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‘No’ to Covid amnesty

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 30 January 2023

We appear to be reaching a tipping point on Covid governance as high-profile advocate after high-profile advocate of masks, mandates and mRNA breaks ranks with the official line. The latest Australian defector is Kerryn Phelps, and she joins a line of internationals including Aseem Malhotra, Silje Schevig, and John Campbell.

It appears the Swedes were more right than most to not lockdown or compulsorily mask-up; and the mRNA vaccines have so many adverse reactions universal deployment makes no sense. The pin-ups of the first round of Covid, countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan, are now failing in the second. The policies our health gurus pushed were wrong.

But the shift in balance turns up dilemmas in how to ensure something like this never happens again.


One thing is certain, if we leave the same people in charge, it probably will.

Australia is the land of the bureaucratic fail-upwards. No one ever appears to bear any consequence for their incompetence. As a result, they move up the escalator of promotion on the basis of years served, personal charm, and networks.

No matter what they mess up, they survive and are promoted (Kevin Rudd being the latest exhibit).

If there is no penalty for failure, then the majority of bureaucrats will become indifferent to either success or failure, and it becomes just the process and the mates that count.

So, as the balance of opinion shifts these failures will be trying to reposition themselves for the next uplift in their careers. It's unavoidable that some will succeed, in fact, it is in our interests that some do, because under different leadership their institutional knowledge could be indispensable to running a health system.

The challenge is to ensure they don't overwhelm the new competent cadre that must be installed to run the health system. We also need to find some to make examples 'pour encourager les autres'.


These were not mere lapses of judgment. The decisions they made, or cheered on, were frequently breaches of essential rights, including those against being forcibly medicated or being involuntarily experimented on, amounting in my view, to crimes against humanity.

When you make decisions like these you reveal a reflex mindset that should disbar you from any governance position, except for the rare exceptions when there is a genuine Damascus Road conversion and the previous persecutor can become an exemplary proselytiser.

I'm led to this musing by the case of Kerryn Phelps.

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This article was first published in The Spectator.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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