About twelve million Australians are in lockdown. Brisbane is now the fourth major Australian city in lockdown, as the state politicians have forced residents to stay at home for at least three days due to alleged concerns about the spread of the latest variant of COVID-19. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took the opportunity to issue the following threat:
“This is going to be part of the Australian way of life until everyone is vaccinated”.1
In Western Australia, just less than two months after the population returned to a life without lockdowns, three new cases have been recorded and the Perth and Peel regions have once again been forced into another lockdown. More than two million people will have to stay at home until at least 12.01am on Saturday, July 3.
Western Australia has recorded zero new cases of COVID-19 on the first day of lockdown in Perth and the Peel region. Premier Mark McGowan says this is “encouraging news, but we have a long way to go” after 14,771 tests were carried out. In announcing these restrictions, WA Health Minister Roger Cook contended that there was likely to be a “significant” number of casual contacts linked to the case. He said:
“These are very proactive, deliberate and aggressive responses to a potential threat to the Western Australian community.” 2
Deliberate and aggressive responses to a potential threat to the community from only three cases! Such politicians are busy talking and acting tough whilst everyday people are having their lives turned upside down for what? How many people are in hospital? Surely that is what is important. While this delta variant may be more transmissible, by all accounts it is less dangerous, hence the low numbers of people hospitalised.
This obsession with case numbers has to end or it will destroy this country. The virus is here to stay and we have to learn to live with it. Exactly as Singapore is doing. In Singapore, they have made the rational decision to live with the virus as an endemic disease – no quarantine, no goals of zero transmission and no isolation for close contacts.
It is about time we demand an end to lockdowns and daily counting of case numbers. As long as the elderly and frail are protected, the rest of us should be able to get on with our lives and trust our immune system to do its job. As Professor David Flint reminds us in The Spectator Australia:
It was none other than the National Cabinet which imposed the lockdown disaster on Australia as the response to the Wuhan virus on the basis of modelling similar to the exaggerations which had constantly emerged from University College London. It was to ‘flatten the curve’ – in other words, to ensure the hospitals could cope. No one pretended then they could wipe out the Wuhan virus.3
However, local oligarchs such as Premier McGowan want to eliminate the virus entirely. He says repeatedly at his press conferences that he wants to “crush the disease”. McGowan stated on January 8:
“We need to eliminate it. We are an island. We need to use our advantages to eliminate the virus.”4
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The WA Government has for three times in a row locked up two million people in their homes over fears of community spread of coronavirus due to a few positive cases. Last time, the only positive case came from a quarantine hotel, the Mercure Hotel. The Premier had been warned on 8 April that the Mercure’s air ventilation system presented a serious risk for virus transmission and thus it should not be used for quarantine. Yet this advice was completely ignored.5 As noted by Caroline Di Russo, a report regarding ventilation was given to the Chief Health Officer on 8 April, and he then advised the government that the Mercure Hotel was not fit for hotel quarantine. In the meantime, a person contracted COVID-19 at the Mercure before being released into the community.6
Here is my humble proposal: Every time politicians such as Premier McGowan shut down the state for just a few potential coronavirus cases, they should bear full responsibility personally, including a 50 per cent pay cut. After all, what such politicians need to do is follow world’s best practice as exhibited by Taiwan. Over 900 Australians have died (130 times the number of deaths in Taiwan) because politicians here, such as Mark McGowan, have the hubris to think they can eliminate a virus.7
According to Dr Rocco Loiacono, if Premier McGowan and his notorious Deputy, Health Minister Roger Cook, had done their homework, they might have learned how Taiwan, with a population of 25 million people crammed on an island, only had 7 coronavirus-related deaths and no lockdown. It is also worth reminding him that COVID-19 has an infection mortality rate of less than 1 per cent for those under 70 years of age but conveniently ignored, naturally, since fear-mongering does wonders for your polling.8
Meanwhile, an utterly demoralised Prime Minister is presently calling an emergency national cabinet meeting to deal with growing COVID-19 lockdowns. Why, what for? Why bother with a Federal Government which has no power – or certainly have not used it to bring these Premiers into line.
There is no such thing as the Australian Federation anymore – just a whole lot of little countries controlled by entrenched local oligarchies which are devoid of any regard for the most basic rights of the citizen.
The fact Morrison cannot and will not articulate a road map out of this hellhole he has put us in is quite frankly unforgivable. Under his disastrous “leadership”, the situation in Australia remains as follows:
- There is no plan to permanently open the state borders.
- There is no plan to open the international border.
- There is no plan to stop the lockdowns.
- There is no plan to protect the vulnerable whilst allowing us to continue living our lives.
- There is no plan to stop the panic.
This is total madness. We are living a pandemic of arrogance and stupidity.
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Dr Augusto Zimmermann PhD, LLM, LLB, DipEd, CertIntArb is co-editor of the book Fundamental Rights in the Age of Covid-19. He is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education in Perth/WA, and Professor of Law (Adjunct) at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus. He is President of the Western Australian Legal Theory Association (WALTA), and former Law Reform Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, from 2012-2017. Dr Zimmermann was chair and professor of Constitutional Law at Murdoch University from 2007 to 2017.
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- Jason Scott, ‘Australia’s Brisbane Hit With Three-Day Covid Lockdown’, Bloomberg, March 29, 2021
- Yoni Bashan, ‘Emergency Covid Meeting as States Scramble’, The Australian, June 27, 2021
- David Flint, ‘Why Do Politicians Pretend They Can Wipe Out The Wuhan Virus?’, The Spectator Australia, 22 December 2021
- Rocco Loiacono, ‘Move Over, Dictator Dan: Marshal Mark is the New Laughable Lord of the Lockdown’, The Spectator Autralia, February 3, 2021
- Rocco Loiacono, ‘Mark McGowan, WA’s Lazy Lord of the Lockdown’, The Spectator Australia, April 25, 2021
- Caroline Di Russo, ‘Mark McGowan, The Premier Who Cried “Wolf”’, The Spectator Australia, April 27, 2021
- Flint, above n.3.
- Loiacono, above n.5.