It’s Election Time! Oh Joy? Also, what happened to concern for others?

Three weeks from yesterday, will be Australia’s Federal election.

I’ve been running an informal poll on my patients at work. If the circumstances are appropriate, I ask one question: ‘Are you enjoying the election coverage?’

The responses are not as varied as I expected. Basically there’s one response. ‘Is this the best we can do?’

It’s a sad indictment on our national politicians when that’s the response to a simple question. Whether you’re a died in the wool Liberal Party (Conservatives in Australia) supporter, or a died in the wool Labor supporter (More towards the left, but not particularly far), then who to vote for has become a bit of an issues. Of course there are always those who’ll vote for the ones they always vote for, but for younger, or more concerned voters, it’s a bit of a dilemma.

Fortunately, we have a preferential voting system. If you’re not sure what that is, then follow this link to read about it. We have the opportunity to vote for minor parties and independents and still make our vote count in what usually comes down to a two horse race. And of course, independents and minor parties can hold the balance of power in parliament. It does depend on which independents or minor parties those are on whether you think that’s a good thing or not.

But when you vote, all I want to say, is please think about it.

In addition to the above response, the other responses I’ve had are ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if our politicians actually cared about things that are important to the community?’ and ‘This is what happens when we get ‘career politicians rather than people who truly want to serve the country.’

I’m under no illusions that any politician is going to read my blog, but on the off chance that they do, then I’d encourage them to consider that. I see about sixty people a week at work. And pretty well every single one of them has responded in the first way, with the addition of one or both of the other comments. Politicians of Australia, from major parties – You are not listening to the Australian people. And we perceive that as not caring about us. And we respond with cynicism. This is not good.

In addition, this week has seen the relaxing of ‘close contact’ restrictions in Australia. That means if you’re a close contact of someone with Covid, you can stay out and about. You are meant to mask, RAT every day, and avoid certain places, but this relies completely on trusting the individual. (And we all know how marvellously trustworthy individuals are.) Sure, I get that pandemic restrictions are inconvenient, but that’s exactly what they are – inconvenient. I also understand that lots of people will do the right thing in terms of masking and testing, but a fair chunk won’t.

And if you’re a close contact, then you have a much higher chance of getting Covid, and spreading it around before you’re symptomatic.

Two years ago, we here in Australia watched as some places in the world effectively let Covid spread. We were aghast at the loss of human life, and the ongoing illness. Today, sadly, we have the fifth highest rate of Covid infection in the world. We’re having 30 deaths per day across the nation. Which is at least 210 people per week dying from Covid. That’s more than one 737 aeroplane crashing per week.

I hear people say: ‘Oh, they were old, or had underlying health issues.’ But half of Australians have some kind of underlying health condition (heart conditions, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, COPD, autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes…it’s a long list and I’ll stop there). And does age make people worthless? Or cancer recovery? Or a heart murmur? Or rheumatoid arthritis? I have asthma. And I take medication for high cholesterol. Does that mean I don’t matter in those kinds of statistics? Shall we write off everyone over sixty-five? Or should it be seventy? Or perhaps eighty? My Dad worked into his seventies. Many people do.

The change to what is commonly now called ‘living with the virus’ has highlighted a shift in people’s perceptions of the pandemic. Some people mistakenly believe it’s over. Some think that just because Australia has a high vaccination rate, that we’re completely out of the woods.

Wrong.

I attended a webinar about a month ago. 47% of people who’ve had Covid struggle with post-Covid sequelae for the following 4-12 weeks. That’s a lot of people. There are a lot of sequelae. The list includes shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations, chest pain, brain fog, rashes, taste and smell issues, and more. And then there’s long Covid, which we’re still learning about.

And of course, the changes to contact rules don’t consider children too young to be vaccinated, people for whom vaccination doesn’t take, or the immunocompromised.

The biggest question I have is why aren’t we more concerned for our fellow human beings?

I get that mask wearing isn’t fun. (I do it at work for ten hours per day, and really enjoy taking it off at the end of the day when I step outside.) And that it’s really great to get together in big groups and have a good time. But concern for our fellow human beings should always trump minor inconveniences, such as mask wearing.

There are a couple of good articles about this. I’ll pop the links below. But really, we should think about these things, and remember our fellow human beings.

https://www.afr.com/policy/health-and-education/covid-19-still-runs-wild-but-neither-party-has-a-policy-about-it-20220428-p5agx4

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-01/covid19-federal-election/100992636

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-30/qld-covid19-coronavirus-data-cases-tolerate-deaths-australia/101024646

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