So how did Australia become a hermit kingdom? Geography plays a large part. By mistaking their good luck for brilliance in being able to pull up the drawbridge to the world at the start of the pandemic, Australians quickly became trapped in an “elimination” mindset that is now officially referred to as Covid Zero.
Politics, too, conspired to create this outcome. Labor state premiers (the equivalent of U.S. governors) quickly learned to play Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s center-right government like a fiddle, forcing the commonwealth to bail states out for the economic wreckage created every time they locked down their cities or shut their borders.
Elected officials have allowed their judgment to be replaced by that of the new priestly class of health mandarins like Dr. Chant, on whose edicts the country hangs. Hiding behind the “health advice” of such officials has become the national sport of Australia’s politicians. Earlier this year federal health secretary Brendan Murphy declared that vaccine distribution was “not a race,” which became a mantra picked up by the prime minister to justify an initially cautious rollout. As a result, only around 15% of the nation has been fully vaccinated.