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Needs must when the devil drives: Coronavirus and the economy

By Malcolm King - posted Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Control measures have drastically reduced the number of Covid-19 hospital admittances but without herd immunity or a vaccine, cases will resurge if social mixing is reinstated.

The Morrison Government knows that survival is more important than surpluses, yet little thought has gone in to the end game.

Does the government continue to tell people to stay sequestered in their homes, dodging the slings and arrows of a rising death toll, even though this is killing the economy?


Or does it take arms against the virus and through a controlled spread, create herd immunity throughout most of the community, while kick-starting the economy?

Needs must when the Devil drives. We should now focus on structured ways to allow the virus to spread, either suburb-by-suburb or state-by-state, to gain herd immunity.

Net debt is now 19 per cent of GDP and will swell to 30 per cent. Australian household debt is a colossal 200 per cent of income. Most of that is tied up in mortgages.

The government owes a record $850 billion in gross terms. Who will pay that off? Young people over the full term of their working lives. Last year I wrote about intergenerational inequities in the South Australian context but the same applies nationally.

The Australian economy is in the most perilous position since the Great Depression.



There are two biological problems here: we don't know if people who have recovered from Covid-19, have gained immunity or if they have, is it strong enough to battle a second infection?

Even if herd immunity was successful, lockdown would never end for high-risk groups, such as the elderly, those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma.

I fall in to that category too at 61 years of age with chronic kidney disease. They would need to remain cloistered in their homes until a vaccine was developed.

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About the Author

Malcolm King is a journalist and professional writer. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University in Adelaide. He runs a writing business called Republic.

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