A constitutional change that we all can agree on.


This year, constitutional change is in the air. But like so many previous attempts to alter the Australian Constitution, this one – the creation of an Aboriginal Voice – is being shown to be every bit as controversial as most earlier attempts at change. In medical parlance: “the patient is not looking good.”

But the Government may save its constitutional face if another question was submitted to a vote, and one that we can all agree on: a referendum to deny the state the power to enforce lock downs and control of citizens.

Ever since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many Australians continue to ask how the state could have completely overridden their rights. To say we were dismayed would not cover the frightening reality of what living through the pandemic brought to these shores. And if for any reason we were returned to that state of lost liberty now, again there would be no remedy at the removal of our rights, unless we raised pitchforks in defiance.

But while we and the rest of the western world succumbed to this abuse of citizens, one country did not: Sweden. In Sweden, unlike anywhere else, there were no lock downs.

On April, 19, 2022, The Washington Monthly https://washingtonmonthly.com/2022/04/19/what-sweden-got-right-about-covid/ reported that,

While most countries imposed draconian restrictions, there was an exception: Sweden. Early in the pandemic, Swedish schools and offices closed briefly but then reopened. Restaurants never closed. Businesses stayed open. Kids under 16 went to school…Sweden seems to have been right. Countries that took the severe route to stem the virus might want to look at the evidence found in a little-known 2021 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The researchers found that among 11 wealthy peer nations, Sweden was the only one with no excess mortality among individuals under 75. None, zero, zip.  That’s not to say that Sweden had no deaths from COVID. It did. But it appears to have avoided the collateral damage that lockdowns wreaked in other countries.’

https://healthsystemtracker.org/brief/covid-19-pandemic-related-excess-mortality-and-potential-years-of-life-lost-in-the-u-s-and-peer-countries/

Initially, Sweden received much odium for its outlier response with claims that the country was putting at risk their people by not locking down. But since then, as that article points out, Sweden’s approach to Covid-19 has been vindicated.

But the larger question still remains. Why was it that Sweden managed Covid without control orders over its people, when at that time the “jury was still out” on whether not locking down would work to stop the virus. How was this small Nordic country able to withstand the on-line abuse, including what must have been significant pressure from external forces, such as the WHO and the EU, from not enforcing the full gambit of freedom-destroying policies. Why was Sweden different during Covid?

In her article, The truth about Sweden’s voluntary lockdown in The Spectator (22/9/20), https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-myth-of-sweden/ Dr Rachel Irwin addressed the novel Swedish management of the pandemic, writing that under the Swedish Constitution,

Swedish law does not allow for many types of lockdown measures. Even something as simple as closing a beach is tricky because, in general, beach access is covered by the Right of Public Access which, in turn, is enshrined in the Swedish constitution. The limitations of Swedish law partly explain why the parliament passed temporary amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act in the spring, which would have allowed for the closure of shops and other commercial spaces (this provision expired at the end of June without being used).

So Sweden did not refuse to lock down; rather it was not a legal option for the country. 

Irwin goes on to say:

The Public Health Agency also believed that voluntary measures would work as well as compulsory ones and that people could be trusted to act responsibly. However, Swedes are not inherently more responsible than other people. But by repeatedly and consistently telling us that we were responsible and could be trusted to use our judgement, the government and authorities performed an extremely effective Jedi-mind trick: we were told that we were responsible, so most of us were responsible.

So when people are treated like adults, they act like adults! Well, how surprising is that! Who knew?

Irwin continues:

That said, high levels of societal and institutional trust meant that we were already comfortable with following official recommendations. About 60 per cent of Swedes agree that ‘most people can be trusted’ compared to just 30 per cent in the UK, and institutional trust is also higher in Sweden. Size matters, as well: while Swedes have political scandals like any other country, our politicians and civil servants are not faceless bureaucrats, but fellow Swedes. If I email a public official, I usually expect a response, not a formal letter written by an administrator. However, societal and institutional trust are not intrinsic, and can work in large countries. Trust is earned and nurtured, and it can be lost — an encouragement and warning to any government.

Yes, trust is a cornerstone of a free and open society (and, to repeat, is earned and nurtured). Unlike in Sweden, however, during the pandemic (and now), we lost trust in our institutions. Here, not only were our freedoms taken from us, we were belligerently and repeatedly lied to.

We know this from Scott Morrison’s interview with Sharri Markson on Sky News last week, and his assertion that neither he nor National Cabinet’s expert advisory panel – the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee – supported widespread vaccine mandates: https://newcatallaxy.blog/2023/03/09/no-vaccine-mandates-pull-the-other-one/

In his article, Lars Jonung expands on Sweden’s constitutional limitations of controlling its citizens: Sweden’s constitution decides its exceptional Covid-19 policy, (CEPR, 18/12/2020). https://cepr.org/voxeu/columns/swedens-constitution-decides-its-exceptional-covid-19-policy

The relevant sections of the Swedish constitution (Regeringsformen) are Chapter 2, Article 8 (personal liberty), and Chapter 12, Article 2 (independence of administration):

On personal liberty, Chapter 2, Article 8 declares that,

Everyone shall be protected in their relations with the public institutions against deprivations of personal liberty. All Swedish citizens shall also in other respects be guaranteed freedom of movement within the Realm and freedom to depart the Realm.’

Under independence of administration, Chapter 12, Article 2 states that:

‘No public authority, including the Riksdag, or decision-making body of any local authority, may determine how an administrative authority shall decide in a particular case relating to the exercise of public authority vis-à-vis an individual or a local authority, or relating to the application of law.

According to Jonung, ‘the Swedish system is based on administrative dualism, where the public agencies are set up outside the ministries of the central government.’ This means that the government (politicians etc) may not extend influence over public agencies for political advantage.

If Australia had similar constitutional limitations then neither the Commonwealth nor the States could have used as medical camouflage health bureaucrats to enforce arbitrary controls on the people. If constitutional constrols had been in place in this country, like in Sweden, government overreach could never have been an option and the trust between the citizen the state would not have been lost.

In the comments section of my post for New Cat – ‘No vaccine mandates?’ Pull the other one – 8/3/23, one comment stood out:

Kneelsays:
March 10, 2023 at 12:49 pm
‘As per the post, he [Morrison] declared a federal biosecurity emergency, giving him (OK, his “Health Minister”) near unlimited control and requiring very specific circumstances to be met – that is, “due process” is part of this legislation.

So he could have gotten that power and said something like:

“There WILL be NO mandates and no coercion from the states to get a vax. If the states try to do this, they will be charged under federal law, as will any company or government department that demands personal health information from Australians to enter their premises, regardless of whether they are an employee, a customer or for any other reason. Such health discrimination is completely unacceptable, and I will put in place systems to ensure that anyone who attempts such bastardry is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The Australian people have given us their trust to run the country, we must reciprocate that trust, and trust their own judgment on what is best for their own health. There can be no argument that it is ‘my body, my life and my choice’, as every state health department currently recognises with some sort of ‘right to refuse treatment’ policy.

While we certainly encourage all Australians to obtain the vax for this horrible disease, it is ultimately between them and their trusted medical professional as to what is right and best for them, and no government – local, state or federal – has the right to interfere in such decisions, much less demand it. Shame on anyone who thinks they have the right to control another persons health decisions.”

But he didn’t have the balls to stand up to the “worriers” and fright-bats – too worried about “the optics” and getting blamed if grandma died.’

Kneel is right. Our former Prime Minister could have shown our nation true leadership, rather than the twisted mea culpa we endured at his National Press Club address in February, 2022, when he declared that his job was getting everyone (the premiers) in the room and getting an agreement.

If Australians are going to continue to vote into power such low value politicians then we need a Plan B that will limit the power of government over us (outside of war) like Sweden has.

While we may not wish to embrace any additional features of the Swedish Constitution, certainly the limitation on control of citizens and control of (all?/some?) public agencies would ensure that were we ever to experience another pandemic our rights as free people could not be removed.

When the framers of the Australian Constitution conceived our national document, they sought among other things to ensure a system of free trade, which included free intercourse between the states. Subsequent constitutional challenges, however, have reduced that original intention to make trade and intercourse absolutely free to more exactly a determination by the states, with the consequence that our right to absolute free movement has been and can be, given the “right” set of circumstances, restricted when politicians deem it necessary.

A referendum proposal that would enshrine unambiguously the limiting of the power of the state over the people, would ensure that one constitutional change will get up this year. That is a referendum we can all vote yes to!

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flyingduk
flyingduk
March 17, 2023 11:19 am

So Sweden did not refuse to lock down; rather it was not a legal option for the country.

It matters not, how clear your constitution is in limiting the restrictive powers of the government over the people, *if* , the agencies which are meant to enforce that constitution (the parliament, the courts, the police, the military) fail to do so.

The US constitution is the perfect example: written hundreds of years ago, it *strictly* limited the powers of the Feds to only those which were explicitly stated in the constitution – yet, since then, it has been eroded and ignored to allow the US Federal government to become the borg that it is today.

Shy Ted
Shy Ted
March 17, 2023 1:20 pm

Meh, what constitution?
Just create an agency.

Tom
Tom
March 17, 2023 1:41 pm

Big Government created the nanny state and the nanny state’s amoral code, wokeism, which, in plain language, is the fascist confiscation of human freedom.

In Australia, the nanny state treats citizens like children herded like sheep into pens to be given, for example, whatever dangerous drugs – untested because of Kung Flu’s political panic – that Big Pharma and unelected public service “experts” deem are necessary to make the public’s rulers (not the citizens) feel good about themselves.

The nanny state has nothing to do with public interest or public health. Its primary function is to entrench the power of the nanny state over its citizens.

Shy Ted
Shy Ted
March 17, 2023 2:23 pm
Tomasz
Tomasz
March 17, 2023 3:03 pm

Section 92 of the Constitution states:

On the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.

None of that mattered, the system is entirely corrupt. I have lost faith that there can be any legal remedy to the predicament we find ourselves in.

Cassie of Sydney
March 17, 2023 3:10 pm

Kneel is right. Our former Prime Minister could have shown our nation true leadership, rather than the twisted mea culpa we endured at his National Press Club address in February, 2022, when he declared that his job was getting everyone (the premiers) in the room and getting an agreement.

If Australians are going to continue to vote into power such low value politicians then we need a Plan B that will limit the power of government over us (outside of war) like Sweden has.

Excellent piece BBS. Here in Australia we were lumped with a PM who was a joke. Throughout the scamdemic, he presented himself as a caricature straight out of a cartoon. He wanted to be “daggy dad”, instead he was and remains a daggy dickhead.
He was a mediocre middle manager, or as calli wrote the other day, a Dickens type character, always undermining others from behind their backs, meanwhile greasing his way around the corridors to further ingratiate himself. He was clueless how to lead, he was clueless how to inspire, he dissembled, he mumbled and he lied. This man, instead of standing up for Australians, bowed and kowtowed to the likes of fascistic health bureaucrats, and criminals like Andrews in Victoria and that moron from Queensland. I loathe the man.

When the revelations emerged of his portfolio addiction, I was reminded of a tin pot South American dictator, not one like General Pinochet (who saved Chile), no, no, no, our El Morro was more like a character from a Gilbert and Sullivan parody.

But perhaps we get the leadership we deserve?

Bluey
Bluey
March 17, 2023 3:51 pm

flyingduksays:
March 17, 2023 at 11:19 am
So Sweden did not refuse to lock down; rather it was not a legal option for the country.

It matters not, how clear your constitution is in limiting the restrictive powers of the government over the people, *if* , the agencies which are meant to enforce that constitution (the parliament, the courts, the police, the military) fail to do so.

The US constitution is the perfect example: written hundreds of years ago, it *strictly* limited the powers of the Feds to only those which were explicitly stated in the constitution – yet, since then, it has been eroded and ignored to allow the US Federal government to become the borg that it is today.

Indeed. What exactly is the point of changing the constitution for more freedoms if the government ignores it anyway? Aren’t we supposed to have free movement between states as a right? Tell me again, how did that work out over covid?

Robert Sewell
March 17, 2023 4:15 pm

Shorter version in light of the banking, social, and impending military situation:

Sauve qui peut.

Vicki
March 17, 2023 4:59 pm

But the Government may save its constitutional face if another question was submitted to a vote, and one that we can all agree on: a referendum to deny the state the power to enforce lock downs and control of citizens.

Sadly, BBS, even if such an amendment was proposed, I seriously doubt if the Aussie voter would approve it. The appalling reality is that Australians fell for the lie perhaps more substantially than anywhere else amongst the western democracies.

Yes, they were consumed with fear generated by the government(s) & their second rate medical bureaucrats who wouldn’t know the meaning of “science”or medical research and development. But many of them – maybe 60%- embraced the rules and denial of freedom with total conviction. Remnants of them can still be seen wearing the ridiculous masks in the streets today.

What is to be done? I am fervently hoping that “the truth will out”. Certainly, the fiction is disintegrating gradually – even in medical journals, although the latter have been shown during the saga to be hopelessly compromised by Big Pharma. I think that this process may – just may – seep into the national consciousness. But, at the end of the day, I have to say that the fiction of the bold, independently minded Aussie has taken a pounding from which it may never recover.

I heard today that 400,000 new immigrants entered Australia in the last 12 months. Maybe it is hopelessly naive to believe that the nation can possibly exhibit the virtues and characteristics of past generations.

Damon
Damon
March 17, 2023 5:31 pm

“the fiction of the bold, independently minded Aussie has taken a pounding from which it may never recover”

My thoughts exactly.

Damon
Damon
March 17, 2023 5:42 pm

“I heard today that 400,000 new immigrants entered Australia in the last 12 months”

I have to wonder if the first instinct of a citizen facing problems in his own country is to flee, why would any other country want him?

Boambee John
Boambee John
March 17, 2023 6:13 pm

Damon

Particularly as so many seem to leave their parents, wives and children behind, to face the supposed problems.

bespoke
bespoke
March 17, 2023 6:25 pm

Another clear and rational post, BBS.
Cheers.

Rafe Champion
March 17, 2023 7:57 pm

Great contribution BBS!

Everyone have a look at the Citizens Power of Veto, described in a book from The Centre for Independent Studies years ago!

Amusing to see that a Labor government in Queensland almost got it up, and it was in the Labor platform for a long time.

WolfmanOz
March 17, 2023 8:48 pm

Great post BBS . . . unfortunately it has buckleys and none of ever getting put up.

Roger
Roger
March 17, 2023 9:28 pm

All Swedish citizens shall also in other respects be guaranteed freedom of movement within the Realm…’

The right to roam, including on private land, is deeply embedded in Swedish culture.

In contrast, Australia is probably the most fenced in/out nation of European historical/legal/cultural descent.

Even in a national park the restrictions imposed upon visitors are increasingly authoritarian.

Beside your main point, but worth noting and exploring.

rickw
rickw
March 18, 2023 3:35 am

“the fiction of the bold, independently minded Aussie has taken a pounding from which it may never recover”

Australian’s are scared sheep. They will trample over everyone and anything if you give them a big enough fright.

They are a f’cking disgrace.

Almost every Friday night during this f’cking bullshit I drove 3 hours on the Hume to my farm. Driving back Sunday afternoon. Just me and the truckies for months and months and months. I brought a tractor and a gator at bargain prices because no one would travel to purchase.

I guess at the time I hadn’t thought much about what I was seeing meant. I think now I have contemplated it enough to understand:

Overall Australia is a nation of f’cking cowards.

No constitution can protect a nation of gutless wankers.

Mullumhillbilly
Mullumhillbilly
March 18, 2023 5:21 pm

A referendum incurs large admin costs, so should contain more than one question for efficiency reasons.
So alongside the vague voice proposal should it solidify to an actual yes/no question ona piece of paper, what other suitable questions/proposals should be on that paper? Eg
Limitations on States power to restrict movement of citizens as per OP
CIR in sone form. Can be just a vaguely worded as the Voice. Rafe’s excellent link above gives building materials.
Sortition; another Voice that may sit in proxy of the local member from time to time for a parliamentary vote.
Is 5 questions too many?

Rockdoctor
Rockdoctor
March 18, 2023 7:31 pm

If Australians are going to continue to vote into power such low value politicians then we need a Plan B that will limit the power of government over us (outside of war) like Sweden has.

Great piece BBS but the above isn’t happening. I wrote to both Tim Smith & David Chrisifulli during COVID about the abuses of power in Victoria and the desperate need to reign in the ability to declare states of emergency in peace time and to ringfence it in the constitution of the state. 66% of Parliament to declare but also protected by being ring fenced in the constitution, would have been a no brainer in early days. Later in the piece no chance Andrews would have extended the SOE.

Smith was gracious and thought it had merit, however it went nowhere. Chrisifulli didn’t even have the courtesy to reply and the reason the LNP will be below the ALP on my next ballot. Me thinks the LNP covet these powers like Gollum did the ring.

Kneel
Kneel
March 20, 2023 10:13 am

“An inquiry into the govt handling of covid will strengthen calls to enshrine in the constitution our right to free movement etc.”

This needs to be a bill of negative rights, a la the US constitution – that is, what the Government CANNOT legislate. So we would need, what exactly?
Free movement – certainly. Both internal, the right to leave the country, and as a citizen, right to return to country.
Free speech – sure.
right to self defense – harder, but required I think.
right to bodily autonomy – can’t allow these vax mandates to happen again!
right to due process – trial by jury of peers, assumption of innocence, trial to happen within a reasonable time frame, search and seizure etc etc. Probably as several “lines” or “rights”.

Maybe others – discuss!

But regardless of which of these we settle on, we would need to ensure also that where the government legislates “reasonably” against these (such as quarantine requirements for returning citizens during pandemic), there is ALWAYS a due process right – that is, one can demand the court decide whether what is “required” is reasonable and allowable. That while we accept that exceptional circumstances require exceptional actions by government, government must always be required to justify their actions in an open legal proceeding on a case by case basis, the assumption being that the government must do the minimum required and do so in the most specific possible way, such that their actions affect the minimum possible number of people in the most specific possible circumstances, and that the more general the requirement, the greater the evidence required to show that it is necessary and proper for the government to demand.

IOW, similar to the presumption of innocence, the presumption should be that government interference in the actions of a citizen is wrong, and that in order to allow such interference, government must show just cause why in any particular instance the action is justified.

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