Busy and practical

Friday, 1 May 2009 

The first in an occasional series of BusyAndPractical Watch.

For a government that admits it has no silver bullet to anything, there is probably no better way to appear practical than by responding practically to a problem that doesn’t actually yet exist. A flu outbreak in Mexico that has so far led to only one death outside Mexico, a Mexican child in Texas, is good enough reason for the PM and the State Premiers to put on their action faces at their COAG get-together in Hobart yesterday. Flanked by the NSW Premier, whose slow recovery in the polls says more about the paralysed state of the coalition and Australian politics in general than anything else, Rudd announced a series of measures including a call:

For all Australians to engage in the simple practice of washing their hands with soap on a regular basis.

Well you can’t get more practical than that. Who knows, we may even get an ad, like they now have in the UK, to show us how to do it.

Of course, we have annual flu outbreaks in Australia and pandemics that spread around the world are a regular occurrence. We only ever seem to hear of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1919 that killed at least 20-40 million people, but of course there was the Asian flu of 1957 (1 million), the Hong Kong flu of 1968 (700,000), the 1989 epidemic (50,000 – 70,000), the Beijing flu of 1993 and only a few months ago, Europeans were panicking about the spread of the ‘Australian’ flu (excuse me?).

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Friday, 1 May 2009.

Filed under Tactics

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2 responses to “Busy and practical”

  1. Cavitation on 1st May 2009 5:24 pm

    I wonder if it could be our friends in the fifth estate that are forcing this issue. Certainly, the press has had a good run of late in spruiking “we’ll all be ruined” disaster scenarios. In fact, they have continuously been selling disaster porn since September 11 2001, so that I wonder if they have become addicted to it, or at least forgotten how to report on things in any other style. The press always seems to be pessimistic, and to endlessly emphasise the worst possible outcome for any problem. I am sure that I can remember instances from the distant past, where the press reported events in a non-sensationalist manner, and downplayed the issues, and even suggested that there may be a relatively painless solution possible. But not in the last decade or so. Possibly the pressure to sell newspapers, and to compete with the internet for TV attendance may be at least part of the cause for this. Even entertainment is now invariably in this style. Nearly every TV drama involves some sort of law enforcement group battling against terrorists, serial killers, or some other kind of evildoer, which is completely divorced from reality (and accurate crime statistics). I watch some reality programs on TV – there was a chef program on last night, and instead of seeing any cooking, we got oodles of people telling us how scared and nervous they were, and how badly they were managing the task of creating a meal. The ratings were good, but I don’t think any of the contestants talked about the cooking. Surely, at some point the public is going to get tired of this. It is interesting that PM Rudd and other government figures try to be reassuring and positive, whereas the opposition is always so negative, and possibly as a result, cannot cut through with the public. Perhaps this is why the opposition is being ignored; the public cannot pick them out of the general background of negative information they are being bombarded with continuously nowadays.

  2. The Piping Shrike on 2nd May 2009 7:12 am

    I think it is a question of authority. In the past the press had behind them the voice of establishment and we had a vague sense that, even if we did not like them, they at least knew what was going on. I’m not sure if they have such authority now.

    Hence the proliferation of silly web-sites such as this.

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