“You’re allowed out now, are you? Fortunate you!“
That’s how the immigration officer greeted me upon arrival at Heathrow airport, after escaping a world-record, 270-day lockdown in Victoria. Though stated with light-hearted intentions, I didn’t actually know how you can reply, so I simply smiled and made my strategy to the airport tube station.
Right this moment, after virtually a yr residing within the UK as a scholar of public coverage, that second has lingered with me and triggered me to rethink what the Australian id actually is, in addition to the way in which tradition shapes what is taken into account acceptable authorities coverage.
With the advantage of an expat’s perspective, I see that what I as soon as believed to be a tolerant and laid-back “she’ll be proper, mate” nation is a delusion. Fact is, Australians are sticklers for guidelines. They take pleasure in being ruled, take pleasure in telling others what to do, and assault those that dare deviate from the accepted norm.
I fear our cultural fetishisation for guidelines made us inclined to a creeping authoritarianism overreach in the course of the pandemic, whether or not that was by a media who championed sure epidemiologists’ voices over others, or by premiers who performed state one-upmanship with folks’s livelihoods.
Our conformist tradition welcomed the imposition of Draconian curfews, noticed youngsters’s playgrounds cordoned off, stored dying relations aside throughout their closing days, and divided a nation into hermit kingdoms. We obediently accepted restrictions made on the grounds of well being recommendation, regardless of well being recommendation differing between states and political ideologies.
To me, the masochist approach during which extreme and generally comical restrictions imposed (bear in mind eradicating masks for espresso however not alcohol), whereas chanting the mantra “do the fitting factor”, nonetheless sends shivers up my backbone.
Right here within the UK, the coverage response to COVID wasn’t pushed a lot by a authorities ideology however, fairly, in recognition of the diploma to which Brits would tolerate such state intervention in a tradition during which particular person duty is championed and authority is questioned.
After all, I settle for that on the onset of the pandemic we have been in uncharted waters, however as extra proof emerged as to the futility of pursuing covid zero, nonetheless our Labor Premiers doubled down on “donut days” whereas the UK celebrated “Freedom Day”.