“Here’s the really big question: who will be first to produce the effective vaccine, once the first version fails to turn the tide? I like to think it will be Queensland Uni combined with Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute,” writes “The Gadfly” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN.

COLUMNISTS love peering into the future, especially when their readers are in a tough spot. Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. 

Robert Macklin.

And if we get it wrong, almost no one remembers; they’re much more concerned with the next prognostication. Just ask the astrologers.

So here’s a few thoughts from our Tuross retreat, based on the current state of play and looking, I hope, on the bright side of life.

Education: Every mum and dad who has spent months “homeschooling” will have fallen in love with teachers. In fact, when classes finally resume, little Jane, Johnny, Ahmed and Weilian, will bring big posies of flowers to class.

Health: Doctors, nurses, ambos and other health workers will be honoured with a National Memorial in Canberra. A massive campaign will arise for a free National Health Service like the UK; private health cover will be abandoned in favour of a bigger Medicare levy (and about time, too). 

Travel: All those years of smaller aircraft seats, knee-room and cattle-class service – and the ludicrous salaries of top executives – mean that henceforth we’ll all prefer trains. Public demand will force improved rail links and new ones between cities, towns and the coast (such as Canberra to Batemans Bay.)

ALL THOSE MASSIVE CRUISE SHIPS WILL BE CEREMONIOUSLY SUNK TO PROVIDE ARTIFICIAL REEFS FOR FISH AND FISHERS. AS THEY SINK, THE APPLAUSE FROM AUSTRALIA ALONE WILL BE HEARD IN DEEP SPACE. 

Welfare: Newstart will stay above the poverty line forever (or until we forget).

Grooming: Long hair will be “in” until the vaccine, then “crew cuts” and “cropped” will be de rigueur (and that’s just the women).

Reading: Many “self-isolating” hours will be spent rediscovering books. Authors will take the place of the celebrity chefs. But only briefly. Like the chefs, their products are tastier than the producers (though sometimes with writers it’s the other way around.)

Australian politics: There will be a rush to the polls to chuck out the incumbents. Poor Gladys is history. Scotty from Marketing might have given it his best shot, but he started with a trust deficit and all those early mixed messages from the bushfires and the pandemic will never be forgotten. A tourism and treasury guy, he cared as much about economics as health, and the voters put survival first by a country mile. (And he left Albo out of the “National Cabinet” to comment from the sidelines, constructively, of course.) 

International: Emperor Xi Jinping will ride high for a while, but the second wave of Covid-19 will mean the end of him and a period of chaos comparable to the Warring States (475-221 BC) before a new emperor ascends the Dragon throne. Europe will fracture then reunite in a different form. India will collapse; and no one even thinks about Africa.

America: Joe Biden is an obvious Covid-19 candidate; and after they carry a squealing Donald J Trump out of the White House, your guess is as good as mine. 

Vaccine: Here’s the really big question: who will be first to produce the effective vaccine, once the first version fails to turn the tide? I like to think it will be Queensland Uni combined with Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute. But that just shows how subjective predictions are. “The wish,” they say, “is father of the thought”. Even the astrologers know that.

robert@robertmacklin.com

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