Category Archives: Australia

☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Friday, January 14, 2022

Just discovered another good writer, and detective/analyst. mrossol

It’s an auspicious Friday here at C&C, as we begin to figure out the Supreme Court’s double decisions from yesterday.


🥷 I’m in jail, again. Something about yesterday’s post triggered the censors on that OTHER PLATFORM — I have no idea what — and now my account is under lockdown for three days. I feel like an Australian who just tested positive at CVS.

My poor followers on that OTHER PLATFORM are probably frantic. We could overcome the lockdown-happy censors by directing folks back over here, social media’s version of Florida. Please feel free to share a link to this post on that other platform.

👩‍⚕️ Update on Dan Pisano’s case. The Hospital filed its brief yesterday by its 10am deadline. That gave us till 3pm today to draft and file our Reply, at which time the case will be fully briefed. I’ve been buried in drafting, which is why I didn’t notice the two Big Decisions come down until my email and texts began blowing up yesterday.

Since I’m still working furiously to save Dan’s life, I’m going to keep today’s post focused just on the decisions, since I know everyone wants to hear about my first impressions. I have thoughts.

👨‍⚖️ As I said, I was deep in furious drafting and researching when two strands of messages started coming in from all my contacts over email and in my texts. The OSHA group’s messages were ecstatic; a steady stream of high-fives and champagne emoji’s. The CMS folks were streaming an electronic river of tiny mad faces and that little emoji where the top of the guy’s head is going up in a mushroom cloud.

(I can’t believe I just used the word “emoji” in a serious sentence. Anyway.)

I will have more to say about the two decisions in coming days, as I have more time to unpack them and calculate the effects. Today you get my “hot takes.”


Lawyers are referred to as “officers of the court.” We are often described as “part of the court system.” This sometimes translates into advantages like getting to enter the courthouse through the court’s private door, with no lines and simplified security. Some courts — a few — even let lawyers carry their concealed weapons in. Some judges don’t require lawyers to be sworn to testify, since we already have ethical duties of candor as officers of the court.

The ethical rules for lawyers prohibit us from criticizing specific judges and the legal SYSTEM generally. That doesn’t mean we CAN’T criticize them, but we are required to be professional and circumspect about it. The rule, exquisitely frustrating at times, does make sense. It’s kind of like the rule that an employee shouldn’t criticize their own company or their managers. Quit, then you can say whatever you want, otherwise keep your mouth shut.

Obviously, lawyers often dissect Supreme Court opinions and note silly things that Justices say. I can do that. I’m just letting you know, ethical lawyers aren’t supposed to tear them a new one or anything.


In the early part of the 1900’s, FDR — who never saw a socialist he didn’t love — tried to implement lots of federal control over the economy, which he called the “New Deal,” and the Supreme Court didn’t like it much. For example, FDR tried to pass a national minimum wage, and the Court struck it down as unconstitutional. A personal conflict between FDR and the Chief Judge spilled over into the nation’s headlines.

In 1936, Roosevelt was re-elected in a landslide. Shortly after, he announced a plan to increase the number of Supreme Court Justices from 9 to 13, which would give him five immediate appointments and allow him to “pack” the Court with friendly judges. His public explanation was that the Court just had too few Justices and couldn’t hear enough cases. So FDR sent a bill to Congress, which was held up in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

But in the meantime, the Justices got the message, loud and clear, and started finding new things to like about the New Deal and FDR’s socialist laws to be Constitutional. That sordid saga is now required history in law schools these days. It’s described as an extreme way that the executive branch can get control over the Supreme Court.


Biden knew he would be taking office facing a conservative Court with three Trump-appointed Justices. Even during the elections in 2020, liberal pundits waxed eloquent on all the good reasons that a bigger Supreme Court would be a great benefit to the entire country.

On April 9, 2021 — four months after taking control — Joe Biden signed an executive order creating the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. The Commission’s purpose was to consider and recommend “improvements” to the Supreme Court including “the membership and size of the Court.”

During the next few months, I noticed and commented about a remarkable series of 9-0 opinions coming from the Court. What I said at the time — and still believe — is that the Supreme Court was sending the Biden Administration some kind of message. Something like, “you can add five justices but it won’t change anything because we’re going to vote together.”

But there was also a silk glove along with the iron fist of voting uniformity. During the same period, the Court turned down review of ALL the cases related to Biden’s signature “accomplishment”: high vaccine rates. Arguably, Biden has utterly failed in every single other area of governance: foreign policy, managing (or MIS-managing) Afghanistan, the economy, his poll numbers, and losing Democrat seats in state and local elections. The ONLY thing that was going his way was his vaccine plan — through brute force.

Which is why, if Biden can’t announce that he shut down the virus on March 1, he doesn’t really have a lot of good news to talk about. None, if you think about it. And, as I’ve explained earlier, I believe that’s why Narrative 2.0 — all-of-a-sudden — is that the pandemic is over. But that’s a separate issue.

On December 7 — a month ago — the Presidential Commission sent Biden its final report — which did NOT recommend packing or otherwise increasing the size of the Supreme Court. Leftwing media expressed outrage, and reported lots of Democrats, including lawmakers and influencers, frantically calling on Biden to pack the court anyway. In Twitter’s fever-swamps, this debate rages on, right now.

So the timing of the Court’s review of the two mandates could not possibly have been at a worse time for the Court, politically speaking. Note that I am NOT accusing the Supreme Court justices of being influenced by politics rather than reason in their decisions yesterday. I’m just noting some interesting and possibly-related historical and current political trends. I’m just saying.


My initial reaction to the two decisions is to note a bunch of curious elements. I haven’t put it all together yet, but let’s just take a gander at a few things that stand out as we try to wrap our lockdown-fatigued brains around what — superficially, at least — looks at first blush like a very schizophrenic pair of decisions.

Judges love “baby splitting.” The term refers to that old story about King Solomon where he suggested the solution of cutting a live baby in two to find out who the real mother was. But that’s not what it means in present vernacular. It just means that judges like to give both parties something, to divide the decision somehow, so that nobody’s completely happy but — more importantly — nobody’s completely left high-and-dry and outraged at the judge.

It seems to me that, it must have been very tempting to shoot for a baby-splitting solution at a time when the Court’s composition rests precariously on top of a giant pile of political tinder, with social and emotional court-packing gasoline soaked all through it, deciding the issue that could shatter the microscopic Biden legacy at a time when he and the Democrats control all the levers of power in Washington. Regular readers may recall that, after hearing oral arguments, I predicted the exact result that we saw: the OSHA Mandate was stayed, and the CMS Mandate was green-lighted.

Having two cases gave the Supreme Court a political opportunity to split the baby.

So, even if it wasn’t their express objective, the dual decisions did split the baby and did defuse a court-packing atom bomb. In other words, if both mandates had remained stayed, and not just one, then liberal demands for a packed court would have spiked higher than Omicron cases in New York.


It is interesting that both decisions issued simultaneously. If you think about it, apart from the fact that the two cases were both about vaccine mandates, they were two different lawsuits, two completely different sets of statutes, with two different sets of issues, and — most important — two different configurations of Justices.

There is no question that the Court must have held up one of the decisions, the one that was finished first, until the other decision was also done, before releasing them both together.

Why? Why not issue the first decision as soon as it was ready, then later issue the second decision when that one was done? It could have helped SOMEBODY. The fact is, I do not know the reason. Only the Supreme Court knows why. But it was extremely POLITICALLY convenient for them both to issue together. Had the OSHA decision come out first, the media would have gone crazy calling for court packing. Had the CMS decision issued first, a massive tsunami of conservative dissatisfaction would have begun to form somewhere off the Atlantic coast.

Issuing the two decisions together stopped both sides from developing momentum. Coincidentally.


The majority opinions of Supreme Court decisions can be written several ways. The most common one is where the deciding Justices sign the opinion, and you can tell who wrote it and who joined it, fully, partially, etc. For example, in Janus v. AFSCME (another prominent case from 2018), the majority opinion was signed like this:

ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined.

But both of the decisions issued yesterday were signed in a much less common way: “PER CURIAM.”

Wikipedia defines the term: “In law, a per curiam decision is a ruling issued by an appellate court of multiple judges in which the decision rendered is made by the court acting collectively.” It notes “the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are usually NOT per curiam … Per curiam decisions tend to be short. In modern practice, they are most commonly used in summary decisions that the Court resolves without full argument and briefing.”

So the OSHA and CMS decisions don’t match the normal characteristics of a per curiam decision, which itself is a rare form. So these decisions are a super-rare type.

The term basically means, “for the whole court.” One consequence is that you can’t tell who authored the decision. Nobody takes the credit or the blame. I’m not saying it proves the Court had political concerns about the decisions, but it is suggestive.


You aren’t going to see a lot of quotes from either main opinion. The Court didn’t wax eloquent in either the OSHA or the CMS case. It’s not that the decisions were ineloquent. They were neutrally-toned, workmanlike, boring. They focused, by and large, on very technical issues of statutes and doctrines. There were no high principles expressed. No new law was made. I would be surprised if either case is ever cited by any other case except maybe for technical issues like the bare existence of the “major questions doctrine.“

The dissenting opinions in both were slightly more passionate, but even in those, one can’t help but feel a little disappointed. They were predictable, merely tracking comments already made by the Justices at oral argument. Nothing new. No strong condemnations. And — in particular — they didn’t point out the huge weaknesses in the reasoning, especially of the CMS case.

There were notable facts missing. Neither the OSHA opinion nor the CMS opinion cited the number of deaths from Covid, for example. You’d think that at least the CMS opinion would have mentioned it. Neither opinion — and this is really remarkable — discussed the efficacy or lack of efficacy of the vaccines, except only to attribute conclusions to the Secretary or the lawyers. The Court usually FINDS things, not quotes the parties or their lawyers.

If I had to choose one word to describe the language and tone of both opinions, it would be, “restrained.” It is almost like the decisions were written in order to offend the fewest number of folks.


Since I’ve been litigating in this space for almost a year now, I was looking to see how the Court handled one case in particular — and I was shocked when I didn’t find it. I tried searching the PDFs — nothing. I tried a different PDF viewer thinking that there might be a problem with my default one. Nope. I tried searching for a bunch of other stuff just to make sure search was working. Zip.

The Jacobson case has gone missing.

Jacobson v. Massachusetts — the only Supreme Court case that has previously discussed vaccine mandates, the case that has been cited, at length, in almost every single lower-court decision, has apparently vanished from the Earth.

It’s vanished from the Supreme Court, anyway. Neither of the two opinions mentions Jacobson — EVEN IN DISSENT. Not even in a footnote.

Why is this important? Because Jacobson held that the authority to coerce people to take vaccines comes from STATE POLICE POWERS. From the States. It’s a problem for both mandates. But it wasn’t used to deny the OSHA Mandate, and it wasn’t distinguished or overridden to support the CMS Mandate.

Where, oh where, has my Jacobson gone? Where, oh where, could it be?

I suppose this is a stealth way to override precedent by just ignoring it. Not a good look.


Regular readers will recall that when I predicted that the Court would uphold the CMS Mandate, it would rely on the fact that hospitals have already been requiring healthcare workers to take influenza vaccines. Well, this is what the Court said in its CMS opinion:

Vaccination requirements are a common feature of the provision of healthcare in America: Healthcare workers around the country are ordinarily required to be vaccinated for diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza, and measles, mumps, and rubella. As the Secretary explained, these pre-existing state requirements are a major reason the agency has not previously adopted vaccine mandates as a condition of participation.

See? This is the slippery slope in action. We should have pushed back against vaccine mandates in hospitals ten years ago.

I know, I know! Don’t swamp the comments explaining how different the Covid injections are from all those other ‘real’ vaccines. I get it. I do. And I totally disagree with the Court’s reasoning in the CMS case, not least because it didn’t follow or even try to deal with the Jacobson precedent.


So what do we do now? My Disney and Florida Power & Light clients are super happy, understandably. All my healthcare clients are freaking out, understandably.

The first thing we have to do is see how the Biden Administration will react. This isn’t terrific timing for them. If they were smart, they’d put a hold on the CMS Mandate themselves, for two reasons. First, the Narrative 2.0 project kicked off AFTER these cases were at the Supreme Court. The mandate, and all its fallout, isn’t exactly consistent with the new narrative. So there’s that.

But second, all we hear about now are the “critical staffing shortages” in hospitals. This decision is going to spray kerosene on the staffing bonfire. CMS will have to do something; as it stands, uninjected employees are already too late, past the original deadline. They are due to be fired immediately. That’s a lot of nurses and doctors. Can they possibly do that during an Omicron surge, with hospitalizations still leaping forward and facilities already underwater?

Are they going to send military doctors to every hospital in the country? Are there even that many military doctors?

CMS paused its own mandate on December 1, after the Missouri decision. It will have to un-pause the mandate now. And probably, at least, revise the deadlines. What will it do? We wait to see.

After that, we will need some good, practical strategies for our fellow citizens who are in healthcare jobs and are under the mandate’s hanging Sword of Damocles. We’ll be working on that. Stay tuned.

Those are just my initial thoughts about all this. More to come.

Have a fantastic Friday and I’ll be back here tomorrow morning with more.


Help us spread optimism and hope!


How Politicians Deal with Rebellion: Lessons from Australia

How Politicians Deal with Rebellion: Lessons from Australia

It pains me to read this about Australia, but from my experience it is true. My daughter and family have lived thru “covid hell” for over two years… mrossol

By Gigi Foster, Paul Frijters, Michael Baker   January 21, 2021 in The Brownstone Institute

In the Middle Ages a recipe emerged for the powerful to deal with peasant uprisings: kill the rebel leaders, adopt their most popular slogans as one’s own, and quietly give in to the most important demands. 

A spectacular example of this was the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ uprising in 1536/1537 against Henry VIII of Britain. The rebellion was against new taxes and the move against Roman Catholicism. Henry hanged the leaders but adopted the most important elements of Roman Catholicism into the emerging new faith, pacifying the masses. As the famous Italian political saying summarises this strategy goes: “if we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. 

We can see a glimpse of the same strategy in Australia this very week.

The cruelty and total failure of the Australian lockdown policies have been plain for many to see the last two weeks, with record numbers of covid cases and covid deaths despite the infliction of some of the harshest restrictions in the world over the past two years, and nearly 90% of the population having been ‘protected’ by vaccines. Australian politicians have been shown to be naked and are scrambling in the face of derision and malcontent. How have they been reacting?

The world saw what the Australian government did when facing the loud, flashing “FAILURE” sign of over 100,000 new recorded cases a day. It overturned the decisions of its own courts by invoking draconian discretionary powers to ban “Novax” Djokovic from the Australian Open, essentially doubling down on the story that a total removal of the non-compliant untermensch from public life is warranted, contrary to all evidence. 

This ‘blame the non-complier’ tactic was loudly applauded and supported by the vast majority of the Australian public, telling you something about their true nature. This is the modern analogue of a rebellion leader being hanged, with much rejoicing by the public. 

Second, the politicians started to adopt the language, arguments, and stated objectives of the very people who, a political second previously, were railing against them. The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said the following earlier this week:

As we face Omicron, we must respect it, but we should not fear it. We must respect it with sensible, balanced rules, sensible precautions, but at the same time, not shutting Australia away, not locking ourselves up, not destroying people’s livelihoods and bringing our society to a halt.

No kidding. This sounds like The Great Barrington Declaration in new bottles – the prime minister’s bottles, with a fancy label that he desperately hopes will promote sales. This is the prime minister of the same government that in the same week banned Novax Djokovic, a man who generously donated to victims of the Australian bushfires of early 2020, not to mention his other significant contributions to Australia over the years. Novax might have been hanged, but his slogans live on. 

Third, the stranded politicians started acting like nothing ever happened out of the ordinary. This tactic is founded in the fervent hope that amnesia will speedily return: that the public will not want to admit the horrors of the past, that apathy and a drive for self-preservation on the part of the people will prevent them from seeking justice. 

An example of this is that just last Saturday it quietly became possible to cross into Queensland over state borders unencumbered by covid regulations, after months of severe restrictions relating to vaccination status, testing, quarantine, and goodness knows what other nonsense.

Australian politicians are effectively showing us what good students of history they are. They have hanged a rebel leader, adopted his slogans, and quietly given in to some of the rebellion’s demands. 

Who says it won’t work? During his reign, the ‘Killer King’ dealt similarly with many uprisings, reportedly executing over 50,000 rebels in total but remaining in power all the time. To this day, Henry VIIIth is one of the most popular kings ever, with regular TV series and the Tower of London celebrating some of his atrocities. 

When it comes down to it, the public really does enjoy a good hanging.


Gigi Foster Gigi Foster, senior scholar of Brownstone Institute, is a Professor with the School of Economics at the University of New South Wales, having joined UNSW in 2009 after six years at the University of South Australia. READ MORE

Paul Frijters Paul Frijters is a Professor of Wellbeing Economics at the London School of Economics: from 2016 through November 2019 at the Center for Economic Performance, thereafter at the Department of Social Policy READ MORE

Michael Baker Michael Baker has a BA (Economics) from the University of Western Australia. He is an independent economic consultant and freelance journalist with a background in policy research.


Supermarkets, Groceries Can Exclude Unvaccinated in Australian State

The Epoch Times, By Jack Phillips  December 10, 2021

Supermarkets in the Australian state of Queensland will have the option to exclude unvaccinated people from entering under new vaccine rules.

Starting on Dec. 17, anyone who enters a café, restaurant, bar, theater, museum, library, stadium, or similar venues will have to show proof they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The rules, however, are not mandatory for supermarkets and grocery stores, although Australian officials said every business—including supermarkets, groceries, and other essential businesses—has the option to impose a mandate.

Small Business Minister Di Farmer told news outlets this week that the mandate doesn’t encompass essential services like grocery stores, post offices, and pharmacies. But they can opt-in, Farmer remarked.

“The essential services are the things that really remained open during lockdown,” Farmer was quoted by 4BC Radio as saying. “There will also be a range of other businesses who may make the choice just to only have their vaccinated staff and patrons using their business.”

In elaborating on whether groceries and supermarkets can mandate vaccines for entry, Farmer said it is “available to every business.”

“Any business is able to make that decision, and a lot of them are actually thinking about that very seriously,” she said, without elaborating on what businesses are considering it. When Queensland rescinds its lockdown orders, Farmer added, “you will need to be protected and businesses all over Queensland will be making that decision.”

“If a person decides not to be vaccinated, then those are the things that they will take into consideration,” she said.

The Epoch Times has contacted the Queensland government for additional comment.

A spokesperson for Woolworths, one of the largest supermarket chains in Australia, told News Ltd. that it will not require vaccine passports.

“We have a critical role to play providing food and essentials to all Australians, and will not require customers to be vaccinated to shop in our stores,” the spokesperson said. “Our stores have remained open throughout the pandemic, with strong Covidsafe settings to uphold public health and ensure the continuity of essential supply to communities.”

As vaccine passports become increasingly more commonplace, concerns have been raised that these systems would create a two-tiered society of the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and they’ve also been flagged for their potential to discriminate against vaccine-hesitant groups within society. Some public health officials argued that such mandates are needed to drive up vaccination rates.

Some civil liberties groups have also expressed alarm over a bevy of COVID-19 rules and restrictions that have been imposed across Australia. For example, the Victoria’s Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 was passed earlier this week, which was branded by opposition lawmakers as the “most dangerous in Victoria’s history.”

The law would grant the ability to declare a pandemic to Victoria’s Premier and Health Minister’s office, who will have the power to enforce orders including lockdowns, mask-wearing, vaccination mandates, and quarantines. Previously, the government had to seek permission through Parliament to extend a state of emergency.


Will New Zealand ever escape Zero Covid?

Most of what Mr Chodor is hooie. Not sure if he’s ever actually been at a “anti-mandate” protest. What his piece does is highlight the extremes to which progressives in power will go in total disregard for “constitutional rights” that have been guaranteed for generations. And then to have the gall to castigate those who push back FOR those rights. mrossol

UnHerd  12/2/2021 by Tom Chodor

As Auckland — home to a third of New Zealand’s population — prepares to exit its 100-plus day lockdown on Friday, there has been little celebration or fanfare. Instead, the population is cautious and guarded; worries abound about further cases and deaths once the country opens up.

The mood is a far cry from the breathless commentary during the first 18 months of the pandemic, when New Zealand was held up as an extraordinary case of pandemic management, contrasted with the disasters in Europe, the UK and US. Indeed, the country’s tough border closures, skilful contact tracing, tough lockdown restrictions, commitment to Zero Covid and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s empathic and inclusive leadership were lauded as a model for the rest of the world.


And yet, contrary to ill-informed hot takes half a world away, New Zealand’s approach had its merits. Following an initial lockdown last year, the country recorded only 1,500 cases and 22 deaths from Covid-19, and succeeded in eliminating the virus in the community. Importantly, this was achieved without significant restrictions on individual liberties or substantial cost to the economy. While the rest of the world has spent the past two years in crisis, New Zealanders have lived remarkably normal lives. Undoubtedly, there was some luck involved, given New Zealand’s isolation from the rest of the world. But, as its neighbour Australia illustrated, isolation is no guarantee of success.

However, this New Zealand model came with two important caveats. First, the cost of normality enjoyed by citizens at home was paid for by its citizens abroad. The country’s harsh border regime, which allocated a limited number of places in a 14-day hotel quarantine system, meant that thousands were stranded abroad, unable to return home, often left facing destitution. Likewise, while the economy thrived, the cost was borne by the tourism industry — 18% of the economy — whose reliance on international visitors left it on the verge of collapse.

More from this author


Inside Melbourne’s eternal lockdown

By Tom Chodor

Secondly, the New Zealand model could never be sustained long-term, once it became clear that global elimination of the virus was unlikely. As such, there was a need for an exit strategy, which seemed to centre on vaccinating the whole population before the virus got in. This was always a gamble and a race against time; one which Ardern lost this August, when a cautious re-opening of the border to Australia led to the arrival of the Delta variant, and sparked a new outbreak.

Despite the fact no country had managed to eliminate Delta, the Government reverted to its tried and tested approach, closing the limited openings at the border, announcing a snap lockdown, and re-committing to eliminating the virus. But this time, it didn’t work.

While the outbreak was contained to Auckland, the key pillars of New Zealand’s model — contact tracing and tough lockdown restrictions severely curtailing people’s movements — proved no match for the infectiousness of the Delta strain. Case numbers refused to budge, totalling more than 8,400 for the current outbreak, while deaths have nearly doubled to 43. Admitting defeat, the Government formally abandoned elimination as a strategy in October. Nevertheless, Auckland’s “snap lockdown” — meant to last for two weeks — has now dragged on for over 100 days, with predictable consequences for children’s schooling, mental health and the economy.

While the situation still compares very favourably to many parts of the world, New Zealand’s sheen has started to come off. Contrary to its claims of exceptionalism, throughout the current Delta outbreak, it has shown itself to be a normal country just like every other: faced with the same dilemmas, failures, trade-offs and divisions when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. What’s more, it hasn’t necessarily dealt with them any better.

Take vaccination. One consequence of the New Zealand model was complacency when it came to the roll-out, with many convinced that the country could take its time while the pandemic raged elsewhere. As a result, less than 20% of the population was fully vaccinated when Delta arrived in August, leaving it unprepared for the outbreak. In response, the government tied the lifting of lockdowns to the vaccination rate, setting a very high target of 90% before restrictions would be eased.

More from this author


New Zealand’s Zero Covid delusion

By Tom Chodor

Still, while this was eventually abandoned, 86% of New Zealanders are now double-jabbed, making it one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. As we also saw in Australia, nothing concentrates the mind when it comes to vaccinations like a prolonged lockdown.

This is not to say that the issue hasn’t been divisive. Behind the high overall rates, there remain significant pockets of unvaccinated people in New Zealand, especially in the regions, and among the indigenous Maori population. Higher rates of poverty and disadvantage, and low levels of trust in the Government mean that only 68% of Maori are fully vaccinated, despite repeated efforts to roll out culturally specific and targeted programmes.

Meanwhile, the high rates of poor health outcomes have left the Maori more vulnerable to the virus, leading to demands that any re-opening be delayed until vaccination rates exceed the rest of the country. The Maori Party has been warning of a “modern genocide” if lockdowns are lifted while the virus remains in the community, with some local iwi (tribes) threatening to set up roadblocks to keep Aucklanders from visiting their regions once freedom of travel is restored.

More broadly, despite the high vaccination rates, the Government has not shied from introducing controversial vaccine mandates. With the country slowly opening up, Ardern has described vaccination as “the golden ticket to freedom“, requiring vaccine passes to enter most workplaces, hospitality, retail and entertainment venues. At the moment, unvaccinated people can do little more than shop for essentials, creating a two-tier society and sparking bitter conflicts. The Government has doubled down, stressing the mandate will continue into next year, and showing little sympathy for the unvaccinated minority.

This, in turn, has sparked protests for the first time in the pandemic. When the current outbreak started, commentators mocked a lone demonstrator at an anti-lockdown protest in Auckland. Since then, crowds have grown, with thousands recently marching across the country against lockdowns and the vaccine mandates. While they have not matched the numbers or violence recently seen in Europe, these protests bring together a similar constellation of far-Right agitators, conspiracy theorists, wellness gurus and ordinary citizens increasingly marginalised and excluded from society. It’s part of a wider fragmentation taking hold in the country, with support for the Government’s handling of the pandemic dropping from 80% to 46%. Ardern’s personal popularity has also declined to 34%, while more people now think the country is heading in the wrong direction for the first time since 2008.

This is a far cry from the ‘Team of Five Million’ approach championed by the Government in the first 18 months of the pandemic. And Ardern seems fully aware of this: the Government recently rushed through new laws to lock in many of the draconian restrictions on the unvaccinated, bypassing the usual means of oversight and scrutiny, in a move labelled “a constitutional disgrace” by legal experts.

More from this author


What’s the point of Australia?

By Shahar Hameiri and Tom Chodor

In short, over the course of the past four months, many of the key features of New Zealand’s pandemic response have been found wanting. Yet old habits die hard. While the rest of the world has largely opened up and travel has begun to stage a comeback, New Zealand’s plan for reopening its borders announced last week remains extremely cautious.

Fully vaccinated citizens will only be able to return from Australia from mid-January, provided that they quarantine at home for seven days. This will be extended to other countries in mid-February, while foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter until the end of next April. There is no detail yet on how long the seven-day quarantine requirement will remain in place, and the tourism sector has reacted with dismay, describing the plan as a “body blow” that will delay its recovery until 2023. For a country approaching a 90% vaccination rate, this seems needlessly restrictive, a relic of the Zero Covid mentality, rather than the long-promised exit strategy.

And this was before the emergence of the new Omicron variant. Here, New Zealand has been depressingly ordinary, following many other countries in shutting the border to non-citizens from the nine ‘high risk’ countries in southern Africa, and holding out the possibility of delaying the border reopening plan. While labelled as ‘temporary’ and intended to buy time to learn more about the new variant, this response highlights the continuing reluctance to finally begin living with Covid.

As the pandemic enters its third year, New Zealand might end up with the worst of both worlds: facing the same problems as everyone else, but persisting with an unsustainable Zero Covid approach to them.[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=af947e1540&mc_eid=0ff3e7ea29

And some comments:

Paul Smithson
8 hours ago

“these protests bring together a similar constellation of far-Right agitators, conspiracy theorists, wellness gurus and ordinary citizens”

Have ‘journalists’ who write such utter garbage actually been to one of the protests.

It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with such protests. What should concern everyone is that the media is constantly lying about things. If they are willing to lie about the attendees at protests what else are they lying about? And why are they lying?

The truth is that 99% or more of the people attending these protests throughtout the world (they’re happening pretty much everywhere) are compassionate, kind, freedom loving souls.

There are people of all skin colours, sexualities, socio-demographic backgrounds and political persuasions. Reggae music is the most heard genre of music and at many you’ll hear African drums and you’ll even see African dancers at some.

The fact that the media will outright lie about this, and the police will go out of their way (instructed by their bosses I assume) to try to stir up conflict for the media, really does make one wonder what on earth is going on.


Josh Woods
3 hours ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I agree Paul this is a condescending label. I’m a libertarian leftie in his mid-20s and I wholeheartedly support this worldwide resistance even when the world’s opinion was still in Oz & NZ’s favor, because I already saw and even 1st hand experienced(I lived in Oz till last March) the mainstream approach’s colossal collateral damage amongst those sidelined by mainstream public discourse, eg domestic violence victims, people with health conditions living alone(like myself) deprived of access to the help they need). There are eminent scientists who disagree with the covid orthodoxy, just that few evaded censorship of the scientists hijacking the whole medical/health science community, including the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration(everyone go sign it!!), which was first trashed upon, but now proven to be the better approach that most countries didn’t follow.
So you see, the diversity of political views, ethnicities, professions, ages, sexualities, beliefs, socio-demographic backgrounds and all walks of life among this Great Revolt has shown far more unity, love and solidarity than those finger-wagging Hollywood celebs & establishment talking heads who proclaim that “We’re all in this together.” In other words, the authoritarian left(along with some authoritarian right wingers, eg BoJo & Dominic Cummings of the UK, Scumo & Gladys B. on Oz) has alienated themselves from everyone else in their grandiose, self-righteous collective narcissism!


Francis MacGabhann  [Among the best. mrossol]
5 hours ago

We keep getting bogged down in the specifics of individual countries’ reaction to covid and arguments about this or that variant. We’re arguing tactics when we’ve abandoned all attempts at strategy. Here’s the skinny —

1 – It’s a virus. It will constantly mutate. Vaccines won’t stop it, quarantines won’t stop it and lockdowns won’t stop it.

2 – It has struck at the lowest ebb of western civilization, ie, when the assumptions of the political left are completely encultured into the practices and dogmas of every institution, political, legal and, unfortunately, medical in the west.

3 – These assumptions are promethean, ie, they proceed from the belief that absolutely everything is controllable by the wit of man. They are also utterly inflexible. When they are proven wrong, that just means we haven’t done them enough, we need to double down.

4 – They are based in the belief that the individual is worthless in himself, all that matters is the collective. The omelette, not the egg. Consequently, they are inhumane, which is why Ardern had no problem a) taking it upon herself to lock thousands of Kiwis out of their own country and b) leaving them in destitution.

5 – Leftists believe in nothing greater than themselves. It follows then that there is no transcendent source of strength to carry people through rough times.

So, if you have no fortitude to face into the trials of life, if you think the world is perfectible but isn’t perfect, and if you’re dogma isn’t working but you think it should so you just keep doing the same thing over and over regardless of the fact that you keep getting the same result, then you’ve got a perfect storm of stupidity and all it takes is a virus that wouldn’t have even slowed down our grandparents to shut down the world.

Our strategy should be to stop being such physical cowards and take our share of misfortunes in defence of our basic liberties, and to stop trading those liberties to the likes of Ardern in return for a safety she cannot deliver. I’m not even sure she cares enough to deliver it if she could.