

Joyce’s over-the-top North Korea analogy was borne out of his justified frustration that we could fly to London but not to Western Australia. Valid Point.

As pen was being put to paper for this column, a massive rally was taking place in Canberra expressing dissatisfaction with the Covid response. (Something that would never be tolerated in North Korea). Nevertheless, our freedoms need protection.

As the pandemic unfolded, we quietly accepted the many restrictions to “flatten the curve” – to buy us time to ready our hospitals and supplies for the expected onslaught. Thereafter our freedoms were to be restored.

Pulling together, we flattened “the curve” into a pancake. Seemingly overnight, a vaccine was developed which would protect us all. We just needed to take it and our freedoms would be restored after a certain percentage took it. 80% was needed. Then 90%. And now children as well. Soon we became one of the highest vaccinated populations in the world.

It seems there is an ever-receding finish line with calls now for freedoms to be restored only after the third jab. While elsewhere, there is talk about the need for a fourth.

Surgeons and doctors publicly questioning the ‘accepted approach’ are disciplined and denied the opportunity to practise. People in all sorts of jobs are being dismissed. Their freedom to determine what is injected into their body is summarily denied.

The heartbreaking stories of many decent Tasmanians sharing their plight with the writer are confronting. Jobs lost. Houses lost. Rental inspections denied. Futures shattered.

One such person is unvaccinated Launceston university student Jack. The result – he is denied his right to finish his education. His future dreams and plans in tatters.

In a five-page tour de force Jack has asked the vice-chancellor to meet with him to explain. The request so far has not been accepted.

Jack’s well-articulated five-pages makes one think Jack is exactly the type of person we need at our university.

Erudite and capable as our vice-chancellor is, being a fly on the wall at such an encounter would be priceless. Wise money would be on Jack.

It seems some of the vaccinated unnecessarily live in fear of the small numbers who aren’t vaccinated. To shun and deny societal involvement to those with an alternate view is simply wrong. Jack, like so many others, are decent fellow Australians.

TAFE students are similarly being denied a future. Inappropriate vaccine mandates must stop.

This heavy-handed approach is also seen with the maintenance of QR codes. Why check in if a contact is now of four hours duration? Why wasn’t it four hours before? Why check in if it’s not even being monitored?

As enjoyable as church, coffee shops and constituents are, readers will be relieved to know the writer doesn’t tarry for longer than four hours at or with them. So why check in?

The official response – “just in case”. Freedoms are innate rights. Subjecting them to government should never be countenanced “just in case”.

The Djokovic expulsion, whilst highly popular, lent itself to serious questions and a few great one-liners providing blessed relief to a heavy topic.

How could someone who tests negative to Covid be a threat to public health? That said, the law, even if it is an ass, needs to be applied across the board.

Djokovic will now go down in history as the only sportsman to be disqualified for not taking drugs and as the only player to lose an Open by missing just two shots.

Opening the borders needed to happen. Covid restrictions need to be wound back. With the best will in the world we were simply holding back the inevitable, at great cost, inflicting cruel mental health consequences and economic costs our grandchildren will be paying back for their whole life.

The Canberra rally is an expression of growing frustration to which authorities must respond and quickly. To dismiss these decent Australians’ concerns is to foster unnecessary division.

For the record, the writer is vaccinated.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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