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National Review Editor Calls Australia’s COVID Response ‘Insane’

Rich Lowry of National Review Online highlights his concern about one country’s response to COVID-19.

The 18th-century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham came up with the idea of the panopticon, a prison designed to allow all the prisoners to be observed by one guard.

What even Bentham couldn’t conceive of, despite his creative musings about schemes of perpetual surveillance, was a society like contemporary Australia.

Heretofore an honorable member of the Free World, Australia has lurched into a bizarre and disturbing netherworld of bureaucratic oppression in the name of public health.

Australia’s COVID-lockdown mania has been so all-consuming that one assumes much of it would make Anthony Fauci blanch.

At the start of the pandemic, Australia determined to squeeze out COVID with lockdowns and travel restrictions and, as an island nation, had considerable success. It was the last of the G-20 countries to hit 1,000 total COVID deaths.

But this created an unrealistic expectation that Australia could have “COVID zero” as a goal for the duration, and use targeted restrictions and surveillance (“circuit-breakers”) to maintain it.

As the pandemic has dragged on, this has become completely untenable and done violence to liberty and common sense in a great English-speaking nation.

Lockdowns have cut a swath through the norms and conventions of an advanced Western democracy, from the suspension of a state-level parliament to the banning of protests to military enforcement of the COVID rules.

With the Delta surge, more than half of Australians are locked down, often in response to a tiny number of cases.

Australian authorities don’t fool around. State premiers have vast powers, and use them. In Melbourne, located in the state of Victoria, a curfew is in place, and limits apply to people leaving their homes. There are hefty fines for noncompliance. …

… The Australian news media might as well be an arm of the public-health bureaucracy, producing stilted and hysterical reports about lockdown violators worthy of some dystopian future.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...