Rest assured that chaos at the start finds it in almost-total chaos at the end (an economy growing at 3% in December Quarter, one of the few saving graces.
China is still in full-blown attack mode A billion $AUD-worth of export coal still stranded off the China coast for the past six months, forbidden to unload because the Chinese Communist Party has decided to not allow performance of the contract with Australia. Thankfully, the local political and commercial interests deep in thrall to China, (corporations, universities with propaganda units, politicians and even a state political party, the Victorian Australian Labor Party which had signed up to the Belt and Road initiative), have been relatively silent for a few months now.
The economy seemed to stagnate prior to this latest announcement of good growth in the past quarter, but some states – importantly the largest state, New South Wales, had a government which has motored on without enforcing stringent Covid clampdowns when only minimal ones were necessary. Its large economy worked on unhindered to a large extent. The provincial states which had shut borders completely to other states whenever it seemed that 4 or five Covid cases appeared anywhere in a major capital city, kept Australia feeling like a collection of petty provinces claiming to be a nation. In spite of that, the economy still grew at 3.0 % in the December 2020 quarter!
The commodity-dominated Australian economy still has major challenges ahead, with longevity of current very high iron ore prices coming under challenge soon and the risk of trouble elsewhere being a risk to a “growing future”. Be warned, when China brings on iron ore supply from its bought-and-paid-for African , that very valuable Australian export to China will suffer its greatest blow.
Local politics has been dominated by the Virus, talk/demands for vaccines, vastly-differing grades of caution/protection against the virus in various states. One, Victoria, suffered a shutdown for months at one time and still lives on a hair trigger response to single cases in the community (mainly through some government negligence) yet no matter how minor or seemingly confined to a small area, the government there has a habit of closing the whole state down and enforcing a very strict hard lockdown, even on its rural citizens. Other minor states also close borders and act as an old-fashioned Iron Curtain country with border barriers and (unarmed) guard posts. At least the vaccine is finally here and there might be a light at the end of the tunnel IF (and only if) these governments get out of their so-far ruthless attitudes to control over citizens. They have a worrying habit of following dubious (to me) prophets such as Dr Tony Fauci in the USA who claims that no vaccine will stop us having to separate and wear masks etc for over another year. Bill Gates and co, of course, claim that it will be years before we can go back to any sort of normality. Still, with more and more states being forced to accept that the era in which they controlled our every move is coming under pressure to open and give us our freedoms back, there are still challenges ahead to convince them to do so.
With incumbents solidly popular here because of their virus crackdowns in the “black plague-era” panic seeming to make some people feel comfortable, the threats to small business are still real enough, but in different places are coming back to normal. NSW as the largest state is very open but in some smaller states they have locked down too long, state barriers have ruined some of their tourist trade and, in view of what has been called lockdown-overkill, (sudden shutdowns often giving only 8 – 12 hours notice of a border closure) has meant that many thousands of potential tourists have not risked being subject to one whilst visiting.
Political Insiders and a Canberra sex bubble burst again
The biggest political issue/scandal has been a revival of a recurring theme: Sexual assault allegations within the political and political-media class in the national capital. In Canberra, high-political energy young people as political staffers, junior and senior members of parliament and political bureaucrats, sometimes joined with but always watched by the attached political media makes for a strong booze and politics brew. With politics ruling over everything (in this writers opinion), one can never expect consistency. A Bill Clinton free-pass attitude can sometimes appear, depending on the politics of those involved.
In this fractured Me Too era though, where the women’s movement claims a uniform and No Quarter response to allegations against women, it is known worldwide to be flexible at certain times. That was the case in the US where the Harvey Weinstein predator forced them to act as if they would support women unhesitatingly – for now – but it soon started causing regrets in relation to certain people they liked politically (eg Al Frankin).
Here in Australia, a 2021 claim of rape of a young staffer by another staffer in 2019 caused a huge outcry amongst all the womens groups and segments of the press (especially the political press of course) all (naturally) demanding full punishment of the accused. (victim and accused were from the conservative-leaning Liberal party. That is still playing itself out and, as more victims of various sexual assaults come out, a cluster of allegations surrounding one suspect was seen to grow.
Then the big one happened, an allegation dating to 1988 (when the minister was 17) was alleged in an anonymous letter carefully sent to various people who were not of the Porters party but none of them hit the media with it. So, after some months (often many months, over a year later) they went public. However the victim who alleged the rape was dead, a suicide who had talked about a complaint but formally told New South Wales Police that she did not want to pursue it and soon afterwards took her own life. The matter has been closed by the police with an “insufficient evidence” ruling by them. That wasn’t enough for either the political media or the opposition party the Australian Labor Party
Although a previous leader of the ALP had been similarly accused from even further back in his life, the politicians and their media kept total silence and, when the police said that there was insufficient evidence in that case, he outed himself, was asked 9 questions about it and there was just silence after that. Here, though, the shrillest of demands were (and are still being) made for an inquiry as, one put it, “to see if he was fit to stay as Attorney General”!. That is Australia and its political class as of 6 March 2021.Follow