A massive new burden of ill-health is being imposed on the population and it is falling mostly on the working class. After more than a century of (uneven) progress, the pandemic has caused life expectancy declines in 24 out of 26 countries for which high-quality statistics are available. Covid-19 is now one of the leading causes of death in Australia. More have died in Victoria than in any other state. Hundreds of thousands of people have suffered or are enduring long covid. Further, the rapid evolution of the coronavirus is creating new variants that evade the immune responses generated from vaccination or prior infection. Yet the government has abandoned almost all public health measures. This is grossly irresponsible.
What we think
- Governments have a responsibility to protect public health.
- The pandemic is not over: Covid-19 remains the greatest public health crisis in generations, and Australian governments, state and federal, have not managed it adequately or in the interests of the majority.
- Pandemic management measures should come at the expense of businesses and the wealthy and should reduce the burden on the health system while mitigating negative effects on the population.
What we'll fight for
- Legislate standards for safe indoor air through ventilation and filtration.
- Provide access to toolkits for ventilation assessments (e.g. CO2 monitoring).
- Audit the air-quality and ventilation in all aged-care facilities, hospitals, schools and public buildings and urgently address any shortcomings.
- Create an air-quality inspection unit of WorkSafe to enforce workplace compliance with minimum air-quality standards.
- Mandate annual elections of health and safety representatives in all workplaces, with funding for training and collective collaboration to make sure workers can impose covid-safe measures.
- Increase third and fourth vaccine dose rates and to vaccinate children.
- Expand access to scientifically proven treatments for Covid-19.
- Make P2/N95 masks free and distribute them widely.
- Make PCR testing and rapid antigen test kits free and easily accessible.
- Increase transparency in the reporting of cases, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19.
- Give people the right to work or study from home.
- Create a “pandemic pay” system that ensures workers do not experience economic hardship from long covid or lose wages when isolating.
- Build new quarantine facilities that are multi-purpose and can be used for pandemic management or temporary accommodation for people fleeing flood and fire zones.
- Fund research into long covid.
- Re-establish a public infectious diseases hospital.
- Create a publicly owned, not-for-profit pharmaceuticals manufacturer with the capacity to manufacture vaccines, including mRNA vaccines.