The intrusion of a police officer for a mask inspection into St Bernadette’s Catholic Church in the Perth suburb of Glendalough during Mass on February 3 made national headlines.
In some sections of the media at least, fingers were rightly pointed at the madness that is Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan’s diabolic, futile and damaging Covid management. However, following this disgraceful affair (to which there is a disturbing postscript) there are other episodes that deserve condemnation and ridicule at the same time.
Marshal Mark Canute McGowan has, for the last two years, spared no effort in telling us how wonderful he is that he can ‘crush and kill the virus’. As any epidemiologist worth his or her salt will tell you, such a notion is false propaganda. Last week the Marshal amended that to he could ‘crush and kill delta, but not omicron’. This is because he follows the ‘science’.
This is the same ‘science’ that saw him in January decide to close off nightclubs to the unvaccinated, yet it was the infection of a fully-vaccinated nightclub patron afterwards that has seen omicron infections numbers climb daily. As of Saturday, there were 68 new positive cases in the preceding 24 hours.
Responding to protests in Canberra on the weekend, the Marshal backed the decision by his and all state and territory governments to have vaccine mandates in place as they all know it ‘works’. More propaganda.
First, let us not forget that Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) never recommended vaccine mandates in the first place.
Leading epidemiologists have repeated numerous times that this is garbage. As recently as Friday, Professor Robert Booy of the University of Sydney stated that, apart from very limited settings, vaccine mandates make no sense.
Second, as we know, there is no evidence to demonstrate that persons who are unvaccinated present a greater risk of transmission of the virus. Indeed, the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal has reported that Covid vaccines have ‘minimal’ impact on preventing transmission of the virus, and just last month Lancet published this article which also notes the futility of vaccine mandates. The article notes that ‘the demonstration of Covid breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated healthcare workers (HCW) in Israel, who in turn may transmit this infection to their patients, requires a reassessment of compulsory vaccination policies leading to the job dismissal of unvaccinated HCW in the USA.’
Third, we also know the Marshal’s ‘science’ is, in effect, the senseless worship of a zero-Covid policy. Since the start of the school year, three schools have gone to distance learning over two or three positive Covid cases. Education Minister Sue Ellery stated on 6PR Radio last week that, as caseloads increase, masks will become compulsory for children from year three upwards. Maybe Ellery forgot the memo that masks didn’t make much of a difference anyway. Further, her ignorance of Dr Nick Coatsworth on this subject demonstrates just how incompetent she is.
Fourth, the Marshal’s Science is inconsistent. Footballers can enter the state, everybody else get stuffed. Just last week the Marshal announced he is allowing AFLW players from Carlton and Collingwood to fly into Perth for their matches against Fremantle and West Coast this weekend without quarantining while strict border rules apply to literally everyone else. Infectious diseases expert Dr Clay Golledge says the action of granting border exemptions to AFLW teams to enter Western Australia is the ultimate hypocrisy when families can’t be reunited.
The move has been labelled a ‘joke’ by some, but the double standard is no laughing matter for Katie and Steve Grace who begged for an exemption to repatriate their son Jordan after he took his own life in December and were rejected.
Then again, what would expect from a government that has fought to keep its own health advice secret?
In Senior Constable Ben Falconer’s case to overturn the police vaccine mandate, the state of WA moved a motion to prevent discovery of its health advice justifying the mandate, as well as to prevent Falconer from leading evidence from experts such as Nikolai Petrovsky. Justice Allanson of the WA Supreme Court decided that discovery should occur within a month before the trial, set for 29-31 March.
At least the Marshal is consistent in applying different rules to different people. Recently, he asked the Federal Court to allow him dispensation not to give evidence in person, but rather via video link in his counter-claim of defamation (in other words, a vanity project) against Clive Palmer. Since the trial is to be heard in Sydney, McGowan wanted to get around his own rules about quarantining on his return. His Attorney-General, John Quigley, also wanted to avoid going since he would be ‘too busy’. In the end, the court ordered them to attend and give evidence at the end of this month.
The Marshal’s avoidance of the media that might give him a hard time must also be noted in this context. The West Australian’s sycophantic support was a given, although, after his decision on January 20 not to open the border that may no longer be the case. His almost complete avoidance of talkback radio during his time as premier reeks of arrogance. McGowan’s one and only appearance on Liam Bartlett’s morning programme was on January 27, 2021. His appearances on Gareth Parker are also few and far between. As Bartlett pointed out, every premier, from Peter Dowding in the 1980s, to Carmen Lawrence and Richard Court in the 1990s, and Geoff Gallop, Alan Carpenter, and Colin Barnett in recent years, all turned up – week in and week out – to face the music of talkback listeners. But not our Marshal. Democracy in action is beneath him.
Yes, the People’s Republic of Westralia is a state of deceit, denial and disgust. And what of the postscript I mentioned in the opening paragraph? Following the disgraceful episode at St Bernadette’s, the Archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe, issued a statement late the following day which states that it was ‘highly regrettable that the police felt themselves obliged to intervene […] during the central act of Catholic worship, sacred to all Catholics’ but that the police ‘should not have been placed in this position.’
Parishioners have since advised me that in his Cathedral, presumably at the behest of its Dean, Fr Sean Fernandez, anyone who wishes to serve Mass must be fully vaccinated.
Of course there is no government mandate in this regard, however, there are reports that acolytes (some of whom have been volunteering for many years) have been turning up to serve Mass during the week and this mandate has been sprung on them by Fr Fernandez without any notice whatsoever. So now the Church in Perth is treating unvaccinated people as lepers, completely contrary to the Gospel message of that special brand of love called charity, as well as real science – not the Marshal’s diabolic, futile and damaging ‘science’.
That really is disgusting.
Dr Rocco Loiacono is a Senior Lecturer at Curtin University Law School. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Curtin University.
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