As reported in yesterday’s Morning Double Shot newsletter, in Britain and Australia we have two countries, two opposing approaches to the same problem.
In the UK, Boris Johnson, the master of political change, has rediscovered in a way what it means to be conservative. Not only does he have abandoned vaccine passports,. ohn the same day, Johnson also released a statement that his government repeal in the near future, some of the emergency powers enacted by theCoronavirus Law 2020.
Powers that are “no longer needed” include powers to shut down sectors of the economy, to enforce restrictions on events and gatherings, to disrupt education and child care, to extend deadlines for children. urgent warrants or to detain infectious persons.
In Australia, we are driven every day to Jim Crow medical, where unvaccinated people will be considered unfit to participate in society.
The report in Sunday Times on the maneuvers of Boris made some interesting observations which should not go unnoticed. The article stated that: “Passports for vaccines are seen as a redundant measure in light of ongoing community transmission. New research also suggests that national vaccine passports increase reluctance and mistrust of governments. “
In terms of continued transmission, the report noted that with a high percentage of the population taking double doses, between February 1 and August 29, there were – wait – 1054 vaccinated deaths and 536 unvaccinated deaths. So much for the “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
Moreover, while in the UK laws restricting fundamental freedoms are repealed, here in Australia the government is stepping up its scrutiny. The federal parliament has just passed a law which will grant major law enforcement agencies new intrusive powers to tackle cybercrime on the dark web, but the new law worries some groups about the extent of capacity it unlocks.
The hasty passage of Surveillance (Identity and Disturbance) Law Amendment Bill 2020 has been heavily criticized by some legal bodies who argue that the Morrison government has not fully heeded the recommendations provided by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.
The Law Council of Australia has raised concerns over the bill, saying it omits key recommendations made by the PJCIS, particularly regarding the implementation of key safeguards.
Fears about the use of the extraordinary and unprecedented new powers have also been raised by the Human Rights Law Center, especially regarding their possible use against journalists and whistleblowers:
Since the powers are unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive, they should have been limited to what is strictly necessary and subject to strong safeguards. That is why the Committee unanimously recommended significant changes.
Alarmingly, instead of accepting the committee’s recommendations and allowing time for the consideration of subsequent amendments, the Morrison government had these laws passed through Parliament in less than 24 hours.
As Double Shot said yesterday, the message that so-called liberal governments are sending is that freedom of thought only goes as far as what those governments will allow their citizens to think. Liberal democracy in Australia is in intensive care, while in other parts of the world life is breathed into it.
Dr Rocco Loiacono is Senior Lecturer at Curtin Law School.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Curtin University.