Drones patrolling beaches, police dragging people from their homes, babies dying because they could not cross borders for treatment and puppies being shot... welcome to Australia
'My country is a shadow of what it was. I couldn't function as a human being'
Interview by Mark Sharman
THE first lines of Australia’s national anthem, ‘all let us rejoice, for we are young and free’ have a painfully hollow ring today as the country contracts into a vaccine-obsessed authoritarian state. And what is happening Down Under should serve as a stark warning to us in the UK.
The latest crackdown comes from Western Australia, whose Premier Mark McGowan says that those who choose not to have a Covid jab will be excluded from ‘public and private hospitals and age-care facilities, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, clubs, taverns, night clubs, dine-in fast food and all hospitality venues.’ The new rules come in on January 31 and, according to McGowan ‘could last for years to come’.
And all this in a country where, despite the most draconian of measures, Covid cases are soaring. The latest figures show 105,000 positives tests a day, whereas last month it was only 1,500. Where is the evidence for a policy that could lead, for example, to a heart attack victim denied hospital treatment?
From afar it seems odd that the loud, bolshy, humorous Aussie people have conformed to these shocking, crippling rules so meekly but, as men’s world No1 tennis player Novak Djokovic discovered, public opinion is very much on the side of the jabbed. They have bowed to change, step by step.
One who has not, however, is Katherine Stapleton, who chose instead to leave her family and the country she loves. She has moved temporarily to Crawley in Sussex with her English husband Aaron Axten [pictured below].
“My country is a shadow of what it once was,” says the 28-year-old from Sydney. “Life turned completely upside down. It became almost a criminal offence to go out, for fear of endangering society. There were police on every corner.”
Katherine worked as a sales assistant and revealed how she and her colleagues were made to live in constant fear. She said: “Police would come in every day asking, ‘are you complying?’ I once lowered my mask to take a drink of water and a customer threatened to call the police.”
While stores offered 100-dollar vouchers as vaccination incentives, Katherine lost her job because she made a choice not to take a Covid jab. As she sought alternative work, every potential employer said ‘vaccine required’. Then she was not allowed into shops without a vaccine passport.
Her husband Aaron said: “There were police patrolling grocery stores. They were in shop doorways, checking your status before you could go in.”
Katherine added: “I literally couldn’t function as a human being. I couldn’t buy warm clothes to come to England. I ran out of shoes – I could feel the road under my feet. My slippers were held together by tape.”
Fines for travelling a short distance from your home
In the UK we have seen news reports of random arrests and internment camps for anyone choosing not to have a jab, but Katherine and Aaron talk of police drones patrolling Sydney’s beaches, of police dragging people from their homes, of babies dying because they could not cross State borders for specialist treatment, of puppies being shot to prevent volunteers at an animal shelter from travelling and potentially spreading Covid.
She said: “At one stage nobody could travel beyond a short distance from their postcode, or they’d face a 2000-dollar fine.”
Covid restrictions and curfews have had a devastating effect on businesses. Aaron describes rows of shops boarded up and premises left empty. He says the local shopping mall has become “a ghost town”.
So why have Australians been so accepting of the rules? “We are a very community based people,” explains Katherine. “If you’re in trouble, your neighbours look out for you. But Australians have been indoctrinated over the vaccines – they do what the news tells them. My mum says, ‘why would the news lie’? They’re like a herd of buffalo heading towards a cliff face.”
And anyone who breaks cover will be shamed. “Neighbours will dob in neighbours,” says Katherine. “For the sake of the greater good. It’s lunacy.”
A stark warning for the UK
It is actually worse than that. In a power creep that the UK should take note of in capital letters, Australia is moving from vaccine passports to citizen identification and surveillance. Facial recognition technology with real-time GPS tracking is being trialled ‘to ensure quarantine compliance’. Nowhere can the word ‘temporary’ be found in news reports.
If that sounds more like Beijing than Sydney, consider this from the Guardian Australia news site: ‘A Government bill to create new police powers to spy on criminal suspects online, disrupt their data and take over their accounts has been passed. The identify and disrupt bill … creates three new types of warrants to enable the AFP [Australian Federal Police] and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to modify and delete data, take over accounts and spy on Australians in networks suspected of committing crimes’.
Given that shopping without a vaccine passport is considered a violation of public security, those new State powers are of deep concern to the freedoms so treasured in Western democracies.
As for Katherine? Even flying out was difficult. She had to make three applications to leave, eventually getting permission on compassionate grounds.
And she has a warning on vaccine passports for the UK: “Do not do it. I can’t stress that enough. It’s completely decimated Australian society. It’s just a policing system.”
Meanwhile, she admits to locking herself in the bathroom and crying for her family and for Australia and says: “I hate the fact that I’ve had to leave my country just to buy a shoe.”