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  • Writer's pictureAisling Salisbury

Get Your Mateship Back

Recently I have made posts about how I feel that Australia could no longer be considered the "lucky country" but more so a "selfish country". I say this because of the lack of compassion from Australians when it comes to their approach to COVID which is nothing more than to hide under the doona and lock themselves off from the rest of the world.

Proof of this was yesterday on my flight home from work when an American, detecting my Aussie accent, was left flabbergasted when I told him about the true cost of Australia's COVID rules, including the locking down of the border (both domestically and internationally), the shutting down of cities at the drop of a hat, the shunning of Aussie citizens overseas and to those that have returned finding themselves treated like lepers because the terminology is that anyone coming from overseas is "importing the virus". I showed him and he read the Sydney Morning Herald story about returning Australians (Click Here) and the excellent piece by Alexander Downer (Click Here) and this gentleman was rightly appalled to hear how much Australia had lost its way. The gentleman had spent much time travelling to Australia and loved the place, but couldn't believe that the country would ever do such a thing.

Statistics suggested that prior to the pandemic there were close to 1 Million Australians who were out of the country on either a permanent or temporary basis. Considering the country has a population of 26 Million, to have 1 million of them out of the country just proves how much Australian's travel and set roots around the world. Since the Federal Government in March 2020 announced a border closure to International ports at least 500,000 have returned home. Now you might think, well that's a substantial amount of those ex-pats and tourists who returned home. Well, this is where I have an issue with that number. This number includes people such as myself who did return then had to leave for work or for other reasons. Even the US Election had Australian networks send their journos to the US to cover it, along with their cameramen and associates. Then they returned after the result. These are numbers included in that 500,0o0. So because of that, I don't believe it is fair to say that the majority of Australian's who are overseas have permanently returned. Considering prior to Christmas 2020 there was about 20,000 registered to return and now there's 40,000+ it is proof that many didn't have the opportunity to just upend and leave immediately. There were commitments, whether it be work or family and as those commitments come to an end, more and more Australian's are now saying "we need to come home now".

Yet the narrative of Australians it would seem is:

"Screw them, they had their chance!"

Our Elected Officials have turned their backs on us. I see a lot of returning Aussies congratulate or thank Federal Labor MPs Senator Penny Wong and Kristina Keneally. I ask, for what? Just simply using a hashtag perhaps? Because I have seen nothing constructive from them besides a sound bite to political point score against the sitting Government but at the same time not offer anything constructive to either update or increase the quarantine programme. It's clearly obvious when they won't call out their State Labor colleagues over refusing to lift the caps or permit more International arrivals into their state. Instead, all they say is "this government is a disgrace and what are they doing about Aussies overseas?" If you want to do something, then offer something constructive. I have written to the Prime Minister and sent similar letters to other MPs on both sides of the aisle. I am still yet to hear back, but one thing I did say "you could do this!" aka actually offering a solution to the issue. Why doesn't anyone call out the BS happening, either the Liberal or Labor Party or even a minor party? Well, it's simply because this COVID fear wins elections it seems.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says that returning Australians are:

"A major concern" and "A real risk for us"

Other State Premiers don't have the guts to take on more incoming arrivals for the same reason. Instead, it's up to New South Wales who are handling the brunt of it and to a good standard too but rightly so they are thinking "why are we doing all the work?". But once again it becomes a political football, despite all the states agreeing to pay the bill for their own citizens, regardless of their state of arrival, (ie you are a Victorian and arrive in Queensland, Victoria would pay Queensland for your quarantine). yet you have these State Leaders tearing up the bills and refusing to adhere to their agreements. Since August 2020 when it was announced that returnees would have to pay for the quarantine themselves, and it isn't tax-deductible, well it seems that people aren't paying that bill because they can't afford to do so, especially after paying an arm and a leg for the flight home. As Alexander Downer stated:

"Taxpayers should be paying for quarantine because the government had imposed the requirement, with the huge support of the public, in pursuit of Australia’s zero-tolerance approach to coronavirus."

I personally call for an end to the hotel quarantine programme or an updated policy that is in line with countries such as the UK. In that, it's a five-day quarantine (maximum 10) and can be done at home or a selected hotel. The fact is the quarantine policy is the reason for all of Australia's problems and what is leading to Australian's being locked out of their own country.

This is a brief rundown of the Quarantine programme:

  • On arrival in Australia you are taken to a hotel room and locked away for 14 days;

  • During this time you are monitored by medical staff, receive testing and all meals;

  • Rooms generally have no fresh air, balconies or ability to undertake outdoor exercise;

  • You are charged $3000 per person (max $5,000 for a family) to undertake this programme;

  • Quarantine is generally a hotbed of COVID, although only 1% of returning Australian's test positive for it, COVID does spread in these hotels generally. Whether to staff or to other returnees;

  • Space is dependant on available rooms.

Because of the strict quarantine, airlines have:

  • Cut their normal schedules to Australia and flights can only have 40-50 passengers per flight;

  • Qantas (the national carrier) is grounded because the Australian Government considers, even with strict quarantine rules for the crews, that they are instantly infected with COVID the moment they land on territory outside of Australia. Because of this, it's better to get foreign airline crews to operate because they are locked in hotel quarantine on arrival to Australia and are generally leaving within 12hrs of landing;

  • As the national carrier isn't operating it's up to foreign airlines to get Aussies home and as the distance to get to Australia from, basically anywhere, the airfares are extremely high when you don't have the ability to sell out the entire plane (even if you did block out middle seats)

In another area, I recently I posted this to Twitter:

I got a couple of responses from people saying that my wish to simply return to see a football game is also selfish so how dare I call them selfish. You know what, I'm an Australian and it's clear now we have an element of selfishness to ourselves. Perhaps it's our isolation, or something else, but one thing that always set Australian's apart was when the shit hit the fan we came together to help out a mate. Typically referred to in Australia as our "mateship".

Well, mateship doesn't exist when it comes to this. It is clearly evidenced by Australian's and their belief that the world is suffering a Black Plague and they are so lucky that they are safe from COVID and that any opening up to the world (even their own citizens) would risk destroying their lives now that they are back to normal. So Australia is back to normal you say . . .

You have fans at the footy being told to leave the ground immediately because they came from a state with a couple of cases and therefore they must be kicked out. State Leaders are locking down their state and borders for only a few cases. That doesn't sound normal to me. However, it seems that you are ok with this new normal because you are constantly patting yourself on the back thinking that you have eliminated COVID. That by destroying your livelihoods and shutting it down at the drop of a hat is the perfect way to go? That the Federal and State governments are miracle workers because you don't have the tens of thousands of cases that other countries have? Well, countries with strong health care services, like Australia have, aren't collapsing. People are learning to live with the virus, case numbers don't necessarily mean hospital overflows or spiking death rates. The fact that you are feed this narrative, can't leave the country without permission or those that fly in are locked away for "your protection" is unaustralian. It's more like a North Korean Dictatorship.

It's added to your selfishness that whilst you sit in a theatre, a game or a music festival that you think life is back to normal and the slightest threat to this been taken away means you will sell out your fellow countrymen at the drop of a hat. The treatment of your fellow countrymen who have returned from Overseas, done their quarantine period and have a string of negative tests are still treated as lepers by society. Are you that freaking scared?

As to those that call me selfish for wanting to fly home with ease in order to see a game of footy. I will say this, how am I selfish that I want Australia to open its border in a safe manner? In turn that will permit stranded Australian's to come home with ease would it not? My Twitter post might be "yeah I want to come back for a game of footy" but it's a bigger issue. That would not be the only thing that I would do either, I would hug my mother and father, see my friends (assuming they didn't treat me like a leper) and more importantly see my better half. Locking us out and telling us to stay where we are is the epitome of selfishness. What would you do if you were separated from your family and loved ones for months on end with no idea when you will see them again? How would you feel if your parent was dying and you couldn't be there at their bedside with them in their last moments? But oh that's right, COVID is bad so wanting those things is just not worth the risk is it?

The use of us as political footballs for a narrative that governments are keeping you safe is nothing more than propaganda. The fact that agencies can find ways to bring in sporting athletes to put on a "show" or the fact that high-end celebrities can just bypass passenger caps and stay where they choose to do so when they come to Australia isn't just a double standard. It's what a socialist state does! The fact that no one in Australia has an issue with these situations happening but treat fellow countrymen as lepers is what would happen in these Dictatorships. You're an outsider, I don't trust you but how good is our Government for keeping us safe and putting on a sporting event for us.

This is what is happening right now. Australia, you need to wake up! It's not ok your behaviour right now. Find your mateship again, research the stats on countries handling COVID and their citizens who are learning to live with it, vaccine or not, it's not all about case numbers. Finally, remember, we aren't lepers, we are your fellow countrymen and we need your help.


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