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Friday analysis: The impact of another state lockdown

The total hard lockdown in South Australia to help prevent a second COVID-19 wave was only going to last six days. But what an impact it had in just two. And we’re not talking about having to stay home and not walk the dog or play golf. Source: Bruce Mitchell

The lockdown had imposed greater impositions on the South Australian community – in particular the business community – than any other lockdown in Australia this year.

SA Premier Stephen Marshall stressed that to prevent the sort of situation that developed in Victoria, his State has to “go hard and go early”.

No problem with that at all. Shut up shop and isolate the problem.

The only problem was that the close contact linked to a suburban pizza bar which effectively led to the hard lockdown deliberately misled the contact tracing team.

“We know now that they lied,” Mr Marshall said.

The Premier and the Police Commissioner, to their credit, immediately began easing restrictions.

But the South Australian version of a hard lockdown did produce some anomalies.

This is not a criticism of the lockdown, merely an observation.

Exemptions to the lockdown were rare, and granted only to businesses deemed essential; food, fuel, medical services are the obvious exemptions.

But that term “essential” has got a lot of people scratching their heads.

While not attempting to trivialize the situation in any way, people could buy a bottle of wine from a bottle shop, but not the glass to serve it in, for example.

But of particular concern was the temporary closure of the State’s timber industry.

In Victoria’s lengthy lockdown the construction industry was permitted to keep operating, but in limited form.

But as the FTMA’s Kersten Gentle has written, the Green Triangle region supplies approximately 20% of our sawn softwood timber.

She quite rightly points out the impact of the Timberlink’s Tarpeena Mill and the OneFortyOne Mt Gambier Mill temporary closure is huge, and it could take months to catch up with the timber supply.

As Kersten says, if the SA lockdown had been extended for some reason the SA Government needed to recognise the importance of these mills staying opening for the Australian construction sector.

The Green Triangle was already under extreme pressure before the lockdown.

While China’s ban on timber imports from Victoria is having perhaps its greatest impact on Portland in the south west of the State, the bulk of the timber going through the port is from South Australia.

That of course matters very little to the Chinese.

As the great Leonardo DaVinci pointed out so long ago, everything connects to everything else.