A message from the Prime Minister to all Australians
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My fellow Australians.
Tonight as I speak with you, we are at war.
This is not a metaphor I use lightly. As the leader you elected, I can only tell you that these are the most difficult words I will ever utter.
The enemy is not one we can see or understand well. We can’t tell you how long this war will last, or how many will die.
Given the right conditions, a viral pandemic is a ruthless and unforgiving enemy. A century ago, in some places the Spanish ‘Flu killed one third of the population.
But we can be pretty certain of the lessons of history, and the lessons we see in other countries right now.
So we know its potential, and we know that we do not know the full potential of Covid-19. Yet we must act to crush that potential, before it crushes us.
From watching other countries like Italy, and China, and the US, and the steady rise of the sick in this country, I have decided, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the best scientific minds we have, and with the consent and cooperation of the National Cabinet, to immediately implement the most prudent and bold measures necessary to protect Australian lives.
We’re going to try to get ahead of the curve. We know that we must physically isolate human beings from the contagion, and we must test, test, and test until we have it under control.
With immediate effect, I have ordered.
- The nationwide closure of all schools, and leisure, sporting, and social venues immediately.
- The closure of all shops and businesses apart from those on an emergency register whose work is vital to the functioning and good order of these new social conditions.
- Home-based social isolation for every citizen of this country, with the exception of those people tasked with protecting our well-being, nursing our sick, and keeping vitals such as electricity, food and water flowing.
- The enforcement of this measure through fines, policing and, when necessary gaol terms.
- The granting of special powers to small communities to manage and enforce their cordons sanitaires.
- The rapid training of a Federally-funded volunteer corp to support hospitals, medical centres, and prisons, because our frontline doctors and nurses will sicken and die, just like Italy’s.
- The building of emergency triage stations for the hundreds of thousands who will sicken and overwhelm available hospitals. I have asked the Chinese government for specialist advice in this regard.
- The commissioning of whatever medicine and alternative respiration devices are being made available by industry, patent agreement, and through the unprecedented cooperation of scientists and engineers throughout the world.
- The conversion by emergency regulations of those industries necessary to produce the machines and medicines vital to the health and well-being of the country.
- The transparent explanation of the calculations being used to make these whole-of-nation decisions, and the means to transmit those common messages to every adult and child in the country through the media.
- The appointment of a non-partisan spokesperson on all matters related to Australia's Covid-19 response, so that we can speak as one, and can be heard with confidence by all Australians.
- Special protection measures, including through the courts, to preserve the freedom of the press and human rights, to the maximum extent possible, even under these emergency conditions.
As your leader, I will do my best to describe and illustrate the rationale behind these decisions, and to keep you fully informed at all times.
These special measures will be discarded as soon as we have controlled the pandemic, and we are certain that our hospitals can handle anybody who lives on these shores, and who sickens.
In the best scenario, and once Covid-19 has been controlled in this country, we in turn will devote our national resources to help nations far less protected by natural good fortune.
We know from the examples set by our Asian neighbours that not only can Covid-19 be controlled with appropriate measures, but that relative normality and the beginnings of a fully functioning economy can be quickly returned.
This is a whole of society effort. Men, women, and children must all sacrifice. We will emerge a stronger nation, buoyed by our collective strength, by the grief we will certainly face together, and by our common humanity.
Goodnight, and be well.