Leading article Australia

Stay calm, Gladys

15 August 2020

9:00 AM

15 August 2020

9:00 AM

The next few week’s will be the ultimate test of Gladys Berejiklian and her New South Wales Coalition government. Will she and her team adhere to basic conservative values to preserve the NSW economy or will they cave in to the siren voices of the Left that are urging NSW to emulate the knee-jerk reactions and senseless Covid-19 polices of the Labor governments of Victoria and to a lesser extent Queensland?

It is inevitable that NSW will see an increase in coronavirus cases, as will eventually all Australian states. What is not inevitable is that the Berejiklian government needs to react in the same manner as the Andrews and Palaszczuk governments have.

The Andrews government is driven by deep-rooted anti-business, left-wing dogma and, incredulously, even allows Trump Derangement Syndrome to direct its policy settings. This has led to the banning of one drug that could potentially save lives as well as the most draconian lockdown in the land, including ludicrous blitz-style curfews, combined with a comical bureaucratic ineptness that even the most sarcastic Soviet satirist would find implausible.

The banned drug is President Trump’s recommended hydroxychloroquine, the merits of which have been extensively covered in our pages by Rebecca Weisser. (Rebecca also writes again this week about ivermectin, the potential Aussie wonder drug for preventing Covid.) Increasingly, around the world evidence is mounting that hydroxychloroquine is a life-saver when used correctly: early and as a prophylaxis. One recent study from Switzerland suggests that deaths spiked dramatically during the two weeks that the Swiss briefly banned hydroxychloroquine for Covid before abruptly re-instating it. The reason for the banning and unbanning was a study in the Lancet claiming the drug killed which was embarrassingly withdrawn two weeks later when the study was exposed as fraudulent.

Nonetheless, Victoria and Queensland continue to ban the drug, with federal chief medical officer Paul Kelly proclaiming somewhat bizarrely when questioned about the drug, ‘The jury is out… it doesn’t work’.

Banning a drug simply because you believe it does not work, as opposed to because it has been proven to be dangerous, is asinine at best, but typical of an authoritarian ‘we know best’ mentality. And oh what a surprise that it also happens to be the drug touted by Mr Trump.

As for lockdowns, time will no doubt tell, but the evidence continues to suggest that not only do lockdowns frequently not achieve their desired results, but they can also, if one UK study is correct, cause an additional death count beyond the virus itself. According to the UK Telegraph last week, ‘The UK lockdown killed two people for every three whose deaths had been caused by coronavirus… new Government figures suggest. The estimates show that 16,000 people had died through missed medical care by May 1, while coronavirus killed 25,000 in the same period.’

What is particularly galling is that this potential danger of patients missing out on preventative medical treatment and diagnoses due to excessive restrictions was widely foreseen by many commentators at the time of the first wave of national lockdowns, yet seems to have given the Andrews government no pause for thought as they ploughed ahead with their latest Stasi-like set of rules. And that’s before we get to the equally distressing matter of the obscene violation of individuals’ rights the Victorian government has blithely unleashed. Video footage that appeared online this week showed an overly-zealous Victorian policeman putting a non-mask-wearing woman into a vice-like chokehold before throwing her to the ground.

This is the inevitable result of imposing rather than simply recommending public health measures and educating the public about masks or social distancing. Recommend them and the majority of Australians will ‘do the right thing’. Mandate them and you then require heavy policing which will only encourage unrest and undue distress with unintended consequences.

Finally, it increasingly appears that no-lockdown Sweden did indeed choose the correct path in its laissez-faire approach to the virus; the economy is largely intact and the spread of the virus has largely halted. The Swedish fatality rate is on a par with many countries that did impose lockdowns.

Perhaps this time around the Berejiklian government will be brave and smart enough to simply trust the electorate. A full page newspaper letter from the premier to her citizens ran recently thanking them for their co-operation during the corona crisis. This is a far more sensible approach than the heavy hand of Dan Andrews (whose despotic precursors are discussed by William Poulos this week.)

We urge Gladys to set a much-needed example to the rest of the nation. Trusting your voters, rather than threatening them with metaphorical choke-holds, should be the Liberal-National way.

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