Melbournistan: Australians are terrified as ‘draconian’ measures continue

Alan Jones
Australians are being forced to “live like battery hens”
….as draconian measures, massive policing powers, nightly curfews and extraordinary lockdowns are being imposed in the nation, says Sky News host Alan Jones. “When is this nonsense going to stop,” Mr Jones said. “Locking people in their home, taking people out of school, forcing people to live like battery hens”. “Police able to enter your home with neither a warrant nor permission. “We can’t go on focusing just on deaths from the virus and ignoring the deaths caused by the lockdowns.” Mr Jones said as the alarmism over the virus continues, with just dozens of people in intensive care around the country from the disease. “Yet people are terrified”. “We cannot keep swallowing what is being dished out to us every day about another case here, 10 more cases there”.
There’s anger in Richmond tonight after confirmation Melbourne’s strict curfew doesn’t apply to the safe injecting room.

The government says it’s an essential service, but locals are concerned drug users are flouting the rules.

Rewriting the social contract in Victoria is damaging our democracy

Janet Albrechtsen The Australian August 8, 2020
Sympathy for Victorians from Australians across the country is sky-high. No one deserves the hardship and heartache that Victorians face just days into the most severe lockdown this country has ever seen. But this sentiment for fellow Australians has its limits, too. To be sure, few could have foreseen that the Andrews government would handle the COVID-19 pandemic as poorly as it has, or that the Labor Premier and his ministers, especially Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, would shirk democratic accountability as flagrantly as they have. But with that now laid bare, if Victorians re-elect the Andrews government, they shouldn’t be surprised if the nation’s sympathy disappears.
It’s not just that the economic costs inflicted on the national economy by the Andrews government shutting down Victoria will last well beyond the next Victorian election due in 2022.
Worse than that, we are witnessing in Victoria potentially dangerous changes to the social contract around power and accountability. Victorians risk bequeathing to the next generation a very different democratic deal that goes to the heart of what we expect from those who govern us.
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In the past week, the Andrews government has failed to explain how the more draconian lockdown measures — from heavy-handed policing powers to nightly curfews and workplace restraints that threaten food supplies to Victorians — are proportionate to the risks faced from COVID-19.
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Short of developing and administering an effective vaccine very quickly, there is no prospect of COVID-19 being eradicated in the near future. The virus must be managed, with proportionate, sustainable measures that are consistent with a basic social contract between the governed and those who govern us.
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During myriad crises including wars and pandemics, people have accepted increased restrictions on how they live in order to minimise harm. But it was always the case that basic liberties rest with citizens, and the government of the day must explain why restrictions, such as curfews, were needed.
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The inflated language of “shock and awe” from Premier Daniel Andrews and his health advisers is a deliberate betrayal of not only our evolving social contract but of history too. COVID-19 is not a war; lights don’t need to be turned off to hide from the enemy. There are no civil riots on the streets of Melbourne to warrant people being ordered into their homes between 8pm and 5am.
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The Andrews government has not put forward a single scientific reason, let alone a proportionate justification, for imposing a nightly curfew on the people of Melbourne. The coronavirus is not more contagious at night. In any case, bars and restaurants have been shut down. The city is a ghost town, with only essential workers, government-issued permits in hand, allowed to work.
Surely it makes better sense to lessen crowds by spreading the number of people leaving their homes for exercise or caregiving or shopping for food across more hours.
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But Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has justified the curfew as a measure to help police crack down on people who are out of their homes for non-essential reasons. When the only justification for locking people in their homes under threat of criminal sanction is to make policing easier, we alter, at our peril, a fundamental understanding that when a government controls how we live that it makes sense.
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As Melbourne lawyer Michael Borsky noted this week, “our society has confronted greater challenges before, without derogating from fundamental democratic protections. Parliament sat during both world wars and the Spanish flu. Curfew has never been imposed across Melbourne — not even during the wars or police force strikes.”
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The Premier’s declaration of a state of disaster hands the Police Minister extraordinary powers. As Borsky outlined, the minister can suspend the operation of any legislation passed by parliament; control all movement into, within and out of Victoria; take possession and make use of any person’s property; and direct any government agency to do or refrain from doing any act.
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This is not some academic discussion about liberty. Incredibly, in recent days it has become about securing food and grocery supplies for Victorians. Restrictions that cause such extreme consequences must surely be proportionate to the danger at hand.
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This heavy-handed lockdown imposed on Victorians by the Andrews government will cost the young dearly. It will alter the educational trajectories of many young Australians, not just years 11 and 12 students but many more may leave school well before they should. It will tip some, perhaps many, young people into a dark abyss of mental illness. It will damage their prospects of getting work, of starting careers.
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The heavy-handed lockdown of businesses by the Andrews government inevitably will lead young people to question why they should open a small business if it can be shutdown overnight by government diktat. And then consider the consequences for this generation of being laden with government debt for many decades to come. Unlike the generation before us who sacrificed so we could live better lives, we are not bequeathing to the next generation a better life. Instead, we are inflicting dreadful injustices on the young by demanding that they make life-changing sacrifices for the old. Are the old even on board with this?
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As Brian McNamee, the former chief executive of biotech company CSL, said last week in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, “We’re harming the social contract with our own society and particularly our youth and small businesses. We have encouraged a generation of young people to have productive roles — careers, education and opportunities — if we are not careful these will not be fulfilled. We have similarly encouraged people to bravely forge an independent economic future as sole traders and small business.”
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If laws that restrict our lives and our livelihoods cannot be explained, they have no place in a democratic society. Yet that fundamental tenet of a modern democracy is changing under our noses. And this dangerous shift is made worse when coupled with another, equally radical departure from the past.
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While imposing restrictions and assuming powers that lack basic proportionality, the Andrews government is simultaneously shirking accountability for its decisions, most notably its failures to manage hotel quarantine procedures.
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As this newspaper has reported, genomic testing evidence is expected to reveal that almost all of Victoria’s second wave is directly linked to the monumental mistake of the Andrews government using untrained and ill-equipped private contractors to oversee hotel quarantine. Once unleashed by community transmission, the Andrews government then failed to properly trace the spread of the virus.
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With serious questions to answer about additional, and needless, deaths from COVID-19, and the devastating economic, physical, mental, educational and social devastation Victorians face from another, more extreme lockdown, the Andrews government used its numbers to make sure that Victoria’s lower house of parliament did not sit this week.
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While the Labor government couldn’t swing the same in the Victorian upper house, Mikakos refused to answer questions when the Legislative Council sat for a single day on Tuesday. Asked about the date she was advised about serious issues with hotel security, and when she would release details of genomic testing of Victoria’s deadly second wave of COVID-19 cases, the Victorian Health Minister promised to provide written answers the next day. On Wednesday, she reneged, citing the public inquiry into the hotel quarantine program.
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That same day retired judge Jennifer Coate, who is conducting the inquiry, made a pointed and powerful intervention. She said nothing prevented a “person from commenting or answering questions to which they know the answers on matters which are the subject of examination by this board of inquiry”.
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Her comments underline the shocking snub to Australian democracy by the Andrews government. By dodging accountability, the Premier is not protecting Victorians; he is protecting his own interests as he tries to hide from a mess of his government’s own making.
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What is unfolding in Victoria risks becoming a more devastating long-term blow to our democracy. If, come the next state election, Victorians re-elect the Andrews government they will signal they agree with less accountability from a government that is responsible for a deadly stuff-up and imposed disproportionate restrictions on people’s lives and livelihoods to deal with that debacle. Victorians will be rewriting the social contract with their submission.
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How much easier it will be for future governments to exercise powers that lack proportionality with less accountability. While democracy might be undermined in slow, incremental steps, the Andrews government is proving how quickly these changes to the social contract undermine our chance to live our best lives.
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1/ Police and soldiers patrol Melbourne’s CBD on day two of mandatory wearing of masks. Picture: Aaron Francis
2/ Victorian Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos walks at a press conference last Sunday. Picture: Getty Images
3/ Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos addressing media at the daily COVID-19 update on Wednesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

 

One thought on “Melbournistan: Australians are terrified as ‘draconian’ measures continue”

  1. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

    “There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread”.

    Given that this virus is survivable at rate of around 997 / 1000 and that the majority of deaths occur to the elderly in the final years of life, usually with co-morbidities, the valid question we should be asking is: to what extent are these lockdowns about
    totalitarian style political control?

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