Voice of Real Australia: The freedom fighter on Tram 86 makes a good point

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend.

Here we are. At the place we all feared we could be while we silently prayed for it all to just go away.

We are on the precipice of hurtling back into lockdown life, as a tiny bug wreaks another deadly round of havoc across Victoria and New South Wales.

We were warned. We were told what we had to do. But have we listened and have we all played our part in the battle to keep this killer at bay.

Too dramatic?

It is killing people. And we should care about that.

Rather than bemoan the fact you can't stand around at your local pub with a pint, or that you have to sign in at a restaurant, can't go on holidays or have a backyard shindig worthy of a complaint from your neighbours, put your energy into the simple things that matter - wash your hands, social distance, wear a mask.

Three simple things you can do. Right now.

The Beastie Boys had it right in 1986 - you've got to fight for your right to party.

And so did the man on Tram 86 to Smith Street in Melbourne.

I found myself in the besieged city days before it all went down. I wasn't comfortable being there. The city was not humming - it was unsettling.

Equipped with face mask, a bag of full of hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes and a truck load of anxiety, I reluctantly boarded Tram 86 to Smith Street.

It was quiet. Empty. The few people onboard sat apart. No-one made eye contact.

"The free tram zone ends at the next stop," declared the dulcet-toned voice over the loudspeaker.

Cutting through the silence, Tram 86 man seized the moment to command our attention. Well, my attention. No-one else looked up.

"Free! Who decides where free starts and stops!" he shouted. He sounded like John Lennon, making his point even more poignant.

"Look at all of you. Prisoners to those screens in your hands. Back in the 60s and 70s we fought for freedom, for what was right. It wasn't just given to us. What is it that you think you deserve now?"

He continued on and I reflected on that point.

We really are living in an age of entitlement and no responsibility. This situation we are all in isn't just going to go away. We are all responsible for managing it and supporting the amazing people on the frontline tackling this beast head-on while trying to keep people alive.

Rather than make sourdough baking the on-trend topic in this situation, let's make mask-wearing the hippest new trend. Instagram influencers - here is your time to shine and influence something that actually matters.

Look up and pay attention to what is going on and how we all must play a role in what happens next.

Fight for the freedoms we all feel like we've lost. Fight for your right to party. But that fight means doing the hard yards and taking individual responsibility.

Complacency is no longer an option with COVID. And you're not isolated from its impact.

I reached my destination and caught the eye of Tram 86 man. I smiled beneath my mask and he saw it in my eyes. I had listened.

As I was about to step out the door, he offered up one last nugget of insight.

"And by the way," he said to me - "I f**king hate Adelaide!" before directing more expletives at the omnipotent voice reminding him he had to pay for the tram now he had left the free zone.

Interested in cutting through the noise of the daily news - not just from Australia but across the world, too? Why not sign up for The Informer newsletter?

More stuff happening around Australia ...

Sign up to get our Voice of Real Australia updates straight to your inbox