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The Dystopian Future of Law Enforcement Comes to Melbourne

The Dystopian Future of Law Enforcement Comes to Melbourne

The Dystopian Future of Law Enforcement Comes to Melbourne

Something very strange and Dystopian is happening in the state of Victoria 

During normal times, Melbourne is a thriving metropolis of 4.8 million residents. It was awarded the World’s Most Liveable City by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index for an unprecedented 7 consecutive years until losing the crown to Osaka in 2018. Melbourne is famed for its dining, shopping, world-class sporting events, and unique laneway culture. 

The citizens of Melbourne have been on almost continuous lockdown since March 26, 2020. The city was seemingly spared the worst of the pandemic during early 2020. An initial wave in March and April saw new daily cases get as high as 100, but by June it appeared the threat had been contained with daily cases barely reaching double figures. Other Australian states followed a similar first wave trajectory and began opening up to commerce and normal life. It seemed Australia had dodged a bullet, aided by our geographical isolation and early intervention. While these numbers are comparatively low on international standards, they were treated seriously by the Australian population.  

During July the coronavirus genie seemed to escape from the bottle in Melbourne. A bungled hotel quarantine program for international travellers saw a second much larger wave take shape. Hastily-hired, poorly trained private security guards were installed to manage the quarantine and the breaches were diabolical. Guards wore almost no masks or protective clothing. They performed a perfunctory online health and safety training program. The hotel rooms were poorly cleaned, and the guards allegedly had intimate relations with their captives. A sharp rise in daily cases followed. 

By mid-August daily new cases in Victoria hit 700. The hotel quarantine failings are presently under investigation. Testimonies suggest that the state government refused federal assistance in the form of army personnel to guard the hotels, opting instead for security firms selected via a non-tender process. The process appears to have been compromised by corruption. One security firm with close government ties was paid $30 million for a 3 month contract.   

The spike in cases was mirrored by a rise in deaths, and over 750 people have died to date following the quarantine bungle. Most of the victims were aged care residents. The failure to protect these vulnerable people ranks as another damning government failure.  

The Dystopian Future of Law Enforcement Comes to Melbourne
Protestor / Credit: Unsplash

On June 6, thousands of Melbourne residents marched in support of BLM. The protests were in defiance of the lockdown, but the left-leaning state government seemed sympathetic to the cause and allowed them to proceed. Police officers stood and watched the protests. Some knelt to demonstrate their support.   

On July 4, ten public housing buildings that contained roughly 3000 tenants were locked down completely and without warning. All residents were forbidden from leaving their apartments for any reason. Food and other essential items were delivered. Police officers flooded the suburbs, and the severity of this action shocked the public. It had not been apparent that this level of power was available to the government. The towers are home to large numbers of recent migrants, many of whom might have been supportive of BLM, and that was considered a possible reason for the harsh lockdown. Subsequent testing revealed that there was no great concentration of cases in the towers, and the hard lockdowns were lifted two weeks later. 

On August 2, daily case numbers remained persistently high, and Melbourne entered Stage Four lockdowns. All residents were allowed to leave their homes for 1 hour per day. Gatherings of any size were banned, and travelling further than 5kms (3 miles) was outlawed. A nightly curfew of 8 pm was also imposed. The wearing of masks became mandatory. The severity of these restrictions appeared completely disproportionate and even unrelated to public health. The curfew was explained as a policing measure, although that department made no such request and was not consulted in the decision.  

Throughout the lockdown, Victorian police went on a ticket-writing bonanza. Victorians were fined for sitting on park benches, visiting friends, leaving the homes without a ‘valid’ reason, travelling to their holiday homes, and other seemingly innocuous actions. Fines totalling some $27 million have been levied up until October 2020. 

The Dystopian Future of Law Enforcement Comes to Melbourne
Victorian Police Officers in Metro Melbourne / Credit: France 24

On September 3, police officers forced their way into the home of a pregnant mother dressed in her pyjamas. She was cuffed and arrested in front of her young and distressed children. Her crime was ‘incitement’, chatting online with like-minded folks about the possibility of protesting against the severity of the government lockdowns. Video of the incident went viral, and Australians were shocked at the actions of Victorian police. Another ‘protest organiser’ had his front door smashed in and he was arrested in similarly dramatic fashion for the same offence. Incitement is a very rarely prosecuted crime, almost unheard of prior to these incidents.   

In mid-September, anti-lockdown protests were organised, but hundreds of police officers swarmed the proposed location, arrested early arrivals, and the event fizzled out. A week later another anti-lockdown protest went ahead, this time with greater success. Several hundred protesters gathered at various Melbourne locations having communicated via an encrypted messaging service. The police response was overwhelming. Helicopters hovered overhead while riot squads dressed in unfamiliar uniforms encircled and detained members of the group. 72 arrests were made and hundreds of fines were issued.

The response indicated a paranoia in government. 200 people standing around holding placards is not a significant health hazard, but if the notion that lockdowns are unpopular and unnecessary were to take hold, the state government might have a serious compliance issue on its hands. Individuals might just walk out of their homes, unmasked, and stay out for an entire day.  

Several legal class actions have been launched against the Victorian government, blaming its mishandling of the hotel quarantine for the subsequent lockdown for the closure of businesses that might otherwise have been trading. Combined with festering public irritation for being confined for so long has brought significant scrutiny of Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews. 

The Dystopian Future of Law Enforcement Comes to Melbourne
Dan Andrews / Credit: Yahoo Finance

Andrews has made some troubling legislative decisions that suggest a wider agenda is at play. In October 2019 Premier Andrews controversially signed an agreement with the Communist Chinese Government called the Belt and Road Initiative. Ostensibly an infrastructure agreement, the deal was met with grave concern by Australian national security bodies such as ASIO. Chinese influence on the Australian political system has been a hot topic, particularly as revelations of wide-scale Chinese spying have surfaced. 

Melbourne also recently signed up to a United Nations initiative called Strong Cities. The agenda of the globalist group is not immediately apparent, but speaks vaguely of being “The first ever global network of mayors, municipal-level policy makers and practitioners united in building social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms.” Violent extremism has not been a pressing issue in Victoria.     

In mid-September, Premier Andrews attempted to extend his State of Emergency powers, under which police had been granted extraordinary power, for an additional 18 months. The original authors of the legislation provided a 6 month limit to such powers, given that most foreseeable emergencies would last 6 months or less. The move was met with pockets of public resistance, and following much political horse-trading, an extension of 6 months was approved.          

In October, the Andrews government attempted to pass controversial legislation that would allow ‘authorised officers’, who could be almost anyone, to detain Victorians indefinitely on the presumption that they might not follow health guidelines such as self-isolation. The Andrews regime was essentially granting itself the power to make citizens disappear for transgressions they MIGHT commit in the future. Following significant push-back, the law was amended to weaken the arbitrary powers of detention, but many of the controversial measures remain and are currently working their way through Victorian houses of parliament. 

Despite his deeply authoritarian initiatives, a fear-addled public initially supported Premier Andrews on his quest for complete control. #IstandwithDan trended on Twitter as a form of Stockholm Syndrome took hold.  

The state of Victoria is trapped in a left-wing authoritarian vice. Public mental health issues have spiked during the lengthy government lockdown. After over 7 months of varying degrees of house arrest, a return to normal life feels like a mirage. Residents yearn for the simple pleasure of sitting in a restaurant, socialising with friends, or attending a sporting event. Humans are herd creatures. We also desire to be free. Breaking point has been reached.  

Will arch-villain Premier Andrews continue to exert iron-fisted control? Will the tide turn against his brazen grab for absolute power? We can only hope life in Victoria is not a terrifying peek into a possible future, a case study in detaining a citizenry indefinitely, until it finally rebels. It feels like a dystopian New World Order wherein authorised officers incarcerate on the possibility of future misbehaviours.

Victoria has adopted a Chinese approach to law enforcement, and it bodes ill for free societies everywhere.         

Jackson Byrne

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