by Selwyn Duke
One of the ironies of the China virus response is that it’s making Western nations far more like their main geopolitical rival, China. A case in point is that a system designed to track quarantined Australians — and requiring them to send the government a picture of their face and verify their location within 15 minutes of being randomly contacted — may be used nationally.
What’s more, one Australian politician proclaimed that his constituents should be “proud” that their region is the app’s testing ground. All this over a disease with an infection fatality rate not much different from the flu’s.
The Land Down Under…a Tyrannical COVID Jackboot
Unfortunately, this COVID-19-enabled government intrusion is just the iceberg’s tip and has even some liberals wondering how long Australia can continue in this vein and still call itself a free society. For example, as the left-wing Atlantic wrote last week:
In a bid to keep the coronavirus out of the country, Australia’s federal and state governments imposed draconian restrictions on its citizens. Prime Minister Scott Morrison knows that the burden is too heavy. “This is not a sustainable way to live in this country,” he recently declared. One prominent civil libertarian summed up the rules by lamenting, “We’ve never seen anything like this in our lifetimes.”
Up to now one of Earth’s freest societies, Australia has become a hermit continent. How long can a country maintain emergency restrictions on its citizens’ lives while still calling itself a liberal democracy?
Australia has been testing the limits.
Before 2020, the idea of Australia all but forbidding its citizens from leaving the country, a restriction associated with Communist regimes, was unthinkable. Today, it is a widely accepted policy. “Australia’s borders are currently closed and international travel from Australia remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” a government website declares. “International travel from Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption.” The rule is enforced despite assurances on another government website, dedicated to setting forth Australia’s human-rights-treaty obligations, that the freedom to leave a country “cannot be made dependent on establishing a purpose or reason for leaving.”
The Atlantic also reports that the “nation’s high court [no indication what it’s high on, but power comes to mind] struck down a challenge to the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.” “It may be accepted that the travel restrictions are harsh,” the judges stated. “It may also be accepted that they intrude upon individual rights. But Parliament was aware of that.”
Of course, part of courts’ purpose is to protect people from legislative overreach — from a rogue parliament — as opposed to just being a rubber stamp for it.
But truly Orwellian is that facial-recognition app. The Daily Caller reported on it last week:
The app, listed as Home Quarantine SA in app stores and unveiled by the South Australian government Aug. 23, uses geo-location and facial recognition software to track those quarantining themselves, South Australia Premier Steven Marshall told ABC News in an August interview. All South Australians ordered to quarantine must download the app.
The app ensures citizens comply with quarantine orders by contacting people at random and asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes. Citizens then share their location with the government or provide “live face check-ins” to confirm they are at their “registered quarantine address,” according to the app’s description.
“We don’t tell them how often or when, on a random basis they have to reply within 15 minutes,” Marshall told ABC News.
Under South Australia’s current COVID-19 guidelines, health officials and law enforcement officers can direct citizens to quarantine in their homes or in “quarantine hotels” for 14 days. People who break quarantine face up to a $1,000 fine, according to the guidelines.
Individuals who miss their geolocation check-ins will receive a follow-up phone call where they will have to discuss why they missed the notification, and if they miss that, a “compliance officer” may visit their home….
What’s more, Marshall believes Australians should wear their chains happily. “I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app,” said he.
Furthermore, as the Financial Review tells us today, the Orwell app may go national (of course it will).
The kicker is that as The New American has repeatedly reported, SARS-CoV-2 has an overall infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.20 percent or lower — and this can be reduced even further as coronavirus is highly treatable.
Some will say Australia’s restrictions are only temporary. But without massive public resistance, why would they be? First, as even the Atlantic points out, the China virus is now endemic. What the publication wrote early last year, that cold and flu season may become cold, flu, and COVID season, has become reality because the virus does what viruses always do: It mutates. So the China virus pretext will always exist.
Second, governments tend to do what they always do — that is, not relinquish already achieved power and control.
Third, even if COVID magically disappeared, there’d always be another emergency: Another virus (innumerable unknown pathogens exist and are just waiting to be released; in glaciers, for example), a major terrorist threat, or something else. And the precedent has been set — and precedents precede.
So, ironically, China, which is becoming the world’s first panoptic (all-seeing) state and is trying feverishly to Sinicize the West, may not have to try that hard. For owing to how we’re losing our virtue and slouching towards Gomorrah, we’re also readily slouching towards Beijing.