Few things about the last 18 months of pandemic-induced hysteria, executive overreach, and bureaucratic bullying have left me with a heavier heart than what is currently transpiring in my native Australia. Public officials increasingly treat citizens in a manner that resembles less a social contract and more an abusive relationship.
This is not the lighthearted country that any honest, rational Australian fondly recalls. As Bernie Finn of the Victorian Legislative Council recently put it, “Every Australian wants our nation back.”
Australia’s political-bureaucratic elite has been inflicting what can only be described as Chinese Communist Party-style tyranny on their own citizens, as the goal of fully eliminating all COVID-19 infections, reaching “Covid zero,” risks becoming Covid Forever. They are showing a greater affinity for the tech-enabled authoritarianism and collectivist principles that underpin communist China than they are for western democratic ideals of individual liberty and limited government.
NEW – Australia's Northern Territory imposes the strictest vaccine mandate in the world. Those who don't comply by Nov. 13 will be fined $5,000.pic.twitter.com/uAKCKIkUei
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) October 13, 2021
Suffocating Society with Minimal Return
Whether it’s the calamitous financial impact of lockdowns, violations of basic freedom of movement, brutal police aggression, intimidation and harassment of individuals at home over their social media activity, deployment of the military to enforce lockdowns, restricted press access, indefinite separation from home and loved ones, and cruel quarantine requirements due to state border closures, the civil rights abuses being inflicted on ordinary people are unconscionable.
Most recently, the Victorian state government has introduced sweeping vaccine mandates for all authorized workers, and is even moving to prevent unvaccinated members of parliament and staff from entering or voting in Parliament.
To describe this as disproportionate doesn’t come close to conveying the irrationality. Australia’s current deaths attributed to COVID-19 are around 1,500, out of a population of almost 26 million that has roughly 169,000 annual registered deaths of all causes. Australia has seen 136,000 total COVID-19 cases.
Almost 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths recorded by the end of August 2020 in Australia had other conditions listed on the death certificate. Of the roughly 1,500 COVID deaths in Australia, only 258 were people under the age of 70, and one under the age of 20.
Mimicking China’s Mass Imprisonment
There has never been any data-driven rationale for locking down healthy populations anywhere. When the Chinese government in January 2020 quarantined 11 million inhabitants in Wuhan, later extending the order to include 19 million residents across three cities, the World Health Organization acknowledged these measures were “unprecedented in public health history.”
Communist China has a history of mass mobilization campaigns that call for national unity, mobilize grassroots efforts, and leverage propaganda in support of Communist Party leadership. Notwithstanding, mass lockdowns of millions of healthy people were, according to the WHO’s representative to China, “new to science” until the CCP made them fashionable.
In February 2020, Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng argued China had “succeeded in turning a public health crisis into a human rights catastrophe.” Chen warned that the “rest of the world [would] pay a price for the CCP’s habits.”
A year and a half after the first lockdowns, officials in countries like Australia have adopted similar public health policies as their preferred and indefinite mode of crisis management, shelving evidence of inefficacy and disastrous collateral damage. To paraphrase American Michael Senger, Australia is fighting a virus from China with a public health policy from China that is transforming Australia into China.
Exporting China’s Cyber Surveillance
Apps used in states like Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia that rely on data collection and facial recognition technology to help track quarantine violators mimic China’s use of artificial intelligence and big data curation to establish a digital system of social control. Chinese citizens are tracked, monitored, and censored, with the ultimate goal of being able to identify dissidents in real time.
A Lowy Institute analysis explored the extent to which China has exploited Covid to expand and export its digital authoritarian systems. At home, it has enhanced cyber policing and online surveillance to enforce quarantine and suppress undesirable conversations about COVID-19 and the government’s pandemic response. Abroad, China is “selling” its brand of governance and emergency management by promoting and normalizing its “tools of tech-enabled authoritarianism.”
If western countries rely on expanded executive power during an extended emergency to import these Chinese technological solutions, there is a risk that people will become habituated to restrictions on liberties, continuous and ubiquitous surveillance, and increased collection and use of personal data by the state.
China’s “digital totalitarianism” is also finding a backdoor entrance via vaccine mandates, which, like China’s social credit system, are about rewarding obedience and punishing dissent. In a recent dissenting opinion, Deputy President Lyndall Dean of the Fair Work Commission described COVID-19 vaccine mandates as “undemocratic” and “unethical,” slamming such a “system of medical apartheid and segregation” as “an abhorrent concept” antithetical to “our democratic way of life and everything we value.”
The Australia People Want ‘Red States’ to Flee To
Ordinary Australians agree and recognize that all of this is about control, not “public health.” Case numbers in Victoria have skyrocketed despite months of rolling lockdowns, masks, border closures, forced quarantine and now mandates. So when Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley recently announced that, of those in hospital for COVID-19 the previous day, 78 percent were vaccinated and 17 percent were partially vaccinated, even the proles are savvy enough to do simple math and conclude that the mandates don’t add up.
Those responsible for steering Australians through the pandemic are normalizing and channeling the means-to-an-end cruelty of a communist dictatorship while propagandizing that “we’re all in this together.” Their demented “public health” dictatorship has no ideological genesis in the ideals and values of a western democracy.
Australian infectious disease experts have acknowledged that “Covid zero” is an unsustainable strategy. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept the premise of grifters like New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant that a Covid-forever “new world order” (Chant’s words) is the new normal.
Unfortunately, Australia lacks the bold, independent, and rights-centered leadership at the state level that has kept a good portion of the United States under less opppression throughout this pandemic. As a family member recently lamented, the trouble in Australia is there are no “red states” to flee to.
Yet there are glimmers of hope, notably incoming New South Wales Premier Dom Perrottet, who stepped into the role earlier this month when Gladys Berejiklian resigned amid an ongoing investigation. Perrottet argued in a pre-Covid speech that “our inherent rights are not dependent on a piece of paper from the government” but also warned that our proud western heritage “does not make us immune” from the ever-encroaching power of the state. He is dead right.
But without courage, principles become mere preferences. Those still committed to breathing the fresh air of freedom must resist the COVID tyranny lest it suffocate Australia’s democracy and subjugate a once free, happy, and prosperous people.