By Joel Fitzgibbon
22 April 2020
Saturday is ANZAC Day. We will not gather, we won’t lay wreaths, we won’t be witness to the tears and the strain on the faces of our Veterans. We won’t appreciate first-hand the power of the bugler’s emotion-piercing note.
But we will remember them, we will honour them, and we will thank them. Our pause will still be solemn and our appreciation just as strong. We’ll just be doing it more privately than usual and I’m sure our Veterans will still wear their medals with justifiable pride. Lest We Forget.
China has missed a great opportunity. Over the last two decades it has proven itself capable of emerging as an economic superpower and one capable of working within the rules-based global order. But what’s been missing has been the level of transparency needed to build trust amongst global partners, and the Coronavirus was an opportunity to improve its relationship with Western nations. But it appeared to do the opposite, which has seeded suspicion and further undermined trust. Subjecting itself to an international and independent review of its performance would provide a new opportunity and China should take it.
Of course, China is Australia’s largest trading partner, buying huge amounts of our iron ore, coal and agricultural product. It will be a good outcome for Australia if China can demonstrate that it’s learned from any mistakes made.
The world Health Organisation (WHO) will also be served well if its leaders allow the international community to closely examine its performance. The Coronavirus hit us quickly and dramatically, and no leader or organisation will make it to the other side of this crisis mistake-free: not Scott Morrison, not Boris Johnson and certainly not Donald Trump or Xi Jinping.
WHO has served the World well since 1948. The eradication of Polio and Smallpox are amongst its many achievements. So too is its management of the Ebola crisis. We absolutely need a WHO and the international community must continue to fund it. However, it must submit itself fully to a review of its performance, both what it has done well and what it could have done better.
Our local communities have responded admirably during the crisis. People are helping one another, we are largely respecting social-distancing rules, and people are shopping locally where possible to help keep our small to medium businesses alive. We can be proud of our collective behaviour. If there is a positive out of the crisis it’s the confirmation of our community spirit. Well done people.
Another positive has been the reminder this crisis has provided on the importance of our coalmining industry to the national economy. The resources sector has kept our economy alive, if not well.
If the growth in new infections continues to decline it is possible governments will begin to ease restrictions in coming weeks. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and, in the meantime, keep doing what has been working. It’s been tough for all of us and I can see light at the end of the tunnel.