At what point does an ostensibly free country cease to be a liberal democracy? Wherever you choose to draw that line, we can all rest assured that Australia has not just passed it, but done a double back-flip over it while shooting double birds in the air.
I've written previously about some of the wildly authoritarian scenes emanating from Down Under, including police abuse and the government keeping people essentially locked in their homes for all but one hour a day (measures vary among Australia's six states).
But if you challenge tyranny to one-up itself, it usually delivers. That's the case in South Australia, as they prepare a new COVID “mitigation” app that is so insane, it would make Orwell blush.
Read this from The Atlantic and understand that the following is not satire.
Intrastate travel within Australia is also severely restricted. And the government of South Australia, one of the country's six states, developed and is now testing an app as Orwellian as any in the free world to enforce its quarantine rules. People in South Australia will be forced to download an app that combines facial recognition and geolocation. The state will text them at random times, and thereafter they will have 15 minutes to take a picture of their face in the location where they are supposed to be. Should they fail, the local police department will be sent to follow up in person. “We don't tell them how often or when, on a random basis they have to reply within 15 minutes,” Premier Steven Marshall explained. “I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app.”
This is the kind of thing that a fiction writer would love to have come up with. The South Australian government will force you to put an app on your phone. Then the state will text you with a challenge to prove you are where you are “supposed” to be. After that, a person has only minutes to respond with a picture that proves their whereabouts, coupled with facial recognition technology. Finally, if you don't respond, they'll send the police to come verbally, and possibly physically, accost you.
What's even more nuts about this is that the officials involved are actually proud of their work. Take this quote from Victorian leader Daniel Andrews.
In responding to a question about whether he had gone too far with respect to imposing a curfew (avoiding the question of why a curfew was needed when no other state had one), Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews replied: ‘it is not about human rights. It is about human life.'
Politicians have begun to actually feel superior and virtuous in their pursuit to crush individual rights and bring about a dystopian hellscape. That's a scary place to be, for a nation that used to be a symbol of freedom in the Southern hemisphere. And unfortunately for those that live in Australia, there are very few signs that things are going to ease up. While the government has finally admitted that “zero COVID” is not attainable, officials are still pursuing mitigation that amounts to that.
Where does this end? I'm not sure it does, until enough Australians decide to say no more and refuse to comply. They can't arrest everybody, and at some point, disobedience is the only choice. That applies to any other part of the world, including some parts of the United States, that is forcing unscientific, draconian mitigation on its residents. These politicians and officials need to be reminded that they do not have a right to control the individual choices of people just trying to live their lives in peace.