Leading article Australia

Covid shame

31 July 2021

9:00 AM

31 July 2021

9:00 AM

Following her husband attending last weekend’s anti-lockdown protest, and then having been spotted and recognised on TV, a young Sydney mum turned up on Monday morning to her regular childcare only to have her two children turned away. They are now being cared for by their grandmother, having been deemed by this arbitrary, non-medical authority as ‘unclean’. A young man – dobbed in by a fellow worker – was forced to take two weeks of annual vacation and not permitted to return to work until he produced, after two weeks, a negative Covid test. Similar tales abound. Welcome to the new Australia of dobbers, scolds and snitches and the self-appointed virtuous.

Several points need to be made. Most importantly, the New South Wales chief medical officer herself has confirmed that in 18 months there has not been one single case of outdoors transmission of the coronavirus in Australia’s premier state. It is probably safe to assume that the same is true of other states. Had the NSW police force genuinely been concerned about the potential spread of the virus during the rally, the last thing they would have done is to send in the horses and start tackling protestors to the ground, thereby aggravating the physical circumstances in which the virus might potentially be spread.

Secondly, it behoves our political leaders and health bureaucrats to pay attention to the intriguing evidence from the UK that being released from lockdown has not at this point in time led to the expected surge in Covid ‘cases’. Similar evidence should be considered from Sweden, Florida and other ‘no lockdown’ places. As this magazine has frequently pointed out, there is ample evidence from around the world that lockdowns may not be the panacea they purport to be. There is also an abundance of evidence that suggests that a strategy of ‘net zero Covid’ is about as achievable as ‘net zero emissions’.

It should also be fairly obvious to any genuine believer in democratic freedoms that the only way to protest government lockdown restrictions you believe are unfair and unnecessary is going to involve breaking those same rules. That is not to advocate civil disobedience, or to invoke the Sally McManus rule (don’t obey laws you deem bad), it is simply a logical acceptance of the fact that in a democracy individuals should always have the right to protest peacefully against government legislation they profoundly disagree with.

Comparisons with the Black Lives Matter protests are fatuous and misleading. Twelve months ago we knew a lot less about the virus and crowds, and more importantly, those rallies were not marching against the imposition of Australia’s lockdown laws, they were marching in support of a man who had died in faraway Minneapolis. At that point in time it was legitimate to be concerned that in marching to insist that ‘black lives matter’ (a statement nobody disagrees with), there was a very real danger of putting at risk black lives in highly vulnerable indigenous communities.

But the real tragedy here is that our political leaders are not only ignoring the fragmentation of the social compact between governing and governed, they are actively cultivating it. Indeed, following the weekend protests the NSW Premier and her colleagues went out of their way to shame and demonise those who attended the protests in a manner they would never have dared had it been those aforementioned indigenous protesters, young people at a climate change rally, gays at the Mardi Gras, asylum-seekers or Muslim protesters. ‘Boofheads’, ‘the great unwashed’, ‘anarchists’ and ‘shameful’ were just some of the charming descriptors tossed around so snidely by our elected politicians and law officers about the people who pay their salaries.

After 18 months of draconian lockdowns that decimate small businesses and family enterprises and are responsible for many potential undiagnosed health problems and even suicides, not to mention driving the nation into the red for decades to come, it is entirely legitimate for those who have the most to lose to challenge the political decision-making. Particularly when much of the rest of the world has returned to some degree of normality.

It is also worth pointing out that if our governments and their bureaucrats were genuinely interested in doing everything within their powers to save Australian lives, they would be seriously looking into the Australian treatment involving ivermectin which, as Rebecca Weisser points out week in, week out in this magazine, has had spectacular results around the world. Two weeks ago Ms Weisser broke the news that Health Minister Greg Hunt had written to the Covid Medical Network confirming that doctors are free to prescribe the treatment. This week, Ms Weisser reports on the tragic story of someone who was denied the ivermectin therapy her family requested and died.

History will record the real shame of the current Covid situation – and it doesn’t lie with the protesters at any anti-lockdown rallies.

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