Kookaburra has been reflecting lately upon the seemingly endless growth in the influence and intrusiveness of the bureaucracy in modern day Australia. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that politicians and bureaucrats are seemingly locked together in a dance of mutual self-interest becoming more and more remote from the realities of the daily lives of most Australians. If something goes wrong, or if there is a potentially difficult decision to be made, the politicians throw the ball to the usually faceless and generally unaccountable bureaucracy.
Hand in hand with this is an increasing disrespect for the rights of individuals. Kookaburra’s concern here is that many Australians seem to have forgotten that they have rights. The ease with which health bureaucrats and others have set aside individual rights in supposed response to the pandemic with so little protest is quite disturbing. Kookaburra does not agree with much of what is taking place under cover of the pandemic and the seemingly now permanent intrusion into the lives of individuals by government is one of them. The divisions which this has caused in our society between those who are happy to hand over their lives to the bureaucracy and those who prefer to maintain their independence are likely irreparable. Kookaburra believes that much of what has happened in response to the pandemic has been a massive game of catch-up by a bureaucracy which had been paid to plan but which failed to do so. The disproportionate and destructive response of politicians and bureaucrats to the pandemic appears to be as much about covering their own tracks and being seen to be doing something in a state of near panic rather than operating from a well-thought through plan worked out well in advance. It is not as though the world has not had a pandemic before and the health bureaucracy should have had a plan, should have had a supply of masks, should have worked out hospital procedures, isolation procedures, quarantine arrangements, etc already. Clearly, there was no plan – so the response was to blame and to constrain the population, i.e. the people who pay them, and to spend vast sums of money which they do not have and which, importantly, they do not have the agreement of the people to spend. The grotesquerie of State v State bureaucracies battling against each other, formulating contradictory and conflicting policies, especially in regard to border closures and quarantine arrangements, is demonstrative that the response to the pandemic was done ‘on the fly’. That should never have been the case. The public had more than paid for that not to be the case. The fact that it is still the case is demonstrative of utter system failure. It is not something of which to be proud and it certainly should not lead to some delusional belief that Australia has handled the pandemic. That would be to make the fatal error of thinking that the crisis is over. It is not over. The long crawl back to a semblance of normality is only just beginning. The scars of the pandemic and the substantial damage caused by the misguided response of politicians and the bureaucracy to it, such as a family unable to say farewell to an elderly relative before they die or unable to visit a newborn or people being left to die due to being banned from hospital or someone separated permanently from a partner or a young traveler abandoned overseas with no support or a business destroyed or the many other unnecessary and shameful failures of the system, will remain forever.