“While we have turned Australia upside down for one tragedy, we’ve done virtually nothing for the other,” writes “The Gadfly” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN.
HORRIFIC as it is, the C-19 pandemic does have compensations, perhaps the most remarkable being the sudden revelation of our amazing capacity for change.
All this time, our political and social systems have herded us into separate, ever-narrowing conservative and progressive pathways, with barely a tunnel (let alone a bridge) between them.
We’ve come to believe that this is the way of the world; we’ve even made a virtue of it, this centrist doctrine that trumpets the same old same old such as the silly dirge we call the national anthem and the ridiculous nonsense of an English aristocrat as our head of state (how nutty is that!).
But overnight, it seems, we’ve watched in wonder as an entire continent has transformed its modus vivendi. Together, a conservative federal government and progressive state premiers and chief ministers – with the genuinely constructive assistance of the federal opposition – have nationalised great swathes of industry and the health system to the applause of the nation.
They’ve even closed the beaches and the footy ovals without the people taking to the streets (which are pretty much off limits anyway).
And why? Well, it’s to save lives. Nothing more important than that.
So here’s my question. Why have we not taken the opportunity to save the lives of the women being murdered in their homes by the vile bastards who shelter under the euphemism of “domestic violence”?
In the old days – “Pre-C” – these murders were occurring at the rate of one a week. That is, each year more than 50 women were bashed, hacked to death or set alight, often in front of their children, by a male murderer.
There are no new Australian figures, but since the arrival of C-19 in France the incidence of “home violence” has risen by one third. There’s no reason to believe that we aren’t seeing at least the same increase in Australia. That brings the annual number of murder victims to about 70 in our land.
Coincidentally, at time of writing, the number of C-19 deaths stands at just under that annual figure for domestic murder; and while no one knows the cumulative figure it’s in the thousands. Yet while we have turned Australia upside down for one tragedy, we’ve done virtually nothing for the other.
In today’s world, more money for women’s refuges is wrong on every level. They should not be forced out of their homes, and certainly not to live in groups where the virus can so easily spread.
Regular readers will recall my “Gadfly” of several weeks ago when I advocated a new system of Apprehended Violence Orders, which involved naming and shaming perpetrators initially, then putting them in jail for breaches of the order. Now is the time to take them out of the home immediately and put them in a special facility until their cases can be heard.
It is not beyond the power of federal parliament to design an interim legislative Bill to bring such a system into force. And when we cross that post C-19 bridge that Scott Morrison talks about so hopefully, we can revisit the system and iron out the bugs.
But right now it’s urgent and C-19 has taught us that we have the power to make the change. Or is the murder of a woman somehow less important than a death by disease.