Sun. May 12th, 2024

An increase in numbers of Covid cases and hospitalisations in South Australia has led to a amplification of scrutiny towards both state and federal governments.

According to government website sa.gov.au 92.6% of South Australians have received their first dose of a Covid vaccination and 88.2% have received their second.

Leaving boosters aside I think we can safely assume that reaching a particular vaccination rate is no longer relevant to how we will ‘live with Covid’.

Apparently there will be no lockdowns either, a welcome decision in my opinion. However with South Australians still being told to isolate if they come into contact with certain peoples (I won’t be specific here, the rules seem to change every five minutes don’t they?) and density restrictions reinstated in public spaces it feels as though we really aren’t living with anything.

Last week South Australian Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas called on the government to instate a “comprehensive compensation package for business” and provide free Rapid Antigen tests for those who need them.

Compensation for business will be a tricky issue. As will compensation for income lost for those who are required to isolate.

South Australia, the once proud festival state, home to live music, festivals and some exceptional pubs, clubs and wineries is crying out for Covid restrictions to be relaxed. It is also crying out for healthcare to be prioritised and for business to be able to once again make a profit.

These are all intrinsically linked. Pitting those who speak out about one against the other isn’t doing anyone any good.

I know a number of people who would love to go out and spend some money to help the economy but are either concerned about getting covid; concerned about having to isolate or simply can no longer afford to.

So here we see the health of the economy and the health of South Australians linked in a way that has seemingly been minimised in public and political discourse on Covid.

We have also seen the links between unstable employment; financial independence; welfare and healthcare once again brought to the forefront of debates on fairness and equity.

So while Marxists, Conservatives and Neo-Liberals argue about the implications of inaction on Covid I’m going to pose a different question: how do we want South Australia to look and behave as we continue in this Covid world? Because clearly a post-Covid world is still far into the future.

What do we want as a society in a Covid and post-Covid world? I’d say more or less the same things we have always wanted. The difference now is that some need them where they otherwise would not.

We want to be able to go to work or go to uni and not have to worry about whether or not we are going to receive our last pay cheque or be plunged into lockdown or quarantine. This is an issue intrinsically linked to insecure work and the failures in the welfare system.

We want our family members with weakened immune systems to be safe and free from illness, something that would have been the case even before Covid.

These issues aren’t isolated to debates between left and right. Attempts to place this dichotomy in the realms of relevance here have largely failed, paving the way for populist or reactionary discourse.

I’m not going to argue that the issue should be condensed as a primarily political one. It is above all an issue of society.

But the failure of either political persuasion to appropriately address how we move forward as a society and an economy is indicative of the confusion we all feel.

Politicians are human after all. Governed by emotional impulses, attempting to do the best they can.

Concerned for their health and the health of their families.

Concerned for their jobs and the jobs of others.

Whether we agree with them or not.

By Melissa Marsden

Melissa Gillian Marsden is a passionate advocate for social justice and a self-confessed political junkie. After being diagnosed with with a life long, life threatening medical condition six weeks after birth she knew from the beginning that fairness and equality are notoriously contested and complex issues. Read more on my 'About Me' page.