Communist China is amassing unrivalled amounts of individual and company data as part of its plans to build a “social credit” system designed to control the lives of the Chinese people. The concept has been condemned as Orwellian utilising surveillance, big data collection and analysis to monitor the behaviour of its citizens.
Nowhere is this practice more insidious than in Xinjiang, the autonomous region in western China, home to the Uighur people where the government has been collecting information including DNA samples, voice samples, iris scans and has been using mobile phones to search for “suspected criminals”.
Social credit is the way of the future for the oppressed people of China and any drift towards normalising such a system in Australia should be a source of real anxiety.
The international media has been watching Australia’s COVID alarmism with grave concern. An article from left-wing news magazine The Atlantic recently posed the question:
If a country indefinitely forbids its own citizens from leaving its borders, strands tens of thousands of its citizens abroad, puts strict rules on intrastate travel, prohibits citizens from leaving home without an excuse from an official government list, mandates masks even when people are outdoors and socially distanced, deploys the military to enforce those rules, bans protest, and arrests and fines dissenters, is that country still a liberal democracy?
At the beginning of the outbreak, one could excuse our society for treading lightly, one could even endure a short period of time under lockdown (remember those two weeks to flatten the curve?)
South Australians have been fortunate enough to have avoided the worst of the lockdown experiences of our eastern neighbours, but we have given up a lot. QR check-ins, masking requirements, COVID marshals, venue limits and even bans on singing in church represent serious incursions on liberty, yet this month, the health bureaucracy in South Australia may have cooked up the most draconian and alarming COVID measure to date in the form of the new Home Quarantine SA app.
Over the past 18 months, people returning from interstate and overseas have been required to quarantine at their own cost in a medi-hotel, however, those returning will now be offered the opportunity to participate in a home quarantine program. To do so, they will need to download the Home Quarantine app on their phone, isolate at an approved location and be subjected to biometric and GPS data cross-examination on a daily basis.
For the duration of that quarantine, the app will require the detainee to scan their face and surroundings, to prove that they are locked in their home. The app uses the GPS features of the device to track their location and if the person fails to produce that evidence within fifteen minutes, the app will notify the police.
The program is “voluntary” but in essence, returned travellers will be given an ultimatum “accept the system or you will be locked up in a medi-hotel at your cost”.
Over the past 18 months, Australians have watched their civil liberties diminish before their very eyes. Many have experienced gruelling, unending lockdowns which have hurt businesses, and their mental health.
The Home Quarantine app is another concession that we are expected to endure without debate or discussion. The Atlantic described it as “an app as Orwellian as any in the free world to enforce its quarantine rules”.
Not that long ago, our health bureaucrats were full of praise for the unwavering co-operation received from South Australians. Now, they have so little trust in us, that they require our biometric and GPS data to ensure that we are playing along.
The ability to suppress freedom in the name of safety is now almost a national sport and the liberties lost are not easily regained.
Australians have become accustomed to the dictates of our unelected bureaucrats, but this program establishes a concerning precedent for government monitoring and interference becoming a part of our everyday lives. We must not pave the way for an Australian social credit system.
The obsession with Covid safety and the associated culture of fear must end. With the prospect of vaccine passports bearing down on us at a rapid pace, Australians should not accept the slippery slope of a social credit system turning our country into an authoritarian prodigy the likes of which Red China would be proud.
Alex Antic is a Liberal Senator for South Australia.
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