It is 2022. A new year has started.
We say goodbye to the old with few regrets and turn a blank new page. It is a time to start anew.
Of course, we can't just forget the pandemic or the shocking image of the fire at the doors of Old Parliament House - but we must hope for something better.
That word - hope - is the important one. And there are good reasons for it.
We are getting the measure of the virus. It isn't beaten yet but scientists are understanding more and more about it and how to deal with it.
Vaccines dramatically cut the chances of catching COVID and also the chances of people becoming seriously ill if they do catch it.
On top of that, there are now newly-developed drugs which also mitigate the symptoms. If we can turn COVID into just another illness with which we can live and work, that will be a major achievement.
And there is real hope this is possible.
There is also hope the economy will perform well. The Reserve Bank of Australia forecasts growth of more than 5 per cent over 2022, and that rate hasn't been achieved since 1988.
The minutes of the RBA's last meeting of 2021 said: "Timely indicators suggested that economic activity, particularly household consumption, was recovering strongly. Leading indicators of labour demand pointed to a strong recovery in labour market conditions in coming months."
The dry language of the RBA translates into jobs and rising prosperity for many people.
The rate of unemployment at 4.6 per cent of the workforce is the second lowest it's been in 13 years. On top of that, economists are discounting fears of inflation, particularly if the Reserve Bank nudges interest rates up.
In normal times, we would call this outlook "rosy". But we are not in normal times, so forecasts can be thrown out by the unusually large uncertainties stemming from the pandemic.
But "hopeful" fits the bill. We can't be certain of such a promising outlook but we have reasonable grounds for being very hopeful of it.
We are hopeful, too, because there will be an election this year.
Whichever way you lean, elections offer the chance for citizens to tell leaders what they think. They offer a chance of change, and that ought to energise politicians to listen to voters and taxpayers, and to bow to their wishes.
It is true that Australia's three-year cycle between elections is short. It means governments and would-be governments filter difficult policy through the electoral prism, calculating whether that policy will keep them in - or get them into - power.
But the upside is leaders on both sides know if they get things wrong, they could be out. Clearly, management of the pandemic will be an issue this time.
In many countries, the democratic process has been corrupted. In Australia, it remains strong.
And that strength of democracy is a great hope.
The threats to democracy around the world and the attitudes of some to the pandemic have one thing in common: both feed off false information.
New Year's Day is meant to be the time for resolutions, promises to ourselves to achieve something or to change our ways.
They do not often work. How many resolutions to cut down on food last far beyond the last slice of Christmas ham?
But one resolution is well worth making: to seek out reliable information. Do not rely on the rumour and falseness buzzing around social media.
Seek facts from trusted sources - like this publication.
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