A guest post by a reader:
The city of Melbourne has already endured one of the longest and harshest lockdowns anywhere in the world. And the lockdown has just been extended, with little hope that this will be over anytime soon.
The Victorian Police is behaving like a hostile occupying force, with the gentle bedside manner of Imperial Stormtroopers and the sense of humour of the Stasi. Peaceful protest is illegal. The Police recently arrested a pregnant woman in her home and charged her with incitement. She now faces up to 15 years in jail for the heinous crime of promoting a peaceful protest on Facebook. Others have been forcibly masked before being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed for the crime of being out of their homes for a non-permitted reason.
The Police has unlimited power. They can enter your home without a warrant, and they will do so without any hesitation. If you’re not quick enough opening the door, they will break it down for you.
How could this happen in a civilised country? Why is there nobody stopping the madness? Here are some hints.
For many years, governments have promoted the view that any means are justified to if lives are saved. How often have we heard politicians or officials say that a particularly onerous law is worth imposing if it only saves a single life. The Victorian government strategy with COVID-19 has been consistent with this: Exaggerate the risks and spread fear to justify imposing a state of emergency that gives you unlimited power. Then label any dissenter as selfish, irrational and willing to risk others’ lives. Use labels and emotive language to describe anybody who disagrees. Use force to intimidate people into compliance. Extend the state of emergency from time to time because lives are at stake.
Civil liberties have long been treated as expendable. Protections against unreasonable search were merely an inconvenient nuisance in the way of the Police’s desire to go on fishing expeditions rather than doing the hard work. Civil liberties were easily abandoned when the Police and their sniffer dogs wanted to carry out the vital task of harassing an entire audience just in case a few teenagers could smoke a joint at an open-air concert. Now, when we really need our civil liberties, neither politicians nor the Police have any intention of upholding them. The precedent that the end justifies the means was set a long time ago. This is a slippery slope, and we are well on our way sliding to the bottom.
Finally, there is an arrogant and inappropriate culture within the Police. The Police behaves like a master, not a servant of the public. They are overtly political. They kneel in front of Black Lives Matter activists, but brutally suppress any dissent against the lockdown. They are tough on victimless crime, but soft on violent crime. They will blindly enforce the law to the hilt – as long as they like the law.
Think this could never happen in New Zealand? You’re only slightly behind us. And don’t worry, you will catch up.
The author is a New Zealander who has worked in Melbourne since 2012.