A celebrated old Evening News headline came to mind last week as I watched Gladys Berejiklian at yet another ‘pandemic’ presser, although W.G. Grace would be an even better fit for this innings of insanity. Her score at stumps is 1485, by the way. Bradman lasted because nobody could bowl him out. Grace was bowled any number of times but refused to leave. The globally mocked ‛emergency’ in New South Wales – caused less by a preponderantly harmless strain of covid than it was by the Premier’s unwillingness to defy lockdown cultists – will only end when delta’s bell curve levels out. Arguably, “cases” are increasing for two reasons. First, Berejiklian and her infamous virus czarina Kerry Chant imprisoned people in delta-friendly germ cabins (what all shuttered homes eventually become); and second, by frightening people into being ‘tested,’ melodramatic figures are produced every day which serve no cause but the theatre of Doing Something.
This ritual wasn’t invented here but Australia’s nine governments (for a population more or less comparable to greater New York’s) are far more prone to “go hard” incitement by the media and each other than authorities anywhere else in the world. If our population was closer to America’s, Washminster federalism would probably suit the economic and strategic challenges of the 2020s. Because it isn’t, a unitary governance structure – with local democratic shopfronts – would more rationally manage a country so lightly inhabited. Instead, coronavirus has exposed our ill-named Commonwealth as a paranoid madhouse of arse-covering and contempt for citizens.
The circle of ‘cases,’ framed villains, idiotic lockdowns and police state violence is not a vicious one in the usual sense – implying exasperation and a degree of innocence – but engineered. Every time the cycle begins, the premiers act heroically to protect the people whose vulnerability worries them the most: themselves. A lecture about compliance and ‘the rules’ is followed by the demonisation of someone who allegedly didn’t follow them, the imposition of bigger fines and the issuing of angrier warnings. What this gas-lighting declares – and is carefully crafted to declare – is, ‘this is not our fault; it’s mostly yours.’ The true purpose of lockdowns now is the protection of lockdowns. That’s because the spectre haunting the premiers isn’t Mary Mallon; it’s Nicolae Ceaușescu.
But will the majority ever boo? According to this poll, published on Friday, no. Not during my most derisive past frames of mind did I imagine that Australia’s entire political class could get away with refusing to forego a single cent themselves as they banned millions of voters from earning a living. But they are getting away with it – largely thanks to the new Pyjama Raj of affluent laptoppers who manipulate public opinion with mania, artfully vague statistics and selective obloquy. They regard the Great Unwashed with hypochondriacal loathing at the healthiest of times. I will give them this, though: their contempt for the intelligence of the average Australian is not entirely baseless. What other conclusion can be drawn from Cuomo-on-the-Yarra Daniel Andrews being hailed as the best protector of public health in the country?