Ian Lloyd Neubauer is a freelance journalist based in Southeast Asia.
One of Australia’s most senior legal officers, New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller, proposed an application last month that allows consenting couples to officially record their consent before engaging in sexual activity.
“Just like we have to check in at a coffee shop to keep people safe [from COVID-19], is there a way for consent to be confirmed or documented? “Fuller wrote in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, adding that the tool could help courts prosecute increased allegations of sexual harassment.” That app could be a bad idea, but maybe within 10 years. , it will look like normal. “
While the idea has been rejected by women’s rights groups who say the application could make it difficult for women to prove rape, to me, it is another reminder of why I left Australia years ago and happily remained abroad during the pandemic. although I will. probably much safer at home.
You can no longer get drunk in pubs in Australia. You cannot bring your dog into a car without a special seat belt. You can’t ride a bicycle without a helmet or lights on – even during the day. Australian police rarely resort to the violence common to other countries, but they have a much more dangerous method of destroying human souls: crippling fines.
A Sydney man was recently fined Australian dollars ($ 87) for accidentally leaving a car window past the set 20mm threshold. In the state of Queensland, you can be fined AU $ 112 for leaving your car door unlocked. Honking a car horn for no apparent reason – illegal use of a warning device – is subject to a fine of AU $ 298 in NSW.
According to Wheels magazine, Australians pay AU $ 1 billion in fines annually thanks to the many speed cameras hidden behind unmarked police vehicles, often strategically parked under hills to catch drivers in the right places. speed limit.
Before running away from so-called Lucky Country, I stopped driving altogether to avoid all these fines. But one day, riding my bike 200 meters to the corner shop, I was stopped by a police officer and fined AU $ 330 for failing to secure the chin strap to my bicycle helmet. I was then fined another AU $ 106 for failing to bring identification.
There’s a joke about over-regulation in Australia, that “One day, you need permission to fart.” But after Commissioner Fuller proposed regulating sex, I believe it was only a matter of time before this crazy idea and others like it, cut straight from the Netflix social media horror series. Dark Mirror, Passed into law.
Think I’m being paranoid? Well, consider the way Australian authorities distort the subject of rebels during the pandemic.
In December, nine people were fined AU $ 349 for using their cell phones while waiting in their car in line for hours to be tested for COVID-19 at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. “I feel like [telling the police officer to go] filled in. I am trying to do the right thing, “one woman in the queue told The New Daily. Had she done so, she would have been fined an additional AU $ 660 or sentenced to up to six months in prison for violating the state’s controversial offensive language law.
During Melbourne’s second lockdown last year, nearly 20,000 fines of up to AU $ 5,000 were issued for not wearing a mask in public, failure to self-isolate and other health protocols. This included fines for 3,000 people for violating the dubious 9:00 p.m. curfew, and a Indigenous man who was run over by police on charges of crime riding his bicycle to work half an hour after the curfew ended at 5:30 am
Freedom of speech is even a crime in Victoria, as evidenced by the case of a pregnant woman who was handcuffed to her home in front of her children and charged with sedition after she organized an anti-lockdown protest event on Facebook.
Another pregnant woman was given a move by police when she tried to sit on a park bench to rest, while the small number of people who actually attended the demonstration were greeted by Victorian police with the same kind of uncontrollable violence as us. used to see in Russia. “Rights must be upheld and strengthened during a pandemic, not abandoned,” said Elaine Person, Australia director of Human Rights Watch.
In the face of such paternalism, is it no surprise that every time a new COVID lockdown is announced Down Under, panicked shoppers strip supermarket shelves despite repeated demands from politicians that there is absolutely no need to stockpile food in a producing country. so much so that three-quarters of them were sent overseas?
In one incident, two women hit a supermarket for a packet of toilet paper. As toilet paper hoarding continued, supermarkets were forced to enforce their own laws, limiting purchases to two packs per customer. The lesson for me is clear: treat people like angry children and they will act like that when you turn away.
Australia may still be the luckiest country in the world. But for me and the tens of thousands of expats who have flown together and chosen freedom over security, Australia is also the most over-regulated – and least obliged – country on Earth.