Flat White

What’s going to happen to Generation Lockdown?

16 April 2020

7:15 PM

16 April 2020

7:15 PM

Imagine for a moment that you are a parent and someone knocks on your front door with a proposition.

The proposition is this: if you agree to put your children under house arrest for an indeterminate period – let’s say six months plus, then there is a small possibility that it might stop someone getting sick.

If you’re a responsible parent and someone who cares about your community, you would have to consider this proposition very carefully.

But you would ask questions like what sort of damage might this do to my children? How many people might get sick and what difference would my children being imprisoned make? You may or may not agree to this proposition, depending on what view you form about the potential harms of a disease versus the harms to your children.

Now imagine a different proposition.

This time, someone knocks on your door and they are in a uniform and holding a gun. They tell you that you have no choice other than to imprison your own children for an indeterminate period. They don’t explain or allow discussion about the damage this might be doing. They don’t really give good evidence about the effectiveness of this term of imprisonment. Worse, some activities that common-sense would tell you do not pose a threat to others are also prohibited, causing you to question the rationality of the entire proposition.

Let’s be clear. Our government is imprisoning children. They are imprisoning all of the children. Anyone who questions whether this is a good idea is demonised by politicians as being selfish or not caring about the greater good.

They are ably assisted by those who spent their time before the crisis trying to make us believe they are virtuous. These people have adapted to their new role as scolding police state collaborators with frightening speed.

Yet it is right to question the costs of government actions, and totally negligent for parents to simply accept government edicts that may harm their children. My children are perhaps lucky in that they have siblings. They can play together and entertain themselves, unlike many only children. They have both parents.

Of course, dates have changed, but it’s still technically school holidays in places like Victoria. Camping plans have been cancelled and they can’t visit friends. They communicate with their friends on FaceTime or Zoom but the novelty has worn off. They are sick of it. All sports and events are cancelled. Scouts. Guides. Everything is cancelled.

Things will change now the school holidays are ending. The reality will set in for both children and parents that this might be for a long haul. Education will be disrupted, birthdays will be celebrated virtually. Children will learn to fear the police, as parents now do as they wonder if the activity they are about to undertake will result in a fine for “outdoor crime”.

Locking up well-adjusted children in loving and caring homes where parents do everything they can for them is a terrible cost.  It hardly bears thinking about for those in unsafe family situations or crowded apartments. I fear that too many politicians have relatively sheltered upbringings and have no idea about the serious predicament in which they are placing thousands of children.

Some children may become damaged as they are forced to spend unnatural amounts of time with their family and have close to zero time with their friends. Eventually, some of the older children will rebel. They will learn to co-ordinate to avoid police and gather in secret, just as those under totalitarian regimes throughout history have learnt to do.

What harm is the government doing to Generation C? We aren’t having this discussion. We aren’t allowed to have this discussion. We are told to trust the experts, but the technocrats advising government have shown little consideration of the harms they are causing, only talking up the potential benefits and how anyone who resists will be demonised and even criminalised.

We must have this discussion, because although disease taking away someone’s life is awful, so is taking away part of a child’s life in their prime. Virologists are not the only people we should be listening to.

For the sake of making sound decisions, we should not shy away from the task of calculating the true cost of the national lockdown.

This is not to mention the financial cost. I can only hope that this debt does not lead to further hardship down the track. While I support safety nets for those in need, other people’s money can be addictive, and turning Australia into a welfare state will do none of us any good in the long run. Poverty can be just as fatal as any virus.

The reason politicians and technocrats don’t want you to question their actions is that they might be wrong. If they have miscalculated the damage they are doing versus the benefits, they may be undertaking one of the biggest crimes against children in our history.

When we open the doors once again and let our children out to play, let’s hope the true future cost of the lockdown is not far more dark and horrible than anyone expected.

David Limbrick is the Liberal Democrats MP for Victoria’s South East Metropolitan region.

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