The writer is in Australia
OF several things that struck me about Rebecca Weisser’s memorable piece in the Spectator Australia on the ‘leper vote’ of unvaccinated deplorables and other sundry Covid dissidents, one line in particular stood out. ‘Even federal health minister Greg Hunt quietly dropped the requirement that Australians had to be vaccinated to leave the country last week.’
This was less than a month after the government’s previous statement on international travel, which didn’t.
The key word here is ‘quietly’. Hardly a murmur could be heard, from anywhere, at the setting aside of one of the most heinous and vile attacks on the fundamental freedoms and rights of Australians to, well, leave the joint.
Placing us up there with Cuba and North Korea, the Morrison government wonderfully combined the unnecessary with the useless and the totalitarian in creating a fortress approach to virus management.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation inevitably has wondered why so many Covid restrictions have been dropped when Covid – in its current rampant yet, for most, mild form – is at its most virulent.
Indeed, I and others opined back in the darkest days of lockdown, when infections were in the hundreds and deaths could be counted on hands and feet, where is the crisis? Trust the ABC to ask the wrong question, for ideological reasons. The real question, of course, is ‘why all the restrictions back then?’
Governments of all colours are tip-toeing away from the most draconian measures inflicted upon Australians in our history, and hoping that no one will notice. That no one will ask: ‘What was that all about?’
The New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet even spelled out the Covid escape strategy of the political class when speaking of his fine, unexpected bromance with his Victoria counterpart Daniel Andrews. The headline read, ‘They text each other all the time: Perrottet and Andrews embrace the benefits of a united front’.
The NSW Premier said, in as many words, that people were criticising Andrews for being too draconian, and his government for being too liberal. They were both losing out. So why not work together to neutralise each of the sources of disapproval?
The cat is out of the bag. Our butt-covering leaders came up with the perfect plan, initially hatched by the Prime Minister in his rolling out of the mutual protection racket also known as the National Cabinet.
It has been seen consistently over two years in the endless displays of support from one Covid fascist leader to another. Police brutality, met with silence. Curfews and military helicopters, met with silence. Closed borders? The occasional murmur of disapproval and mild political point-scoring, at worst. Banning weddings and funerals and preventing you from saying goodbye to dying loved ones? They all did it. Handing over control of our surprisingly delicate democracy to unelected public health tsars who got just about everything wrong? Ditto. But Perrottet actually fessed up to the plan.
The big three all face elections in the next 12 months. They have quite brazenly placed their own electoral survival ahead of the welfare of Australians. They have chosen to minimise harm to themselves by hiding behind bureaucrats and the cover-all ‘we are all in this together’.
Despite occasional suggestions that New South Wales (under its former PM Gladys Berejiklian) was the standout liberal beacon among the states, this theory ended up going nowhere.
No, they were all differently awful. Victoria had the vicious coppers (inevitably) and the salivating ogre-Premier. Queensland had the (now completely unnecessary) quarantine centres for the unvaxxed and its dictatorial craziness in the midst of very few cases. The weird guy in the Territory rounded up recalcitrant Aborigines. The out-of-control man in the West decided on the insane Zero Covid.
They all had vaccine passports (for a time) and vaccine mandates that still, alas, persist in various forms. By remaining silent on the sins of the other jurisdictions – they couldn’t very well bag the others given what they themselves were doing to their own people – they enabled the bullying and the gaslighting to go on for two whole years. And now, all of a sudden and without the remotest coherent explanation, almost all the rules are vanishing.
The late reversals of the politicians only match the sudden loss of interest by the punters in all manner of things Covid.
It is difficult to remember when exactly the ubiquitous daily death counts and the ritual denigration of the unvaxxed – the truly thinking Australians – came to an end, and whether it was the politicians deciding that the Covid theatre had to stop or the people simply turning off the 11am television show that ended the whole Covid Truman Show. But end it has.
The late American economist and public choice theorist Anthony Downs came up with a famous theorem (well, famous to a few political science wonks) called ‘the issue attention cycle’, in which he explained how and why certain issues captured the public imagination, then suddenly vanished from the public view despite the initial problem remaining. As evidenced by 29 Covid deaths in the two most populous states over two days last week.
The public (perhaps) realised the cost of fighting the problem, became bored and moved on, or found other, new issues to worry about. Think floods and wars.
Or perhaps we have all, or at least many of us, realised that the whole Covid disaster was largely a con. And none of us want to admit that we were conned. Whoever does?
Instead, a new-found excitement at things of massive electoral significance, like Albo’s gaffes, Scotty’s defence of women’s sport and the relentless rollout of pork and circuses. The sin of pride, always the worst of man’s sins, seems evenly distributed among the politicians and those who, like lambs, meekly followed their evil diktats.
Real politicians like One Nation’s Senator Malcolm Roberts, among others in these pages, have demanded a royal commission into Australia’s Covid decision-making fiasco. No major party has accepted its need.
Mark Steyn on UK television has suggested that the Brits need one too. All power to them. Perhaps not a Nuremberg Two, but at least some reckoning, some accountability, and recognition, however feeble, of the notion that there is still a buck and that it has to stop somewhere.
Those affected most by Covid totalitarianism – the unjabbed and jobless, the families whose elders died alone and in fear, the still unmarried, the isolated interstate loved ones who have not seen their families, the stranded citizens with family overseas, the impoverished small businesses, the mentally ill, the families living with suicide and so many others – must be wondering now: What justice can we expect?
Will anyone pay? What was it all about? Why greater fascism then, with far fewer cases and deaths, than now? Do not any of them feel the need to explain themselves? How do they sleep at night? What do our professed Christian leaders say to their God if and when they pray? The unforgivable silence of the political class is, right now, deafening.
This article appeared in the Spectator Australia on April 30, 2022, and is republished here by kind permission.