Aussie Life

Aussie Language

30 October 2021

9:00 AM

30 October 2021

9:00 AM

When New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the re-opening of the state he said: ‘We can’t remain a hermit kingdom forever’.

He’s not the first to apply that expression to the way our governments have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. This expression was used to label Western Australia, and Queensland, and New Zealand and (in fact) the whole of Australia. The phrase ‘hermit kingdom’ refers to any country, organisation or society which wilfully walls itself off, either metaphorically or physically, from the rest of the world.

The tiny kingdom of Bhutan—a small landlocked country bordered by India, China, Nepal and Bangladesh—was once called a ‘hermit kingdom’ as the royal family resisted the influx of the modern world. North Korea is most commonly called a ‘hermit kingdom’ these days.

Our federal government’s decision to ban Australians from leaving the country (or returning to it from overseas) during the pandemic has been a classic ‘hermit kingdom’ response. This isolation may well have been the right move in the early days before vaccination, but its continuation looks rather like Bhutan trying to keep out the rest of the world! (A ‘hermit kingdom’ indeed.)

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