From August 2nd, the government of the state of Victoria, largest city Melbourne, has re-instituted a severe lockdown of over 5 million people, after the appearances of more positive cases.
Many are saying these strategies are too extreme and are causing untold damage economically and personally. The UK Daily Mail’s article on August 22nd reports the implications:
“Police and army entering your home without a warrant, 8pm curfew and up to 400,000 jobs lost: Melbourne’s lockdown is labelled the worst EVER breach of Aussie freedoms as calls grow for it to be scrapped”
“Victoria’s state of disaster, from 2 August, gives huge power to the government.”
“The Police Minister can seize private property and officers can enter homes.”
“Research group Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) says Melbourne’s stage-four restrictions have gone too far.”
“Up to 400,000 are set to lose their jobs due to forced closure of businesses.”
Furthermore Australia’s Premier has initiated an on the spot fine of $5,000 for anybody who breaches the new restrictions. Yes, that is correct. A $5,000 fine. The Premier is also hoping to extend the State of Emergency, enabling him to extend all these restrictions for another 1-2 years. It is currently being debated in the state government.
Australia has already seen some of the most stringent and draconian policies in response to COVID19 in the world. The Premier Scott Morrison recently said he would like to make a vaccine mandatory but was forced under pressure to pull back from that statement. People from Victoria can’t cross state borders, under penalty of six months in prison and a $11,000 fine. The extraordinary limits imposed on Victoria’s citizens suspends all normal democratic laws and allows authorities to seize property, stop people on streets without reason, and insist on seeing permits required to be outside your own home. The government has not formally met since March and yet continues to receive their salaries. According to the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia (a video is linked to the Daily Mail article) it is estimated that many thousands will permanently lose their jobs as businesses will not open again and up to 3.2 billion dollars a week is being lost due to business closures.
Despite this catastrophic prediction, the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews has said he wants to extend the State of Emergency for another 12 months. In order to be able to do this, it would require the passing of a new law and he will need the support of opposition and backbenchers in his government. As of now, a State of Emergency can only be in place for 6 months and is due to expire in September. The prospect of its extension is causing serious concern and constitutional questions regarding the state of democracy in Victoria if such executive power is allowed.
The figures and lockdown
The total number of deaths assigned to COVID19 in Australia over the last eight months, is 549 in a population of 25 million, or approximately 22 deaths per million.
As we have said many times, every death is a tragedy, but the negative and potentially catastrophic impacts of lockdown are being witnessed across the world. From crashed economies to mass unemployment, to literally starvation in the developing world and a huge spike in suicides and domestic violence.
It could be argued that if lockdown hadn’t happened, the death rate would be higher, but as mentioned on this blog already, other countries that did lockdown had high death rates. Countries that didn’t lockdown including Japan have had very low death rates and Sweden with no lockdown has a lower death rate than the UK, Spain and Italy. Lockdown or not makes little difference, and furthermore evidence is emerging that the impact of lockdown will kill far more people than COVID19 itself. .
Many countries are still insisting that lockdown is the best policy. It was initially justified to flatten the curve and lower the Ro number. Now we are seeing an attempt to totally “suppress” the disease and stop spread of the virus, measured solely on the number of positive PCR tests and not the number of deaths, hospitalisations and patients in ICU. In this attempt, Australia is now embarking on one of the most draconian lockdowns imaginable.
It needs to be stated clearly the nature of these lockdowns. It is now, in all but name, a police state. Police are allowed to enter homes without permission and remove people to quarantine facilities. They can confiscate property in the name of COVID19. People must remain at home 23 hours a day, and are allowed to exercise outdoors for just one hour. They cannot travel further than 5km from their home. They need a permit to leave and to work. They cannot visit family, or gather together. There are military and police patrols with drones and helicopters to find those not following the rules. None of this even begins to describe the accompanying economic implosion. Can this be justified? It cannot.
It is clear that Covid19 affects elderly and vulnerable people with co-morbidities. No one can refute this. Apart from those most vulnerable, over 99% of people recover. How is it possible to rationalize closing down the lives of 5 million people in Victoria, based on a small number of new cases, given the known inaccuracy of the PCR test used to detect them. Not only will it destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people and the economy for many years to come, but perhaps more importantly it sets a terrible precedent, that the democratically elected leader of a state in Australia can simply eviscerate all fundamental freedoms, based on a profoundly wrong analysis of the risks of Covid19. This is unprecedented and by any measure of democracy, unacceptable and dangerous.
On September 5th a national demonstration is being planned in Australia. It will be a test how the people in Australia resist the imposition of martial law and how the authorities respond to this tragic situation.