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(Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

Is there anyone in the community, or in business, who actually understands the new lockdown rules announced by Scott Morrison last night?

Ten mourners for a funeral but five people at a wedding (two weddings for a funeral?).

You can’t get your nails done — by the original face mask wearers — in nail salons, but you can get your hair done.

Outdoor exercise classes are OK but outdoor play centres aren’t.

Food markets? OK. Food courts? No.

Schools remain open but no kids’ birthday parties or BBQs, please.

And essential workers should continue going to work. “If you ask me who is an essential worker? Someone who has a job,” said Morrison. “Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker. Every single job that is being done in our economy with these severe restrictions that is taking place is essential.”

To steal another movie reference, you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Above all, “stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary that you go out” says Scott Morrison.

But shopping malls remain open, albeit without food courts to sit down at. And this morning, Telstra spammed everyone with a government message that said “stay home if sick” (just in case you were wondering). So should we go out or not?

OK, sure, we’re in an unprecedented crisis, and the government’s graduated response approach has necessarily complicated its messaging.

But last night was shambolic. There appears no rhyme or reason to the radically different approaches adopted for marginally different cases. Nor were they explained effectively by Morrison or by Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy.

This is immensely difficult and they’re undoubtedly doing their best while working very hard for long hours. They deserve our support regardless of your political views. But the stakes are too high to stuff up.

Morrison chided a journalist — miscreant Andrew Probyn yet again incurred the prime ministerial wrath — for using language that would “cause unnecessary alarm among parents” when Morrison was the one simultaneously saying stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary and telling people to take their kids to school.

Murphy insisted “there is no evidence that we have major transmission amongst school children” but also insisted teachers with chronic diseases “shouldn’t be in schools”.

The one thing we thought we could count on from Scotty From Marketing was good communication.

It’s been the basis of his success as prime minister.

But now that he has to communicate nuance — and policy measures that have literally been drawn up by committee and therefore suffer from inconsistency, arbitrariness and hair-splitting — his communication skills have vanished.

He has to explain not just the measures but the rationale for the measures — rather than simply insisting that it was what the National Cabinet had devised.

At this point, the graduated response approach is becoming redundant. We’re as near as damn it to full lockdown. Who doesn’t believe we’ll reach that point in the next week?

Maybe, by some stroke of mathematical luck, the curve will “flatten” (anyone else fed up with that phrase?) in the next couple of days, and Morrison’s approach will be vindicated.

I hope like hell that turns out to be right. But governments are creating widespread confusion. The AIGroup’s Innes Willox issued a pointed media release this morning calling for a proper definition of essential services, in contrast to Morrison’s “you’re essential, and you’re essential and you’re essential! We’re all essential!” act.

I thought Morrison’s graduated response made sense. It doesn’t seem to any more. And it always relied on Morrison and all his colleagues leading the states and territories being able to accurately and effectively communicate what they were doing and why. There’s been precious little of that in recent days.