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HomeCOVID-19Covid review? No, just a shameful cop-out

Covid review? No, just a shameful cop-out


The writer is in Australia.

FINALLY, we have a review (of sorts) of the Covid policy fiasco in Australia. Not an official inquiry: I fear no government involved in erecting the Covid State and dishing out the brutal policy instruments will ever be so principled as to do that.  

This review was commissioned by a public health-embedded body, the Paul Ramsay Foundation, supported by two other foundations, overseen by a panel led by government and academic insider Peter Shergold, and delivered by a team of economists, mainly young. So, not as ‘independent’ as claimed. And certainly nothing too out-there recommended, such as the culprits behind lockdowns and mandates being put on trial, as many of us have wanted. 

Fault Lines (referred to widely as the Shergold review) focused exclusively on the relatively safe ground of lockdowns. Make no mistake, these were not just misplaced, they were evil. But what of the brutal and unnecessary vaccine mandates? Nothing to see here, it seems.

Were there any positives? Yes, and these are important for the mainstream conversation about Covid policy and the many people who still think that school and border closures, extended lockdowns, the lack of transparent decision-making and the absence of consideration of trade-offs were all OK. But the report is still a letting-them-off-the-hook exercise. Limit the questions asked, and you limit the subsequent discussion. Its omissions and misinterpretations, wilful or not, are not trivial.

First, there is no serious questioning of the motives of the actors involved, nor any recognition of how compromised they were. There is an acceptance of the overall paradigm that careful examination and a healthy scepticism of government would quickly puncture. It assumes good motives all round.

Peter Shergold concludes: ‘I cannot say to you with my hand on my heart that two years ago in that swirling fog of uncertainty I would have made different decisions or given different advice.’ 

A ‘fog of uncertainty’? No, a misleading, if not dishonest, platitude which serves the interests of the political class. We had 50 years of settled science on pandemic response. We also had a range of experts who at the start were saying NO to the Chinese Lockdown method as, with courage and rational thought and against the doomsayers, they did in Sweden. Yet we didn’t even ask hard questions of the pharmaceutical companies. Like, have you tested the vaccines for transmission? Why are you asking us to give you immunity from prosecution, and keeping all the trial papers under lock and key for 75 years? Was there any questioning of PCR testing,  the failing of which has been long revealed? 

The review stated that it wasn’t about assigning blame. Why on earth not? It concludes the Covid response was perhaps a ‘step too far’. This is to be disingenuous and creative of another category error that we were on the right track, but simply went too far down that track. No. We were never on the right track.  

What about the language of ‘mistakes’ used in the review? This is not the place to debate stupid versus evil and cock-up versus conspiracy debates, or Hanlon’s Razor. Suffice it to say that if Covid policy has been a mistake, then it has been the biggest policy mistake in our history. The review nowhere suggests that the errors were of this magnitude. An epic fail.   

And when and if the Prime Minister calls his own inquiry, as has been foreshadowed, I expect that the core questions of pandemic policy will be equally ignored.

The recommendations are mostly wishy-washy, tinkering at the edges and extremely bureaucratic. Its solution to perceived process problems is process improvement. Given the scale of the Covid policy disasters that have befallen us, this thinking is scarcely credible. And utterly limiting.   

It asks for an increase in the ‘diversity’ of the public sector. How about increasing the diversity of thinking in the public sector? It advocates creating an American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) type centre in Australia. The epicentre of the USA’s unethical and irrational response to Covid! ‘Expert and trusted’?  Neither. 

Any mention of vaccines is confined to two paragraphs of the one hundred pages. And then, simply about mistakes with the rollout and the need for better communications. This is an utter disgrace in a report purporting to being an inquiry into Australia’s Covid response and utterly shameful. 

Finally, these many failures are capped by one huge sin of omission. The report totally disregards the Covid tyranny – the crushing of human freedoms and rights through vaccine mandates and the bullying of citizens through vaccine and fear propaganda. How a review of these matters can simply sidestep its totalitarian oppression beggars belief. 

To date the review has been described in the media as ‘damning’ and ‘scathing’, rather than as an opportunity tragically missed or as ‘the out’ it provides for complicit governments, their health bureaucrats and assorted third parties acting so assiduously on behalf of the Covid tyranny. ‘The benefit of hindsight’ is a favourite meme – we did the best we could with the information we had at the time. This is patently self-serving rubbish. Then there is the term ‘overreach’. Defining the problem in this way makes it all a matter of degree, not of kind. Some people may have gone too far, but do not dare question their motives. We all had your interests at heart. And the biggest doozy of them all – the threat we faced was immense. No, it wasn’t. This is (still) simply assumed. We now know the ‘crisis’ was entirely confected. Some of us knew it at the time.   

This review is of, by and for the ruling class.  With the hard questions kept off the table the evil works perpetrated in the name of Covid safety in Australia go unpunished. 

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Paul Collits
Paul Collits
Paul Collits is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Quadrant Online

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