Wishing Jacinda Ardern was the Prime Minister of Australia is almost cliche. Her compassion, strength, leadership and resolve are welcome counter-points to the macho version of leadership we so often see.
In the middle of the COVID19 pandemic Ardern’s leadership is more obvious than ever before. On Tuesday evening Ardern addressed the people of New Zealand.
In a video of a little over two minutes she delivered a very clear message:
‘Reduce down contact between people to the bare minimum, essential services contact only. It means the simplest thing New Zealanders can to stop the spread of this virus is to stay home. That’s how we will save lives.’
She explained that everyone in the country owes a debt of gratitude to the workers who are essential – like police and health professionals – who have to continue in their roles. For everyone else the best way to repay that gratitude, she explained, is to stay home.
In less than three minutes she delivered the information New Zealanders need.
“Reduce contact, reduce risk, reduce spread.”
The same message applies here. It applies anywhere and everywhere when it comes to active COVID19.
A few hours after Ardern’s latest speech the Australian PM Scott Morrison delivered an update.
It was a lot longer and far less coherent. It was confusing and contradictory.
Initially, it seemed shopping centres would be closed as part of the new restrictions, but they’re not. Food courts are open only for takeaway. Ten people can gather outside for bootcamp, hair appointments of 30 minutes or less can proceed, weddings can only proceed for a handful of guests.
Birthday parties, dinner parties, social gatherings cannot take place. But schools will remain open so ‘essential workers’ can continue working. Who is an ‘essential worker’? Anyone with a job.
If clarity is the benchmark, this was a total train-wreck.
Listening to the PM like everyone here in Aust & what I understood was.
“It’s essential. Unless it’s not. Then it’s essentially not essential. I can’t be clearer” Plus people can buy a new shirt at a shopping centre ? WTF? PM just had a shocker. Surely should be in lockdown now
— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) March 24, 2020
I have never wanted our Prime Minister to succeed more than I do right now. I want him to stand up and take charge of the national response to this virus so that we will recover with a semblance of dignity. Where our communities aren’t decimated – financially or physically.
Ok – 10 people can mourn together .. 5 people can celebrate a wedding but if the bride intends to go on a runner .. for exercise … she can take 9 people with her. Glad we cleared that up @ScottMorrisonMP #COVID19
— Emma Alberici (@albericie) March 24, 2020
Last night the PM did not deliver. The smartest thing every Australian can do right now is follow the advice Ardern has issued to the people of New Zealand.
Stay home to save lives. Reduce contact. Reduce risk. Reduce spread.
It really is that simple. At least it ought to be.
Of course, until that is the official advice, it’s not that simple. Teachers and educators in many states of Australia are still expected to be teaching and caring. Employers may still be expecting employees to turn up to work where, ideally, right now they stay home.
To the extent you can follow the advice laid out by Jacinda Ardern, do. It will save lives. Limiting our physical interactions is critical.