COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
The nation’s debate about using lockdowns as a last resort in dealing with the pandemic seems to have gone over the heads of the NT Government.
Here the Punch and Judy (aka Gunner and Fyles) Show unfolds daily on TV and social media, in a presidential setting, flags and all. We’re told to listen carefully and do as we’re told as the place is locked down at the drop of a hat.
These Darwin staged performances make no provision for questions from Alice Springs based media. If they – as we have – ask questions by email this is the latest response to us: “Most of your questions have been addressed in the Chief Minister, Chief Health Officer and Territory Controller’s daily press conferences or the press releases on the coronavirus website.”
At least two of our staff keep a close eye on the COVID events. These are mostly questions to which Covidmedia would have the answers at their fingertips – or they should have.
They are questions to which we can expect precise and considered responses, not be told to trawl through endless reports, statements and recordings.
Our report yesterday raised issues ranging from how South Australia dealt with the mine workers issue (they did not lock down Adelaide) and how come another one could enter the NT unchallenged after spending a night in one of the most likely places to become infected, one of the now notorious quarantine hotels.
In all we asked some 20 question, including this: “Why has the sewage testing facility in Alice Springs not been installed much earlier in the 18 months – so far – of the pandemic?”
Not one answer. We are reporting on issues of life and death and this attitude is a disgrace.
“Sorry, I can’t talk right now” is a recent text response to a phone call from us. And that was it.
One of our reporters, Oscar Perri, had a COVID test three days ago, about the time the Alice lockdown was declared.
He still hasn’t got a result. Three days later he is still in isolation.
That makes a mockery of announcements by the government about COVID statistics. They are meaningless if they can’t get test results within three days.
And so we lose the year’s most social event, the Alice Springs Show, the two days when you run into people you haven’t seen all year, often since the last Show. The News always covers both days.
Was that cancellation really necessary? An event held mostly outdoors?