If you needed any proof that blokes and the blokes that run big corporations rule our lives to our detriment, look no further than the Covid cricket fiasco.
The MCG is now listed as a potential COVID-19 acquisition site after a man who attended Day Two of the Boxing Day Test later tested positive to coronavirus. It will be impossible to track down all his contacts.
And yet on Thursday, the NSW Government has permitted another cricket test at the SCG with thousands of spectators and the cricket writers and commentators complain that the crowd has been restricted to 25% and they must wear masks.
It is crazy. We do not need cricket. It is utterly unnecessary to our survival. It could be cancelled or failing that it could be performed without a live audience. People could watch it on TV and no-one would suffer an iota of detriment to their physical or mental well-being.
But the blokes would lose some money. So, let’s put tens of thousands of people in a venue with Covid carriers spreading away and with no hope of contact tracing, just so a few corporate blokes can take some money.
Do we need live audiences at cricket, football or at nightclubs in a pandemic? Answer no.
Do we need clubs and bars open in a pandemic? Answer no.
How have they got such a hold on government that it acts in a way that is so obviously inimical to its citizens? The answer, as usual, is donations.
Take women’s sport. The whole lot has been geographically restricted, cancelled or made to perform without audiences. Now if there were a psychological or well-being argument for people to attend sport live and witness the action for their mental well-being, then it should equally apply to women’s sport.
But this has nothing to do with well-being. It is only to do with money. Women’s sport has little money riding on it.
In Australia, we have prided ourselves on listening and acting on scientific advice. Rightly so, but only to a certain point.
We have, to a good degree, followed the advice of lockdown early and lockdown hard. But not enough.
The advice has been spoiled by the incessant whispering in politicians’ ears not to close borders and not to lock down. I need this dollar now. I need last month’s income this month.
These whisperings have put “gold-standard” Gladys (NSW Premier Berejiklian) in a conundrum. She knows what to do, but her corporate donors are at her.
Look at the consequences of not listening to the scientific advice. Britain is the best example. Bumbling Boris Johnson hates to give bad news so he said everyone could visit friends and family at Christmas, knowing full well that the virus spread would get worse and he would have to lockdown anyway.
At the beginning of the pandemic, he erred on the side of staying open because his Tory mates said it would be bad for business.
Wrong. The worst thing for business in the long term has been not getting control of this pandemic.
So, let us compare situations. In Victoria, when the second wave looked imminent Dictator Dan (Premier Andrews) ordered a months-long shutdown. Initially, it hurt the economy, but Victoria has come out of it with fewer cases and fewer deaths and less economic cost than if the disease had got out of control.
In Britain, they have had the worst of both worlds. An indecisive Panglossian Prime Minister refused to do hard lock down. Now one in 50 people have Covid in the UK; 80,000 people have died and 3,300 are dying every week. And their economic position is no better, in fact worse, than hard lockdown jurisdictions.
So, the British (and similarly in the US) deference to the economy and the donors who support the ruling Conservative and Republican Parties, have got the worse of both worlds. They have copped all the economic pain of lockdowns they eventually had to have, and because of political weakness in the face of corporate demands have inflicted massive death and suffering.
In Australia, we must not listen to the chumocracy – chaps who like their cricket.
It is delusional to think that remaining open for business in a pandemic is good for business.
Imagine if every government, organisation and individual had followed the early scientific advice: lockdown hard, lockdown immediately, contact trace, impose social distancing and mask-wearing from Day 1.
The virus would have had nowhere to go. The economy would have been saved.
But no. The blokes must have their cricket, and the profits that go with it.
This is a pandemic not a spectator sport. Moreover, it is one of the hardest to deal with because it has a relatively high death rate yet some people who catch the virus have no symptoms. We have numerous people like “Typhoid Mary” – Mary was an extremely rare case of being a symptomless typhoid carrier. She infected at least 50 people, three of whom died in New York in the early 20th century, but probably a lot more as she moved and changed her name.
We are in the fortunate position of not having to wait several years for the virus to mutate away as with the Spanish flu and the plague because our science has been good enough to produce vaccines and testing relatively quickly.
Surely, we can put lives before money and ban unnecessary large gatherings of people, like crowds at sporting venues, until the vaccines are widespread and effective.
This article first appeared in The Canberra Times and other Australian media on 9 January 2021.