The short answer is that it could be worse. Obviously a pandemic is not a good thing and Australia’s main contribution to the world’s response was the embarrassing toilet-paper panic (whose only upside was as a boon for economists looking for metaphors).
New Zealand is still low on actual cases but is implementing a very drastic policy of asking any overseas visitors (except from Pacific island nations) https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12316692 There’s an announcement pending on mass gatherings. Meanwhile Australia has banned from Monday organised gatherings of 500 or more people (with some exemptions) and is asking people not to travel overseas.
Two events from the past are making the current Federal government less disappointing than they could be:
- The shambolic Federal (and Prime Ministerial) response to the summer bushfire crisis (oh so long ago now) led to very poor poll numbers for the government. You would think they wouldn’t needed that reminder to work out that you have to at a minimum seem to be proactive in a crisis but apparently the lesson was learned. Still less than perfect but Scott Morrison isn’t the hate figure he was in January.
- The 2007 general election. That election resulted in a Labor government under Kevin Rudd (who had his own severe personality flaws). What that meant was that when the GFC hit Australia went with stimulus rather than austerity. Australia weather the crisis better than most, much of which was due to minerals and China but stimulus helped (not surprisingly because it really should). That led to the received wisdom in Australia that in a crisis the government should spend money. Yes, they should spend more than they are planning but at least they aren’t doing the opposite.
Less good news is that there is currently a shortfall of testing kits but in the cities at least, dedicated covid-19 clinics have been established. Workers on casual contracts losing shifts because of people not going out or because they are unwell or have to self-isolate are being hit hard even though some government benefits can be accessed.
Smaller coastal communities in Australia were heavily impacted by the summer bushfire crisis. Naturally they had hoped for some economic boost from autumn tourism but now they are faced with a general economic downturn and the dilemma of tourists being a possible vector for a viral infection in communities with less access to healthcare.
In the meantime, keep washing your hands and being nice to people.