The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Get rules,message right

- By Dean Lawson J. Mcinerney Horsham

e’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 publicheal­th 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.

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.

SIR, – Re: a letter from Brian R. Basham, The Weekly Advertiser 20-10-21.

In my opinion, some of those proposed new local laws for your shire are really not that bad. For instance, leaking downpipes can lead to white-ant problems and there are not many city councils that condone more than two dogs per household.

Twice in the past month I have had to endure tasting spray drift – probably Roundup – from nearby properties and not for just five minutes either, and then some time ago, the most disgusting smell from a neighbour’s septic. Complainin­g to my shire was a useless exercise.

Be thankful yours is a progressiv­e council that hopefully has the interests of the wider community and the environmen­t in mind; after all, we are 21 years into a new century but by some standards, 21 years behind the times.

We have had similar local laws in place here for 10 years, but you might just try taking a Google-walk in my area before you consider complainin­g. Catherine Selwood Miram

SIR, – Regional hospitals in Victoria are fast becoming first-aid outposts to a central hospital because they can’t attract staff.

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