Features Australia

Australia fails the character test

Bad actors take centre-stage in our Covid Theatre

18 September 2021

9:00 AM

18 September 2021

9:00 AM

James Allan recently lamented, as well he might, the unwillingness of Australia’s media to ask our politicians difficult questions about Covid. He referenced an article in the UK Telegraph about  the evidence that vaccines do not work as prophylactics against Delta, which was republished in the Sydney Morning Herald, so at least some Australians were exposed to emerging overseas Covid realities. The analytical follow-up in the broad media has been, well, nothing.

The evidence about the real efficacy of vaccines, and therefore the futility of vaccine passports, has been growing broader and louder. Evidence from many Western countries, beginning with Israel, suggests that the Delta strain of the virus has defeated the jab. Vaccines don’t stop you getting the virus, or passing it on. Period. When Pfizer’s CEO states (on Twitter) that any solution to the virus will require both vaccines and treatments, you know that, surely, the game is up. Even the claimed benefit of vaccines preventing serious illness and reducing deaths is no guarantee that they will do these things. There are now simply too many unchallenged cases of deaths following vaccination. Then there is the clear and mounting evidence of the dangers of the vaccines themselves, including death, well-documented and available from all around the globe. Similar evidence is available in relation to the pointlessness of lockdowns. They are known not to work, and are known to cause massive harm. Finally, there is the small matter that we are simply not in the midst of a crisis. Australian hospitalisations from Covid are still nowhere near what we experience in a bad flu season. These are facts, all readily available to those who look.

Absorbing and analysing these developments is ‘following the science’, something that we are often urged to do in relation to climate change and viruses. It is always a good idea. Pity we as a nation aren’t doing it. Instead, we get the tweeting classes of virtue-signallers, the screeching vaccine-bullies – did anyone mention Jack the Insider or Ray Hadley? – the ever-sincere, Pharma-hooked medicos, the curiously thought-free and largely silent oppositions, the dictatorial, hectoring premiers and ministers in every state and territory, the mute backbench class in every single government in the nation, the pundit-modellers who got the big Covid numbers wrong by orders of magnitude but who still blather away and, last but not least, the self-important and now oft-quoted academics who have benefited mightily from the research-funding largesse of Big Pharma and who earnestly advise governments to jab us all.


It isn’t just the media not asking hard questions. A whole country seems to be holding its hands over its ears and singing loudly, such that it cannot hear the loud drumbeat of reality trying to break into our collective thinking. There has been a tripartite Faustian bargain, involving the governing classes, the media and the rest of us. These are the three broad categories of actors in the Covid Theatre.

Firstly, politicians are panicked, clueless and over-invested in failed policies. We did not luck out in the age of Covid. We have struck a bunch of politicians who have created false binary choices, like lockdown versus vaccines (we actually need neither and both are detrimental in a range of ways), and have routinely hidden the truth on an industrial scale. They have almost uniformly revealed themselves to be born petty-dictators simply waiting their whole careers for the unbridled opportunity that the Chinese virus has provided them. Once the starting point of political science theories of decision making was the ‘rational actor’ model, with clear problem definition, examination of options, and the reliance on evidence. We even used to have a term for this – ‘evidence-based policy’.

Secondly, the media have shrunk themselves from fearless truth-seekers to propaganda arm of the Covid State. Allan’s thesis about the poor quality of university education for journalists is a highly plausible hypothesis but likely only a partial explanation of the media’s compliant behaviour and the palpably incurious approach to their core task.

Thirdly, the punters. The characterisation of ‘low-information voter’ accurately describes but does not explain the absence of pennies dropping. Are we naive about the presumed virtues of our leaders? Do we not read widely about overseas Covid developments? Have we not heard of the internet (yes, I know it is censored)? Do we simply fear being labelled nutters if we dare to raise blatantly obvious questions like, what the hell are they up to? Are we falsely patriotic – roll up your sleeves, Australia? Do we simply go along to get along? Have we been bullied into compliance and submission? Is our behaviour evidence that the propaganda works? Is the State’s clever separation of our communities into automaton households and the denial of opportunities to chew the fat with our friends working against us? Are we scared of the police? Even though most of us do not know anyone who has had the virus, let alone died from it, and even though most of us know someone who has had an adverse reaction to the jab, we still comply with public health orders that are simultaneously draconian and ridiculous. What is going on?

Donald Horne, in The Lucky Country (1964), pricked the national self-satisfied balloon claiming we had done well through the good fortune of being resource-rich but were run by second-rate people. Nick Cater, in The Lucky Culture (2013), argued that Australia had benefitted from the ongoing ‘resourcefulness’ and ‘character’ of our people and did not need to rely on luck. But Cater also saw a threat to our continued success in the form of emerging, sanctimonious, progressive elites. The sort that are bullying us now.

What, then, should we make of our current predicament, at a time when the world is now finding us somewhere between amusing and pathetic in our submissiveness towards what anyone with eyes can see is a Covid dictatorship without the remotest justification? We seem to have embraced a kind of opposite of our former cultural cringe. Once upon a time, if something happened overseas or something came from overseas, it must be superior. In the age of Covid we now stick our collective heads in the sand and simply ignore what is going on outside of Australia. Our ‘highly educated’ people simply follow the cops and not the science. As a nation, we have given up on analysis. We have left our critical skills at the door. Our politicians, save for a shamefully pilloried minority, don’t analyse. They scheme. Our media don’t analyse. They strut and lecture. Our people don’t analyse. They now just traipse along behind, mired in confusion and vague, incurious, undirected anger. A recurring theme among overseas commentary is that it had been thought Australians had ‘character’, but they now suspect we do not. We seem to regard the greatest threats ever to our freedoms with a bit of a yawn, and to regard those who are alarmed about our future as barmy. It is not a good look, when the luck runs out and our ‘character’ proves to be illusory.

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