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 Maurice Newman: when the lockdown is later examined!

23.05.20.  From Maurice Newman’s Commentary May 18 which somehow flew under MM’s radar. Mt Newman asks, “How will history judge or lockdown?” It remains rather doubtful that followers of history will have to wait very long for that answer to make itself known. What will take very much longer is the fantastic damage caused in so many ways. How responsibility and or blame is apportioned will lay at the mercy of an opportunist media a political opposition eager to put the boot in? Either way, politics as we have come to know and expect will continue to nauseate ad infinitum.
As businesses reopen and normal life gradually returns, it’s important to reflect — why did Australia so easily accept weeks of police state-restrictions?  As they fretted their way through weeks of police-state restrictions, many Australians must have ­marvelled at the ease with which their governments put them under virtual house arrest. All it took was emergency COVID-19 legislation and the drafting of enforceable new rules. In the blink of an eye, basic civil rights were outlawed.

Source: Maurice Newman for News Corp

How will history judge our lockdown?

As if they were children being lectured by their parents, the public was assured that the harsh measures were for their own good. Expert medical advice was tendered. The nation’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, warned: “In a worst-case scenario, 15 million people would get the coronavirus and 150,000 would die.” For the optimists, his best-case scenario was an infection rate of 20 per cent where about 50,000 people out of 5 million infected would die.
However illogical many rules seemed, most people did as they were told. They stayed indoors, ­received no visitors and exercised responsibly. Even when schools and places of worship were closed, they raised few objections. Nor did they issue any kind of a challenge when the states ­ignored the Constitution by sealing their borders and denying free movement of people.
It was the same for businesses in “non-essential” industries. When forcibly put into “hibernation”, they offered little resistance. Landlords, too, were mostly silent when they were ordered not to terminate leases or evict tenants for non-payment of rent.
Overwhelmingly, the nation accepted this was necessary and that sacrifice would be rewarded “on the other side”. Wartime ­analogies were drawn, forgetting that in war, the economy and employment are at full capacity.
Shuttering the economy to defeat this enemy has already resulted in nosebleed deficits and almost eight million applications for JobSeeker and JobKeeper support. Prospects of early employment are bleak. Many on JobKeeper work for zombie companies that may fail when the scheme ends in September. In stark contrast, public sector jobs remain safe and on full pay, making the claim “We’re all in this together” sound hollow.
Unsurprisingly, the lockdown has exacted a terrible social price. Suicide rates have hugely outstripped deaths from COVID-19, while cases of child abuse and domestic violence have risen sharply.
The emergency measures may have been well-intentioned and based on medical advice, and they have certainly limited infections. However, history will judge the cure as worse than the disease. With fewer than 7000 cases and not 100 deaths so far, the early modelling seems to have been more panic than science. An unwillingness to admit this — particularly at the state level — is no doubt delaying the easing of restrictions.
Having dug the hole, the bigger task is how to exit. So far, the states’ approach to relaxation has been unworldly, with the likely impact on activity minimal.
But with the incompetence and then cover-ups associated with the Ruby Princess and Cedar Meats cases, it seems amateurs are driving policy.
The road to recovery is also made difficult by some of the media’s endorsement of state messaging. Indeed, some of its COVID-19 obsession is bordering on the macabre. But then for a 24/7 news industry hungry for content, pandemics are never-ending fodder for tabloid journalism, especially at the ABC. Its journalists become natural allies of the many politicians seizing on catastrophism as their political weapon of choice. Predicting an apocalyptic future attracts attention and helps them shape public opinion to their ­advantage.
For example, the ABC’s in-house medical catastrophist, Dr Norman Swan, predicted a doubling of reported coronavirus cases every three days, tweeting: “Primary school maths. Someone should go figure. No magic fairy will bring that down. 14-20 days behind Italy. Believe in maths not magic.” Presenter Fran Kelly asserted: “On current projections, hospitals will be overwhelmed by mid-April. We need more ventilators.” Hardly. There’s about 20 COVID-19 patients occupying intensive care beds, with even fewer requiring mechanical ventilation. Australia has 2023 intensive care beds fitted with ventilators.
That said, it is important that this pandemic’s serious threat to human health, particularly for the ageing and those with comorbidities, be acknowledged. Personal hygiene, social distancing and wider testing will continue to be important.
Government health policies should sensibly reflect risks to older populations and hospitals. The most vulnerable must exercise personal responsibility.
No doubt, as restrictions continue to be relaxed, infections will rise. Risk-averse medical experts will argue that the easing is premature. But they are just postponing the inevitable. It should be obvious by now that COVID-19 will survive longer than a heavily handicapped economy can remain solvent.
Indeed, rather than validate the wisdom of state control, history will judge authorities as having waited too long to ease. We live in the real world, not a test tube.
Lost in all the noise is how easy it has been for those with despotic tendencies to take away our freedoms. All they needed was a climate of fear and the long arm of the law. The 19th-century French diplomat Alexis De Tocqueville warned about this in his classic, Democracy in America. He foresaw the prospect of “an immense protective power” resembling “parental authority” keeping the people “in perpetual childhood”. And that power would be the sole judge of everyone’s happiness.
When, from our COVID-19 bunkers, we watched police snatch an infant from his mother’s arms as she was dragged away for standing up for their basic ­freedoms, Australians could surely have wondered if this was a ­rehearsal of things to come. Fanciful? Well, when 72 per cent of the nation’s workforce is dependent on government for an income, it is surely time to ask, in De Tocqueville’s words, if “a liberal, wise and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people”?

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Cliff 23/05/2020, 6:53 am

    Thank you for finding and printing that article, MM Ed. I thought it was only me who was thinking almost exactly along the lines expressed so well by Maurice Newman.

    • Peter Sandery 23/05/2020, 9:06 am

      You certainly are not Cliff

      • Big Al 23/05/2020, 12:04 pm

        PS, we, that is those like Cliff who can think and act for themselves, think like MN, too; and, I would think most of those who follow MM.

  • Tamworth 23/05/2020, 7:04 am

    Never in the history of mankind did anyone devise a plan to QUARANTINE THE HEALTHY.
    Until now, I mean.

  • Pensioner Pete 23/05/2020, 7:08 am

    Quoting this part from above:

    “With fewer than 7000 cases and not 100 deaths so far, the early modelling seems to have been more panic than science.”

    Sums the situation up nicely, MODELLING.

    Now where have I heard this before?

    Global Warming of course.

    The people did not go into a blind panic over Global Warming, so I guess something else was needed to arise, and thus, pay-dirt! The population willingly accepted the loss of freedoms so quickly, even Hitler would be stunned.

    • luk1955 23/05/2020, 8:51 am

      PP the people were prepared to give up their rights by years of fines for normal behavior. What started out as a plot to get the worst offenders then started to target normal behaviors. So now the governments here know what they can get by with. And they had help from the elite, like Gates and Bozos. That’s why the proper term for this lockdown is a Plandemic, not a pandemic. And our governments have seen how easy it is to instill fear in us. The fines program from the start was to condition us to the loss of liberty, and most people accepted that and ignored their civic duty to reign in out of control public officials. The next episode will see the military turned against us. And that day is not far away. Because we did not exercise our constitutional rights and tell the governments to piss off until they had a reasonable solution. And because most of us have laid back and taken all the bullies have dished out rather than fight back.

      As for the Spanish flu, governments were the direct cause of the misery by instigating ww1. All because a high school student shot a prince in some backwater country and every GOVERNMENT felt obliged to take sides and go to war. Not that any government officials themselves went off to the battlefields, it was the plebes that did that.

  • Penguinite 23/05/2020, 7:42 am

    At least Newman qualified his comment with “Expert medical advice was tendered.” It’s fair to add that it would be a brave politician who ignored an “Expert Bureaucrat” we pay them more than we pay the pollies. Especially in Victoria. We were mesmerised by the fear of dying and calmly acquiesced to the apparent life-saving instructions. Can you imagine the furore and condemnation had we not and people died in contagion numbers? Remember how we reacted to the fear of Aids. The question now is can the Government pull us out of the terminal economic dive?

    • wal1957 23/05/2020, 10:43 am

      “The question now is can the Government pull us out of the terminal economic dive?”

      Short answer…No!

  • Lorraine 23/05/2020, 9:20 am

    I went shopping yesterday in the largest town 70 ks from home, hardly any traffic on the road, easy to find a park in Coles car park which is usually full ,morning noon and night, A dream run thru Aldi and Woolworths , not one person acknowledged I existed as we keep the metre apart and huffy looks if you stepped to the right aisle for your goods. Many of my friends are happy to stay at home , I just want a life back, one almost like I had, and suppressing the anger when told how well Daniel Andrews has managed the crisis…..I know I am not alone, well I am almost sure I am not alone, but the cries of it will kill you, I do say ,so does a car accident, cancer cigarettes and much more, my best friend looks at me as if I have lost my mind

  • ibbit 23/05/2020, 9:55 am

    Excellent comment. ” The most vulnerable should exert personal responsibility.” Well said, but dubious beyond pondering that many even understand what personal responsibility is. If the government had just put money and effort into protecting the aged, after all they knew where they mostly were, that would have been uncommon, commonsense instead of exercising their love of control. It would have been enough to issue the rules of social distancing, disinfecting of communal objects we touch and absolute cleanliness of hands instead of ruining the economy and causing great anxiety to all – other than politicians, of course.
    As for those with underlying conditions, the ill, ones knew who they were and could have adequately looked after themselves that is, if the understanding of personal responsibility had not been overturned by the anxiety of the State to be the all, to all over the last years.

  • Bushkid 23/05/2020, 11:13 am

    When this lockdown and usurpation of everyones civil freedoms and rights are examined, there need to be jail terms and punitive fines for those who have unnecessarily inflicted so much personal, financial and economic pain on this country and its citizens.

    • Cliff 23/05/2020, 5:56 pm

      I’d strongly advise that you don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, Bushkid.

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