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.’
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?
‘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:
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!