Former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says Australians have chosen to reject civil liberties in preference for stronger restrictions around the pandemic, claiming that health officials have been “deified.”
Downer said in the United Kingdom, the government and public—prior to Freedom Day—had accepted lockdowns and restrictions as part-and-parcel of handling the virus.
“They (Australians) have embraced the British approach with more gusto than even the British. The public couldn’t care less about civil liberties,” Downer wrote in an op-ed in the Australian Financial Review.
“The media never asks questions about them. It just seems so normal to be locking down whole communities, and who cares where the money comes from to pay compensation to businesses and other affected people,” he said.
“You would think the media would aggressively be asking questions about whether this strategy works, whether it is sustainable in the medium term and what it says about our society. But no, they compliantly go along with medical officers whom they have begun to deify.”
The former diplomat cited a press conference in South Australia, where Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier was asked what level of vaccination was needed before restrictions could be abandoned. Spurrier “expressed outrage” at the question and refused to answer.
He also called for more debate around how to handle the pandemic and not leave it to medical experts—who he claims would be focused only on stopping the virus over everything else.
“Australians need to ask themselves this question: What will come first, the total elimination of COVID-19 in Australia or the bankruptcy of all of Australia’s governments?” he said. “At the moment, the latter is winning the race. And it will win.”
“COVID-19 can’t be eliminated. As (UK Prime Minister) Boris Johnson has told the British public in no uncertain terms: We have to learn to live with COVID-19 and protect the vulnerable as best we can. Just as we live with flu and other transmissible diseases, many of which can kill people.”
On July 24, several thousand Australians from Sydney and Melbourne participated in World Freedom Day Rallies, with many participants protesting extended lockdowns.
Previous rallies in Sydney, garnered several hundred attendees, but the latest protests saw numbers spike dramatically, after the extension of the five-week lockdown, which has also seen the government order the shutdown of construction sites.