It is understandable that the continuing COVID-19 crisis in this country is causing rising – and sometimes extraordinary – stresses and strains on our way of life.
Almost every aspect of our normal existence has been adversely impacted in recent months by the consequences of the crisis in our economy, our health system, our educational and cultural lives, along with specific pressures on community and family.
The Australian nation has demonstrated co-operation, patience, understanding and resilience in responding to the demands imposed by the crisis which has won the admiration of social, economic and health experts and stands to the credit of how we as a nation have traditionally regarded ourselves.
But, we should all remind ourselves that the pandemic and its devastating effects still have some way to run – especially in the wider world.
There is no doubt that the examples of disadvantage and rising hardship will continue to emerge in the weeks ahead and the efforts of authorities to respond to every level of the crisis will often fall short. Tensions and reactions within the community are bound to rise.
It is therefore essential that ordinary people continue to do their very best to maintain the levels of patience, co-operation, community-mindedness, and compassion as our governments seek to steer us into safer waters in the months ahead.
Against this expectation of a continuation of a mood of national maturity and co-operative endeavour we have been faced with the unedifying example of what appears to be a pointless squabble between Australia and China over allegations relating to the origin and spread of the Novel Corona SARS virus we now call COVID-19.
At the international level it has been long understood that President Donald Trump, stung by the apparent failure of his administration to appreciate the dangers from the global spread of COVID-19, was fairly dogmatic in his assertions that China had, abetted by the World Health Organisation’s perceived China-friendly stance, been too slow in warning the world about the rapid emergence of the disease in that country.
President Trump’s blame-laying led eventually to the US pulling its funding from WHO.
On April 17 Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, said he felt the U.S. allegations against China should be pursued so the world could have ‘clarity’ on how the disease spread globally. China was outraged.
Mr Dutton’s remarks were supported by the Australian Foreign Minister Mrs Marise Payne. She called for a “review process”. China was outraged.
A succession of Australia political figures waded into the affair – perhaps in more moderate tones but still calling for an inquiry .
China’s outrage has continued. The Chinese ambassador to Australia suggested on April 26 that China may well review its trading arrangements with Australia as a result of the suggestions that China was somehow at fault.
So, a few injudicious remarks here and pointed suggestions there, and presto!, we have an international ‘misunderstanding’.
There is little doubt that it would be a mistake to ignore the Chinese unhappiness.
However, it is also quite reasonable and responsible for Australia – and other nations around the world to – to gain an informed, well-researched understanding of how and why the COVID-19 pandemic has developed.
The consequences, to date, have been frightful. Humanity needs to know how this monster got away and did so much damage so quickly.
It makes sense for China to offer full co-operation to an expert international investigation.
The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, using moderate language, has made it clear that “It would seem entirely sensible and reasonable that the world would want to have an independent assessment of how this occurred.”
Australia and China need to share some astute diplomacy to get relations back on track.
The world needs mature discussions in the present circumstances – not schoolyard spats.To order photos from this page click here