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EDITORIAL: Get COVID-19 rules, message right

We’ve rounded the bend for the run home in the fight against COVID-19 and we’re now pondering how best to develop and modify responses to meet similar threats in the future.

While the war against a nasty virus isn’t over, indications are that we are in a good position to ultimately prevail, to an acceptable level at least, and try to get on with our lives.

But what should society management or governance look like when confronted with any ongoing national or state public-health emergencies?

That’s a primary subject of debate raging across Victoria this week with the State Government outlining a bill to permanently replace the current State of Emergency, expiring on December 15.

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As a society that prides itself on and spruiks the ideals of democratic process, while at the same time demands immediate, appropriate, efficient and effective responses to emergencies, this debate is critically important.

Getting this aspect of governance right is in establishing a balance – where the majority of people are comfortable with how the rules meet ideals of both positions.

One of the great enemies of getting such a formula or equation to a point of general acceptance are the vagaries of language and how easy it is to be loose, lazy, naïve, arrogant or assumptive in passing on details to diverse communities.

If a lack of transparency is the ultimate enemy in the democratic process, then ambiguity in direction and messaging runs a close second. 

What we’ve experienced in the past 18 months should have provided a lesson to all Australian leaders, at all levels, about the dangers of ambiguous direction.

In colloquial parlons, we often refer to this idea of getting everything right before presenting it to broader audiences as ensuring we cross the Ts and dot the Is. But it is more than that.

It is about being clever enough to not only understand a myriad of contexts that might appear, but also conveying a message to everyone that cannot be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or, importantly, used for political advantage through ‘spin’.

Language represents the greatest of weapons in any fight and getting it right leads to winning the people.

The entire October 27, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire October 27, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!