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AFTA Chief Executive Update

                         AFTA CEO Update - Tuesday 10 March

THERE is no question Australia and perhaps even the entire western world has gone into what I am calling the “CoronaComa”. While the situation with this virus presents everyone with a high degree of challenges, the most important point about this appears to be unreported; that is, the recovery rates of the virus and simple fact that this is a bad strain of the flu has missed the mark or the news cycle.

As a few people catch the virus and the news desk can’t wait to announce this as breaking news, the world goes on with people dying from all number of things at much higher rates and continue to live their lives in complete bliss, ignorant of the fact that we are all more likely to die of something other than COVID-19; thereby – we are all in a “CoronaComa”.

Over the weekend the Australian Woman’s Cricket Team played at the MCG and won. A big win for the T20 final and the entire Australian nation will be talking that up for years. With 86,173 people turning out to the MCG to watch this game, it was a very big event and an extremely large gathering of people all in one place.Each and every one of these 86,000 people have all gone about their business today in whatever walk of life they hold and no mention of this, no mention of any positive take on that fact. The result was of course amazing for both Australian women’s cricket and also amazing that so many people wanted to support the event by turning out for the game.As would be predicable we are faced with a consumer media frenzy about three people catching the COVID-19 flu and a few schools that got cleaned over the weekend.

A fist fight over some toilet paper and more hysteria over reactions by the media about the looming Armageddon and impacts of COVID-19. Last week I travelled to Europe (not Italy) and returned via Dubai. I then took a meeting with a big four accounting and advisory firm which has a travel ban in place for its partners and staff, such that if employee travels or passes through a list of places which includes Dubai, they are to self-isolate for 14 days. As I was meeting with the partner in question, I explained that I myself happened to have been in Dubai in the past 14 days and that there was no Federal Government directive in relation to bans or isolations for the UAE. My question therefore to this partner was – so how do you implement this company policy when meeting with clients? Answer – good point.

I raise this as it demonstrates how overreaction and ill-conceived company policies do nothing in real terms to stop the virus – in fact perhaps there is nothing that civilization can do to stop the virus. What we need to do is accept that it is just but one other thing we all need to live with and get on back to life as normal. In the past 12 months, 1,162 people have died in Australia from a car crash, 430 people died from influenza, and this year alone, 34 people have died from the fires.

Continued press conferences about COVID-19 and the dramatic slump in our economy seem to me to be completely disproportionate to the problem. Let us all hope that the Federal Government stimulus package to be announced this week in detail brings us out of this “CoronaComa” that we have all managed to fall into and we can start to see our economy and perhaps the world getting back to some kind of normal.