A Brave New World, COVIDmania edition
Something weird happened in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on this day last month. Andrew Barr, the Chief Minister for the ACT, ironically from the Australian Labor Party, answered a series of questions as to why his government won’t do COVID-19 vaccine passports. The ACT is the home of Australian bureaucracy, so I was surprised to see the Chief Minister not wanting to embrace more bureaucracy. At the press conference he called the passport, a “solution looking for a problem”, and reiterated that the only reason NSW, VIC and SA are looking at the passport is to increase vaccination uptake — nothing else. He also raised legitimate questions as to how the passport could possibly be realistically enforced in any jurisdiction.
But Mr Barr wasn’t able to completely freeze Hell. On the same day of his press conference, jointly with the ACT Chief Health Officer, an arrest that took place just outside Bass Hill Plaza Medical Centre (South-Western Sydney) ended in a medical emergency after NSW Police apprehended a man for allegedly not wearing a mask, possibly because he’s exempt. Disturbing footage shows the man appearing to have a medical episode while three police officers handcuff him. Meanwhile at Bondi and Coogee Beaches two days later, both beaches were packed with sunbathers, mostly unmasked, who worked on their tans.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard defended the beachgoers, saying he was more concerned about unvaccinated people than large crowds gathering along Sydney’s coast. “I think that the fresh air, we know that it is the safest place to be at the present time,” he said. The NSW lockdown narrative is falling apart, starting with the previous Deputy Premier’s earlier admission that curfews don’t work. And meanwhile on the other side of the world, Denmark completely ditched the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and ditched its last remaining COVID-19 restriction: vaccine passports.
Next cab off the rank for discrimination in Australia: unvaccinated people, specifically, unvaccinated workers. In early September there was a Sports Super Sunday vaccination push in NSW Local Government Areas of concern for #vaccinationchampions. The National Australia Bank (NAB) is changing their name to JAB. And the previous NSW Premier has been reported saying that, “We can’t afford to have non-vaccinated people mixing with vaccinated people,” and threw in the comment that she wouldn’t want to live anywhere near someone who isn’t vaccinated, regardless of whether they have medical reasons or not for being unvaccinated, and even though her vaccination will apparently reduce her chances of being hospitalised or dying.
There’s a new -ism out and about, and it’s not racism. It’s vaxism. Having experienced racism and transphobia throughout my life, I’m even more so obliged to now draw a line on discrimination against the unvaccinated. I will speak out against vaxism and do whatever I can to not further enable the rise of vaxism. If you too think that racism, sexism, homophobia etc are bad, then I encourage you to also take a stand against vaxism. Discriminating against someone for not submitting to the vaccine guilt-trip is still discrimination, it’s still dehumanisation.
Previous apartheid systems have been based on race or religion, and many who supported these ideas claimed that common religion or race provides a tighter and more homogeneous society. At the heart of vaccine passports is not just the loss of privacy over personal medical information, it is the differentiation between people. Supporting the segregation of one group of people has in history been followed by other groups being segregated. While many people are aware of the Yellow Star sown on Jewish people’s clothing, there were other groups with their own markings: green triangles for criminals, red for communists, pink for homosexuals, black for trade unionists etc.
Government efforts to effectively privatise mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations (no jab, no X) is unconscionable. I’ve listened to people’s experiences and views surrounding the jab, the good and the bad, and my conclusion is that no one should feel pressured to take the jab out of fear of facing discrimination in the future. A person may/will not be vaccinated for any number of medical, ethical or religious reasons. We already have more than enough second-class citizens in Australia — as an ex-second-class citizen, I don’t want to see more social division.
Section 51 (xxiiiA) of the Australian Constitution provides that the Commonwealth Parliament can make laws with respect to the provision of “pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorise any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances”. Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see if the courts will determine that COVID-19 vaccine mandates for certain occupations are a form of civil conscription, or a form of disability discrimination. Disability Discrimination legislation was introduced in Australia in response to HIV homophobia. Perhaps Australian doctors are being pressured to toe the party line on these vaccines because of fear that the courts will indeed deal another blow to the narrative?
And of course, there is always the risk that these relatively new vaccines, which are unsurprisingly indemnified against liability to the detriment of businesses, will lose Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval. After all, the British Medical Journal last year stated, “Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling.
Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency — a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.” If the hypothesis is not allowed to be falsifiable under the scientific method, it’s not real science.
According to a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, nine out of ten Australians who died from COVID-19 in 2020 had associated causes that contributed to their deaths, including existing chronic health conditions. So why are 2021 lockdowns not focusing on protecting these vulnerable types of people? Why is the current public discourse not clearly differentiating between the unvaccinated and COVID-19 positive (à la dying with vs dying from COVID-19)? Is it too nuanced to talk about risk stratification? Why aren’t we talking about rapid testing as an alternative option to vaccination?
Rapid COVID-19 testing kits are already available over the counter at UK pharmacies. In fact, they are used all around the world and have already been used by some employers in Australia. These tests take less than an hour to return a finding, and they will only get faster. Too much common sense here? See the ACT Chief Minister’s comments mentioned above, where his counterparts are effectively going against the Australian Immunisation Handbook, which states that a vaccine “must be given voluntarily in the absence of undue pressure, coercion or manipulation… and any alternative options have been explained to the person”. Pressuring people does not win hearts and minds, giving people options does.
On Father’s Day this year, we saw families reunited at the NSW-QLD border barriers. This was allegedly selfish behaviour, but actually, selfishness works both ways. Accusing someone of selfishness is a known gaslighting tool. Did the accusers also take notice that the Prime Minister secured a travel exemption to return to Sydney for Father’s Day? We are not in this together: welcome to the upside down Brave New World, where some animals are still more equal than others.
Perhaps it’s not all doom and gloom though. December 1 has been touted as the date the segregation against the unvaccinated will cease, except perhaps for certain occupations. The new NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet, has previously said that the unvaccinated should enjoy the same freedoms as the rest of society once everyone has had the chance to be inoculated. NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has even said that the COVID-19 QR code system should retire on December 1, if health advice allows. Too good to be true? It remains to be seen.
As CS Lewis said, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”