An Australian health worker has said fear is the motivating driver behind the Australian state governments COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates.
Australia’s COVID lockdowns are among the harshest in the world, with Melburnians enduring 282 days of restrictions, including one period comprising 234 consecutive days of oppressive city-wide lockdown. Other cities have fared little better, with Sydney coming out of a 107-day lockdown last month, and the hard border in Western Australia has kept the entire state in an effective quarantine.
So how has Australia, a flourishing liberal democracy, become a hermit kingdom?
“We only have one metric defining success,” an Australian government health worker administering lockdowns and contact tracing told The Epoch Times in an interview.
The Epoch Times has agreed to provide the health worker with the pseudonym Sharon due to new health regulations that prevent and punish health workers from speaking out.
“The only thing that is reported is people in ICU and deaths, and because we don’t have COVID-19 (across the country), people are more scared of COVID than they would be if the disease were endemic,” Sharon said.
While Australia’s restrictions have been oppressive, few can argue that they haven’t been effective, at least when it comes to suppressing COVID-19. As the world registers a quarter of a billion cases, Australia has seen just 160,000, with one of the lowest death rates from the CCP virus anywhere in the world.
But Sharon says this makes us a victim of our own success “because Australia has been so fortunate for such a long time, there is a reluctance to open up. We have whole teams looking at disease progression across different countries. We don’t want to be overwhelmed.”
This has left Australia’s leaders in a political catch-22.
Initially, the plan was to slow the spread so that hospitals could cope with a surge in demand, but having briefly suppressed the disease entirely, tolerance for cases and mortality is now extremely low.
“We don’t know where the victory line is,” says Sharon. “How many COVID deaths should be accepted? Each state is different on this question”.
This, she argues, is the reason for the coercive means employed to enforce vaccinations.
For instance, in Western Australia, Premier Mark McGowan has instituted a vaccine mandate for 75 percent of all workers in that state, not just those related to health and aged care services.
Every restaurant worker, supermarket employee, baker, post office staff, and utility contractor must be fully vaccinated to be employed. The mandate even applies to undertakers and mortuary staff.
Forcing people to undergo medical procedures is something that Sharon is deeply uncomfortable with as a public servant.
“I wouldn’t make it mandatory, I’d highly encourage it, but I wouldn’t make it mandatory,” she says.
Sharon is also concerned with how people who choose not to get vaccinated are being demonised: “It’s supposed to be about protecting yourself, but there is a great deal of emphasis on guilt-tripping others.”
Fearmongering about the unvaccinated certainly has been looming large in the Australian discourse. Official Australian Government health advice lists “protecting people who can’t be vaccinated due to medical conditions” as a reason to get vaccinated. It even says that vaccination “protects children while research continues to test the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people under the age of 12,” even though the risk to children from COVID-19 is known to be almost zero. This is a point on which Sharon as a health worker, is particularly scathing.
“We say that some people are unable to be vaccinated, but not who. In reality, these are mostly people who are already in end-of-life care with a terminal disease. You getting vaccinated will not save anybody else’s life.”
Sharon says she received her vaccinations before they became mandatory in her department. Although she believes that there is widespread support for vaccine mandates among her colleagues, there is also a climate of fear around any criticism.
“Some officials are against mandates, but they dare not say this out aloud. At best, they’ll say something timid like, ‘I’m unsure about it’.”
Sharon believes that fear of the disease is trampling personal responsibility and individual rights.
When asked what she’d do differently, her response is immediate: “I’d have a staged approach and a timeline. I’d be sticking to that timeline. “Once you are vaccinated, you should be completely free. If unvaccinated, you need to be aware of the risks. Give people time to vaccinate; if they choose not to, so be it.”
Sharon also believes that while some supposedly temporary constraints on liberty, such as mandatory contact tracing apps that allow the government to track all citizens, seem to be emerging as permanent, she insists that was not the original plan.
“At first, I was certain tracing apps would be a temporary measure, but now I really don’t know when it will end,” she said.
Uncertainty about when mandates, lockdowns and emergency measures will be permanently ended is also causing a sea change in public attitudes toward the lockdowns. As a majority of people become vaccinated, pressure is building to open up. The new New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet has been the first to move in this direction, announcing that from Nov. 1, people would be allowed to travel internationally.
Sharon says that although the past 18 months has caused significant harm in Australian society, she believes there are also observable positives, “workplaces are taking sickness seriously. Before many people felt pressure to come to work unwell, now there is a lot more respect if someone asks to stay home.”
When asked why people in Australia have put up with restrictions for so long, Sharon said she believes it was because Australians have forgotten about death.
“Australia is so affluent and successful. Infant mortality, cholera, typhoid—these are basically things of the past. Now death is not something we live with on a daily basis; it’s a support role that religion used to fulfil. With a new pandemic, millions of people dying across the world, Australians have become deeply anxious. It’s only with widespread vaccination that people are now overcoming this fear.”