Flat White

How coronavirus has made our democracy sick 

22 November 2020

5:00 AM

22 November 2020

5:00 AM

Panic by our governments has squandered Australia’s good fortune of being so lightly touched by Covid-19 (and natural isolation). Panic and weasel politics; politics that corrupted good government by politicians succumbing to the temptation of feeding fear into the policy equation presented to the community. 

Reckless Premiers can claim to be saving lives just by stating so. A case (infection, not death) of Covid-19 in an inner-city location in one state could prove deadly to you in the adjoining state. I am going to save your lives and close the border. Who can argue? Saving lives good, so closing border good. Criticism of closing border bad. Scared and conned, many voters apparently agree. But these policy decisions are not grounded in science but their own primitive voodoo medicine. How else do you describe, for example, Queensland’s Premier closing the state’s border to people from greater Sydney? (Given the rift between the relative Premiers, I suppose you could also describe it as childish spite.) 


It doesn’t take a rational High Court to recognise that border closures are unconstitutional when there is no genuine medical emergency to justify it. Nor does it take a particularly bright lawyer to see that restrictions on personal freedoms imposed on the population of an entire state in response to a diagnosis of a couple of dozen infections are unconstitutional – lawless and immoral. 

The constitution has become more useful for wrapping fish and chips than as the guiding rule book for the Australian federation. As a result, lives and livelihoods are destroyed with impunity. The dishonesty is staggering: the virus is not so deadly as to require the destruction of lives by other means. It should not be used as an excuse to smash the norms of liberty and make Australian governments undemocratic. 

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