Time and time again, people have questioned the intense culture of freedom that the United States has held since its liberation from the British. We have been told that culture is irrelevant today. COVID-19 has shown us this is clearly not the case.
Australia’s atrocious handling of the pandemic is as great an apology for liberty as you’ll find in the world today. In the last few months, the Australian government has passed a variety of overbearing authoritarian measures, all under the guise of “public health.” Sydney and Melbourne have entered complete lockdowns several times, requiring citizens to stay within five kilometers (3.1 miles) of their homes.
These rules have also been enforced by complete surveillance. Citizens visiting businesses or public places are required to sign in with a contact tracing app. That may sound like a safety measure, but it’s more than that. State police have already attempted to access the data collected by these measures several times for non-COVID-19 purposes.
Where individuals are under direction from the government to stay at home, they can be randomly contacted at any time by the police. They’re required to answer, prove they are home within minutes of receiving the call, and subject themselves to tracking through their devices. Failure to comply means the police will show up at your door, and if you’re not there, you could find yourself punished by fines of up to $37,000 USD and imprisonment.
On top of this, governments completely closed state borders to everyone without an exception. When two Victorian men violated Western Australia’s border closures in September, they were slapped with 10-month prison sentences. How can Australia consider itself a free country when its individual states are grounding their own residents and barring their neighbors from entering?
Without a strong culture of individual liberty and the institutions to support that culture, our society is being stripped of its freedom. With no bill of rights, a weak constitution, and no major institutions for the meaningful defense of freedom, Australia has succumbed to popular fear and hysteria.
As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This is the folly of the Australian people. By trusting in the lie of security over liberty, Australians are now at the whim of their governments.
The results aren’t pretty. Armed with stronger powers than ever before, the police are brutalizing peaceful protesters. And the effects of lockdowns are evident in a burgeoning mental health crisis. More and more people are being admitted to the hospital for self-harm, and our suicide hotline has received more calls than ever before.
Our economy is tanking. Melbourne has gone from being the most livable city in the world to being the city with the longest lockdown. The treasury estimates we’re losing approximately $1.75 billion USD to lockdowns each week. And that doesn’t include the flow-on damage to the economy and the cost to the government to supply services to those in lockdown.
Any form of security guaranteed from the stripping of our rights has been dwarfed by the impact on our liberty, economy, and security in other areas. And to think Australia used to be considered one of the freest countries in the world.
Police forces across the country are striving to hold on to any special powers granted during the pandemic, with politicians seriously suggesting keeping borders closed to maintain the trafficking of drugs. With this kind of reasoning, any potential threat to the populace would then justify the most brutal response possible from the government, all with the popular support of the people.
Australians are notorious for having a “laid back” attitude to life, but this attitude has devolved into complete complacency towards a burgeoning authoritarian regime.
Americans beware! You will be told that your freedoms are not as important as the security of the few, that you are a conspiracy theorist, and that your unwillingness to submit to tyrannical decrees means you’re happy with people dying. Australians have heard it all before.
Maintain your culture of freedom. If that’s not fostered, you’ll lose it — just as Australia has.