Or: Where to now for the freedom movement as Covid fever subsides?
The Rise and Fall of a Great Panic
‘This will never end!’ was the thought that kept recurring, for two long years, with every feverish daily recitation of the latest ‘case’ numbers, with the never-ending parade of scary variants, with each new lockdown, with each renewal of a state of emergency, with the issuance of each new arbitrary and illogical ‘social distancing’ rule, with the unveiling of each new exit ‘roadmap’ that went nowhere, with each news bulletin dominated by Covid Covid Covid, with each high-rotation TV and radio advertisement designed to frighten the bejeezus out of us and stampede us into the arms of the vaccinators.
‘Please make it all stop’ was the despairing response to it all from those of us who had rejected the quackery from the start or from those who had gradually lost patience as any evidence of a killer pandemic in our immediate midst consistently failed to live up to the fear-induced mortality horoscopes of the epidemiological astrologers. Yet still the restriction/mandate machine rolled on.
Some of us knew that the insane level of Covid hysteria was ultimately unsustainable because it was always going to be dysfunctional for economic, democratic and psychological health but, nevertheless, any softening of bonkers Covid policy to better align with sober reality was jolly well taking its own good time about it. Meanwhile, a depressingly large majority of the population, fearing the worst of an over-hyped virus and naively trusting in the celebrity ‘experts’, remained in suspended animation, uncritically compliant with all Public Health Orders and living their lives in reduced social circumstances.
And, then, it was all over. Now, entire news bulletins go by without a single mention of Covid which, when it does get a guernsey, struggles for billing behind Meghan and Harry. Mask mandates and many social distancing restrictions are being dispensed with or diluted across many national and state jurisdictions. Vaccine passports are losing their attraction as commercial reality dictates that, despite the PR value of advertising that they are ‘Covid Safe’, businesses see the unvaxxed as paying customers, too. The government ads have shrunk in frequency and moderated in tone to occasional boosterism for the boosters. Covid signage is starting to come down or fading into barely noticed white noise. The handshake is back at the footy. Isolation rules for a ‘close contact’ are being modified. The government regulator has shown some scientific integrity at last by recommending, against the government’s desire, any boosters for younger teens. ‘Get the vaxx or get the axe’ job mandates are being breached through the back door by unvaxxed former employees being invited back for casual shifts to meet the workforce shortages created by the mandates. ‘The Science’ is being adjusted all over the shop to conform with the new political and economic needs.
So, at last, it is over.
Well, not quite all over. Vaccine passports haven’t died out for big venues. Vaxx mandates are still extant for some employment sectors such as health, aged care and emergency services, or, if you have the misfortune to live in a vaxx-mandate-happy state, most of the working population. Where they have have been scrapped, the heathen unvaxxed staff are still targets for stigmatisation and inconvenience through forced masking and the requirement to test negative each day. Useless masks still live on in health care settings and public transport. Getting into or out of the country, or crossing state lines internally, still remains a privilege for those willing to bare their shoulder or for those forced by personal circumstances to do so (and there are many of the unwillingly jabbed - 42% of Australians say they have felt pressured into Covid vaccination).
The broader issue of the safety and effectiveness of the experimental mRNA ‘vaccines’ is now the major Covid issue and needs attention from more than just the small guerrilla band of political mavericks (Christensen, Antic, Rennick, et al) who are valiantly exposing the negative efficacy of the vaccines (meaning the vaxxed are more likely to ‘get Covid’ than are the unvaxxed) and the, covered-up, trail of human destruction they are leaving in their adverse reaction wake.
In addition to the lingering social wreckage and vaxx-induced health carnage of Covid policy, there are the beginnings of a terrifying economic arms race between rising interest rates and the galloping inflation resulting from the government’s incontinent pandemic fiscal profligacy, a losing each-way bet that will do the dough of all those unfortunate enough to have a mortgage (bought when money was practically free thanks to record low interest rates) or to have a non-CPI-linked income – which is pretty much most of the working-age population.
Covid’s political fate
Nevertheless, the Covid obsession is over as a mass phenomenon. It’s all flooding rains, the evil Putin and the latest antics of the Hollywood elite, now, and Covid’s political saliency has receded as the Covid screws on our lives have loosened. The JWS Research True Issues survey in March this year, for example, found that the two most pressing issues for Australian voters heading into the 2022 federal election in May are the perennial ones of ‘cost of living’, and (non-Covid) health, followed by ‘the economy and finances’, ‘the environment and climate change’, and ‘employment and wages’. The very real financial trials of living are eclipsing the exaggerated risk of viral doom in most voter’s minds.
As an electoral issue, however, Covid still garners the nomination of 15% of adults as a key concern (albeit down from 25% in November, and 47% in July, last year). In addition, when asked to name up to three issues that will specifically decide their vote at the election, 10% still nominate Covid as a vote-decider.
Ten to fifteen per cent of the population is not a lot for an issue which has resulted in two years of wild upheaval for a middling virus that was always headed towards herd-immunity through naturally-acquired infection regardless of any government policy intervention. Nevertheless, this population cohort is big enough to be electorally critical - and in a direction favourable to freedom.
The Covid-focused voting cohort is unlikely to be composed of Covid hysterics pining for the days of lockdown - politically, the steam has gone out of that jalopy (no government in the world is following suit to China’s latest ruinously expensive and unpopular lockdown spasm in Shanghai – once bitten twice shy, perhaps). Rather, the 10-15% likely represents the opponents of lockdowns/restrictions and the vaccine-choice/medical-freedom supporters (routinely maligned as ‘anti-vaxxers’ by the High Priests of the Covid Cult and their followers), who have neither forgotten nor forgiven the authorities responsible for all the destructive policy madness, all the pseudoscience and all the suppression of liberty inflicted on us in the fraudulent name of ‘public health’ and who are set on holding its architects to account.
An electoral reckoning cometh?
A reckoning to ensure that the same futile, damaging strategies will not be baked into the official policy response to future respiratory viral outbreaks is needed. As national or state Royal Commissions have, alas, Buckley’s chance of seeing daylight (neither Liberal nor Labor governments would want to be put under truly independent, legally-empowered scrutiny for their Covid actions), electoral accountability is the next best thing.
Morrison, the federal Covid incumbent (whose Covid sins were both of cowardly omission – failing to reign in the dictatorial state premiers – and reckless commission – a cavalier embrace of dangerous, experimental ‘vaccines’) trails non-incumbent Labor in the psephological universe by around ten percentage points according to two reliable opinion poll aggregators (Bonham and Poll Bludger). If this wide disparity holds up during the campaign, and if even half of it is reflected in terms of changed seats, Morrison’s government is barbecued. The South Australian electorate threw out the Covid regime of Liberal Steven Marshall with a 7.6% swing of ‘baseball bat’ proportions. There is a Covid distemper still in the Australian electorate that matters, vote-wise.
The transformation of Covid political incumbency from an electoral asset (‘see how we kept you all safe – now vote for us!’) during the early stages of the Great Panic, to what is now an electoral liability after two years of the damaging nonsense, is a global phenomenon. In France, which has been in the top tier of Covid policy harshness (along with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, New York and California), the winds are running against the Covid extremist, Emmanuel Macron, where, in a first-past-the-post run-off between Macron and Marine Le Pen, who opposed the Covid craziness, Le Pen is polling just ahead at 50.5% to 49.5%, a dramatic reversal since the last two-way play-off back in 2017 when Macron (and his anyone-but-Le-Pen collaborators) trounced Le Pen by 66% to 34%. Don’t you just love the sound of electoral retribution in the morning.
Australia’s governments across the board are being rated more harshly on their Covid performance than they were at the beginning of the hysteria. From a high of 73% who rated the federal government’s response to Covid as quite or very good in the mid-2020s when lockdowns were all the rage, now, in March 2022, only 39% give a Covid-response tick to the Morrison government. State/territory governments have also fallen out of favour since April 2020 when all states/territories were scoring ‘quite/very good’ ratings in the 60%-80% range but which are now rated in the low 40%-60% range (only WA remains inexplicably masochistic, with McGowan’s Covid regime at a buoyant 71%, barely unchanged since his starting 76% approval two years ago).
Pandemic fatigue is in the ascendant in Australia. A sizeable 39% of the population now say that “I just want things to go back to the way they were” (oldies were the most disaffected in this cohort) whilst an additional 29% say that “I am over it and I’m ready for something new” (youngsters, many of whose futures have been blighted by education restrictions, lead this pack). Overall, that leaves only one in five Australians who could be called New Normies who are quite fond of their new Covid world.
In Australia, the freedom parties are picking up an electorally significant slice of the Covid-weary vote. A Roy Morgan poll held at the end of March logged One Nation’s national support at 3.5% with the Palmer/Kelly UAP on 1%. The ubiquitous ‘Others and Independents’, which includes the relatively high-polling freedom-friendly Lib-Dems (but beware, these ‘libertarians’ support the ‘liberty’ of private enterprises over the medical freedom of their staff and customers by forcing them to get the vaxx if they want to set foot on the premises) as well as a number of lower profile freedom-friendly micro-parties clocks in at 10%. Even in hostile lockdown-loving heartlands, like the Sydney inner-city federal seat of Wentworth (which consists of middle-class suburbs such as Darling Point, Double Bay, Vaucluse, Paddington, and Bondi Beach), the Lib-Dems and the UAP are attracting 3% of voter support each. The cumulative freedom vote for all these parties, with an expected watertight trade in preferences, will be significant for the prospects of this bloc holding the balance of power in the Senate come May.
Covid may be flying somewhat below the radar as the federal election show gets under way but you know what else flies below the radar? A stealth bomber. Here’s hoping the freedom party vote can do some major damage to the comfortable Lib-Lab Covid duopoly.
Morrison saved 40,000 lives from Covid?
What does Morrison have to offer in the face of this voter disenchantment on Covid? Well, being a shallow politician, all he has is a shallow soundbite. He is going to the election with one smug Covid talking point, claiming that “40,000 people are alive today because of the way we managed the pandemic” (i.e. Zero Covid, closed borders, lockdown, goofy masks and mass ‘vaccination’ out of the pandemic).
This is insulting spin. The 40,000 figure is derived by comparing an island continent which has searingly virus-unfriendly summers to cooler northern hemisphere countries (research across 117 countries shows that there is an average 5.4% reduction in ‘case’ transmission for each degree increase in temperature and which can explain 72% of country variation in ‘case’ numbers). The ‘case’ count in Australia also began during our summer season of 2020-21 giving Australian figures an extra summer of low counts compared to its more wintry northern peers over the two years 2020 and 2021. Even the lockdown-loving, Covid-crazy The Conversation spots this error, a feat made easier for the academic lefties because it serves the greater good of delivering a hostile ‘fact check’ to Morrison whom they loathe for being (allegedly) a conservative despite The Conversation championing the very same Covid policies as Morrison has implemented or failed to halt.
Morrison’s earlier boast, back in April 2020, that “many thousands, if not tens of thousands” of lives were saved by his policies was also flawed. This relied on comparing actual Covid deaths with modeled estimates by Melbourne’s Doherty Institute. The latter lacked integrity because it used the defective parameters and assumptions (such as a grossly inflated viral reproduction rate, a vastly overstated infection fatality rate and a belief that the virus was a threat to all rather than just the already very old and very sick, or the very obese) which Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London first used in his infamous modelling that sent the world into a Covid policy tailspin in early 2020.
If you get to set your own exam question to give you your pre-determined answer then of course you will succeed. Morrison can’t claim credit for something (tens of thousands of deaths) that was never on the cards. And he doesn’t get to keep his calculations hidden from the public. The ‘working out’ that gives you tens of thousands of lives saved remains a state secret, buried, along with the ‘science’ behind all the restrictions/mandates, in lead-lined drums in subterranean concrete vaults otherwise known as in-confidence National Cabinet Minutes. As a former Maths teacher, if a student gave a ‘correct’ answer without showing their figurin’, I would strongly suspect cheating. The federal-state Labor-Liberal National Cabinet are no better than dishonest schoolkids.
Subsequent modelers have continued the statistical charade - we should note, by the way, as Paul Collits does, that their sponsoring institutions all have financial ties to Bill Gates - “trying to find an institute that provides medical advice to Australian governments that does not receive funding from the Global Vaccinator-In-Chief is not easy. The Doherty Institute. The Burnet Institute. The Kirby Institute. The University of Melbourne”. The modelling contracts from the government must have been a nice little earner for them all, too. Conflicts of interest, anyone?
Still, ‘40,000 lives saved’ makes for an easily-remembered talking point and sounds scientific. Approved by experts! With numbers! Those who gullibly swallowed all the forecasts or viral apocolypse from the get-go may well fall for this statistical fiction, too.
On May 21, Show No Pity
The freedom movement may have lost all the big battles (for example, the legal challenges, the Canadian Trucker Convoy, the massive freedom rallies in Canberra, Melbourne and the rest of the world) but the anti-lockdown/restriction war was, nevertheless, (largely) won because governing an unhappy and unruly population through authoritarian controls just became too politically exhausting as more and more people started to move on from it all, and the economic cost became too horrendous even for Treasury spendthrifts.
But there will be no apologies volunteered by the authors of two years of policy disaster, no admission of fudged figures or policy error, no expression of remorse, no act of atonement. So much political capital has been invested in our governments’ bonkers Covid response that they can not now disown it unless we make them fear the ballot box. If legacy political allegiances reassert themselves come 21 May at the federal level, that would be to reward Morrison’s mob for their perfidy and allow them to feel vindication for their strategy such that they would feel emboldened to go down the same path again should the mood take them when back in office.
Given that preferential voting down to the the last hated dregs is compulsory for your vote to count at all in the lower house, being forced to eventually choose between Albo’s Covid clowns and Scomo’s lot for lower house seats may be a real, and distasteful, conundrum but it’s different in the Senate where all bets are off under optional preferential voting. Let whoever was the political incumbent during the Covid bollocks, regardless of their political livery, know that “I’ve got a vote and I know how to use it!”.