Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 August 2021


COVID-19: Human Rights

7:44 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, my remarks will be on the most basic of human rights: freedom to protest. State premiers have declared a war on peaceful protests against their policies, including the 'freedom day' rallies, yet they allow protests they agree with such as Black Lives Matter.

An ethical nightmare over human rights is brewing between the parliaments and the people. It's the fault of blind political ambition, leveraged off a virus that has turned out to be, according to government health experts' own data, no more harmful than a bad flu. It's time we cancelled the COVID apocalypse. It's time to end the use of COVID as an excuse to implement all-powerful legislation that exempts itself from proper scrutiny. Both the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020 make a mockery of 120 years of legislation and 800 years of common law. Both pieces of legislation are being used in ways never put to the people. Together, these acts trespass unreasonably on the rights and liberties of everyday Australians.

No parliament that wishes to call itself democratic can grant indefinite, absolute and unscrutinised power. State premiers have entered into a COVID arms race with each other, leaving Australians trapped in the middle of the crossfire—huge increases in suicide attempts, children phoning helplines in unprecedented numbers and small businesses in ruins. And what created this? Federal parliament's failure to hold the line against fear and misuse of power.

'Emergency' should not mean a dissolution of rights, especially when a state of emergency can be stretched out for months, years or even indefinitely. COVID policy has turned into a parallel legal system, embraced by a Prime Minister who has encouraged health orders that permanently alter the landscape of work and travel. Death has become a matter of politics and mismanagement, used to prevent the sacred freedom to assemble and protest peacefully. If Australians cannot protest, parliaments will never be held accountable for errors in judgement.

One of parliament's many mistakes is in the presentation of COVID data. Given without context, they tower over us. Viewed in context, COVID harm barely deviates from normal. Parliaments cannot promise safety. Safety is an outcome of parliaments following policies that protect our freedoms and our rights. Instead of handling COVID with a view to these important guiding principles, politicians have suffocated Australia under the weight of biosecurity powers, resulting in displays of cruelty that have shocked the whole world.

The fact is we are not safe. We are not safe from our own parliaments. Freedom protests are a criticism of COVID policies and parliaments' atrocious governance. Like the manufacturers of vaccines, parliaments do not want to hear any complaints about the quality of their work. Despite this parliament's best attempts to control people, we are blessed with a nation full of people who refuse to live under the coercion of fear. This may be considered civil disobedience; I call it common sense.

The Prime Minister's role is to perform his duty with pragmatism and calm. Instead, Scott Morrison has rattled the cage of fear and enticed state politicians to do the same. Instead of focusing on trust, this parliament endorses spending tens of millions of dollars advertising COVID fear. Operation COVID Shield is now an attempt to use the military to force the behaviour associated with trust without any attempt to create the meeting of the minds necessary for trust. Abused people may well obey their captors, but they do not trust them. The more rights parliaments steal from Australians, the less likely people are to trust.

Australians asked for choice in COVID treatments, and the government suppressed peer reviewed and internationally accepted alternatives like ivermectin. Australians asked for vaccine manufacturers to accept liability for their products, and instead they were denied any recourse in the event of personal harm. Australians tried to report fatal side effects, and for months the parliament, the legacy media and social media silenced them. Australians took to the streets to tell this parliament and state premiers that the health orders were destroying millions of lives, and the states hunted them down like criminals. To enforce compliance, parliaments will need more policies like Operation COVID Shield, more police and more Defence Force members in our streets. Force will still fail, because fear and intimidation are a terrible plan.

The damage done to the sacred trust between the people and parliaments is catastrophic. Parliamentary policy has destroyed trust in vaccines, creating two classes of people in Australia: those who profit from the pandemic and those who suffer from it. Policy, not COVID, has destroyed trust in vaccines. COVID Shield seeks to repair it with the rhetoric of war. Everyday Australians are not buying this nonsense. Australians know what the parliaments, the military and the health bureaucrats do not know: we will not be divided, we have one flag, we are one community and we are one nation.