The case for calling off the Covid dogs

This is from Chris Uhlmann in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald, and yet for all that, I find I agree with the whole thing. There is some minor softening of his criticisms but he does seem to get to the heart of the matter and relentlessly makes the case for calling off the Covid dogs. Is Australia reaching some kind of consensus on the madness of the past few months? It’s titled, COVID-19 has hammered home some uncomfortable truths about us as a people.

Soon enough there will be a global reckoning on whether the coronavirus defences did more damage than the disease. It will be driven by the swingeing economic destruction imposed by governments that will deliver millions into poverty, driving internal and external conflicts. Beggared states will turn inward, the world will become more polarised, angrier, more dangerous. In time it’s a fair bet the cure will be seen by many as the real curse, as people whose lives have been destroyed seek retribution.

The COVID cure will be seen as worse than the disease, particularly in Victoria. Though it will be a small wave in the storm, here the Victorian solution and internal border closures should be counted among those judged as doing much more harm than good. That’s because there was abundant evidence by mid-year that pointed to more road maps to recovery than the “only way” decreed by the Victorian Premier or the self-interested, colonial-era border wars led by his peers.

You can forgive the early response of all governments to the horror of a novel virus. Plagues are in the front rank of human threats. In February and March little was known about COVID-19 and the worst was rightly assumed. Australia’s leaders reacted quickly, worked in unison and chose to buy time; to lock their populations down while health systems were fortified with a timetable set for easing their way out. That was a sensible, defensible plan. Now there is no nation plan and that is as indefensible as Victoria’s panic-stricken response. Because now we know much more about the disease and, while it is a serious illness, it is a whole lot less frightening than it is made out to be.

COVID-19 is nowhere near as deadly as the Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 50 million, mostly young, people worldwide. Fifteen thousand of those deaths were in Australia, in a population that was then just 5 million. At the time of writing, COVID-19 had killed about 930,000 people globally. Here 816 have died in a population now pushing towards 26 million. No matter how hard the death of anyone under 50 is spun, it is so vanishingly rare among Australia’s body count as to be close to zero. If you are a woman, it is zero. In Australia there is a far greater statistical chance that someone under 60 will die in a car accident.

COVID-19 mostly kills the elderly, especially if they have an existing chronic disease. That is not an argument to let them die but it should guide government responses. Of the 816 Australian deaths the vast majority, 606, were in residential aged care. So if you are going to throw a ring of steel around anything it should be around aged care homes, not Melbourne. The rest of the population should be liberated to get on with their lives while taking sensible health precautions.

Governing should be about balancing risks against costs and only fools and sophists make arguments based on false choices. The debate is not between what we are doing and doing nothing. It should be about what response delivers the greatest good for the greatest number. The Victorian solution punishes the many for the few. It preferences the very old over the young, mortgaging the future of the entire school and working age population. It is hard to imagine how you could design a policy which is more profoundly unfair or damaging to a society.

If the argument is we must do everything in our power to protect the elderly then were are already doing well. Federal Health Department data, first published in The Australian, shows that there were almost 1000 fewer deaths in residential aged care in the first seven months of this year than in the same time last year. I sourced the same data from the department and received two a tables and a note.

“The lower number of deaths for this period in 2020 (32,398) compared to the same period in 2019 (33,383) is likely the result of increased influenza immunisation rates, and increased infection control protocols introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the health department note said. So, why is it a crime for someone to die of COVID-19 in care but it’s OK if they die of absolutely anything else?

This disease has revealed the character of our leaders and hammered home some uncomfortable truths about us as a people. As a nation we seem comfortable with authoritarianism and too many relish the role of prefect [he means dictator, but that’s the only bit where I feel he may have pulled his punches – SK].

And nowhere in this often-opaque democracy has a less transparent court system, bureaucracy, police force or government than Victoria. The people there have been badly served, even as some revelled in the servitude. Its systems of power have combined to deliver the wanton destruction of its vibrant society. Its government has condemned its people to a poorer future, to higher unemployment, more poverty and less opportunity.

Rejoice. Dan Andrews has destroyed the village to save it.

If the mainstream of the mainstream media are worrying about threats to our freedoms and prosperity from centralised government controls and an overbearing politicisation of the public service and the police, we may yet be able to save ourselves.

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34 Responses to The case for calling off the Covid dogs

  1. nb

    ‘It is hard to imagine how you could design a policy which is more profoundly unfair or damaging to a society’
    What if that was the purpose?
    China ALP.

  2. a reader

    When Uhlmann goes you it means your time is up as a leftie leader

  3. pbw

    Kudos to Chris Uhlmann for this. But what did he think about this last month, or the month before, or in June? Taiwan didn’t lock down. Neither did Sweden. And the Diamond Princess was a floating laboratory from which conclusions about the contagiousness and virulence of SARS-CoV-2 were drawn many months ago. When did the penny drop for Chris? I’ll bet it didn’t happen this week. What kept his mouth shut?

  4. Annie A

    The response from an acquaintance who reads the Age regularly commented about this article.
    He was appalled that it was printed in The Age. Said it would be something he would have expected to see in The Australian. He nearly was going to cancel his subscription. I guess this just proves my point that the Left leaning can not bear to read or accept an alternate view. He only wants to read articles that he agrees with otherwise they should not be allowed to be published in his paper. Or he can not accept the truth perhaps? That the reaction to the virus, by our Leader in Vic has caused more damage to the community than the virus itself.

  5. Jannie

    He does not question their right to destroy the place, he just reckons it was not a good idea.

    It seems we do not have any rights under the unwritten constitution supposedly underpinning English common law. Australia needs a Constitution which specifies our rights, to freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of movement.

  6. vlad

    That the reaction to the virus, by our Leader in Vic has caused more damage to the community than the virus itself.

    There is that.

    But never let it be forgotten that the damage to Victorians from the virus itself was caused by Dan’s incompetence as well.

  7. vlad

    The states not led by the left’s darling have all done much better.

    Dan has overseen ten times the deaths of all the other states and territories put together.

  8. vlad

    I’ll correct myself lest someone else correct me.

    745/87 = 8.56 is the measure of Victorian deaths over the rest of the country.

  9. Nob

    What kept his mouth shut

    Has only now sniffed the wind changing slightly against Andrews.

  10. Annie A

    Vlad @ 11:55pm

    Totally agree. Totally caused by his and the Government’s incompetence.
    Hard to believe there are so many that could allow this to happen.
    And now it looks like a degree of dementia has set in with so much memory loss being used as excuses to determine who made decisions around Hotel Quarantine procedures. And what happened to the minutes of these meetings they could use to jog their memories?

  11. Rob

    Chris Uhlmann is no doubt now learning that pushing back against Coronavirus provoked mass hysteria is futile.
    It’s like like arguing against the belief that global warming is mankind’s doing and that our electricity needs can be met by “renewables” – the only way such madness will be overcome is by letting it rip until there is nothing left to sacrifice. Reality = Coronavirus not killing us all, global cooling replacing global warming, and mankind’s demand for electricity overwhelming concern over how it is generated.

  12. pbw

    Jannie,

    Australia needs a Constitution which specifies our rights…

    We have a Constitution that specifies “absolute freedom” of intercourse between the States. It was toilet paper for the “national cabinet.”

  13. Mak Siccar

    My God! What has Britain become? I hope Dick-tator Dan doesn’t see this article and get ideas.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/09/17/covid-marshals-and-the-rise-of-the-busybody-state/

    The government has announced that a new band of ‘Covid marshals’ will patrol Britain’s streets and ensure that no one is breaking social-distancing rules. They will remind people to keep a two-metre distance, enforce one-way pavements and break up groups of more than six.

    The Covid marshal is merely the latest incarnation of the yellow-jacketed busybody who has become a feature of public space over the past 10 to 20 years. We have become familiar with the generic officious warden, who goes around telling people off for whatever it is they are doing. We see videos of them on YouTube, telling buskers they need a licence, saying that leafleting is banned or asking groups of young people to disperse.

    There are thousands of these officers in Britain. There are an estimated 10,000 neighbourhood or street wardens, over 3,000 ‘accredited persons’ (private individuals given police powers), and dozens of councils employ private security guards to issue fines for minor misdemeanours.

    Both local government and police are in fact entirely ready to enforce the ‘Rule of Six’. There has been a fusion of the council and police through officious mechanisms, and a high degree of collaboration in areas such as anti-social behaviour or environmental enforcement. These institutions have an ingrained hostility towards social gatherings of any kind. The police issue thousands of dispersal orders each year, while dozens of councils have brought through their own dispersal zones, and others have banned people from standing in groups. The London Borough of Hillingdon, for instance, makes it a crime to stand in a group of two or more unless you are waiting at a bus stop.

  14. David Brewer

    You can forgive the early response of all governments to the horror of a novel virus. Plagues are in the front rank of human threats. In February and March little was known about COVID-19 and the worst was rightly assumed.

    Just about everybody says this, across the spectrum. But it’s BS. Virologists knew all about coronaviruses, and this one has followed a classic pattern in its seasonality and its victims, all around the world. There was no convincing evidence that school and business closures, lockdowns and masks would work, and there was no justification for – or evidence of the effectiveness of – drastic measures that would disrupt virtually every economic and social function, and the life of every individual. The Covid panic will eventually take its place among the most foolish and destructive collective delusions in history.

  15. Chris M

    Kudos to Chris Uhlmann for this. But what did he think about this last month, or the month before, or in June?

    Because the polls for Labor were good back then.

    Now they have shifted the plan is to throw Dan, ratchet back and recover the Labor position over the next two years with a fresh leader. Then four more Labor years, through which Uhlmann will be continuously employed.

  16. 132andBush

    @David Brewer “The Covid panic will eventually take its place among the most foolish and destructive collective delusions in history.”

    Spot on.
    The Diamond Princess offered a worst of all cases situation and yet 80% of passengers didn’t get infected and the people who died were old.

    Jannie,
    Be careful what you wish for. Victorians are languishing under a COVID constitution right now.
    Rigidly defined boundaries to rights are not a good idea.

  17. Mark M

    The city of Nashville covered up low COVID19 numbers, in order to perpetuate lockdowns and business closures.
    How many other cities have done the same? Mayors, governors, “trusted officials”…

    https://fox17.com/news/local/covid-19-emails-from-nashville-mayors-office-show-disturbing-revelation

  18. duncanm

    Chris Uhlmann often injects a sliver of sanity into various debates in the Fairfax mastheads.
    For that, he is attacked and pilloried by the usual idiots.

  19. Shy Ted

    Man with job urges other men with jobs to do their job for people who’ve lost their jobs. Just more words. See you at the next protest rally, Chris? Thought not.

  20. Struth

    The covid panic will one day be seen as a very sinister propaganda flooding coup d ‘etat where the global socialists took over in a more hurried and aggressive fashion due to the Trump presidency.
    From the sinister at the top like Soros to the idiot CHO’s who are only too prepared to use their power for the good of the planet’climate , all are at war with the west,
    So there is no going back to freedom from here.
    Is there anyone who thinks it will ever be as free as it was in February?
    Not without a fight.
    The term covid normal will be the catch phrase.
    All it really means is totalitarian government is to be the new normal.

  21. notafan

    Struth perhaps you should look up coup d’etat.

    No-one is overthrowing the Andrews government.

  22. flyingduk

    In February and March little was known about COVID-19 and the worst was rightly assumed. Australia’s leaders reacted quickly, worked in unison and chose to buy time; to lock their populations down while health systems were fortified with a timetable set for easing their way out.

    N0t true, there was plenty already known about the seasonality of respiratory viruses (that is why our cruise ship imports faded out in autumn, and resurged in winter ), the futility of lockdowns (they had long been recommended against due to ineffectiveness and cost), the vulnerability of the elderly (who die by the thousands every flu season – 80% of our ‘COVID” deaths have been in care homes), and the relative ineffectiveness of vaccines (the elderly die regardless of immunisations – the same weak immune systems which make them vulnerable also prevent them responding appropriately to vaccines). The only thing we didn’t know was how quickly our wise rulers would turn into tyrants, and how readily the citizens would accept their chains.

  23. Mark M

    Daniel Andrews’ plan to give police the power to arrest people who haven’t even committed an offence were put to parliament today.
    The new laws would even give public servants the power of arbitrary detention against citizens they think might breach lockdown:
    https://twitter.com/10NewsFirstMelb/status/1306500171828613123

  24. HT

    Just read through the comments section for that article at The Age. Not a lot of love for the article there. Basically, they ignore the facts and/or simply build a strawman to assert an alternative reality.

    Australia. These morons vote, your screwed…

  25. John Bayley

    The Covid panic will eventually take its place among the most foolish and destructive collective delusions in history.

    Until it’s topped by the next ‘imaginary hobgoblin’ (to paraphrase H.L. Mencken).

    Only a few short years ago, if someone told me that:

    – Australia would go full Nazi, over a virus that, according to the CDC, on its own kills less than 6% of the so-called ‘corona victims’, almost all of whom are already at, or past their statistical life expectancy anyway,

    – The belief in the climate scam and the push toward ‘ruinables’ would be as strong as ever,

    – We’d have 0%, or even negative administered interest rates across the world, regardless of the damage this has been causing, and seemingly for ‘as long as it takes’ (to achieve just what, one wonders?),

    – Despite the government-caused economic carnage, we’d have stock markets not far off (here) or at record highs (USA), where outright fraudulent companies with no product are worth tens of billions of dollars…

    …I would think that person was entirely mad.

    Yet it seems the joke is on me, and those like me, who somehow continue to believe that the ‘sheeple’ will suddenly turn rational, without having to experience a severe economic depression, and perhaps a war, somewhere in between.

  26. Tony Taylor

    That article has an entertaining comments section.

  27. H B Bear

    Until it’s topped by the next ‘imaginary hobgoblin’ (to paraphrase H.L. Mencken).

    Exactly. Government (and the media) would have you believe we move from one “crisis” to another and we could not deal with it without them. A pure fiction – like the government “creating” jobs.

  28. dasher

    I am still gobsmacked at how reckless we are and I still cannot fathom the thinking that would save a handful of lives and destroy the livelihood of the vast majority (noting that as Uhlman said..that does not mean cutting the old loose it means doing our best but not at any cost, nothing is done at any cost…except COVID defence)

    It seems that no threat is too trivial and no measure is too extreme in our approach to this relatively benign disease. We are generation of fools where facts don’t matter, seeming to do things trumps pragmatic sensible action.

    Peak madness..I have to stop before I spoil my day!!

    Oh and BTW I am 73 years of age.

  29. nb

    Awaken with JP – The Pandemic Hotline
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uese-6Xln7o
    How ridiculous it is.

  30. H B Bear

    Mr Gai Brodtmann was always the closest to balanced of the ALPBC staff co-op. Probably why he is not there now.

  31. cuckoo

    Australia needs a Constitution which specifies our rights, to freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of movement.

    Bless you Annie, but no and again no. Can you imagine what kind of monstrosity any modern government would produce if they were drafting a constitution or bill of rights today? Remember we live in a country where the two most activist anti-rights bodies are the Human Rights Commission and Liberty Victoria.

  32. Tim Neilson

    cuckoo
    #3589159, posted on September 18, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Absolutely.

    Everyone would be given the “right” to have the government interfere in every aspect of everyone’s lives to “protect” everyone’s rights not to be offended (unless you’re Christian, conservative, white, heterosexual, etc…), not to have “climate change” occur, not to make bad decisions about their own lives, not to hear or read anything that didn’t meet approved standards, etc.

  33. H B Bear

    Better to leave it up to the High Court to discover implied rights in the Constitution as and when required.
    The last thing you want is to give activist judges a laundry list of rights like the European Court of Justice.

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