Written by Hudson Crozier
Despite some elements of a free democracy, including mixed, representative, and initially decentralized government, Australia has gradually devolved into a repressive police state. Life for the citizen has transformed beyond recognition.
Disarming the Public
In 1996, after a mass shooting in Tasmania that left 35 dead and 18 wounded, Australia reacted with widespread gun reforms under Prime Minister John Howard. The National Firearms Agreement (NFA) mandated universal gun registration, fully banned all semi-automatic firearms and pump-action shotguns, and authorized mass "buybacks" through which about one-third of firearms in the country were voluntarily sold or surrendered to the state.
"We do not want the American disease imported into Australia..." Howard once stated in reference to shootings. "Guns have become a blight on American society." By the standards of Australian politics, Howard belonged to the most "conservative" camp.
Subsequent reforms have increased gun regulation overtime, and some states still adhere to a section of the NFA stating that self-defense is not on the list of "genuine reasons" for gun ownership.
"Public Health" Orders
Since the start of the pandemic, Australia has enacted some of the heaviest COVID restrictions worldwide. Our in-depth analysis of their vaccine and mask mandates, lockdowns, surveillance methods, and travel restrictions can be found here. Federal and state officials, however, continue to escalate their "public health" plan.
Multiple anti-lockdown demonstrations have broken out in large cities where crowds of civilians have clashed, sometimes violently, with police. Hundreds have been arrested in enforcement of local COVID orders, sometimes with the assistance of the military, and the police have steadily increased their methods for crowd control. The Victoria Police now use "pepper ball rounds" as blunt-force pellets and "stinger" grenades that emit flashes of light, smoke, and rubber pellets. At a Melbourne rally, while civilians threw golf balls, bottles, and other debris, riot police fired rubber bullets into the crowd.
Some states have also begun sending dozens of COVID-positive travelers, citizens, and their close contacts to quarantine camps, sometimes escorted by the military alongside army vehicles. Among the most notorious locations is a former mining facility in Darwin, now repurposed as the "Center for National Resilience" or Howard Springs Quarantine Facility. It consists of a series of trailer homes in which prisoners are individually confined for 14 days of quarantine as meals are brought to them once a day. A video was posted by one prisoner on social media showing several people sitting on the balconies of their trailers. "We’re all just waiting patiently to be fed," he said. "It’s like when you shake the bag of dog treats and the dogs come running." He also described an incident where several police officers approached and sharply scolded a woman for drinking tea on a balcony because she had briefly removed her mask in between sips.
Hayley Hodgson, a 26-year-old Australian woman, described her 14-day visit to Howard Springs in an interview. After one of her friends tested positive for COVID, police identified Hodgson as a close contact by tracking the license plate of her scooter, and then arrived at her house and ordered her to be escorted to Howard Springs. She attempted to lie by saying she had been tested, but they threatened to put her "in the back of the divvy van" if she resisted.
She was not told her rights or offered a lawyer as she was detained and was held for a full quarantine period despite testing negative three times. During her stay, she was threatened with a fine for walking out of her cabin without a mask. When she angrily complained of her conditions, she was offered a sedative to calm down and told that her visit would be extended if she continued her behavior. After her visit, she discovered her retail job had laid her off, for which she received some compensation, and the Australian branch of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggested to her that she may have been held for the full two weeks as "punishment" for initially lying to police.
There have been several escape attempts reported from Howard Springs where some have climbed over a fence and fled on foot, only to be arrested and returned by police. One attempt involved 3 local teenagers who had tested negative for the virus but were still being detained as close contacts of COVID-positive detainees.
Dictionary definition of "concentration camp": A guarded compound for the mass detention without hearings or the imprisonment without trial of civilians...
In August, Parliament passed the Surveillance Legislation Amendment or the "Identify and Disrupt" Bill to combat online criminal activity, granting unprecedented hacking powers to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and severely limiting private communication.
Once given royal assent and passed into law, the legislation will allow police with a proper warrant to access, modify, add, or delete any data from personal devices or networks as well as take over social media accounts for investigative purposes. Failure to comply with a warrant may result in a ten-year prison sentence.
Since then, the AFP have considered creating a new cyber offensive division to take "aggressive" measures against cybercrime.
As the only democratic country in the world without a national Bill of Rights, it remains to be seen what line Australia won't cross.