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Issue #1908      March 23, 2020

Editorial

Capitalism V. Socialism: CORONAVIRUS

Some health experts warn that Australia has yet to see the worse of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), now dubbed a pandemic. However, since the beginning of March, China is reporting the lowest number of new cases since they started to release figures in January. On the other hand, across Western Europe, the Americas, and Australasia, the pandemic has worsened. Here, the inevitable question arises: Are socialist countries better equipped at handling crises? If so, why?

To start: the pandemic is thought to worsen here because we have yet to enter winter, unlike the northern hemisphere, where the Coronavirus spreads a lot more effectively. Thus, with the foresight of how dangerous COVID-19 could be, what has Australia done? For the most part, it has done little. It was only last week when the gravity of the situation hit the Morrison government that measures were drawn up – a typical response from a government that has been reactive, rather than proactive. The first measure is a stimulus package worth $22.9 billion, is virtually worthless. Of the $22.9 billion, only $4.8 billion is directed to our most needy, who will receive a one-off $750 payment. Those entitled include Newstart recipients, disability support pensioners, those on carers’ allowance, youth allowance, veterans support payments, family tax benefits, those with Commonwealth senior health card-holders, aged pensioners, and casual workers. However, as many have noted, the one-off payment hardly helps.

A spokesperson for the Disabled and Neurodiverse Workers’ Alliance (DNWA) stated: “$750 doesn’t cover the expenses of the healthcare that people with chronic illnesses or disabilities need. Instead, we need a raise in Newstart, to scrap the plans to abolish sickness allowance, and make the Disability Support Pension (DSP) more accessible.”

Additionally, to highlight how inadequate the stimulus package is, the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) started the hashtag #My750 with many people tweeting that the payment would immediately go to existing debt rather than stimulate the economy.

Last Monday, the Morrison government stated that state leaders need to start to implement bans on mass-gatherings over 500 people, except for schools, universities, and airports. Conveniently, this ban occurred after a Hillsong conference that happened over the previous weekend – exposing where the PM’s interests and concerns lay.

However, is this measure enough, given that we see several Western countries, like the Netherlands, completely shut down outside of a few essential stores like pharmacies?

Let us Juxtapose our government’s response to China’s. Almost as soon as COVID-19 became identified, China’s response was rapid. It built whole hospitals within weeks and Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first reported, was wholly locked down. Many were sceptical of the reporting coming from China, including those in at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and surprised to find the reports were accurate. WHO stated: “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic,” adding, “This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real.”

What is perhaps even more revealing of socialism in action is China’s international humanitarian aid to COVID-19. With Italy being the worst effected European nation, China has stepped up to help where other European countries won’t. China has sent medical experts and doctors, as well as medical supplies to help the COVID-19-stricken country through this rough period.

Much like the bushfire crisis that plagued Australia earlier this year, the Morrison government’s response is lacking. The Communist Party of Australia sees the sluggish response by our government as “largely as a consequence of the failure of capitalism to solve any crisis.” We must make sure to stand in solidarity with all health professionals and the rest of the working-class. We must maintain the pressure on our government to act!

Next article – COVID-19 and the CPA

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