WE MUST DO BETTER IN THE NEXT PANDEMIC
GOVERNANCE WITH ‘COMMUNIST CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS
It is to the credit of a group of parliamentarians that an independent cross-party inquiry has been convened into the Australian response to the pandemic. This is not a Senate or House Inquiry. Neither government nor opposition wanted that.
Absent a Royal Commission, only through such an inquiry can a peoples’ National Pandemic Contingency Plan emerge. Hopefully, it will not be ignored as former Health Minister Tony Abbot’s was, despite his work being internationally acclaimed. Any assessment should begin by burying the myth that in responding to the pandemic, Australia did relatively well. Occupying a whole continent, Australia enjoys the unique advantage of being the world’s largest remote island nation.
Our death rate should be similar to New Zealand’s, 19 Deaths Per Million, DPM. Taiwan, close to where the virus emerged and hardly remote, comes in at 35 DPM. But Australia’s was many times this, 218 DPM. While total Australian deaths should have been about 780, the Australian total to date is 5665. Worse, for too many, this was too often a lonely departure resulting from a cruel and unjustified policy of depriving the dying, in their final hours, the comfort of children and others close to them.
On any fair assessment, the Australian response to the Wuhan virus has been secretive and arbitrary. In terms of costs and deaths, it has been a disaster. Apart from closer control of the international borders, at times inadequate ─ as we saw with the Ruby Princess─ almost every decision taken by the ruling politicians was wrong.
They set aside what was surely their overriding duty, to protect the easily-identifiable vulnerable. Apart from advice on hygiene and distancing and ensuring early treatment was available, their role should have been to allow the rest of the nation to get on with their lives in a free society. That was the last thing that would be tolerated.
As the distinguished American academic, Michael Rectenwald observed in a recent lecture at Hillsdale College ‘hitherto democratic Western states’ ( he particularly singles out Australia) have been ‘transformed into totalitarian regimes modelled after China’. This. he says, was done to have economies operate under ‘’capitalism with (communist) Chinese characteristics’’, a two-tiered economy with profitable monopolies and government on the top and socialism for the majority below.
This led to the probably unlawful imposition of that draconian Chinese communist remedy, the lockdown. The sheer inutility of this is demonstrated by the fact that the state with the longest lockdowns, Victoria, was the very one with the largest number of deaths, to date 2,675.
OBSESSIONS: MODELLING & VACCINES
This also led to an unhealthy obsession not only with invariably wrong modelling but also with Big Pharma’s vaccines. Robert Kennedy Jr, with the imprimatur of a large team of scientists including two Nobel Prize laureates, describes these in his recent book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Big Pharma’s Global War on Democracy, Humanity, and Public Health as “novel, shoddily tested and improperly licensed technology.”
Under US Federal law, these vaccines could not qualify for Emergency Use Authorisation, EUA, if any existing FDA-approved drug proves effective against the same malady. This explains the worldwide campaign by Big Pharma, supported by Big Media and Big Digital, not only against ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine but also against the very idea of early treatment.
Given the lack of proper testing, the immediate effect of the vaccines is still a matter for proper assessment, with the long-term consequences unknown. Accordingly, governments should have concentrated on offering them to the most vulnerable. Instead, their use has been almost universally forced on the population despite federal assurances to the contrary. Proposed crossbench legislation to stop this was blocked, notwithstanding legal advice that the Commonwealth is empowered to enact this.
In addition, there has been a wholly unnecessary program to vaccinate children with such ‘shoddily tested ‘ vaccines, even though children are in no way seriously vulnerable unless they have other medical problems. Statistics indicate that of all those under 20, 6 died, 4 under 10.
The Beijing style draconian policies adopted by governments have had deleterious impacts on Australians, about their finances, their work, their businesses, their education, and their mental health. The delays in elective surgery and testing for all sorts of diseases, including cancer, will no doubt have a deleterious effect. The nation and especially future generations have been left a massive debt. None of this was necessary; all of this must be avoided in planning to respond to the next virus.
ABUSE OF POWER
What we saw during the crisis was the culmination of the gradual whittling away under the rigorous two-party system of the protections against the phenomenon about which Acton famously warned, that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In many ways, the best protection against this was in the intricate structure of checks and balances which once characterized our system of government, even in colonial times.
But during the crisis the power to make law by regulation was secretive, slipping entirely both from proper audit in the executive council to ensure the propriety of the process and proper parliamentary scrutiny. What we saw everywhere was government at the whim of one or two ruling politicians. One example was the closing down of the NSW construction industry (costing $1.4B) apparently without medical advice.
This abuse was accompanied by an absence of federal leadership and the exercise of federal powers.
As to a solution, it is possible that as with the live cattle ban, much regulatory action will be found after years of litigation to constitute misfeasance in public office. If so, the taxpayers and not the delinquent politicians will pay. Solutions more immediate than litigation lie in the first place with all Australians when they come to cast their votes. The future pandemic plan must surely involve the restoration of traditional checks and balances in our system of governance.
Further. the dose of direct democracy which we already see in the requirement for a constitutional referendum should be extended as proposed in the petition change.org/takebackyourcountry so that the ruling politicians are henceforth truly accountable, 24/7, to the Australian people.
[This is drawn from my written and oral submission on 23 March 2022 to the independent cross-party inquiry]
To return to the constitutional model, we took much from America, while ignoring the fact that allowing the Supreme Court a blank cheque in constitutional interpretation had proved a disaster, as well as the wisdom in spelling out the assumptions that the people have rights other than those expressed and that powers not expressly granted to the Commonwealth belong to the states or the people.
The result is that of all countries, Australia is the one which can most claim joint Anglo-American parentage. From the momentous visit of Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet in 1908, arranged by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin without British approval, General Sir John Monash commanding both Australian and American troops in the decisive Battle of Hamel, through to our being involved with the Americans in every major military engagement since, the relationship with the United States is indeed special.
So much so that in the Second World War, several cinemas played not only God Save The King and Advance Australia Fair, but also The Star-Spangled Banner, a harbinger for AUKUS, recognition of the close bonds between three free people. This will have consequences, especially with the emerging Beijing-Moscow-Tehran Axis, with the erratic delinquent North Korea in Beijing’s sphere of influence.
After her illegal annexation of much of the South China Sea, Taiwan is now in the forefront of Beijing’s territorial ambitions. If the US draws a line over Taiwan, as Britain did over Poland in 1939, the involvement of Australia and the UK is now undeniable.
If Beijing is rational, AUKUS will be a restraint against any further adventurism. Nevertheless, Beijing will no doubt accelerate its unlawful economic punishment of Australia for insubordination and possibly direct a similar campaign against the UK. Those who insisted that we did not need to choose between Beijing and Washington must now admit that this is no longer true, if in fact it ever were. This is notwithstanding the substantial Beijing lobbies, which unlike the Soviet fellow-travellers of old, are driven by fast-disappearing economic gains.
With one dominant fear, that dictatorships fall from failed military adventurism, internal uprisings or institutional collapse, Beijing will suspect that with AUKUS, there has been some toughening of resistance in Washington, London and Canberra. All three governments must now return to fundamental priorities and forget games about climate change, and similar make-believe.
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Professor David Flint AM is an emeritus professor of law and was chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Press Council, president of the National Federation of the English Speaking Union, Associate Commissioner with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and convenor of the Committee of Australian Law Deans. He has been National Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy since the 1999 referendum campaign. He has authored books on topics such as the media, international economic law and on the Constitution. At Barcelona in 1991 he received a World Jurist Association award as World Outstanding Legal Scholar. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1995. His Good Sauce show,Take Back Your Country, discusses the problems and solutions to the decay of federalism and democracy.
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