And we all thought Wagner’s The Ring Cycle was overly long! Well, the Great COVID Show still ain’t over yet because the Fat Lady in this opera bouffe is still singing, as she has been for nearly three years now, thus knocking Herr Wagner’s interminable opus into a cocked hat for tedious length. The scolding, histrionic COVID divas from Public Health Central Casting are still bellowing away, despite growing audience fatigue.
Thankfully, however, they are on half-lung power and reduced to reprising ever-feebler versions of the original show’s greatest hits.There are no full-dress lockdown encores in store whilst the continuing medley of mask mandates and vax variations are not quite hitting the heights of the earlier shows. Much of the audience, shifting restlessly in their seats and looking anxiously at their watches, has stopped listening to any of it. The COVID arias about the lethality of footballs and pizza boxes, are now so much white noise.
To the dismay of the impresarios who brought us the original COVID blockbuster, there is no new production clamouring to take its place. Monkeypox (COVID – the Sequel) has been a box-office flop – there is no dramatic death-ticker to keep the audience gripped with tension whilst the casting has failed to generate wider engagement beyond the special interest group found in what the US CDC defines, coyly, as “spaces like back rooms, saunas, sex clubs, or private and public sex parties, where intimate, often anonymous sexual contact with multiple partners occurs”.
The Mask Lives On
Through the relative lull of the full ‘social distancing’ orchestra, however, comes the annoying solo of The Mask, that slightly shop-worn symbol of the political power and ideological dominance of the public health caste. This self-important and ceaselessly self-promoting clique of technocrats who, faster than a democratic debate, more powerful than an elected government and able to leap a clinical trial protocol in a single ‘emergency’ bound, haven’t hesitated to act out their superhero fantasies when given half a chance. The mask remains the most visible reminder that ‘the pandemic is not over’, as the Lord Protectors constantly remind us; thus, their orders must continue to be obeyed without question.
Yet, even the mask is struggling for oxygen, being largely confined to gigs for the health, aged care and disability ‘settings’. Even the remaining public transport mask mandates are being withdrawn. Don’t bother querying the incoherent ‘science’ behind all this illogic because ‘COVID mask science’ moves in mysterious ways. So just do as your COVID priests tell you. If you still get COVID, well that’s just a test of your faith.
COVID Culture Holdouts
Besides the mask, a few other holdouts of COVID culture still thrive in habitats favourable to such viral craziness. Medical practices continue to wage a holdout campaign against medical science. Been to the doctor lately? Have you noticed how magazines have forever vanished from waiting rooms, [possibly because they thought to be as lethal as South Australian pizza boxes. Pens for filling in forms are segregated into ‘sanitized’ and ‘used’, whilst chairs are still spaced according to a magical degree of separation.
Junk results from positive tests also require workers to isolate from work and life – a scheme which, so far, has burned through more than $2.2 billion in government-paid pandemic leave, courtesy of the long-suffering taxpayer.
The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA), the Australian government licensor for medical practitioners, still remains a danger to health professionals and their patients. AHPRA’s remit means that any doctor or nurse who questions any government public health directive on COVID faces deregistration and loss of license. Through AHPRA, the Australian government has effectively gagged the entire medical profession in order to ensure control of the political narrative: it is essential, they reckon, that the hoi poloi remain convenced there was a uniquely deadly pandemic on the loose and that all the loopy policy responses were absolutely essential, saved countless lives and did no one any harm at all.
Yet, the Great COVID Retreat
Apart from the harassing manoeuvres on masks, the silencing of dissident doctors, some still-extant jab mandates, and (in Queensland) the docking of the pay of some nine hundred unjuiced teachers who have been allowed to return from vax purgatory, the Great COVID Retreat continues like a foreign army fleeing from the gates of Moscow and the wrath of General Winter. The COVID commandantes, having decided for entirely for political reasons that the ‘emergency’ is over, have brought down the curtain on their great and failed experiments in contact tracing, vax passports and the Australian government’s ridiculous ‘COVID Safe’ app. Remember that one? It cost millions, was supposed to tell you if you came within thirty paces of a diseased person and didn’t issue a single valid warning of exposure.
Political pragmatism is also reasserting itself. In Victoria, which was the epicentre for violent authoritarianism and which holds the world record for the longest lockdown (262 days), people (including a 78-year-old pensioner nicked for ‘incitement’) who were arrested and jailed for opposing the unscientific, economy-destroying and freedom-killing restrictions of Andrews’ Labor government, are quietly having their charges dropped in the run-up to the state election in November. Not only would proceeding with the criminal cases make the government look bad for its role in unleashing egregious police violence but the judicial process of ‘discovery’, when the government would have to reveal the scientific basis (or, rather, lack of it) for its lockdown and restrictions policies (and concomitant heavy-handed enforcement), would make Premier Daniel Andrews and his inner circle look like the power-drunk, scientifically illiterate authoritarians they were and remain.
Sizable out-of-court settlements (said to be as high as a million dollars) are also being quietly paid out as hush-money by the Andrews government to a number of victims of police brutality (a news photographer who was pepper-sprayed in the face; the man who was head-slammed into the concrete at Flinders Street station, etc.) to also help ensure the electoral survival of the government at the looming poll (Labor leads comfortably but bad COVID-related PR could revive bitter memories and make the contest tighter).
COVID Halls of Fame and Shame
The non-compliant include those few medical practitioners who have attempted to obey their consciences and ethical principles rather than ask ‘How high?’ when ordered to jump (with either alacrity or resignation) to government commands. Such medical dissidents have formed the Australian Medical Professionals Society (AMPS) as a counter to the AMA and which is opposed to COVID censorship of the medical profession. Also on the trade union front in Australia, RED Unions (to which the AMPS is affiliated) has formed in opposition to the existing unions which have, with few exceptions, been foursquare behind the government’s disastrous COVID policy response which saw the unravelling of so many people’s worlds. The RED Unions group claims 17,000 members and is composed of thirteen trade unions covering nurses, teachers, doctors, police officers and transport workers who are on the frontlines of the no-jab/no-job mandates. The Australian Firefighters Alliance has also set up shop as a quasi-union, primarily to address the traditional firefighters’ union’s acceptance of COVID vax mandates. They describe themselves as ‘pro-choice, not anti-vaccination’ and adhere to the principle that ‘where there is risk, there must be choice’.
A similar nouveau union movement exists in England, where Workers of England was formed to organise against COVID vax mandates in the workplace. The COVID-compliant woke Left, such as Hope Not Hate in the UK, has pilloried these new British unions as not ‘proper’ trade unions, which is deeply ironic, considering how the ‘proper’ trade union movement has climbed into bed with the lockdown/pharma junta and gone along with all its job-killing, mask mandates, forced jabbing and the spiralling inflation and interest rates arising from wasteful pandemic response spending. Projection, I think the Freudians call it.
Hope Not Hate also accuses the new unions of being ‘far right’, that tiresome and politically meaningless term of abuse which the Left always uses to disparage ideas and political movements with which it disagrees, including the freedom movement against COVID lockdowns and restrictions. As it’s wokey name suggests, however, Hope Not Hate is just a left wing hate group playing political games and its reductio ad Hitlerum criticism of an upstart union movement which opposes the Left’s beloved lockdowns, masks and vax tyranny is as good an indication as any that Workers of England is on the right track.
Australia’s overall trade union membership had nose-dived from around 51 per cent of the total workforce in 1976 to just 10 per cent by 2020. Nevertheless, with strongholds in some blue-collar private industry sectors such as mining, construction and transport, and public sector ‘grey collar’ redoubts such as nursing and teaching, rump trade unions aren’t going away anytime soon. The more competition there is in this space from politically-independent, member-controlled unions the better. Ideological hostility should not get in the way of cooperation with them, at least on COVID, in resisting ‘public health’ tyranny.
In the Heroes of the COVID Resistance Hall of Fame, places should also be reserved for those professional sportsmen who said ‘no’ to the jab mandate – men like the Carlton Blues’ Liam Jones and women like the Adelaide Crows’ Deni Varnhagen, who are being invited back into the game, and Novak Djokovic who should reappear at the Australian Open when his political persecution ends. Unlike many of their jabbed sporting colleagues, they can truly say, with Edith Piaf, je ne regrette rien. despite lost income and their careers’ disruption.
We should also honour those few, way too few, amongst the head-bashing, rubber-bullet-firing police who, during the authoritarian derangement which overtook the country, quit their jobs in disgust at what they were ordered to do on behalf of the Safety Regime.
On the villainy side of the COVID ledger, there is a glut of contenders – from prime ministers and premiers and professors to most media talking heads, medical bureaucrats, those woke academics who worked tirelessly to defend the illiberal COVID Narrative and all the ‘human rights’ yabberers who suddenly went mute during the greatest assault ever on individual liberty and civil rights in Australia.
As we’re talking about medical bureaucrats and sundry ‘experts’ ringing alarm bells hither and yon, take a trip down Memory Lane with the clip below. It’s epidemiologist Raina Macintyre appearing on Q&A two long years ago, and just about everything she says proved to be incorrect. Not to worry! Ms Macintyre has just been awarded the Eureka Prize by the Australia Museum for her services to propagating science — the official sort of science, that is.
This COVID Hall of Shame should have a special section reserved for the political Left, including the state Labor governments who did the dirtiest work, as well as the hard Left, whose debilitating bout with coronamania continues apace. The Socialist Equality Party (whose roots lie in Leon Trotsky’s ‘International Committee of the Fourth International’) has most recently condemned Australian governments for not continuing to impose facemasks on schoolkids. Not to be outdone, the Socialist Alliance (aka Green Left Weekly) indulges its ongoing infatuation with mask mandates and boosters. These parties of Trotskyist ancestry find themselves on the same COVID page as their Stalinist-heritage béte noirs. The Communist Party of Australia has recently declared that COVID is currently “worse than ever”, scything an average of 40 victims a day nationwide, and that Australian governments need to redouble their flagging efforts at control (more testing, tracking, isolation, boosters and, you guessed it, masks).
Reservoirs of COVID Hysteria
These bitter-enders are buoyed by the still large reservoirs of hysteria in the broader population. The old, for whom their own mortality is a near-horizon event, are still largely virus-terrified and obedient to government virus containment messaging, but the other demographic which is still virus crazy after all these years is the leftwing voter. In the US, for example, the New York Times reports an August 2022 survey which finds that 34 per cent of the ‘very liberal’ (what we in Australia would call the virtue-signalling, woke Left) still believe that ‘the virus presents a great risk to their own personal health’, a higher proportion than in any other political cohort and higher than even in the elderly. Obsessing about COVID is now largely an expression of Left political identity, symbolised by the ‘very liberal’s’ addiction to masking. The percentage of American adults, for example, who report always wearing a mask in public is 28 per cent overall but 44 per cent of the very liberal are still addicted to their masks (compared to only 18 per cent of the ‘Very Conservative’).
In Australia, virus derangement is more evenly spread across the political spectrum, but what we could term the very left still do more than their demographic share of the fretting. In July, a large majority (66 per cent) of ALP voters agreed that ‘mask wearing should be re-introduced in some settings to stop the spread of COVID’, compared to a minority (46%) of minor party-independent voters (which would include the anti-mandate/anti-restriction Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Craig Kelly/Clive Palmer United Australia Party and the Liberal Democrats). Barely half of Labor voters (52 per cent) agree that ‘We really need to get on with life and treat COVID like another form of flu, compared to two-thirds (63 per cent) of minors/independent voters. More Labor voters still believe that the vax is the only way out of the pandemic – 58 per cent agree that ‘it is time the government started rolling out a fourth booster’ compared to 42 per cent of minors/independents voters.
Although Coalition voters are up there with Labor voters on COVID obsession and vax mania, this is likely to be a reflection of the older (and more virus-wary) Coalition voting base, although it could also reflect the lamentable waste of space that was the Morrison government on COVID for two years as it gave the premiers their head and contented itself with writing cheques to underwrite the states’ various follies.
Bring on the COVID Royal Commission!
The COVID vaccines should be a major focus of the Royal Commission into Australia’s COVID response that has been mooted by the Albanese government. Priime Minister Albanese is being reticent on its details, however, and it seems certain he will have one eye on a Commissioner and Terms of Reference which seek to protect his state Labor mates in Victoria, Qld, WA and the NT being exposed by a powerful federal inquiry.
The exorbitantly expensive JobKeeper may also escape fundamental scrutiny with just a focus on the technicalities (including the brazen rorting of the scheme) rather than how its very conceptualisation provided a perverse incentive for certain states to go into full lockdown dictator mode.
Any royal commission must also interrogate the innocent-looking but sinister Biosecurity Act 2015 which was sleeper legislation lying in wait to derail Australia’s pre-COVID pandemic plan (which did not include lockdowns, mandatory masking, school closures and all the rest of the nonsensical NPIs) developed during Tony Abbott’s stint as Health Minister (2003-2007). Paul Collits has superbly documented what he calls Pandemic Preparedness Syndrome in which the pandemicists in the federal bureaucracy, smitten by the black arts of catastrophist modelers and ‘public health’ zealots, prepped the ground for the 2020-2021 experiment which “delivered Australia’s COVID totalitarianism” under the legislative framework of the Biosecurity Act.
Was Australia’s COVID response all just pandemic theatre, conceived in panic, enacted under the imperative of ‘doing something’ and intellectually guided by pseudoscientific fantasies of ‘Zero COVID’? The COVID revisionists will soon be at work, maintaining that all their authoritarian handiwork and theatrical camouflage was for the best and undertaken in good faith. A wide-ranging royal commission will be crucial to ensuring they are not allowed to get away with this.
Phil Shannon is a regular contributor