Our Covid operation was a success, but the patient died and all the doctors have left

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s impressive and ultimately popular performance during Covid has fallen apart in the aftermath. What her Government was able achieve in the thick of it, it has failed to repeat in the days and months that followed.

Nov 17, 2022, updated Nov 18, 2022
Hospitals have become the biggest victim of Covid

Hospitals have become the biggest victim of Covid

And that may not really be fair because Covid is not only still with us but it has evolved into a different and more economically, politically and socially destructive virus.

For politicians, Covid is like herding cats.

The result, though, from the public point of view, is that everything seems broken: hospitals, the economy, airlines, supply chains, the labour market, travel, the health system, housing, energy prices and business.  And Covid doesn’t really care too much about what’s fair.

After the health crisis ended, Covid has shifted to tearing apart business and economic models and leaving industries threadbare. The problems it is creating are becoming increasingly hard to solve and governments around the world seem to be dealing with the same issues.

In Queensland, it has sometimes easy to hide the problems in the regions from those of us in the south east, but that won’t last because the shouting is getting louder and the problems more profound.

Women in Gladstone have been unable to give birth in the city and now can only do so by “planned caesarean’’ because of a lack of doctors and the health sector in the regions has been fundamentally destroyed.

Towns lack crucial and essential medical staff, an issue that was always just on the cusp of occurring before Covid and Labor’s signature policy areas of health and housing are frayed.

Rockhampton, a city of 82,000, has more than 1000 people on the social housing waiting list, effectively homeless.

Building companies seem to be collapsing like dominos. Labour markets are a massive market failure and governments are forced into increasingly desperate measures to raise taxes to pay for the debt that was racked up to keep things moving during the worst of the health crisis.

If you read the news, you know the problems, but they have always been there, just papered over and ignored.

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Building companies with shaky balance sheets have always been a month away from collapsing, the hospitals were always understaffed and administered with a just-in-time approach. The tourism sector was always too fragile and structurally unsound to deal with the shocks.

The labour market was always too dependent on overseas workers. Companies should have always known that staff were unhappy with rigid rules about where and when they should work, but they didn’t think it was important. Covid showed them otherwise.

The soaring inflation and rising interest rates we now grapple with were obvious to anyone who looked during Covid, but the public were distracted by more immediate concerns.

What were once stresses have become gaping cracks that are now structural faults.

As is often the case, the seeds of this current dilemma were sown in the way governments dealt with the previous one (Covid) and we can all look at the wreckage and wonder why nothing was done before.

The issue for governments everywhere is to convince the electorate that this too, will pass.

That will be tricky because somewhere in the back of our minds we knew all these things were wrong, that we were being deceived by the sleight of hand of politicians.


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