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Nobody would deny that here in the west we have had a smoother run with COVID than the rest of the country, but it’s still had an impact. Snap lockdowns have closed businesses, families have been separated by border closures, medical treatments delayed.

I feel like we’ve lived with low-level, COVID-induced anxiety constantly running in the background of our minds; draining our battery like that one app on your phone you never use, but can’t delete for some reason.

And now what? February 5 is looming and details about what the border opening will mean for day-to-day life are still sketchy. From a distance it seems like we will now just be letting COVID wash over us.

Of course, we now have more tools at our disposal than those early days. Vaccines, better knowledge of transmission, masks. Excellent. I find it perplexing that the very things we were crying out for in early 2020 are now what people complain about and question using, but most of us are on board.

I’ve been watching NSW closely and wonder if that’s what we are in for? Following NSW-based friends on social media shows a strange contrast between people living life like in the before times and others choosing a more lockdown vibe. And that’s as they are recording 25,000 cases a day! When you’ve lived in a state that locks down with one case it is really hard to process.

And then there’s the health system. State premiers all over the country insist things are tickety-boo and coping fine. Health care workers: “Help us, we are tired.” I even heard one real estate expert on the radio predict the popularity of houses in the suburbs surrounding Fiona Stanley Hospital will rise as, “Burnt out doctors and nurses will want to live close to work.” Sheesh — what a dark forecast!

I fully support and comply with government measures (I believe some conspiracists call this being a ‘sheeple’), I’ve watched more press conferences than Netflix in the last two years and don’t for a second think I could do a better job. However, as a voter one thing really ground my gears was the celebration of a surplus when the budget was revealed in September 2021.

If you have money in the bank, but a flailing health system on the brink of stepping into a pandemic, please fix that. Not with big-figure announcements of strategies that will take years to have an effect, but immediate solutions. We haven’t all done the right thing for two years to buy the state and federal governments time to be prepared for them to…not be prepared.

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