While a Nationals MP in New South Wales is willing to threaten future of the Coalition Government over koalas, where is the resistance in our political parties to the threats to our basic rights and freedoms visited upon us by the Covid lockdowns their own governments have implemented?
A minor Nationals MP in New South Wales – one Chris Gulaptis, the Member for Clarence – has threatened to leave the Nationals and sit on the cross benches. In a parliament where the Premier of New South Wales has a wafer thin majority – the Coalition holds 48 seats in a parliament of 93 – such actions or threats of such actions tend to get your name in the papers.
The issue on which Gulaptis is considering putting his own government in numerical peril? Farmers being forced to do extra paperwork in relation to koalas on their properties. Yes – an issue that big.
With the greatest respect to both farmers and koalas, really? Ah, the good old Nats…
This at a time when our state and national economies are being decimated by government policies, when our core freedoms are being traduced at will (perhaps not in New South Wales with the sheer thuggery witnessed on an almost hourly basis in Stasiland south of the Murray), and when all sense of joy and hope has been drained from the people, when suicides are occurring more than we have ever seen, when the frail aged wither away in care homes denied the companionship of their loved ones, when the phrase police state is bandied around with good reason about our crumbling country – all in service of fighting a virus no deadlier than just about any year’s seasonal flu.
As all of this engulfs the nation, there is apparently not one single politician willing to walk from his or her government in any parliament in defence of freedom and of our way of life, or even to threaten to. If this isn’t sufficient cause to make all who cherish freedom severely depressed, I do not know what could.
Remember that the Government led by the accidental leader, Scott “Chauncey” Morrison, itself has a majority of a mere three seats. Only one more than the Government of New South Wales where Chris Gulaptis is playing his cute games. That there is apparently not one single member of the Liberal Party willing to exercise the nuclear option at this time of national crisis is beyond sobering. These are people who give speeches about freedom in their pre-selection contests. Who quote JS Mill ad nauseam. Who bend the knee – or at least they used to – before Thatcher and Reagan.
Yes, there is Daniel Andrews and he is not a Liberal. And he is state, not Commonwealth. Those surely diminishing numbers still willing to stand by Scott Morrison over Covid will say that he is not to blame for the worst of the lockdown madness. He is no Andrews.
With respect, this is rubbish on steroids. Andrews’ manifest madness and evil aside, there is not a sliver of thin paper between the ALP governments and Liberal led governments in relation to lockdown madness. It has been a race to the bottom, with all participating, even trying to outdo each other in achieving maximum Covidmania. They all bow before the so-called expertise of the health public servants, who themselves do not have a clue, who make it up as they go along, who have no brief for freedom or individual rights and yet are thrown the keys to the bus. As it drives us all over the cliff. To expend effort making the argument that we live in a tweedledum-tweedledee political system is no longer even required. All the major parties have morphed into a single political class, remote from the people they are assumed to serve.
Remember that it is Scott Morrison who continues to enforce the unprecedented ban on Australians leaving the country, a ban matched only by Cuba and North Korea. It is Morrison who infamously stated, “I fully support Daniel Andrews”. It is Morrison who has responsibility for aged care. It is Morrison who blathers on about “national cabinet” as if it is something sacred, to be revered, and never, ever to be questioned. It is Morrison who provides no vision, no national leadership, no nothing except endless platitudes about all of us being in this together. It is Morrison who spinelessly refuses to stop the insane border closures. How about joining Clive Palmer’s constitutional challenge? No, too hard. We don’t believe in national unity and free trade among the colonies any more. How about hitting the premiers where it hurts. It is said with reason, “never get between a premier and a bucket of money”. Well, how about using the power of the purse to shift policy at state level? Our accidental prime minister is palpably guilty of both sins of Covid commission and sins of Covid omission.
No, Morrison, like the emperor, has no Covid clothes. He values his parliamentary majority and his tenure far, far more than freedom, the nation’s economic wellbeing or just about any other principle I can think of at the minute. Remember what he said about freedom of speech – it never created a single job. Now he seems to be interested in neither our freedom NOR our jobs, both of which he has set about obliterating with gay abandon.
That politicians preference holding their precious parliamentary seats over matters of principle – even fundamental principles – will come as no surprise. The whiff of ministerial leather is a powerful addiction, indeed.
There is a theory going around that no government anywhere will ever admit that it got Covid wrong. Hence, no amount of berating them for their blunder will make the slightest difference to the trajectory of policy now. The old Canberra warhorse Ian Sinclair used to say, “never apologise”. Translate this to today’s polity as “never admit a mistake”. It is seen as electoral suicide. Of course, the former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie challenged this thinking once is the most bizarre fashion imaginable – and he won the election! He basically turned himself from Premier to Leader of the Opposition and started bagging his own Government mercilessly! Vote me back – and I will clean up the mess my own useless Government created. Astonishing. It worked. But I bet no government today would try this.
Having made the biggest policy bungle in Western history – the simultaneously useless and crazy freedom-destroying lockdown – it seems that no government anywhere is willing to say sorry, we got that wrong. Before anyone can get anywhere close to a way out of the lockdown mania, governments will have to admit their errors, correct themselves and reset their course. They will have to admit that Covid can now be seen for what it is, not a pandemic, not a disaster of itself, but a highly selective and quite contagious virus about which we now know much, one that causes harm to the health of a tiny minority only. A minority who could easily have been protected while the rest of us continued to go about our business.
Here is one way out – say that on the best medical advice at the time (a lie, but they could get away with it), we acted cautiously in good faith. This is the much touted though facile “precautionary principle”. Now we know that the virus is not the killer we thought it was, and so let’s all get back to work. There is a problem with this strategy, of course. Why did you in government scare the living daylights out of us? So that now most of us are far more scared of a manageable virus than we are of likely unemployment (for many), national penury or the loss of our most basis rights. No, such a course is now decidedly not open to governments prone to fearing for their electoral lives. They have conditioned a clear majority of the voters to such a state of irrational fear that they now cannot run the only escape strategy that they otherwise might have been able to.
No, we all understand very clearly that governments do not want to admit to costly policy howlers. This includes those of us who might still be disposed to try and defend the freedom-defending Liberal governments we may have supported in the past, and equally those who can no longer so defend them.
But what is surprising, and deeply saddening, is that there is no one within the Liberal Party or the Nationals willing to walk the talk on this. Not even to call out the madness. Not the Canberra Branch of the Institute of Public Affairs. I used to think that Tim Wilson went to Canberra to defend freedom. No, instead, he apparently went to Canberra to destroy marriage. What about James Paterson, the other former freedom-loving IPA apparatchik? Craig Kelly, the man of courageous common sense on climate change? Andrew Hastie, the man of backbone on China? Amanda Stoker, defender of the Constitution? Jim Molan, man of tradition and common sense? George Christensen, endless stirrer for good causes? And these are the good ones. Even the good people have put career ahead of principle. (Not all of these are in the lower house where a change in the numbers means a change of government. But numbers in the Senate matter too. And at least the Senators might speak up, if not issue threats to leave the Government).
Instead, they have all fallen meekly into line, giving cover, in effect, to their clueless leaders who splash around money we do not have in order to buy support and to delay the inevitable day of reckoning, when the excuses and b.s. stories seeking to justify their presumed need to act precipitously against a virus of merely seasonal power will have run their course.
The influential British Tory, Sir Graham Brady, recently sought to call a halt to his own Party’s continuing Covidmania.
The chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs has warned that furloughed workers may not have jobs to go back to if the coronavirus lockdown is too long.
Sir Graham Brady's comments came as the prime minister urged people not to lose patience with the lockdown.
"People have to have some hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel," Mr Brady said.
Sir Graham said the lockdown had achieved its aim of preventing the NHS being overwhelmed by people with the virus, but added: "If we allow economic damage to continue, that will cost jobs and also have a negative on the country's ability to pay for our important public services.
"To expect people not to see their families for an indefinite period is a very big ask indeed. I think we've got to be realistic and maintain only those restrictions that are essential."
Yes he was careful not to contradict his prime minister, Boris “whack-a-mole” Johnson. He didn’t go overboard. He was forward looking and restrained. But at least he spoke up for ending the lockdown before everything is lost.
Brady also responded thus to a constituent concerned about cultural maskism:
A number of constituents have written to me with their concerns of this new regulation, with reasonable questions regarding how long we may have this in place and whether this will again be extended to office and work spaces. I am pleased at least that the Government has made it clear that this requirement will not extend to offices.
Other countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain have taken a similar step to try to halt the spread of COVID-19 as their economies begin to open up. The evidence in relation to the efficacy of face masks outside a clinical setting is however, finely balanced, one local specialist said to me that if there is a benefit, it is more likely because a mask makes it less likely that the wearer will touch his face than because of any effect in preventing airborne transmission. I do not think that a compelling case has been made for something of such uncertain value to be made compulsory, but this decision has been made under emergency powers and was not debated or voted on in the House of Commons.
It is important that this regulation, along with other emergency COVID-19 legislation, should only be temporary. My biggest concern is that the government has not set out the criteria on which the decision to introduce compulsion was made, and that we remain therefore in the dark as to when it will end.
These laws sit very uncomfortably with our traditions of liberty and I shall be working to ensure that they do not continue for any longer than is strictly necessary.
Where is the Liberal Party’s Graham Brady, willing to call out the insanity, willing to question the current direction of policy? Where are the French maquisards? Where is our de Gaulle? Where is Australia’s equivalent to Simon Dolan’s Keep Britain Free? We are cowed, and there is no resistance.
When the Liberals put up Billy McMahon as a leadership contender, we got the Black Jack McEwen Country Party veto. If he is elected leader – we walk. When Malcolm Fraser went soft on economic reform, we got the Dries. When Turnbull, Wilson et al cheered for homosexual marriage, we got a few very vocal fighters for tradition and principle. For these people, how you define marriage was core business, and therefore non-negotiable. When the NSW Liberal Party “leaders” went all out to support what Tony Abbott termed infanticide-on-demand in the State parliament, we got threats to leave the Government from those like Tanya Davies who value life from its inception and were willing to call out their own Government over their most cherished beliefs. Of course, these alleged heroes sadly caved in the end. But at least they put on the table the possibility they just might leave, and bring the Government down. They didn’t just talk. They acted. In order to get bad policy overturned. They reminded an arrogant government that had overreached just close they had come to losing power. All on a principle.
Where are the freedom fighters now? Where is the resistance? Why aren’t national economic survival and the rights and freedoms of our people non-negotiable?
A pregnant mother of two living just outside MelDanistan faces jail time for organising a peaceful protest in support of the core values of the Liberal Party, following vicious heavying and arrest by the Vicstapo. As Gideon Rozner (ironically, from the IPA) has written:
It was the image that shocked Australia and soon went global. A pregnant woman, handcuffed in her own kitchen, in front of her children, as police officers seized every computer, tablet and cell phone in the house before frog-marching her off to the station.
It’s the treatment that Australians are used to seeing meted out to drug traffickers, suspected terrorists and child pornography rings. But in Zoe Lee Buhler’s case, her ‘crime’ was a Facebook post.
Dystopia. Tyranny. A police state in our very midst. Not Germany in 1933. Us in 2020. Still not a peep from Canberra. It is quite disgusting.
No, Liberal Party MPs are content to ride this one out, safe in the knowledge that there is absolutely no pressure for a change in approach from the corporate media, from the bureaucracy, or from the official opposition parties. Parliaments don’t really sit any more. Another core element of our democracy shafted.
It is too easy to keep schtum and to blame Daniel Andrews for everything. The lunatic Andrews provides too much cover for the others, unfortunately. Mealy mouthed condemnations of a hillbilly dictator gone completely barmy-vicious achieve nothing, alas. It is past time for some action. Get creative. Mind you, it is hard to critique someone else’s core policies when you agree with them, when you have put similar measures in place yourselves.
And, to be fair, a hypothetical non-freedom defending politician might well respond to my argument thus:
Where is the popular support for different policies? For an end to lockdown? For the end to Andrews’ police state? Where are the huge public protests? Where are the letter campaigns to my electorate office? Where is the anti-lockdown twitter storm? You know we only get really scared when you bombard us.
The hypothetical politician would have a point. The popular resistance movement is barely out of bed, let alone on the road. It is scattered, sporadic, unfocused, populated with fringe dwellers, disunited, non-vocal, un-networked. Someone suggested an anti-lockdown political party. Well, yes. But who would join? How many votes would we get?
Here is Gideon Rozner again:
The most remarkable thing, though, is it’s taken until now for some sort of protest movement to emerge. Melbourne—Victoria’s capital city—has been under some form of lockdown since March. When the coronavirus first hit, the premiers governing Australia’s eight states and territories descended into a kind of unspoken competition to see who could take the ‘toughest action’ against the virus—that is, which leader could close the most businesses, destroy the most jobs, and stifle the most liberties in the name of being seen to be ‘doing something’ about the virus.
True enough. There has been no protest movement. But on the other hand, don’t we elect our politicians to lead? Churchill didn’t need to wait for a twitter storm, an email campaign or the results of focus group testing before he just went for it against Germany. Likewise the French Resistance.
Yes, we-the-people are in a real pickle, absent any nodes of resistance among the political class. How we might motivate more people to take direct action and what sort of direct action might be effective is a story for another day …
But a useful starting point would be to consult those already doing it. See below.