Smoking is the new jogging.

Smoking has joined jogging as a legitimate form of exercise during the COVID-19 lockdowns because it requires smokers to remove their face masks in public places. According to strict lockdown rules, masks must be worn outside at all times unless a person is exercising, or for religious reasons.

“Smokers are smoking in public places all over the world during the pandemic,” stated the World Health Organisation (WHO), which awarded smoking its new status.

“They are removing their face masks in order to do so, and they are doing it so often, in every part of the world living through lockdown, that we had no choice but to declare cigarette smoking a form of exercise.

Had we not declared smoking a form of exercise, local authorities throughout the world would be forced to prevent people from smoking outdoors, and they appear extremely reluctant to do that.”

In many parts of the world, people are also allowed outside without a mask for religious reasons. While smoking is not a form of worship, it is one of the few vices allowed in devoutly religious societies, even those living under Sharia law.

Big Tobacco is delighted at the announcement.

“Now we don’t have to spend millions of dollars to lobby governments or to convince people that cigarette smoking is not potentially deadly to smokers, bystanders and the planet. If smoking is a form of exercise, it must be healthy. The WHO just saved us a fortune.”

Social commentators have long questioned the tolerance of smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic. They argue that cigarette smoking not only pollutes the air, but weakens the immune systems of smokers and passive smokers. If more people have weak immune systems, they claim, more people will be susceptible to COVID-19 and similar diseases.

This means people throughout the world could be in lockdown for even longer.

Image: Julia Engel

Delay, delay then save the day.

I think I figured it out. I discovered Scott Morrison’s strategy for dealing with crises. Delay, delay then save the day.

Let a crisis descend to a state of utter desperation then announce yourself as the saviour of the nation. Propose a solution which is not of your making and which should have been implemented long, long ago, and take all of the credit.

I can see this clearly now. I’m not a political strategist, nor even a keen follower of party politics, but even I can see the strategy.

Morrison announces a plan in such a way that state leaders are presented as the impediment to personal freedom and as the architects of restrictive lockdowns. This strategy is dependant upon doing nothing effective to solve the problem when it arises. The LNP did nothing to facilitate a coherent vaccination rollout. The federal government did nothing to manage nationwide quarantine facilities. The LNP did nothing to effectively manage the arrival of people from overseas.

COVIDSafe was an expensive waste of time. It failed.

Vaccination rollout was so slow the states took it upon themselves to create mass vaccination hubs.

So incompetent is the government’s response to the pandemic that it has to have been deliberate. Even if bumbling politicians are inept and out of their depth, some of their staffers, advisers and department heads are competent and capable of dealing with a crisis. Australia should not still be in lockdown, and waiting for vaccinations, in July 2021.

At some point since early 2020, the federal LNP must have realised that they were incapable of managing the response to the pandemic, and decided that the only way to save the public reputation of their leader was to let the crisis deepen, then swoop in at the last minute and claim to save the day.

The prime minister did just that. He recently gathered state leaders, then the mainstream media, and announced a plan for guiding Australia out of the COVID crisis. The announcement included promises to end lockdowns and open borders, and to have most Australians vaccinated in the near future. Once these measures are taken, Australia can return to some form of normal.

Australians are sick of lockdowns, Morrison promised to end lockdowns.

Australians want borders open, Morrison promised to open borders.

Australians want international travel to resume, Morrison promised to allow international travel.

He didn’t say exactly when. He didn’t say how. His advisors cleverly used vague language to hint at positive changes which will occur at some time in the future.

The announcement was made in such a way that it presents Morrison and the LNP government as the saviours. It dismisses the efforts of medical staff, state leaders and competent people within Australia who have worked behind the scenes day after day to prevent the deaths of thousands of people.

And it works.

The strategy works.

Many Australian people will see Morrison as their saviour. It helps to have the entire NewsCorp media network serving as your private propaganda network. It helps to have the mainstream media reprinting press releases and failing to hold the government to account. It helps to have the Murdoch press launch a sustained and personal attack on Victorian Labor Premier Dan Andrews, and to defend the actions of Liberal premiers and the federal government.

It helps to have a compliant media serve as chief distractor. During the pandemic, and the recent floods and bushfires, distractions were always at hand to draw people’s attention away from the current disaster. Morrison went missing at some point during all of these major crises, even famously escaping to Hawaii and inviting himself to a G7 summit. He said and did nothing in the midst of the crisis, then emerged triumphantly to do what he does best; hold a press conference.

He conveniently took credit for a massive seizure of illicit drugs in Australia. A drug bust carried out by police, but announced by Morrison. Australians were also conveniently distracted when the government announced a multi-million dollar upgrade to the War Memorial in Canberra, and when Morrison decided to change one word in the national anthem.

Morrison will now be seen as the man who ended lockdown. The man who opened the borders. The man who fixed quarantine. The man who got Australia back to normal. This could all have happened long ago if it were not for one man…Scott Morrison.

Image:www.gettyimages.com

Australia’s gone to the dogs. Part 3.

Australia has gone to the dogs. The nation is one of the world’s major drivers of climate change and is decimating its native wildlife and ecology, and is thus becoming an international pariah. The current government controls its gullible population with marketing spin, and education levels continue to decline. A tiny fraction of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and natural disasters arrive one after the other. But all Australians seem to care about are their dogs. Dogs are everywhere – in parks, beaches and cafes, and even public transport and libraries. This country has gone to the dogs.

Vaccine dogs

Dog lovers now have another Instagram account to follow. The account features pets accompanying their owners to COVID-19 vaccination centres in Australia. Sure, it’s a nice distraction from Australia’s shambolic vaccine rollout, which places the nation 101st in the world, but it distracts from the shameful reality. Only 2% of Australia’s population had been fully vaccinated at the time of writing this article, and the city of Melbourne has been plunged into yet another lockdown.

So incompetent is the current federal government in its handling of the pandemic, and the preceding bushfire crisis, that the prime minister’s popularity fell. In response, Scott Morrison was photographed with a cute little dog. 98% of Australia’s population are not vaccinated against a deadly virus, but the prime minister was photographed with a dog and his popularity has since increased. A sure sign of a gullible population. A sure sign of a country that has gone to the dogs.

But wait, there’s more…

Another prominent person was photographed with a dog. Tongan rugby league star Jason Taumalolo played his 200th NRL game for the North Queensland Cowboys recently, and the NRL/ Cowboys PR team arranged for his family to form a guard of honour as he ran onto the field. His dog was included in the guard of honour. An emotional Taumalolo rushed to pat and cuddle his dog (before acknowledging his wife and kids) and social media erupted with compliments for Taumalolo. They’re forgetting the time in 2016 that he was fined for throwing eggs at cars.

A dog’s breakfast

Cafes, beer gardens, picnic areas, barbecue areas, children’s playgrounds, sports grounds and beaches are overrun with dogs these days. Many of these places are officially off limits to dogs. In addition, most accommodation providers are pet-friendly, despite what PetCulture might think.

Strangely, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when patrons are required to check in, socially distance and use sanitiser, muddy, sweaty, dirty dogs are still allowed to sit next to, or on, the furniture at eateries throughout the country.

Mobile dogs

Dogs have even found their way onto public transport. Guide dogs have always been permitted on public transport, as they should be. Now therapy dogs, or companion dogs, are allowed on buses trains and ferries across the country. Sufferers of mental health issues can now bring their dogs with them, and dogs of any breed, size or temperament can be therapy dogs. Subsequently, inefficient, overcrowded, slow and outdated public transport has been further compromised to satisfy the owners of dogs.

A trip to the Sydney CBD recently highlights the problem. Two young adults boarded an overcrowded bus heading towards the city centre. The tattoos, attire, cigarette breath, vocabulary and general demeanour of the pair suggested a troubled past and a fondness for illicit substances. The dog was some kind of Pit Bull, Mastiff, Bulldog breed – short, muscular and aggressive. It appeared agitated and nervous and its presence clearly concerned the people sitting close to it. As I pondered how this breed classifies as a ‘therapy dog’, I heard the owners say that it had recently become a therapy dog, and that they were taking it to the local shopping mall,

“…to get used to people…”

The couple soon alighted, leaving the bus with the overpowering stench of a sweaty dog.

Image: Gabriel Crismariu