The Hidden Human Cost of the Pandemic

12 April, 2024

Russell Broadbent here, your Independent Member for Monash.

I know for many people, the so-called pandemic years are a distant memory.

Hundreds of days in lockdown, mask mandates, limits on how far you could travel from your home, limits on how many times a day you could leave your home, limits on how much toilet paper you could buy and vax mandates so you could go to work and feed your family. Saying that out loud sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it?

It’s understandable that many Australians want to forget this time of their lives.

But it’s imperative that we don’t.

Every day I hear from people who are still suffering the impacts of these decisions – especially desperately needed frontline workers in Victoria who are still mandated to have three experimental covid injections!

The human cost of Australia’s pandemic response – the breakdown of families, loss of employment, vaccine injuries, unprecedented restriction on our human rights – cannot be swept under the rug as time passes.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has received over 2,500 complaints regarding Covid-19 – and they are still counting.

Public submissions have been released from those individuals and organisations who wished to have their say in the Commonwealth Government COVID-19 Response Inquiry.

In her public submission, Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine Finlay says: ‘there have…been significant social and community impacts resulting from Australians being required to endure some of the most significant restrictions on our human rights ever imposed during peacetime.’

Funnily enough, human rights are not expressly mentioned in the Terms of Reference of the Government’s Inquiry.

As Ms Finlay says, how can the Government fully understand the human cost of the pandemic if they do not consider the blatant disregard and neglectof Australia’s human rights?

She also said: ‘Similarly, express exclusions of actions taken…by state and territory governments from the Inquiry means that key aspects of Australia’s pandemic response which were primarily the responsibility of the state government – such as lockdowns and state border closures – will not be examined’.

Some Victorians spent over 200 days – let me repeat that, 200 days – in lockdown. Melbournians endured the longest lockdown in the world!

How can the government possibly get a comprehensive review of our pandemic response without reference to the lived experience of millions of Australians from state restrictions?  

As Ms Finlay says: ‘public response measures – including international and interstate border closures, hotel quarantine, extended periods of lockdowns, school closures, curfews and other restrictions on movement and association, vaccine mandates, mask mandates and playground closures’ – had a significant (and often hidden) human cost’.

I agree with the Human Rights Commissioner, but let’s take it one step further – the human cost of pandemic restrictions was intentionally censored by government and the media in the name of ‘protecting’ the public form so-called ‘misinformation’.

It’s alarming that those measures that infringed our human rights the most – namely public response measures imposed by state and territory governments – are expressly excluded by this Inquiry.

And it’s alarming that human rights aren’t even mentioned in the Terms of Reference – as though they simply do not matter.

The only way these two factors will be considered is if we have a Royal Commission – surely Australians deserve that much.

The human cost and suffering caused by our pandemic response continues to this day.

And governments across the nation should be held accountable.

That’s justice as I see it.

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