There's a sickness more virulent than coronavirus and it's the PM's job to stop it

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There's a sickness more virulent than coronavirus and it's the PM's job to stop it, writes Peter Hartcher

Fear kills confidence. And when confidence evaporates, commerce suffers. So does social trust as suspicion runs amok. Fear- central today is China. Reports have emerged of Chinese villages where residents go house to house to purge any outsiders and warn against accepting returnees.

Notably, even China's top court has criticised the Wuhan authorities and vindicated eight whistleblowers who tried to send out warnings. An article published by the Supreme People's Court last week said: “It might have been a fortunate thing if the public had believed the ‘rumours’ then and started to wear masks and carry out sanitisation measures, and avoid the wild animal market.

This virus - any virus - cannot in itself harm the Australian economy or Australia's social fabric. In an average year, some 3500 people die of the seasonal flu in Australia, according to the Influenza Specialist Group. Yet the economy sails on every time, and the great achievement of Australian multicultural harmony continues. The damage will come not from the virus but the fear. The case for action by the federal government action is clear.

The economic harm that can be estimated from the mechanical inter-connections of the lost activity will be temporary and manageable. If fear continues to grow, any downturn will be made worse. Second, the national government needs to stem the fear and suspicion of Chinese people, and even anyone who might be mistaken for being Chinese. Australia has a deep national investment in the wellbeing of its 1.2 million Chinese Australians.


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'If Scott Morrison is smart ... ' - aye, there's the rub, ScottyfromMarketing is rat-cunning but not smart

The virus of apathy that is intrinsic to COALition. PeterHartcherAO

Personally - having been very sick last year - I wish more people would wear a face mask in public

Fear is a bad advisor. But humans' fear is obviously an advantage during evolution. China data are Not trustworthy. China' basic healthcare is better than in US or Germany incl. building hospitals within 8 days. Far too early 4 premature 'knowledge' to downplay coronavirus

Fear kills confidence . Which has a toll on consumer,business and broader economy/society .

Is it the incapability of the media to fairly and with out leftist bias reporting!?!?!?


Peter Hartcher is totally wrong here. The death rate vs survival rate cannot be determined based on current sick individuals. 17,000+ sick 362 dead 536 recovered The 17,000 are still sick, neither dead nor recovered.

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