“Lockdowns do not work. They are illiberal and economically destructive, and the best available international evidence finds no link between lockdowns and stopping excess Covid deaths. Australia must find another way.”
“Lockdowns were initially brought in under the idea of ‘two weeks to flatten the curve.’ We are now 15 months into this pandemic and we are still treating Covid 19 as if it were March 2020.”
“It is especially disappointing to see the Berejiklian government choose to lock down Sydney. This was the one government that seemed committed to learning to live with Covid. Their capitulation to pro-lockdown hysteria tells Australians that there is nowhere they can hide from the threat of lockdowns.”
IPA research has previously found that the best way to handle Covid 19 outbreaks is through increasing Australia’s medical capacity to handle outbreaks while leaving the freedoms of Australians alone.
The best available domestic and international evidence suggests that lockdowns don’t work. They impose significant social, cultural, humanitarian, and economic costs while at best being of debatable efficacy in managing the propagation of COVID-19 over the long term.
At worst, lockdowns are counterproductive because the negative health consequences they induce can come to outweigh the direct health benefits of reducing the propagation of COVID-19.
They lack proportion by imposing blanket bans on, or severely limiting the undertaking of, activities which pose an infinitesimally small threat of virus transmission, such as exercising outdoors, surfing alone in the ocean, or fishing on an empty jetty.
And they do not account for the variable risk that COVID-19 poses to the health of different population groups. For example, in Australia 90% of those who have died with or from COVID-19 were aged 70 or above, just four were aged 30-50, and zero aged under 30 have died.
The original public policy objective of state and federal governments which formed the basis of the social distancing measures first introduced in March was based on medical capacity, and was enunciated as “flattening the curve” or “shifting the curve”.
In announcing the expansion of social distancing measures, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a media statement on 22 March that “the goal is to reduce the spread of the virus, to flatten the curve, and to save the lives of fellow Australians.”
And in a speech the following day, the Prime Minister stated, “it will be absolutely vital that every Australian respects and follows the healthy social distancing measures that all Australian governments have implemented in order to flatten this curve and to save lives.”
Similarly, then Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy stated on 14 March that “we in Australia want to flatten that curve and keep us under really tight control.” The curve refers to the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.
The “flattening” or “shifting” component refers to dispersing the infection rate over time so that the number of people who required medical attention at any given time did not become greater than the capacity of the medical system to provide that medical attention. In practice, this meant ensuring there was a sufficient number of beds in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
|Lockdown-loving political leaders of Australia.|
One would be hard-pressed to find many silver linings as millions of Australians endured further lockdowns in July, but the admission by many business leaders and commentators that Australia’s response to coronavirus has caused enormous harm cannot be seen any other way.
“Repeated lockdowns will have devastating long-term effects on physical health, mental health, education, social wellbeing and the economy. There will likely be hidden longer-term costs we are not yet aware of,” wrote the economics editor at the Australian Financial Review, John Kehoe.
After the construction industry was shut down across Sydney, the chief of Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, finally called out the unquestioning reliance on ‘health advice’ that supposedly justifies harsh lockdown measures. “The time has come for that [health] advice to include a proper cost benefit analysis of lockdown decisions, including the impact of Covid lockdowns on general health, mental health, impacted business sectors and the general economy,” he told The Australian.
The chairman of Telstra, John Mullen, admitted that lockdowns are distorting our economy by entrenching large corporates and devastating small businesses and sole traders. “The main economic damage certainly is to small businesses… Big businesses will, in many cases, change for the better and small business won’t, and that’s probably the biggest damage to our economy.”
These are all arguments that the Institute of Public Affairs has been making since March 2020. Lockdowns cause economic carnage, widespread unemployment, and mass small business bankruptcy. They are distorting our lives, our relationships, and our national character.
But those who raised these concerns at the beginning of lockdowns were told to “stop talking about the economy” by the ABC’s then-chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici. To ask questions about the costs of lockdowns was to say that keeping the economy running took precedence over the health and wellbeing of other people.