We’re publishing an original essay today by historian Guy de la Bédoyère, a regular contributor, about the possibility that Australia may actually break apart as a result of its political leaders’ hopeless mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis. Having gone all in on the disastrous zero-Covid approach, its political class – and public health establishment – has had no choice but to implement more and more draconian lockdown measures, destroying the economy, alienating the business community and transforming working class citizens into seriously pissed-off dissidents. Can the country survive? Probably, but whole scale political collapse is a possibility that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Here is an extract:
My fear though is that Australia, of all the developed modern democratic states, has set out down a path that could in extremis result in the country breaking apart. Let’s not beat about the bush (a more appropriate term for Australia than anywhere else). This is a country that already teeters on the brink of viability. Natural disasters have the potential to destroy large swathes of Australia’s agriculture on a permanent basis. The country has never developed industry to a level that could serve it properly, preferring to rely on selling natural resources to China to make into things that get sent back to Australia. The national infrastructure is ramshackle. It was already the case that the individual states are more interested in their own futures than the country’s. That’s especially evident in WA, marginalised by Australian national politics.
Australia is to some extent only a nation in name. Western Australia, one of the least populous states, is also the largest. Apart from air travel, it is connected to the rest of Australia by a few scrappy roads, easily taken out by a single cyclone, and one railway. For years its colossal mineral resources have bankrolled the country’s wealth. That has caused no end of frustration to Western Australia which benefits less than most states from any federal handouts. Few Australians from the rest of the country ever bother with going to WA. There is little love lost between WA and the eastern states.
There is therefore an incipient sense of nationalism in Western Australia. It’s no more than a conceit at the moment, but Covid is accelerating the sense of frustration. Only now is the federal Government getting it together with the vaccine rollout and desperately trying to roll back the terrible mess it’s made. The chaotic response exhibited until recently has not been Australia’s finest honour. The fiasco has ridden on the back of the zero-Covid fantasy, a Land-That-Might-Have-Been.
Worth reading in full.