There used to be a statutory office whose very name struck terror into the hearts of those who feared for their sanity, now or in the future. This was the Master in Lunacy.
Threats were frequently made that ‘men in white coats’ were ready to take anyone away for behaviour or even comment judged irrational. We may well wonder what the Master would think of those who govern us today.
Take for example, James O’Day. His farm is 600 km from Melbourne and 40 km from Mildura. It was recently reported that because of the Wuhan virus, of which there has been no trace in Mildura for at least six months, his state government inexplicably required him to wear a mask when out on his farm.
This recalled the madness of imposing a massive lockdown last year, one which so wantonly and so unnecessarily damaged and even destroyed businesses and careers of people across the nation. One highlight at the time was an internationally circulated photograph of young people on Bondi Beach. Because of an optical illusion, it suggested people were closer to one another than they actually were. And in any event, the Wuhan virus likes neither the sun nor the wind. Despite that, commentators slammed the beachgoers as ‘moronic’ and the beach was closed. Demonstrating that the authorities had indeed lost their minds, an aggressive official with a loudspeaker shrieked from a clifftop the order to a boy on a surfboard well out to sea to return immediately. Mounted police ordered an elderly lady savouring her coffee on a bench near the beach, to return to the crowded street, while a team of six other officers descended on two boys sitting by their bikes on the grass.
Far worse, a young pregnant mother who answered the door in a Victorian town was arrested and taken away, with her hands handcuffed behind her back, as if this were Wuhan. Her offence? Mentioning a protest on Facebook.
When it was realised the virus had arrived, something which occurs every few decades, a rational government would have found the world’s best example in fighting this. That was not difficult, as this columnist can testify.
Taiwan’s experience in dealing with Sars in 2003 enabled them to develop a battle plan against the Wuhan virus which remains the best in the world. The proof is that, with a population about the size of Australia’s, and despite being geographically close to communist China, Taiwan has experienced just nine deaths, one one- hundredth of Australia’s toll.
So why didn’t Australia’s National Cabinet learn from this? Did they ignore it because the communists, whose entities governments have allowed to control a swathe of premium and even strategic assets across Australia, insist that Taiwan, ejected from even observer status at the WHO, be treated as a leper?
Whatever the reason, the National Cabinet’s decision to adopt the Chinese communist model and impose a totalitarian-style lockdown followed by unpredictable state lockdowns and border closures was clearly contrary to world’s best practice. Disgracefully, the National Cabinet even exempted themselves and their sector from the suffering which they so gratuitously imposed on the productive part of the nation. How many suffered from this, how many died, including from suicide?
Neither the National Cabinet nor their advisers seemed to be aware that the modelling then in vogue, especially from Imperial College, had a very poor record. Nor did anyone notice that the particular model before them, then kept secret, contained a massive clerical error about the number of intensive-care beds needed. So elective surgery was turned off, totally unnecessarily, for many months.
For much of this crisis, governments at all levels continued to exercise their powers as if they were dictators. While years hence this may attract massive damages for misfeasance in government, as with the Gillard cattle export ban, the failure of all of the checks and balances on the abuse of power, legislative, executive and judicial, indicates a constitutional need to control the political class.
Yet the last Queensland election and recent opinion polls seem to indicate strong support for the re-election of incumbent governments in a way which, for example, the British denied Winston Churchill after the 1945 victory.
It is not that Australians are so gullible that they believe the politicians have saved them.
But the politicians were given a smooth ride by a mainstream media who too often failed to subject them to full and proper scrutiny, especially at the beginning when they were duchessed by the Prime Minister. This was one of those occasions when the mainstream media reached a regrettable near-consensus as they did in the 1999 referendum, in their preference for Kevin Rudd over John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull over Tony Abbott or Joe Biden due to their often deranged hatred for Donald Trump. (With their disgust with the brutal way Mark Zuckerberg has ridden roughshod over them, our media should ponder the fact that Zuckerberg was a key member and financier of Time magazine’s cabal of conspirators who, by hook or by crook, installed Beijing’s preferred candidate in the White House. Did they back the wrong horse?)
Nevertheless, most Australians realise that, as in the second world war, we have two great defences. Firstly, we are a remote island nation. That, rather than the politicians’ choices, explains why the virus has had less impact here than in Europe. Secondly, elections are about choice. An opposition has to be at least electable, and not as oppositions too often are nowadays, a pale imitation of the other side. There is frankly not much choice today. Just look at their unanimity over global warming and so many other problems.
Without serious constitutional reform by the people through a convention, which is the way we achieved Federation in the first place, Australia will continue to be held back by a delinquent political class.
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