“Hell is truth seen too late” – Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
If, in some sort of twisted social contract, people were to consent to live in a technocracy with the removal of most of their rights and liberties (including much of their freedom of speech), you would expect at least that the technocrats running that system to be competent at delivering the safety and security which are the trade offs for the loss of all that freedom.
I think the philosopher Hobbes, who could be considered through his Leviathan to be the post-Platonic pioneer for such technocracy, would see that as the alternative to a life which is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.
In the failed technocracy which is the Peoples Republic of Victoria, we do not have that sort of assurance from the elected and appointed technocrats ruling the state. Life is solitary, as we are all more or less forbidden from leaving our homes; it is (for many small business people) poor due to the obliteration of their livelihoods; it is nasty, for the police are hassling elderly ladies in parks and arresting pregnant bogans in dawn raids for the major crime of advocating the right to protest; it is brutish, for similar reasons of autocratic overreach; and, due to the failure of the authorities to contain the Covid, there is the threat of it being short.
The groundswell of questions around the failures of the Andrews Technocracy, both to contain the covid in hotel quarantine, and in the harsh measures supposedly deemed necessary to address that failure, came to a head on Friday, with the resignation of the Health Minister after the Premier’s evidence to the enquiry pinned all the blame on her, something she evidently disputes.
But it appears that no one has actually taken responsibility for the various decisions and errors which led to this renewed outbreak and the disastrous lockdown. It is a case of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and ultimately Nobody, as the old saying goes.
This became clear a few weeks ago, when the curfew, which was ordered by the Chief Health Officer Professor Sutton, was questioned. Professor Sutton denied responsibility for recommending it, and gave no public justification for it, showing a failure to turn his mind to the issue at question, and therefore leaving it open under administrative law for people to wonder whether he had actually lawfully made the decision to order the curfew (administrative law requires that you actually turn your mind actively to considering the questions rather than just signing whatever is put in front of you). At the same time, the Police Commissioner denied all responsibility for recommending a curfew.
So who ordered the curfew? Premier Andrews does not have the legal power to do so – all the emergency powers actually lie with the Police Minister and the Chief Health Officer, and he cannot order them to make a decision, they have to make the decisions themselves. If one or other of them followed direction from the Premier in this way, then they would not be actually exercising their powers lawfully.
We also now have the situation where former Police Chief Commissioner Ashton has denied in front of the current judicial enquiry, that he had a preference one way or the other for the use of private security in the hotel quarantine. However, the evidence trail contradicts this.
Similarly, there has been a lot of denial by state officials in relation to the offer of Defence Force personnel to enforce the hotel quarantine.
Indeed, success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.
The consequences of this ineptitude have been extremely serious. Victoria has now been in lockdown for a further three months, which will result in serious long term economic cost. It also will have human cost – there are close to an extra 800 Victorians unnecessarily dead directly as a result of the Covid resurgence. Then there is the indirect human cost – the rise in the suicide rate and the deaths of those unable to access their usual elective and other medical treatments (for example, my elderly mother’s appointment to have her pacemaker checked appears to have been delayed, which puts her at greater risk).
The unwillingness of the police leadership to commit to enforcing hotel quarantine, combined with the failure of the State Premier to accept the offer of ADF help (and to lie about it), has cost this state. It would have been better for the police to enforce the quarantine than what they have done since, ie hassling elderly ladies on park benches, arresting pregnant bogans in dawn raids, and handing out thousands of fines to irresponsible idiots. Is this what policing is there for?
When you look at the answers of ex-Commissioner Ashton to the enquiry this week, you have to wonder whether he has perjured himself. Combine that with his involvement in the Lawyer X saga where the police appear to have perverted the course of justice on an industrial scale, and you do have to wonder about whether or not the next dawn raid Victoria Police should do might be to arrest him on charges relating to those matters, rather than trawling through Facebook to find bogans wishing to protest.
That would send a better message to our inept technocrats who are busy abusing their emergency powers that no one is above the law, and especially not insipid pocket despots like themselves.