It was obliging of the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Brendan Murphy, to only conjointly announce his no-more-than-two coronavirus plan 24 hours after a state Labor government sought to ruthlessly maximise the enforced absence and telephonic/online confusion of the LNP’s core constituency by dragging Queensland’s entire adult population to an election. “Gathering” with more than one other person is today allegedly reckless but on Saturday – writ extremely large – it was a civic duty and apparently irrelevant to either Scott Morrison or the CMO. It isn’t just me who finds this exceedingly odd and even suspicious. It’s what most Queenslanders are saying. At this point, I don’t want to hear the usual palaver about Federal and State powers. The “National Cabinet” is now a bully pulpit and it was well within the Prime Minister’s newly assumed – possibly invented – powers to sink Saturday’s quadrennial council polls using moral suasion. “What happened at Bondi Beach was not OK,” he declared a week ago, as a flimsy pretext for “more draconian measures to enforce social distancing.” Nothing “happened” at Bondi, of course, but something certainly did in Queensland the following weekend. In the suddenly chummy world of incumbents, whose members are now arrayed against a common enemy – us – it was mates’ rates for Annastacia Palaszczuk but a phony dad-lecture for everyone else.
Dr Murphy – whose concern for the public’s health cannot be doubted – is now running one of history’s biggest medical experiments and using millions of unemployed individuals to see if it works. He says the exercise is “radical.” As is so often advisable for professorial bureaucrats, a question mark should be drawn over how aware he is of the ruination being caused to lives and to democracy. Like society and the economy, democracy cannot be “shut down.” He says the science – he means modelled projections – shows that if 90 per cent of the population remains indoors, or in twos-only while outdoors (“all of the time”), it might reduce new c-v diagnoses.
So what? The same could be done to reduce B and Es, drunken violence, workplace accidents, sexual assaults and the carnage on our highways. Reducing excess deaths is not that hard for a modern police state. But there is a very large degree of chaos and risk that we have always freely lived with and accepted because the alternative – the “public safety” of historical infamy – is more dangerous to everyone. Here, everyone means the nation and its future citizens, not just me and you and a dog aptly named Boo. This is a key point: what governments are now doing in the name of saving lives has become selfish and a risk to the liberty of our successors in this life. One reporter last night interpreted Mr Morrison’s prim lecturette about your socialising at Woolies as a warning that his next punitive escalation against the population might involve restrictions on shopping itself. Assembly, work and interstate travel have already been prohibited. State police have become the flu-gestapo to enforce these edicts. For a Prime Minister to threaten the nation he sacked with state-controlled foraging is a disgrace. More importantly, it’s an attitude born of earlier submissions to the state’s supremacy. A lack of interest also compounds.