Leading article Australia
11 March 2023
The latest revelations out of Britain regarding the grotesque abuse of power during Covid make for very disturbing reading. As James Allan outlines in this week’s must-read cover story, freedom-lovers everywhere can heave a sigh of relief that one brave journalist decided to reveal the disgraceful contents of the former UK health minister Matt Hancock’s encrypted WhatsApp messages – and thereby the thoughts behind his actions. And in doing so she did the causes of freedom and liberty a huge service.
What we now know is what so many of the writers in this magazine long suspected: that every aspect of the Covid pandemic, from the initial fear-mongering through to lockdowns, mask mandates, school closures, vaccine mandates and even ‘new variants’ deserved far greater scrutiny than was being permitted by health authorities and the overwhelming consensus of the government/media/Big Pharma axis.
Let us hope that these revelations are just the beginning of a much larger and more thorough investigation into all the authoritarian abuses of power which came to define the Covid era. It is unlikely that here in Australia our politicians would come out of such an inquiry much better than their British counterparts.
Virtually alone in the Australian media, this magazine has repeatedly and accurately reported against the Covid consensus narrative and has been the only outlet prepared to challenge the medical diktats. This week is no different, with more brilliant pieces by Robert Clancy, Rebecca Weisser and James Allan.
Smartest man in the booth
At least Malcolm Turnbull has finally found his rightful place in the world as he embraces an exciting new form of communication best suited to his prodigious talent: the podcast.
A podcast usually boils down to one person sitting alone in a small booth – the smaller the better, for acoustics – talking into a lonely microphone whilst wearing a large set of headphones, uninterrupted by the world outside. As such, it can now be said of Malcolm Turnbull that he is finally ‘the smartest man in the room’.
Mr Turnbull has settled on ‘Defending Democracy’ as his schtick. Which is a tad unusual. A key component of modern democracies, including ours, going back at least a century, is that the people not only elect the government they desire but in doing so they elect the leader they want – the Prime Minister. Were one to write an undergraduate thesis on the best way to ‘defend democracy’, you wouldn’t be far off the mark if you merely wrote, ‘the key to defending democracy is to uphold public respect for its institutions, traditions and unwritten rules’. Another way to ‘defend democracy’, arguably, is to demonstrate unswerving loyalty to the wishes of the electorate. ‘Putting one’s own ambition, pride and self-interest above the interests of the democratically elected government and its leader’ is possibly not such a great way of ‘defending democracy’.
Following the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd fiasco, Tony Abbott brought the Coalition back to government with a vengeance in 2013 in a landslide victory. We will never know, alas, what the Abbott government could have achieved had the PM’s deputy Julie Bishop not been seduced (metaphorically) by the siren voice of the warbler from Wentworth, but what we do know is that the Australian public never got the conservative government they craved and deserved. For sure, Mr Abbott made some early slip-ups, but they were insignificant.
What Australia then got as a demonstration of ‘defending democracy’ was a power-hungry narcissist who used every opportunity afforded him to undermine, ridicule and subvert his own leader, and by definition, the government he had sworn to uphold; eighteen months of sniggering contempt, deliberate misrepresentation and reprehensible conniving with the leader’s political opponents in the media (and elsewhere, presumably); and a deputy leader (and foreign minister) who sent her chief of staff skulking around the suburbs of Queanbeyan in the dark to ‘report back’ on the creepy plottings of the likes of Peter Hendy, Wyatt Roy and Mal Brough.
Surviving only by the skin of his teeth in the 2016 election, Mr Turnbull shed most of the seats Mr Abbott had so successfully won.
Humility, service, loyalty and serving the public interest are the hallmarks of a democracy worth fighting for. ‘Defending democracy’? Mr Turnbull’s podcast is likely to be as inconsequential, as meaningless, as hypocritical, as self-delusional and as instantly forgettable as was his time in office.