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Maybe it’s time we made stupidity a crime so we can properly punish these fools

Opinion

While the majority of Australians play their part in the fight against COVID, a privileged few are operating under their own rules, writes Madonna King

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When the most urgent threat in our lifetime is lapping at our front door, rules and laws and directives are important.

They provide the tools for those in power to fight the threat; in this case a pandemic that has already destroyed families and communities across the globe, and is now forcing the nation’s biggest city to shut up shop.

Rules that regulate the use of vaccines, and how they need to be administered.

Rules around visits to aged care homes and hospital wards to ensure the spread of COVID is minimised.

And the same goes for laws around imports and exports and travel and tourism.

Directives targeting funeral attendances and wedding dances, wearing masks and nightclub partying are authored to wage war on a disease that we are reminded daily cannot be underestimated.

So why are we so lenient on those privileged rule-breakers, who consider themselves exempt from the laws that apply to the rest of us?

In what world do four men, including the former boss of an ASX-listed company, believe it is fine to travel to Queensland aboard a luxury 34-metre super yacht, costing up to $18,000 a day?

For the record, they were not escaping lockdown to assist front-line workers at vaccine hubs, or to raise funds for our burgeoning homeless numbers.

According to authorities, they wanted to watch a rugby test match between the Wallabies and France.

And the penalty? A $4,000 fine each; just under 20 percent of the cost of hiring the yacht for a single day.

And our government says it’s cracking down on crime?

Of course it would be unfair to focus solely on them, when you have a bunch of (and I’m sure there is another name for a group of boys like these) footballers who flouted laws to hold a party.

Deliberately! Why else would they hide under beds or in cupboards or go racing down the street when caught out?

Short of making stupidity a crime, these St George Illawarra players have largely escaped scot-free.

A fine. A game suspension. And an invitation to all but a couple to play in the safety of Queensland for the rest of the season.

And we say we are tough on crime!

The same goes for Jai Arrow, who could have taken to the field to represent our State in last night’s State of Origin.

But unfortunately he struggled to cope with a team lockdown, without the company of an “unregistered guest’’.

“I know I have let a lot of people down, including my teammates, coaching staff and fans…’’ he said.

No Jai. You let down your State and your country. You let down our frontline workers and those scientists in labs tonight trying to call checkmate on this disease.

You let down fans. And you let down those who wouldn’t recognise you in a line-up.

And that’s where Jai Arrow belongs, along with his mates from St George Illawarra, and the rich listers, now taking up a hotel room, with their super yacht Dreamtime berthed and ready for their return.

But authorities – and particularly governments – have to take some responsibility here.

A false declaration? A breach of protocol? What about charges like endangering the lives of others?

And what about penalties that hurt? Confiscate the boat. Ban footballers for the year.

The problem here is that there has constantly been one rule for some and another for others.

From day one, celebrities were able to home quarantine, while the rest of us were packed into hotel rooms like sardines.

As Australians, we love larrikins and those who challenge the rules. But during a pandemic, and risking spreading this disease, is just simply reckless.

In these recent cases, it was the privileged – those able to afford a super yacht or those raking in six-figure incomes as footballer players – who saw themselves above the rules imposed on the rest of us.

Like those pleading for permission to give their mother one last kiss before she dies. And are promptly denied.

It’s cruel. It’s unfair. And it needs to change.

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