Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Victorian Lockdown and the Politicisation of the Corona Virus

Dear Friend,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the conversation we had about the Corona virus when we last spoke.

You mentioned a letter that Melbourne doctors had written to Daniel Andrews. As soon as I got back to my car I looked it up on my phone. And there it was at the top of the list of search results – from The Australian. The Australian is Murdoch’s flagship and I stopped reading it many years ago because I don’t believe a word they say. In the Australian context one of their primary goals is to bring down Labor governments everywhere, and they don’t let facts get in the way.

The next one on the list with mention of the doctor’s letter was Quadrant – a known right wing, conservative outlet. Interesting I thought. The only other reference to it was in The Chronicle – another Murdoch paper based in Queensland.

Then I searched the three media outlets that I regularly use to get my news – starting with The Melbourne Age.  Independent. Always has been The Age’s mantra for decades – and no mention of the letter.

So I checked the ABC – nothing. Then I checked the Guardian. Nothing. I eventually found the letter via Twitter at

I thought the letter itself was quite reasonable, and I’m not going to quibble with doctors who are working in this field.

But what worried me was the fact that The Age, The ABC, and the Guardian all had no mention of it. (And still don’t today a week later.)

Why not?? Do they think it’s fake news? Not worth mentioning? They don’t want to rock the boat, and present an alternative view? If that’s the case that would make them just as guilty of bias as the Murdoch press.

Whatever the reason it really worries me. In Australia now we are being fed news that is incredibly biased towards one side or another. If I read only the Age, the ABC and the Guardian I don’t even hear about this letter to Daniel Andrews. If I read the Murdoch press and watch commercial news or Skye news I am bombarded with it as part of their usual anti-Labor propaganda. And this is an example of how the whole COVID-19 issue has been politicised. Indeed just about every issue in Australia gets politicised in this same way. Unless you are making a conscious effort to consume news from a range of media outlets you risk being subject to propaganda and I think Australia is in real trouble here.

And of course filling in the gaps is the uninformed and opinionated morass of social media to further muddy the waters ….

Something else you said at our last meeting seemed to suggest that you didn’t think the reports of mass graves of people dying from COVID-19 or mobile freezers in NY being used to help out collecting the mounting number of dead bodies were true.  This quite stunned me. 

For the record, media outlets from all sides of politics provide lots of references to what happened in NYC:

NY Bodies

And similarly there are countless stories on mass graves for COVID victims from all sides of the political spectrum. I started searching stories about Brazil, but then found reference to similar situations in Bolivia, Iran and even the UK.





I mentioned an article from NZ that I found useful. It helped me realise that as a lay person my opinion on all of this is not worth much. It is just that – an opinion. And an unqualified one at that! The article, from a Professor of Epidemiology, is here if you’re interested.

The original letter from the 13 Victorian doctors has now garnered in excess of 500 signatures supporting their position. But I do wonder what the other 30,000 plus Victorian doctors think …

For all our sakes let’s hope that Victoria is soon through this nightmare.


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deliab said...

Michael, a short while ago, I left a lengthy comment here that seems to have disappeared into the ether. I agree with you about the garvity of this situation. I am acutely aware how my views, values and priorities are a minority position in Australia today. I value being part of a family with a wide range of views as they remind me that mine, and those of my friends/kindred spirits, are not shared by all. I spend a lot of time thinking about fruitful conversations with people whose views differ from mine, about truly listening and truly being heard, about realising that Rumi quote: 'Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there'. I am reading a book at the moment, (possible the best book I have ever read), called 'Apeirogon'. It is about a Palestinian man and an Israeli man both of whose daughters have been killed, one by border police and one by suicide bombers. It tells of their friendship, the advocacy groups to which they belong and their work at seeing the tragic state of affairs in their country from as many perspective as possible...

Michael said...

Thank you for the book reference Delia - I may follow up. I might have mentioned this before but in an interview not long before he died Cohen suggested we'd all be better off if we simply asked the other person to talk about what's on their mind rather than just try and change their mind! I'm trying but it's hard sometimes ....


  I recently created a book of this blog. I must confess part of my desire to do this was based on the assumption that it might be of intere...