Australian Notes

Australian notes

3 April 2021

9:00 AM

3 April 2021

9:00 AM

Time for a new centre-right party?

Don’t you find it odd that many of the people now clamouring for some sort of government-mandated vaccine passport before people would be able to travel or possibly even to work are the same people who disparaged the need to show a simple driver’s license (or other basic form of ID) before being able to vote in last year’s US election? Ah hypocrisy, the compliment that vice pays to virtue.  And this when proving who you are in order to conduct a fair and trustworthy election is far less intrusive and objectionable (what, in fact, is the objection here?) than is indirectly forcing the vaccine uptake. Now I’m going to have the vaccine, assuming Team Morrison ever gets it distributed. But for the life of me I don’t understand the desire for compulsion here. Once everyone who is vulnerable has first been offered the vaccine, and then everyone else has too, why must we try, indirectly or directly, to force everyone else to take it who is not so inclined? If they choose not to do so, well at that point only they’d be at risk. Right? Remember, this is not the Spanish Flu when the young were extra- vulnerable. With Covid-19, those under fifteen face virtually zero risk of death due to this virus, less than their chances of dying from a lightning strike. (Or so said Professor David Spiegelhalter of the Winton Centre for Risk as reported last year in the UK Telegraph.) So with this virus it’s not the same as when parents refuse to give their children the vaccine against, say, measles. Everyone who actually needs the Covid vaccine is an adult (and actually quite a mature adult) and can decide for him or herself. Don’t take it, fine. Just don’t complain later. Meantime, we can remove all the heavy-handed restrictions that grew out of this worst public-policy decision-making fiasco of the last two centuries. Or have our incompetent elites already found the attractions of iron-fisted, authoritarian-style policy-making too attractive to jettison?

I’m one of those who believes that on balance there was an awful lot that was good about the British Empire. Lots bad. But lots really, really good too. (When people query you on this, start your reply by reminding them who single-handedly set about ending slavery in the early 1800s, against their obvious economic self-interest. It was the Brits and their Royal Navy, pushed by the religious sensibilities of the Nonconformist Protestants. It took them half a century to end the Atlantic slave trade. Near on everywhere else in the world at the time had, and tried to carry on with, slavery. Do you think Australian schools teach kids that more African slaves went to the Islamic world than to the West? To ask is to answer.) And at least the Brits used up that empire of theirs fighting two world wars, the second against an evil ideology that without the Brits’ tenacity from 1939 to 1941 would have prevailed. I get tired of lefties saying, ‘Hitler was only ultimately defeated by the communist Russians and the massive losses they took’. Actually, without Stalin’s pact with Hitler to divvy up Europe, Hitler could never have attacked Poland or France or Britain in the first place. The Soviets did a heck of a lot to cause WWII, however much they contributed eventually to bringing down the Nazis. And it was these two world wars that Britain fought and won that saw them use up their empire at least to some extent against their own interests.

Meantime, what can we say of the American empire that replaced theirs? (And though I am probably the most pro-American non-American working in an Australian university, it seems clear to me that the Americans do run an empire of sorts. They keep the high seas safe for everyone. They spend more on defence than the next seven or eight countries put together. They have the world’s reserve currency. They are the world’s policeman of last resort.) A pessimistic answer to the question may be that the Americans are throwing away their empire from within. A woke, self-loathing parasite is eating away at the sort of patriotism and love of country that is needed to run such an empire; one that provides the oomph that allows a rule-based world order to function. And God help those who foolishly believe that the world would be anywhere near as pleasant, free or wealthy were China to take on this role.

I’ve spent a career supporting democracy and democratic decision-making against the aristocratic and condescending tendencies of unelected top judges who use bills of rights and implausible constitutional and statutory interpretive practices to give themselves – these same judges and the wider lawyerly caste – ever greater say in social policy-making. I’ve always been confident that putting your faith in the average voter is the least-bad option going. Or to put it slightly differently, I’m with William Buckley who once said he’d rather be governed by the first couple of hundred names in the Boston phonebook than by the professors of Harvard University. Me too, though I’d add the judiciary in with the professoriate. And after what we’ve seen this past year I’d now say doctors may be the worst of the credentialled, self-satisfied and aristocratic lot. I stand by all that. Still, this pandemic has also shaken my view of the press and of your average punter. The latter turns out not to value freedom anywhere near as much as I’d have hoped. Too many like to be told what to do. Fear and a culture of compliance governed them more than scepticism and any larrikin spirit. How much of this we can put down to the fact that near on the entirety of the press showed all these same vices too, and to a worse extent, is hard to say.

Last point. If the Liberals bring in quotas for women MPs, or for any other ‘victim group’, I will never vote for them again. You shouldn’t either. This will be yet another sell-out of principle for short-term political gain (i.e. to get a one-sided ABC off their backs for a moment or two) that seems to be a defining characteristic of Team Morrison. Are we at the stage where we need a new Menzies-like political party made up of a rump of the Liberals, the Nats, One Nation and the LDP, with a John Ruddick-type democratic party structure?

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