X Close

Inside Melbourne’s eternal lockdown Will the city ever recover from its pursuit of Zero Covid?

Anger rules in the Lockdown Capital of the World (Getty Images)


October 11, 2021   5 mins

Last week Melbourne acquired the dubious honour of becoming the Lockdown Capital of the World: it has now spent 252 days in lockdown, overtaking Buenos Aires, where restrictions were in place for 245 days. By the time the current — sixth – lockdown is scheduled to end on 26 October, Melburnians will have been in lockdown for 267 days, or 45% of the time since the pandemic officially began.

And yet, at least in Australia, there is nothing overtly remarkable about the interminable restrictions the Victorian capital has had to endure. Like every other state, its political leaders have been committed to a Zero Covid strategy — driven by a woefully unprepared health system — that necessitates lockdowns in response to uncontrolled outbreaks. Even New South Wales, the one state that tried “living with Covid’ at the start, folded in the face of a major outbreak in July and is currently in its third month of lockdown.

Nevertheless, other states’ shutdowns have not nearly been as lengthy. And spending almost half of the pandemic under restrictions has certainly left its mark on Melbourne.

There are the “stay at home orders” which mean that anyone not deemed an “authorised worker” must work from home. For approximately 65% of the workforce this has meant working longer hours as office life seeps into the home. Meanwhile, throughout most of the lockdown, schools have also been closed. The impact has been stark: children in Victoria are already falling behind their peers in the country.

But at least they can play outside again; the Government re-opened playgrounds following a three-week closure in August. For adults, however, there are only five reasons to leave home: shopping for essentials, authorised work, exercise, caregiving and medical appointments. Yet even these luxuries are restricted. For example, only one person from a household can go shopping, once a day. And unless you’re exercising, you must wear a mask outside, even though a number of health experts believe there is no medical basis for this.

Even with a mask on, where can you go? I have walked the same route every day to my local cafĂ©, where the staff greet me with varying degrees of despair or weary optimism that we might open up “one day”. Fortunately, Melbourne prides itself on its cafes, so there is likely to be one within 5km of your house, which, until two weeks ago, was the limit for how far you can travel. As a result, I’ve walked through every single green space within 5km of my home, sometimes with a friend, since the Government has allowed exercise with one other person.

That radius has now expanded to 15km — though residents still can’t stray too far. A curfew, which runs from 9pm-5am, is still in place, turning life into a “reverse Groundhog Day”, where each identical day becomes less comforting and amusing.

Things are not much better in the city’s economy. Melbourne’s famed vibrant 24-hour city life has been gutted, as workers stay at home and bars and restaurants are closed. The arts and entertainment sectors — an afterthought when it comes to government support — have also been crippled. To top it off, economists estimate that around $1 billion is lost from the economy for each week of lockdown, and one in three small businesses are seriously considering closing. While city life sprang back into life after last year’s lockdown was lifted, there are serious doubts if it can do so again.

In the broader community, too, the institutions that keep society together — the sports teams, community groups and voluntary organisations — are all closed. Mental health experts say people in Melbourne are now up to seven times more anxious, depressed and stressed than before the pandemic, and the number of people experiencing loneliness has increased by 54%. Compared to 2019, calls to mental health and suicide prevention lines in Australia have increased by 40%, with three of Lifeline’s busiest days in its 58-year history coming in August 2021, as lockdown returned to Victoria.

Admittedly, Melbourne’s lockdown is not unique, with many other parts of the world going through similar restrictions at various points in the past year. What is different, though, is not only its length, but also the fact that it keeps happening again, and every time in a different context. In reality, Melbourne’s lockdown is defined by three very different periods, the culmination of which has made dealing with these restrictions increasingly difficult.

The city’s first lockdown, from 30 March to 12 May 2020, was, if not exciting, at least novel and unprecedented. While certainly coupled with fear of the unknown, it was also a shared experience with the rest of the country and other parts of the world. This made it easier to bear, especially once Australia’s federal government eventually doubled the unemployment benefit and provided a generous wage subsidy scheme. Indeed, studies have shown that Australian’s overall mental health actually improved during this period, as society adjusted relatively well to the new reality.

But this all changed during Victoria’s second lockdown, from 8 July to 27 October 2020. This 111-day ordeal, sparked by failures in the state’s hotel quarantine system for returning citizens, was particularly draining, especially when harsher measures, such as the curfew, were introduced. It was also doubly difficult watching the rest of the country getting on with their lives, oblivious to what life was like in the “lockdown state”, but quick to sneer at the management of the outbreak.

Yet the combination of external disparagement and parochial defensiveness meant that the second lockdown was wildly popular, with 72% of Victorians supporting it, while Premier Dan Andrews sparked a fanatical following on social media, prompted in part by a newfound obsession with his sartorial choices.

Moreover, once the lockdown ended, Melbourne enjoyed a glorious summer, where bars, restaurants and city life returned to “normal”. A short, five-day lockdown in February was a brief reminder the pandemic was not over, but the city quickly reverted to its usual rhythms.

However, the fourth (14 days), fifth (12 days) and sixth (ongoing) lockdowns, which began on 27 May, in effect constituting a single lockdown, are a different story. From the start they have been accompanied by a sense of disbelief that we are doing this again, after all the “hard work” of last year.

And so there has been anger: with the state government for imposing vaccine mandates; with mass protests flooding the (empty) city streets and getting into violent confrontations with the police; with states like NSW for allowing the current outbreak to spread into Victoria; with Covid-free Queensland and Western Australia posturing about the virtues of lockdowns while not experiencing them; with the federal government for refusing the provide the same economic support as last year; and with it again for its disastrous vaccine “stroll out”, which has left the population completely unprepared for the Delta variant (only 21% of Victorians were fully vaccinated when the latest lockdown began on 5 August).

It is unsurprising, then, that there is none of the enthusiastic support for the Premier’s handling of the pandemic of last year, with polls indicating that voters are turning on the Government. In its place is either outward hostility, as with the protests, or indifference, as people gradually stop following the lockdown orders. Indeed, compliance is visibly down, with the Premier reduced to pleading with people to stay the course. But after more than 250 days of lockdown, the community has few reserves left to draw on.

To its credit, the Government seems to have realised this, abandoning its cherished goal of Covid elimination, and instead aiming to open up when 80% of adults are double-jabbed, no matter the case numbers. And, importantly, it has promised that there’s no going back this time, that once we open, we will stay open, perhaps recognising a seventh lockdown would simply crumble in the face of non-compliance.

Whether this determination can hold if cases explode, or if there’s a new outbreak, remains uncertain. But it does point to the grim truth that lockdowns — an already blunt tool in the pandemic management toolbox — get blunter the more you use them, and produce more and more damage in the process. As Melbourne has finally realised, lockdowns can’t last forever.


Tom Chodor is a Senior Lecture in Politics and International Relations at Monash University.

TomChodor

Join the discussion


Rejoignez des lecteurs partageant les mĂȘmes idĂ©es qui soutiennent notre journalisme en devenant abonnĂ©s payants.

Subscribe

To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

97 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Yetter
David Yetter
2 years ago

Do any Aussie subscribers have any insight into why the policy delusion that the sole human goods are avoiding infection with and death from the SarsCov-2 virus has been embraced with particular enthusiasm by policy makers Down Under? Admittedly it is universal among Western elites outside of Sweden, but it seems worse in the antipodes than here in the US or even in the UK.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

…Australasia is now a Feminarchy: Shut the gate, Stay inside, Do what mummy tells you. Dan Andrews is the just the biggest girl that’s all…..

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Big Mother instead of Big Brother.

jim peden
jim peden
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

I like the term ‘Feminarchy’ – it’s neater than ‘Feminocracy’. Thanks! I suspect that this meme is gaining ground.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Yeah , let’s all blame women, uppity little blighters. I know, let’s replace them with chaps in dresses, that way rationality would reign.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Niobe Hunter

Feminism reigns supreme!

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Two words offer a partial explanation: island mentality. It’s a very large island, but it’s still an island.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago

‘Penal’ island to be exact.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Can’t offer an Aussie perspective, I’m afraid. But from outside, it seems they were caught early on in the Zero-COVID delusion. One feature of policy narratives is that they can be very hard to escape from.
Politicians, but also the majority of the public, came to believe in lockdown. When you believe the elevator button will deliver you a lift, you just keep punching that button harder and harder, even when no lift comes. You’re committed to the policy, emotionally and politically. It takes a lot to change course and tell everyone to take the stairs instead.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Many in recent times have rehashed Clive James’s observation that the problem with Australia isn’t that people are descended from convicts, but that they’re descended from prison officers.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew D
Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Prisoners mimicking their prison guards?

Jacqueline Walker
Jacqueline Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

I used to live there and I left partly because, well not because I could see something like this coming of course, but because it was at the forefront of social engineering 24 years ago when I left and I didn’t like where it was going.
There were all the public health campaigns, advertising to influence your food choices to “low,fat”, slip slop slap for sunscreen, bike helmets by law. I was told once that in Victoria it’s illegal to clear your own gutters ! In WA you have to tell the local council and possibly the police if your teenagers intend holding a party!
Aussies are always expecting “the guv’mint” to do something rather than take responsibility themselves.
So it’s no surprise to me that they rolled over at this repression or even revelled in it.

Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago

Running health campaigns are so repressive, hey.

There are no laws requiring people to ‘slip, slop, slap’, the campaign to encourage people to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunblock and slap on a hat. Australia had the highest rate of skin cancer in the World. It was not uncommon to know someone who died from a melanoma (I do, he was an outdoor worker, diagnosed in the 1980’s and died a few months after diagnosis).

There are no laws requiring people cut their cholesterol intake (your reference to low, fat food).

There is a law requiring helmet wearing and seat belt wearing. Compulsory seat belts were brought in the 1970s. Helmet wearing on motor bikes have been around for generations, push bikes since around the 1980s. There was a lot of debate then about these laws, the anti-brigade arguing about choice and freedom. I don’t think anyone’s died from helmet or belt wearing, but I certainly recall the common outcome of a car collision of the front passenger going through the windscreen. Happened to a friend of mine, because she wasn’t wearing a belt. She was lucky to only have her face smashed up and not a permanent brain injury.

Oh, and it is not illegal to clean your own gutters. That just proves that hyperbole existed long before social media.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Gia Underwood

Seat belt mandates were brought in to reduce the insurance companies’ liabilities.

Follow the money.

Vaccine mandates are being brought in to supplement the drug companies’ profits.

Follow the money.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago

“Aussies are always expecting “the guv’mint” to do something rather than take responsibility themselves.”

Like a bunch of debilitated prisoner outcasts.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Indeed.

And…there are all sorts of arguments between total lockdowns and no lockdowns, and also the Swedish model, but surely severe outdoor restrictions are supported by no-one, not even scientists

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

The former Dominions of the British Empire seem to share an extreme attitude about Covid 19. Australia and New Zealand with their zero infection policy, and Canada with its vicious vaccine certification mandate. What will they all do as vaccine induced immunity reduces and ‘cases’ rise inexorably? Especially the former two where community infection has been kept low through lockdown so natural immunity is almost entirely absent?

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Not the polished rational responses you would expect from the British Empire. sarc/

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

D

Last edited 2 years ago by Mangle Tangle
Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Norway, Denmark, and Finland all managed the crisis similarly to Sweden. They just did a lockdown at the start and then opened up. That story has been buried. Norway currently has zero restrictions. I think Sweden’s large gathering restrictions end this month unless they extend them.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

Already ended here in Sweden Sept 29.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

In Denmark, too, no?

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

I don’t think it’s policy delusion. It’s full scale governmental and societal capture, by some pernicious combination of the Chinese Communist Party, and large pharmaceutical and technology corporations.

Decent article but seems incomplete without any mention of Dan Andrews’s well known and long-standing collusion with the CCP.

Oh and check this guy out: Jeremy Howard, AI entrepreneur, Melbourne educated and long time resident, “WEF Young Leader”, the “data scientist on a quest to turn robots into doctors” (Wired magazine), who claims to have taught himself mandarin in less than year 
 and co-founder of the creepy, (allegedly – the guy seems quite wealthy) disinformative, and anti-human “masks4all” volunteer-led propaganda service. Anyone smell a rat?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Howard_(entrepreneur)

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Horsman
Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

‘Dan Andrews’s well known and long-standing collusion with the CCP.’ Really? Aren’t you being a tad paranoid there?

If you’re referring to the belt-and-road initiative then OMG you have communists all around you with 140 countries, including 18 in Europe!!

NB: as much as the Prime Minister – (Scott Morrison) – likes to believe we are an English colony, Australia is actually part of Asia. So it’s no surprise we actually trade and work with Asian countries. It would be just a bit stupid not to, although supporters of the 20th Century White Australia policy didn’t think so.

https://greenfdc.org/countries-of-the-belt-and-road-initiative-bri/

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Gia Underwood

There’s absolutely no denying that the CCP has used belt and road and other initiatives to influence other countries across the world. But the Victorian state government, under Andrews, has been particularly captured. There is nothing wrong with international trade but this is not just about trade, it’s about a power grab by a tiny number of wannabe tyrants.

The info is all out there if you choose to look for it. It’s not paranoia, it’s factual reality. For example, try this for starters (scroll down to the third section for Andrews collusion with the CCP) https://carter-heavy-industries.com/2021/10/10/who-is-victorian-premier-dan-andrews/

Of course Australia is part of Asia and it makes sense for it to trade with its neighbours. But I think we all need to move away from thinking about politics in terms of left / right, and leave behind the historical antagonism between former colonies and their long-ago mother countries. These things divide us. What we all need, in my humble opinion, to do is to start thinking in terms of truth versus lies, and of the individual versus the authoritarian tyrannies that we can see being born all around us. We can win this if we remain humble and courageous, and in particular open to digesting facts and analyses which, although we may find uncomfortable, can help us fend off this nasty authoritarian, transhumanist attack that is being visited upon us.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Very well said, post colonial left rightery is so last century. The technocracy threatens us all, and it’s got us hopelessly divided.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Smith
Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Gia Underwood

“If you’re referring to the belt-and-road initiative then OMG you have communists all around you with 140 countries, including 18 in Europe!!”

Well? And? So?

Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

Sarcasm

Judy Simpson
Judy Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

I live in Australia and the only way I can explain it is fear of the bogeyman. Having been barely touched by this pandemic compared to other countries, we have been fed a daily dose of pandemic fear mongering via our televisions; scenes of overflowing hospitals and overwhelmed medical staff fill our screens. I am not a fan of lockdowns but when I express my opinion to friends the response is invariably the same, but have you seen what’s happening in Florida, the UK, India etc etc. We live on an island far removed from the rest of the world and most people seem very pleased about this; we are safe, let’s keep it that way no matter what the cost. And the cost is now absurd. When NSW opens it’s international borders in November, I’ll be able to fly to London, but still unable to visit my elderly mother in Queensland. The saddest thing is that while this upsets my mother, she dutifully accepts it. It’s all about safety.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

From what I read the older, more typically conservative, person has been in favor of the locks. That seems quite fear induced and the trade between security and liberty has been accepted. The senior death rate isn’t pleasant but not 100%. But the government seems to ignore treatment and the need for a robust immune system.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

“I live in Australia and the only way I can explain it is fear of the bogeyman.”

Like the bunch of fearful (ex)prisoners that they are.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

That’s the sad thing. The power-hungry psychopaths behind this have co-opted ordinary people’s mortal fears and their good natures. They are gambling on enough good people being unable or unwilling to grasp quite how radically evil they are, and for a large enough number of them to believe so much in the power of human virtue (and the need for their own virtuousness to be affirmed by those around them) to revile and ridicule those who can see the shallow cowardly psychopaths for what they are.

“Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, ofttimes in the name of good.”
Maya Angelou

Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

I live in Melbourne. What exactly do you mean?

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

So called: “Covid-19” has made hypochondria a status symbol.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
2 years ago

Decades of easy prosperity from selling minerals to China has created a level of trust in the government that is higher than its competence warrants. They also have astonishingly high levels of tolerance of what we would consider to be unacceptable police authoritarianism. And their Federal government has little or no constitutional control over its regional ones. So Australia is therefore the story of incompetent regional governments imposing draconian and unscientific policies on infantilised, compliant citizens, backup up by their ruthless police forces. And now, in the face of what must be catastrophic levels of cognitive dissonance created by the realisation they’ve done all this for a “vaccine” that doesn’t prevent infection or infectiousness, they are doubling down like Flat Earth Society cultists presented with a picture of the earth taken from space.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Lyon
Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

State Governments do make state laws, and can issue temporary directives under emergency provisions under their public health acts.

Every State has a Chief Health Officer (CHO). In Victoria where I live it is Professor Brett Sutton. Note ‘Professor’ in Australia is not equivalent to the US, as here an academic must have decades of proven, peer reviewed (not do-your-own-research Googledom) publications and they must have an internationally recognised profile (not the same as populism). They must be research active*, which means research that is replicable and evidence based. And contemporary. Resting on their laurels is not an option.

The CHOs do not stand alone, in that they have teams of health experts with an accumulation of decades of knowledge and experience behind them, they collaborate with other scientists.

Premiers run their own agenda, however overall they have been relying heavily on their CHOs for advice and other scientists. Including Professor Peter Doherty, Nobel Prize winner who has contributed to ddvelping the Doherty model that is now being used Nationally to steer the States through this pandemic.

Your description of ‘unscientific policies’ being ‘imposed on infantalised compliant citizens’ and ‘catastrophic levels of cognitive dissonance’ is text straight from the flat-earthers, conspiracy-theory, Trump supporting nut-jobs that exist in Victoria, and elsewhere in Australia, and throughout the US, and the UK, and Asia, and Europe
.you get my drift.

If you think your ‘research’ is more reliable than, say, Prof Doherty (I mean, what woukd he know) then you are, frankly, delusional.

*A Professor does not have to be research active if they have moved into an administrative role, such as a Vice-Chancellor of a University.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gia Underwood
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Gia Underwood

Politicians often refuse to accept any risk to their tenure. THAT dominates. “You can’t go wrong by buying IBM” type of herd mentality.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

If this were going on in some third world dictatorship, there wouldn’t be the slightest hesitation on the part of the media calling it out for the lie it is. Covid restrictions are an excuse for grabbing power and nobody ordering them is acting with the slightest sincerity.

Julian Rigg
Julian Rigg
2 years ago

Don’t get me wrong I think Australia is an amazing country but I did find the police and authorities there a little strange. Driving from Sydney to Wollongong there were so many police with speed cameras along the way it became a bit of a joke. I counted 4 before I left the Sydney suburbs.
Driving from Perth to Shark bay a policeman kept overtaking us and then setting up his speed camera to try and “catch us”. He did this three times!! A government advert on the TV stated that if you were caught speeding during a bank holiday weekend, you got double points on your licence.
It just seemed a little over the top. So when I see the Australian state and police behave the way they have done during COVID, it all starts to make sense.
PS. I have no points on my licence.

Tony Pearson
Tony Pearson
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Rigg

Zero tolerance for road traffic offences = world’s lowest road casualty rate. That’s Victoria, not sure about WA?
The Shark Bay experience does sound a little OTT though..

Julian Rigg
Julian Rigg
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Pearson

Dear Tony Pearson, just a quick fact check….true that road deaths in Australia have dropped but Australia road deaths in 2019 were 4.7 per 100,000. The UK was 2.8 per 100,000 and most “developed” countries even lower than Australia’s. In Europe all countries with the exception of Austria and Iceland were lower and those two countries had the same levels as Australia.
You’re statement that Australia has the “world’s lowest road casualty rate” is false. However, as a free thinker I have no issue being proved wrong. My initial statement is based on my personal experiences and this reply contains data from http://www.statista.com.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julian Rigg
Jacqueline Walker
Jacqueline Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Rigg

I think it’s mainly on country roads – very long distances, straight but boring (so tiring) and often poor quality and not policed, unlike the city roads.

Jacqueline Walker
Jacqueline Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Pearson

Same or trying very hard to do better than Victoria. I sometimes used to pass 3 speed cameras (the famous multinova) on my way to work. There was a news story once in Perth (late 90s) about a woman who scored enough points to lose her licence in one day!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Australia’s response has been so strange that it has seemingly fallen into some ultimate reality. Remember how an aspect of ‘String Theory’ requires that each choice or chance made means an entire alternate reality is spun off for both results, infinite numbers of realities spun off infinitely, so the science says.

I always thought of the antipodeans in the light of the ANZAC of WWII, the close quarter desert fighting against Rommel, and on New Guinea against the Japanese, the Diggers from the Boer, and First World War. Crocodile Dundee, even from that dreadful movie ‘Adventures of Barry McKenzie’ which us drunken, London, teenage youth used to form our opinion of the Auzies… They would never have sheepishly been corralled into their houses on the mere whim of some mad Lefty Politicos, for even 7 days; 252 being utterly mind boggling. What has become of them? Military harassing mask-less people on park benches?

I really enjoy ‘Rebel Capitalist’ series by George Gammon, on Youtube, all about economics, Central Bankers, the ultimate destruction of the West once CBDC’s are issued and the FED may print all it wishes without troubling with The Treasury and ‘Balance Sheets’ and MMT and UBI becomes the reality, and of us enslaved by the Politicians buying the votes with endless free stuff wile destroying Reserve Currency status, the economy, and the Middle Class… Anyway, what he says about the Australians is very sobering. Gammon uses Australia as the horror of what the Global Elites wish to make of us in the West, he brings them up as the ultimate ‘That’s what will happen to all us if we stop the fight against tyranny’….. His analogy is always of the frog being very, very, slowly brought to a boil so it never even notices…. And Australia is seemingly done.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Too many acronyms.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Go watch some of George Gammon’s ‘White Board’ presentations, they are fun and very informative, learn some vital economic terms. That people could be unfamiliar with how the Global economy works in this day where the powerful are totally capturing the wealth and power, is not good…

WEF, IMF, BIS, BoE, ECB, MMT, UBI, SDR, FED, CCP, JCB and on and on, all important stuff

Gammon White Board, a must-watch to get some basic terms, entertaining and very informative – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-Ru4DCT5aE

really – try the link when you have some time to fill, it is absolutely necessary – and fun.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

9/11 without google, do I get a prize?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

TMA

jim peden
jim peden
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

“Remember how an aspect of ‘String Theory’ requires that each choice or chance made means an entire alternate reality is spun off for both results” – I think you’re talking about the many-worlds interpretation of Quantum Theory due to Hugh J Everett in the 1950s. To me the situation in Australia and also here in Scotland seems more like ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ where those who have been taken over by the aliens scream horrifically at those who haven’t.

ralph bell
ralph bell
2 years ago

I can only guess that there are a lot of retired and very timid voters in Australia, based on the polls.
The bureaucracy in Australia is second to none for being inflexible and full of control freaks.
It will be interesting to see whether this see the downfall of Australia, as a tourist destination or place to live.

Last edited 2 years ago by ralph bell
Brad Mountz
Brad Mountz
2 years ago

We had the opportunity in CA to unseat our poster boy for “science” over freedom and we choose to keep him in a landslide. The Elite of the Elite (Getty $ and Pilosi Connections) guild their pockets in the name of science. Fear makes the sheeple comply, when sweetened with small brides of free money. The pandemic has taken with it our intelligence as well as our balls, castrated finally to ensure we are one Oppressed nation unable to recognize even the most obvious differences or surrenders.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brad Mountz
David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Brad Mountz

CA presumably being Central Australia? Because Australia is the subject of this string. Yes, I am aware that you mean California.

Brad Mountz
Brad Mountz
2 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

That’s interesting as it felt to me that a comparison was being made being made between Australia, Sweden, US & UK. I guess you left Twitter for a minute to police other communications?

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Brad Mountz

‘Nary a mention of the U.S until you came along.

Graff von Frankenheim
Graff von Frankenheim
2 years ago

Wimp narcissistic politicians with delusions of grandeur trying to conquer and stop a respiratory airborne pathogen (with an IFR of 0.23%) in order to gain laurels from their electorate (who think the IFR is 1000 times higher than it really is and are not told otherwise by politicians for obvious reasons). All of this was probably worse in Australia and NZ because they closed their borders early, thinking that might give them a chance to vanquish a virus. After they made this their policy and promise, they couldn’t reverse course without a massive loss of face which would be career fatal. So they continued their lunacy until the vaccine “exit” became available; this vaccine then had to be mandated for everyone in order to be consistent with earlier messaging. When the population didn’t see the point (because the virus had not spread widely), the authorities became even more authoritarian. They needed full vaccination to have a career-saving excuse for removing the economically fatal lockdowns, A real statesman would have admitted error early on, but these days modern politicians are five leagues below that class.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
2 years ago

Last year whilst I was living in New Zealand I followed the Victoria story from 1st July.
I looked at the cost to the economy, ICU capacity, deaths, age etc etc.
3 times as many people died of Covid as each year dies of Influenza. It was about 800 during the same period 11,000 people died altogether.
At the beginning of the Lockdown, 11% of cases were in age care facilities.
After 56 days 49% were in age care facilities and throughout those 56 days the death rate kept on increasing exponentially.
Long Covid was parrotted by the health care professionals to maintain project fear which we now know from extensive studies is 1.4 more times likely than Long Influenza.
The toll on societies from Lockdown is all too clear, widespread mental health problems and systemic dysfunctional behaviour not to mention the effect on people in their formative years. But what makes Victoria so desperately sad is no lives were saved. The same old people died because of the way their aged care facilities worked and 78% of all deaths were out of ACF. The one thing Victoria was really good at was producing excellent daily statistics which showed so clearly the disastrous failure of policy to save the lives all this was for.
In an act of nostalgia, I checked their daily media release and it becomes even more illuminating.
1) There are twenty age care facilities where there are more than 100 Cases.
2) Roughly half of them are patients and half staff the latter of which is where all the problem comes from.
ICU capacity without surge is 4,000 in Victoria and there aren’t even 700 in hospital altogether.
The answer is so very simple to improve the testing of the staff of age care facilities and only allow fully vaccinated workers into ACF with regular PCRs. Guess what that is the advice from the 26th November 2021 six months late. That’s what will make the difference not Lockdowns which have no impact on the core vulnerabilities.
The perfect storm of an ignorant government agency that has no capacity for focusing on the real challenge to save the lives of the aged comorbid in ACF. Oh and three of those died of Covid on the day of the press release.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michelle Johnston
James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Chopper Read must be so disappointed in his mates. His message: Australians need to HARDEN THE F$&@ UP !

So sad
.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 years ago

I’m a Viktorian. When the virus first hit in March last year I assumed we would be locked down until the health system had geared up to deal with mass casualties. It never occurred to me at the time that we would have subsequent lockdowns. But since the first lockdown had reduced Covid to zero, the government decided to do it again. And again, etc. But I’m not best placed to have a whinge about what’s happened because I work for the government and have been paid throughout the pandemic, which is not the case for small business and gig workers. And it would be churlish to complain also, since our fatalities have been next to nothing by comparison with, say, Europe or North America. As for the so-called stroll-out. That’s nothing more than international triage, with vaccines reserved for harder hit countries while our numbers were all but zero. Once we geared up, we’ve motored through the vaccinations such that in a few months we have gone from nothing to almost 70% first dose.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Are you saying you are one of the frogs in boiling water mentioned below? You are right, if you have been paid by the government throughout the lockdowns you should not voice an opinion.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 years ago

Noted.

Graeme Cant
Graeme Cant
2 years ago

Rubbish. Everybody is entitled to voice their opinion. You may discount it if you wish but he can certainly voice it.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

“And it would be churlish to complain also, since our fatalities have been next to nothing by comparison with, say,”

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)”

Try using a measurement of life years lost, even try putting a value on them as well.

Old person with 2.2 co-morbiditys and being about 80, and contrast a child losing their formative years – young people losing work skills, employment, education, social opportunities which will set them back for life. Middle age losing pensions and savings to the inflation caused by printing money to pay locked down people wile they produced nothing.

Then that thing which is more important than life to me – Ones Freedom. That was the worst crime of all – to make a free people servile to petty, corrupt, and twisted politician’s wills, that is inexcusable. To do all this to make the 1% of the 1% Trillions of $$$, and to give ultimate power to the Medical/Pharma Complex. Most of the Global Trillions printed have ended up increasing the wealth of the Elite. These Trillions will be paid back by the stealth Tax called Inflation, a tax which falls on the workers and savers, but not the wealthy as they own appreciating assets, and they have taken on vast debt at such low interest that it is ‘Negative Real Interest’ once it is subtracted from the inflation. Their corrupt, low interest, debt just inflates away…….. The entire covid response was redistribution, it was redistribution of $$$ from the workers to the world’s most wealthy and powerful.

My guess is the younger demographics, with almost no risk, collectively lost multiple decades of important years for each one saved in the vulnerable. That society would actively do long term harm to the young generations, and to the middle aged, to reduce the risk to the elderly is Appalling.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What a superb answer.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Brilliant. Thank you. My sentiments exactly.

It’s not ok that in order to save one soul you take steps that leads to destruction of even one other soul. We in the west are relatively oblivious of the harms because there is a governmental safety net in place for the younger generations. The ripple effect of generations of souls in poorer countries, that’s where the our disconnect lies. The government here will try and bring our younger generations upto the required pre-pandemic level but nature will take its course elsewhere. So , in attempting to prolong lives here, with a base tool like lockdown, many others will be compromised both here and elsewhere. This is not ok, with or without ‘vaccines’. This vaccine, btw is another blunt tool being used in a sweeping manner all over the world without considering the individual physiology . It doesn’t feel right. Especially to give it the young and healthy. But the governments are marching on ,blinkered and relentless continuing to cause harms in the name of saving some of us. Individuals are deemed not worthy of thinking for themselves any more. Therefore there is no responsibility towards oneself. The message is clear- Sit back & let the government decide every aspect of your life.

Bashar Mardini
Bashar Mardini
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Perfect answer.

Sally Owen
Sally Owen
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Excellent response!


Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Young people and middle aged people are also dying from COVID in Australia. I’ve never been a fan of eugenics, survival of the fittest or the idea that old people’s lives are less important than young people. The first wave of COVID hit old people badly in Victoria, a lot died. Hence the first major lockdown. We’re not perfect, but in Victoria we do – most of us – have a sense of community and do not find obligation towards our fellow citizens too much of a burden. Hence the comment that it would be churlish to complain because other countries have got it worse is actually a reflection of generosity and respect for other people, not a reflection of your Franklin quote which is actually referring to essential liberties. I would not call mask wearing, temporary limiting of hospitality etc – all of which ends in three weeks – an equivalent.

Suicide rates have gone down.

The Fed Govt last year could have used quantitative easing last year to find the money for individuals and businesses to keep them afloat however they chose instead to ‘borrow’ their/our own money, thus creating an unecessary debt. There would have been zero risk of inflation. I agree with your point on that aspect, as it appears that it was ideology alone of the Liberal (means conservative/Tory/right-wing in Australia) Federal Government that created this uneccessary debt.

It is awful for a lot of children and young people, the lockdown. It remains to be seen how resilient this generation is, my guess is the middle classes will bounce back, the rest will struggle.

Placing ‘ones freedom’ at the top of your needs is a first-world luxury and rather selfish.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Gia Underwood

Placing ‘ones freedom’ at the top of your needs is a first-world luxury and rather selfish.” – An opinion made popular by the management to excuse their actions. What if all the restriction were for naught? Then the touted vaccines were found largely ineffective as well? As the virus becomes endemic and there is no way to avoid it and survival depends not on society but a person’s immunity, then all of the selfishness makes sense for the person involved.

Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

An opinion made popular by the unselfish, not a characteristic I would associate with management necessarily.

It remains to be seen whether or not, as you speculate, the restrictions were for nought. There are various estimates of the number of lives saved already because of the restrictions, and the estimates that I have seen reported run in the tens of thousands, depending on the ‘r’ number used, ie: how many other people does each infected person spread the virus to.

The more it is spread by infected people, the more people get long COVID or die.

A reminder that there were a lot of unknowns from the outset. This pandemic has been extraordinary. Modelling of how pandemics may spread has been critical, but like the medical field modelling relies on odds, known behaviours including human behaviours based and past experience of similar events.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Gia Underwood

 the more people get long COVID or die” – both of which are elated to the individual’s immune system. COVID is not an equal risk to all, skewed to the elderly and those with other risks (obesity and diabetes most). We await more science on long COVID but it is a minor risk of unknown duration compared to death . We still don’t know if medications are helpful because we don’t understand why long COVID isn’t universal.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Something that is missed is that a whole lot of the things which are called ‘long covid’ aren’t particularly to do with covid. You just don’t hear about ‘long flu’ or ‘long hantavirus’. Look up ‘post viral syndrome’. And some of the problems that some people are having are a known consequence of being on a respirator. Being on a respirator is really bad for your health, just not as bad as dying.
https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1003773
is the best study I know about long covid, and it is a retrospective observational study, i.e. not the best quality of evidence. (Not that researchers have a lot of ways to get better evidence, of course.)

connieperkins9999
connieperkins9999
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

You’re going to have the same problems that everyone else does even with 70% vaccinated. Here in the UK I think we’re at 80% and the covid deaths are about the same as last year (around 125/day), which I doubt the various Australian governments would be willing to tolerate having had such great ‘success’ with their covid zero strategy.
If you work for the government, try to talk some sense into them. I can’t believe we’re still here, almost 2 years on, pretending that our freedoms ought to be traded to ‘prevent’ covid deaths amongst the elderly and frail.

Sally Owen
Sally Owen
2 years ago

These COVID deaths ( around 125/day ) are not OF COVID but within 28 days of a positive test!
..

connieperkins9999
connieperkins9999
2 years ago
Reply to  Sally Owen

As ever was the case, yes.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
David Giles
David Giles
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

“International triage”?

That is an Aussie delusion I’m afraid. S is thinking 70% having one shot is anything but remarkably slow.

Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

That’s true, that in NSW and Victoria we’ve been getting vaccinated at a furious rate, and NSW is now ‘open’ and Victoria will be fully open in three weeks.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago

There will hopefully be some interesting studies comparing Australia/NZ with Sweden.

Gia Underwood
Gia Underwood
2 years ago

No Australian government, State or Federal, is pursuing COVID zero.

Twelve months ago Victoria did after seeing a surge in cases, bringing in a lockdown which lasted three months which was eased after a fortnight of zero new cases and lifted soon after. That is not the plan this year. Opening is in two stages and reliant on vaccination takeup by the population. The first stage is less than two weeks away, the final stage anticipated to be in three weeks. Vaccination ‘passports’ are being trialed in regional towns with cafes and restaurants open.

Different COVID variant, experience in how the virus works, higher infectious rates, availability of vaccines, different response.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago

“with the Premier reduced to pleading with people to stay the course.”

What a baby.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

Australia is a vagina state.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

This is what majoritarian rule looks like.
Most folks have already taken the knee (they’ve taken the vax), and most of those folks perceive that non-vaxxers are frustrating not merely the will of the majority but the “common good”. That’s what polls in Oz and the evidence on our screens are telling us.
Let me pose this idea: Two concepts of “democracy” seem to be at work in the Anglo-sphere’s fraught politics. First, there is Woodrow Wilson’s concept of democracy. It really builds on the democracy of J.J. Rousseau. Both Wilson and Rousseau build on the ancient, intuitively accessible idea that politics and government should be about helping people, about promoting the common good. Then there is the democracy of the Scottish and English Enlightenments, the stuff that gave us classical liberalism. Here the idea is we actually need to be wary of being too enthusiastic about the “common good,” because we might not be able to agree on what is commonly good. The conclusion that derives from that is that we need to set up mechanisms for protecting the individual from being coerced in to conforming to the will of the majority. Live and let live.
Think about that: Respecting individual rights may amount to thwarting the will of the majority. Marjoritarians hate that.
More pointedly: In the Wilsonian view, respecting the rights of the individual can frustrate the will of the majority. But, that can be bad in that, down deep, everyone maintains a preference for all that is good — and we really, actually agree on what is good. So, claims Rousseau: “All men love what is good,” or something to that effect. If folks are not going along with what is good, then they are either ignorant, corrupt, or both. Rousseau makes that point to explicitly justify censorship.
Does this not sound familiar? We have to censor anyone who doesn’t go along with the consensus, because they’re obviously bad people. Or, maybe they are good people, but they are misinformed or not very smart…. Again, does this not sound familiar?
As applied to the ongoing vaccination business: The common good would be served by getting everyone vaxxed. Or would it? The idea of getting everyone vaxxed has a lot of intuitive appeal, but, it turns out that the long-running science of viruses really doesn’t support that idea — not without a lot of qualifications. the management of viruses, it turns out, is really quite tricky and is not obviously amenable to remedy by intuitively accessible ideas.

Matt Spencer
Matt Spencer
2 years ago

I’m in New South Wales, lockdowns are very mild outside of the major population centres (i.e State capitals). I live in a town of 40,000, we wear masks outside and check in and out of businesses, that’s pretty much it. As for not crossing State borders, most people only do that when they’re off on holidays – Australia is a very large country – and it’s no practical difference to not being able to go to France or Spain. The histrionic b*llsh*t coming out of UnHerd with regards to Aussie measures is laughable.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Melbourne is Australia’s epicentre of urban lefty hipster Green-voting culture-warrior types and the whinging which routinely comes out of it is by no means the wider view of the Australian public despite (as in the UK) receiving a disproportionate amount of media coverage.
Personally, I think the government have done a reasonable job – fatalities have been low, lockdowns have been targeted and localised, and the vaccination rollout has been swift once, as Tony Taylor says in his post, the International triage system prioritised us.
It’s been hard on those in the highly populated urban centres, but they are in very high risk areas where the virus could quickly overwhelm the health services and are paying the bill for the safety of their relatives and neighbours. They have my sympathy, but if I were the decision maker I’d be doing exactly the same thing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Spencer
Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

A shame that you regard considered, humane opinion as ‘histrionic’. And ironic that you as a pro-lockdowner blame ‘urban lefty hipster Green-voting culture warrior types’ for ‘whinging’ about lockdowns whereas in the rest of the west the right-leaning libertarians blame the same culprits as the cause of the lockdowns they detest. Maybe time for a more reasoned debate and not mud-slinging?

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

Haven’t the powers-that-be in Australia seen the problems faced by the UK after opening up – shortage of trained and experienced people to fill the jobs of those who have reached retirement age. The longer they stay in lockdown the worse the situation will be.

Graeme Cant
Graeme Cant
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

People in Oz don’t pay much attention to the UK as an exemplar for anything. China, Japan, India and Indonesia rather obscure the view.

Graeme Cant
Graeme Cant
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

No, he didn’t say that at all. He was pointing to Victorian enthusiasm for lockdowns as being explained by their being the most Left-leaning state. As in the rest of the world, the Left in Australia has been the most enthusiastic supporter of lockdowns and other authoritarian measures.
As another New South Welshman, I would agree with him that Unherd’s coverage of Australia’s Covid response has often been ‘histrionic’. Most of the comment (as with this article) seems to have come from Victoria which has been the most repressive. Dan Andrews would be a caricature in any other State. I’ve had a fairly relaxed pandemic with the main problem being finding how to get a haircut.
One of the major differences between Victoria and my home is we really did begin as a penal colony. Flouting rules by quietly ignoring them is the norm – as in any well-run gaol. Keeping things working by the authorities turning a relatively blind eye to merely nominal observance is how things work in NSW. It’s no coincidence that the Eureka Stockade rebellion happened in Victoria where draconian laws harshly enforced were met with overt defiance. On the NSW goldfields, milder laws were neither enforced nor defied. Just ignored by all sides while everybody concentrated on finding gold.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

we wear masks outside and check in and out of businesses, that’s pretty much it
If anyone had said you’d be expected to do things like that a couple of years ago, most people would have said such totalitarian controls could never happen. Amazingly, today, many people would not even consider such dictats to be totalitarian in nature.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

The likelihood is that what we live with now, we will live with for the foreseeable future.
Do you honestly believe that you have very mild restrictions when cannot see the face of any human that you don’t live with, that all normal human intercourse is banned and that all your movements are monitored, giving a record of every building which you enter and when you did this.
Sadly, many people seem to think that this is desirable. With a disease that kills only over 80s in any serious numbers, (even unvaccinated under 50s are at very little risk), why are so many people so happy to sacrifice the things that make us human for a sad and pointless survival of total surveillance and personal isolation?

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

Matt, sadly, you have become the frog in the pot.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

Your reply leaves me wondering if you have children, nieces and nephews, or for for that matter, care that the lock-downs are harmful to children in particular? The evidence is overwhelming that the COVID risk for children is low and the lockdown costs very high.

Sheryl Rhodes
Sheryl Rhodes
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

Why are you allowing people who are hired to manage civil affairs—hired by YOU—to dictate insane illogical policies? Set aside the general concept of lockdown for discussion’s sake and focus on those aspects that show stupidity and cruelty.
It is stupid and cruel to limit people’s outdoor time. Period. Do you not understand that there is NO spread outdoors. absent close sustained personal contact, such as a close conversation face-to-face for several minutes?
Do you not understand that wearing a mask outside, alone or when you are socially distanced, is INSANE? It’s literally insane, and crazy-making. You are “allowed” to do almost nothing—and then they take away the one thing that can save people’s sanity (freedom to be out of doors) that is actually safe to do. Apparently they don’t have to produce facts supporting this, and apparently if they find a few experts who say that maybe it isn’t safe, the case is closed. It doesn’t matter if a hundred thousand other experts say that it IS safe.
I do think I would have developed a mental illness if I had to endure the US lockdown without the ability to hike my local woods and to speak (at a distance) to the neighbors I encountered on the street.
Why are people allowing other people to force them to act in illogical ways? The wearing of a mask out of doors (again, absent crowded sustained contact) is literally as crazy as making people wear a hat. It has that much effect on Cv transmission. Yes, everyone should be required to wear a hat, jacket, and gloves, because after all we can’t have the virus landing on people’s uncovered bodies where they might then touch their hair or skin and then their face.

MICHAEL DEMAREE
MICHAEL DEMAREE
2 years ago
Reply to  Sheryl Rhodes

Might I suggest
VIDEO ABOUT FOUR MINUTES.
Worth the time.
 https://drtrozzi.com/2021/10/ivermectin-cures-uttar-pradesh/

Susan
Susan
2 years ago

Thank you for this, Michael. Excellent video.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

We have all seen the insane news and videos coming out of Oz
. it is hardly as though Unherd is making this up. Biggest police state in the world. Scary stuff.

Graeme Cant
Graeme Cant
2 years ago

Well, Lesley, I’ve seen the insane news and videos coming out of Africa for a long time and I doubt there’s a country anywhere on that continent I’d leave Oz for.
Oz a police state??? Compared to where? The UK?? South Africa?? Go through some of Unherd’s back issues!
Cut the ridiculous hyperbole!

Last edited 2 years ago by Graeme Cant
Tom May
Tom May
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Spencer

Mate, I have had two years of my life taken from me. Statistically I only had thirty left when this started. That’s 13%, too high a price.

I am happy for you to stay in your house and live your life the way you want. But why is it OK for you to impose your fears on me?