Moving to a “post pandemic world,” two Australian states – Queensland and Western Australia – have made two of their most senior pandemic response public servants – QLD’s former CHO Jeanette Young and W.A.’s Commissioner of Police, State Emergency Co-ordinator and previously its Vaccine Commander, Chris Dawson – their respective state’s new vice-regal appointees. In doing so it would seem both governments have created an insurmountable obstacle against these previous “servants of the people” being required to give evidence at any future, formal inquiry into the pandemic.
Will some of the other States move also to stymie the airing of what really happened over these last two and a bit years and utilise as well a “vice regal strategy”? In the case of Victoria, the sidelining of certain minions must be tempting for Daniel Andrews, given the debasing of individual liberty and the abuse of citizens’ rights, including the shooting in the back with plastic bullets of innocent people at The Shrine.
In Victoria, Linda Dessau, the current governor, has been in place since July 2015, while in NSW Margaret Beazley has held the vice regal position since May 2019. It would not be inconceivable therefore for either Premier soon to announce a change to their state’s vice-regal position.
So will we see Victoria’s CHO, Brett Sutton, or their Police Commissioner, Shane Patton, get elbowed upwards? Rather than giving evidence before a Royal Commission, what are the odds for Kerry Chant becoming the next NSW Governor? At the federal level, could we expect Dr Brendan Murphy, our previous CMO and now head of the Federal Department of Health, or Adjunct Professor Skerritt, the current head of the TGA, being re-moved up and away to a “safe haven” in the not too distant future?
But any hope for a formal inquiry will be up against it and what would be examined should one actually be announced. Reported yesterday by the ABC was changes to the W. A. State’s Emergency Management Act (2005), which enables the government to declare an emergency, thereby enabling the government access to the emergency powers, including the declaring of a pandemic, which first requires the State’s Emergency Coordinator, currently Police Commissioner Dawson, provide that advice to the Emergency Services Minister who then makes a declaration every two weeks. In moving to extend W.A.’s pandemic powers until January 2023 in State Parliament on Tuesday, the Emergency Services Minister, Stephen Dawson (no relation to Chris Dawson it would seem) revealed that the fortnightly advice from the Emergency Coordinator was given verbally at each fortnightly meeting. With no formal written advice to examine, evidence taken under oath from W.A.’s Emergency Coordinator (Police Commissioner Dawson) would be central to an examination of how decisions were made in that State during these two long years.
One thing is clear: no one at any level of government is even slightly interested in examining formally how Australia came almost within a hair’s breadth of dictatorial government and the mandating of vaccinations despite our constitutional limitations, if Scott Morrison is to be relied on to announce such an investigation. When asked on the campaign trail about a Royal Commission into the pandemic, Morrison responded that “the pandemic was not over” so an examination of the last two years, he said, could not be had. Yet some days earlier in relation to the Reserve Bank increasing interest rates, his spin was that this move amounted to the “strengthening of the economy,” because we were “through the pandemic.”
Throughout this election campaign there have been few questions from any quarter on what the government did or allowed to be done to citizens during the pandemic, apart from whether the vaccine roll-out was too slow. In fact, the PM has only really conceded on that one point, saying at the leaders debate on Nine last Sunday night, and in response to a question from the Opposition Leader, that “it really was a race.” Thus showing that neither the media or the Opposition is really interested in what happened.
So we sit and we wait for the truth to be revealed, which will happen, sooner or later. And as we wait, our level of trust in government is at an all-time low, which is why the right-of-centre minor parties it would seem have gained momentum.