22 September 2020

Jeff Sparrow: “In these difficult conditions, progressives need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. The Andrews government remains entirely correct to take action on Covid. Campaigns like ‘Give Dan the Boot’ appeal primarily to fantasists who imagine the virus as a UN plot and to free market fanatics prepared to sacrifice public health for the sake of profit. But that doesn’t mean the left should remain indifferent to, say, police using incitement charges to arrest people simply for posting on Facebook. … The defence of basic liberties matters in the midst of a pandemic in part because the precedents being set now will have implications long into the future. In New South Wales, for instance, the relatively low numbers of infections means thousands can attend NRL matches while casinos and pubs continue to trade. Yet police have been using public health legislation to arrest student protesters, even as activists assiduously wear masks and remain in small, socially-distant groups. … [A] health emergency does not change fundamental principles. … If Covid has shown us anything, it’s that Australia need more doctors, more nurses and more scientists, not an intensified repression.” (Bear in mind that while ‘progressives’ like Daniel Andrews crack down on protest, Britain’s Conservative government has protected freedom of assembly.)