More than two and a half years after Covid-19 first came to Australia, the truth has finally emerged and the lies have been exposed.
The thing about the truth is that it always comes out. It may take years, decades or even centuries but reality has a way of asserting itself. Lies inevitably fall apart.
And so more than two and a half years after Covid-19 first came to Australian shores the truth has finally emerged about our various governments’ response to it and the lies have been exposed.
Lockdowns were wrong. School closures were wrong. Border closures were wrong. Poor people were hurt the most.
These are the findings of the first and so-far only full inquiry into Australia’s response to Covid, an independent review funded by three major philanthropic organisation and headed by Peter Shergold, previously the most senior public servant in the country and now Western Sydney University chancellor — an eminent and highly qualified mind deeply respected on both sides of politics.
They are unequivocal, they are damning and they are almost word for word exactly what I and a few other brave souls have been saying from the very beginning of the pandemic.
As I have been shouting from every platform I can since 2020, the most egregious act was that committed against our children — the mass shutdown of schools on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. To their eternal shame, state premiers and chief health officers were both complicit in this.
They were wrong and they caused untold damage that will be immeasurable and long-lasting. The inquiry makes this crystal clear.
“Schools should have stayed open,” the almost 100-page report found, stressing “it was wrong to close entire school systems, particularly once new information indicated that schools were not high-transmission environments”.
Moreover the school closures were “likely to have significant adverse impacts on children’s outcomes in education, social development and mental and physical health”.
And again: “For children and parents (particularly women), we failed to get the balance right between protecting health and imposing long-term costs on education, mental health, the economy and workforce outcomes.”
In regards to lockdowns and border closures and other restrictions it found they were effectively inhumane and should only have ever been used as a “last resort” — not the trigger-happy response of state and territory governments, for which they were cheered on by their acolytes.
“Rules were too often formulated and enforced in ways that lacked fairness and compassion. Such overreach undermined public trust and confidence in the institutions that are vital to effective crisis response.”
As The Australian newspaper reported, the review was exhaustive, consulting some 200 health experts, public servants, epidemiologists, unions, community groups, businesses and economists, receiving more than 160 submissions and comprising 3000 hours of research, policy and data analysis.
And as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported, it was poorer communities who were hardest hit, especially by the school closures.
The papers cited a Mitchell Institute study finding that one in five children in lower socio-economic postcodes did not have access to a laptop or computer at home and a survey of NSW teachers in 2020 found that only 18 per cent of teachers in low socio-economic status schools had confidence that their students were learning well from remote classes.
And the SMH also reported in 2020 — as I have often cited — that more than 3000 students simply disappeared out of public schools in NSW after the first shutdown.
A groundbreaking Daily Telegraph expose this month revealed 7000 NSW students, overwhelmingly from disadvantaged cohorts, who were not enrolled at any school.
University of Melbourne academic Professor Jim Watterston told the paper these were among 50,000 school-aged children in Australia who are “not recorded anywhere” and that the issue had worsened through Covid.
This is nothing short of a national disgrace and yet we were warned about it. Indeed, to put fury ahead of modesty, I warned about it. On television, on radio, in print and online.
Constantly, repeatedly, publicly — with the evidence right there, at the time, on my side. And yet I, and anyone else who dared question the lockdown-shutdown orthodoxy, was dismissed, abused, harassed and condemned — be it by the dead-eyed cultists of the #IstandwithDan movement or the Chief Health Officer of Victoria himself who gave his assent to these devastating school closures in the first place while allowing hotel quarantine to collapse under his watch.
Still, at least he found enough time to tweet.
These are the sort of people who like to talk about being “on the right side of history” and now history has caught up with them. They were wrong, dead wrong.
Not just the decision makers who awarded themselves close to messianic status — with powers to match — but the frothing mobs that cheered them on. They were wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong all along.
And yet anyone who disagreed with them was hounded with such ferocity that many have abandoned social media altogether. So what are the consequences for those who caused so much harm and fuelled the economic and social crisis we are now facing while savagely attacking anyone who questioned them?
Already they are crawling sideways, changing their tune or shrinking from public view. The usual Twitter warriors seem oddly subdued.
But history will remember them and history will judge them and history will not be on their side.
Because now the truth is here. Not out there, but right here, right now.
And the truth always wins.