(Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

Taken all in all, the response of Australia’s governments to COVID-19 has been well-judged and (at least so far) relatively successful. Borders were closed before the numbers of incoming cases became unmanageable, and we got to lockdown (or Level 3) before community transmission got out of hand.

Messaging, on the other hand, has been a fiasco. We’ve had statements that restrictions such as school closures are counterproductive, followed only a few days later by the imposition of those very restrictions. Precautions such as widespread testing and facemasks were said to be unnecessary and unhelpful, when the truth was we didn’t have enough test kits or equipment to follow the most protective policies.

The confusion has been even greater in relation to policy objectives. Terms like "herd immunity", "flattening the curve" and "eradication" are being bandied about, with no clear idea of the distinctions between them.