National Cabinet has provided enormous power to state and territory leaders with very little accountability for their decisions in managing COVID risks.
The devastating human and economic impact of these decisions varies from state to state. At some point, the management of the pandemic must be reviewed to ensure the apparent grotesque abuse of power and lack of transparency never happens again in the name of public health and safety.
This is precisely why National Cabinet should not be exempt from freedom of information laws.
In many states, premiers are now operating with a totalitarian authority that has attracted condemnation around the world.
If a trial to implement communism in liberal Western democracies is underway, Victoria is the case study.
Parliament is regularly suspended, and mandates are being imposed without evidence using unpublished health advice.
With the state of Victoria battling a mental health crisis exacerbated by business closures, job losses and isolation, you would expect our leaders to come up with a response to the delta variant, which prioritises limiting imposition on a demoralised public. Reducing exercise time to one hour, playground bans, coffee bans, and curfews are just a few of the unnecessary restrictions that made life for many all the more unbearable.
There are no ordinary legal avenues to challenge these rules under the State of Emergency powers and no reset button to reinstate democracy.
Victoria’s controversial Charter of Human Rights, which demands directives to be proportionate to risk and human rights, is a toothless tiger.
While the majority quietly still comply, those willing to take a stand are met with aggressive force from the Victorian Police Special Operations Group that employ counter-terrorism tactics on unarmed civilians. Those willing to make a stand online are similarly cancelled.
Despite the fact the majority of the population are soon to be fully vaccinated, it is not enough in Victoria. Soon many will be forbidden to work if they do not comply with having the vaccine.
Our liberties will then be dependent on the uptake of booster shots as we are now seeing in Israel. There is no end in sight for how long the government will hold our freedoms hostage.
The debate is not just around the nature of the vaccines. Vaccines in the past have saved populations from many terrible diseases. But the extent of the vaccine mandate is part of the bigger picture of a government dictatorship imposing its will on the public. Banning all rights to protest, object and even refuse is very concerning.
No other Western liberal democracy has gone this far, discarding human rights while managing the pandemic. Many countries across Europe are opening up and abolishing their restrictions, including vaccine passports, despite denser populations on smaller landmasses.
When COVID passes, what will the next crisis be? Victoria is just one bushfire away from the government declaring a State of Emergency to manage climate change. Local councils across the state and are passing motions to declare a climate emergency. It is only a matter of time.
Widely reported in the mainstream media, climate change researchers are claiming that lockdowns over the last 12 months have significantly reduced carbon emissions and call for more to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
National Cabinet has opened a pandora’s box for how crises are defined and managed in Australia.
Legislating secrecy takes away the public’s right to scrutinise whether the response to the pandemic has been justifiable and proportionate and whether our leaders acted in the public’s best interests.
If the Federal government’s Bill passes to keep the discussions and decisions of the National Cabinet secret, democracy in the country may never be the same again.
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