The Politics of the Pandemic: The Rise of Authoritarianism in Australia




Undoubtedly the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have been challenging for every nation. The response, however, has been varied. In this paper, beginning with a brief overview of how the virus has progressed in Australia, we consider some worrying developments. Although the speed with which state governments assumed emergency powers to deal with the virus showed a commendable degree of leadership, the continuing reliance on these powers to close state borders and to lockdown their citizens demonstrates a shift towards authoritarianism. Worse still, is the willing compliance of the majority of citizens in their own incarceration. The state of Victoria has the dubious honor of being the most locked down state in the world. The effect on mental health, particularly school children who have missed a significant portion of the school year, small businesses that have been forced to close, and workers unable to work from home, has been severe. State governments, by and large, have ignored this and continued to use lockdowns as the means of trying to control the spread of the virus. More recently, has come the realisation that eliminating the virus is not possible, and the end of lockdowns can only be achieved through mass vaccination. Rather concerningly, this has resulted in a further lurch towards an authoritarian state with growing support for mandating vaccination. We argue that the turn to totalitarianism should be resisted.


Keywords: Covid-19, lockdown, authoritarianism, Victoria, pandemic.