When Scott Morrison told Australians on Monday that the future of the country is hanging in the balance over the next two to three weeks he was not indulging in an over-the-top flight of political hyperbole. Nor was Daniel Andrews when he told Victorians "there is no stage five; this (the tough new restrictions now coming into effect in the garden state) has to work".
This is about as serious as it gets. The announcement of 439 new cases and 11 more deaths in Victoria on Tuesday proves that despite the state being well into its first six-week lockdown the "second wave" is far from being under control. That, in turn, endangers the residents of every other state and territory.
The high degree of community transmission in and around Melbourne, and the demonstrated willingness of a handful of stupid and selfish people to try to evade the quarantine requirements imposed on interstate and international travellers, means even jurisdictions like the ACT, which has now gone for more than three weeks without a new case of COVID-19, are at greater risk of a serious outbreak than ever before.
As a nation we only have one chance to get this right. The same goes for this small, but closely settled, city-state Canberrans are proud to call home.
We all have to scrupulously maintain social distancing, wash our hands, practice cough etiquette and all the rest because there are additional risk factors are play.
Because of its role as the national capital this community is home to the largest "fly-in, fly-out" workforce of politicians, political staffers, bureaucrats, lobbyists in the country.
If Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, has his way and parliament resumes this month, against the advice of the health experts, a serious new element of risk will have been added to the mix. Yes, democracy is important. But so is the health and safety of the people of Canberra.
Parliament should not resume if Canberrans can't be assured the strictest measures are in place to ensure visiting MPs and their staff from "hot-spots" won't be mixing with the general population.
The question of exemptions for MPs from Victoria to travel to Canberra is a subset of the broader concerns over the willingness to grant exemptions to Australians returning from overseas. The Victorian experience has already established returnees pose the greatest risk to the country. This was highlighted earlier this week when an Australian security consultant returning from Afghanistan, reportedly travelling on a diplomatic passport, was given an exemption to fly on a commercial flight from Sydney to Queensland where he subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He should have immediately gone into hotel quarantine on arrival in Sydney.
His case comes on the back of recent exemptions granted to Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban to self-quarantine in country NSW, to Kerry Stokes and his wife in Western Australia, and to Dannii Minogue and her son on their arrival in Queensland. When questioned about the Minogue case the Queensland government said exemptions had also been granted to another 36 people who stayed in places that "met the requirements".
This isn't good enough. Optics play a huge part in getting this right. If people believe there is one set of rules for those who arrive on a diplomatic passport, or a private jet, and another for those who fly "cattle class", they are far less likely to believe "we are all in this together" and to comply with the rules.
If hotel quarantine is good enough for the least of us then it's good enough for those who might think they are the best of us. Let's make it one rule for all.