In April, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced he would be releasing an economic statement in June. In June, he put out a press release informing the nation he would be releasing the statement in July, because there was a review of JobKeeper under way, and because the economy was re-opening faster than expected. In other words, for brightly optimistic reasons. The nation felt hopeful.
Two weeks ago, I drove to Bundanoon. I switched off my phone, ignored news. Three days later, looking at front pages I’d missed, listening to radio, checking into group chats, it was clear the national mood had fast become grim. Now it is grimmer still.
There have been concrete changes for Victorians, devastating for those already struggling financially or emotionally. But what has changed even beyond Victoria is the visceral recognition that what felt like a brief phase of our lives – even when we nodded wisely at each other and said the opposite – won’t be brief at all. This is the environment into which Frydenberg will, at last, deliver his statement.
Even the past fortnight has hurt, economically. Borders are shutting again; so is Victoria. In NSW, the government is adamant the state won’t lock down, but lots of people aren’t convinced, which is having divergent effects. As individuals, we are realising that the earliest phase of this pandemic, when many of us were sharing experiences, has passed: at some point our lives separated.