While all that is solid melts into air in these times, there is a complementary process in which new entities emerge.

State governments were sluggish to respond to the clash of loss of income, and the drain that dead rent payments would make on the newly unemployed.

Now, as renters have started to organise unilateral payment suspensions, governments like Tasmania’s Liberal (insert today’s premier here) government have organised rent moratoriums to get ahead of the process. 

That is happening all over the joint, as the centre-left shows itself to be so timid in calling for anything resembling radical measures that they are repeatedly gazumped by the right.

In the UK, for example, the Tory government had dealt with rough sleeping homelessness by requisitioning hotels to get people entirely off the streets. There is obvious self-interest involved. The homeless are more likely to catch COVID-19 and develop serious symptoms because of comorbidities, such as unmanaged diabetes and chronic bronchitis.

And we know that florid cases of infected become supers-spreaders. So not exactly Francis of Assissi stuff in ensuring that everyone else gets less coughed on.

But at least they’re doing it. Here we’re playing catch up. The Vic government — which should be the cutting edge of transformation — has announced $6 million to “reduce” rough sleeping and homelessness. Reduce.

We don’t want to reduce it, we want to abolish it!

The same sluggish response is occurring in relation to family violence. I cant find any announcement by the Andrews government on material measures regarding COVID-19 and family violence.

Yet we know for certain that family violence will go through the roof, as women and children are locked down with their abusers, and as the frustrations of such increase the number of violent men (yes, yes crazy Aunty Bettina, and some women too). 

The obvious answer to both problems is block-booking hotels in the first instance. But in the case of Melbourne and other big cities, we can simply requisition some of the thousands of apartments left vacant as investment properties, and use them for rapid transfer accommodation. 

The rough sleeper issue is easy in principle, though right-shifted Labor governments don’t much care whether rough sleepers live or die — and only the possibility that they will become super-spreaders may prompt action.

These governments need to be pushed to do what they’re loathe to do: provide good accommodation for the homeless.

I’m shocked but not surprised how little militancy there has been from most of the usual family violence campaigners, and how little interest appears to be shown in what could be achieved in this crisis. 

Let’s be clear about this: in locking down thousands of women and children with their violent abusers, we are increasing their risk of injury and death far greater than we would under their continuing exposure to COVID-19.

As layoffs increase, sending violent people home, and as there is nowhere to go to get out of the house to get away from it, the chances of escalation — angry behaviour becoming violent, violence becoming maiming violence, to an upward blip in the DV homicide rate – are 100%. If lockdowns continue for months, the rise will be significant.

What should obviously be demanded is a new ultra-rapid transfer system in which 100, 200, however many apartments are requisitioned and fitted out for a same-day transfer of family violence victims.

We know which apartments have been vacant for 12-plus months; the owners can be paid a small service fee. They didn’t need private rents previously, there’s no reason the state should pay them now.

No complex legal process, no AVOs; just get women, children and pets out of there. Or transfer the men (though that, as is sometimes advocated by DV advocates, can incentivise violence).

Why isnt this being advocated? Why, after years of banging on about respect and equality, has the issue had a couple of mentions, and then gone quiet?

The question is the answer of course. The family violence/violence against women stuff was so loaded with culture war imperatives that now that culture wars are in abeyance, and material politics has reemerged, a lot of people have nothing to say.

What has been a pretty bourgeois movement is so timid about property issues that it seems willing to miss not only the current moral imperative to get something like this happening, but also the opportunity presented by this emergency: to assert that the state has an obligation to have total capacity to re-house victims of violence, safely and rapidly, in liveable, comfortable accommodation without triage or rationing. 

Given the Andrews government’s rhetoric on such matters, we’ll see if Andrews, Richard Wynne and Jill Hennessy are willing to lead the way on this new challenge and opportunity (or get gazumped again by a flexible right-wing government).

Or if, with respect, it was all just talk about respect.