One of Australia’s most experienced journalists, the widely respected Steve Waterson, has penned a series of excoriating articles on Australia’s mismanagement of the Covid scare.
The articles, with prominent headlines such as “Paying for an epidemic of stupidity”, have appeared in the national newspaper The Australian, Rupert Murdoch’s flagship title in the land of his birth.
It is not an insult to Waterson to suggest his series of closely worked, prominently placed and well promoted stories are also a window into the thinking of Rupert Murdoch.
Beautifully written and finely edited, his pieces, which have appeared periodically over the past year, are whole of paper productions.
If you are an American based media mogul, but you are concerned about the lunatic destruction of your country of origin, you might well assign, or perhaps more precisely have one of your senior editors assign, your most talented writer, your best educated and most broadly experienced operator.
That’s Steve Waterson, who graduated from Oxford University with Honours before beginning his journalistic career. He has held numerous senior positions, including as editor of TIME AUSTRALIA. He is well liked within Australia’s journalistic milieu for his amiable disposition and high intelligence.
Waterson’s latest piece, “Covid Made Far Worse By Weak Politicians”, was to all intents and purposes both an open letter to Scott Morrison and a calculated insult.
Waterson characterises Australia’s response as a “vast ocean of incompetence and mindless disassembly of our economy”.
“This should never have been a disaster on the scale of a world war. Leaders worthy of the name would have calmed those prone to panic, and allayed the fears of the vulnerable and their families by working out how to protect them.
“Nimble minds would have come up with smart systems to accommodate the huge range of attitudes to this threat, in order to safeguard the people who needed and, more importantly, wanted protection.
“So no, self-congratulating leaders, you have not ‘kept us safe’.
“You have destroyed thousands of businesses, families, lives and futures. You have cheated people of the highlights of human existence, the moments of shared joy and sorrow, the weddings, births, anniversaries, farewells and funerals that mark our journey through life.
“You have placed unimaginable burdens of debt and despair on future generations, and crafted a dangerous template for all the idiots who follow you.”
Waterson’s well crafted epistles, if you want to call them that, began almost a year ago.
In April 2020 he described the government response to the coronavirus outbreak as “panicked, illogical, absurd and sinister”. As it was already clear the disease attacked primarily the elderly, resources could have been devoted to protecting them.
“Instead, we are asking the healthy, most of whom will be no more than inconvenienced by this latest strain of flu, to sacrifice or cripple themselves, their livelihoods, their children’s future, to preserve people whose own future is already precarious and limited.
“Even news organisations have adopted this position, their HR departments issuing earnest communiques that declare “the health and wellbeing of our employees is our paramount priority”. Sorry, since when? As part of my job I have been sent, and sent others, to war zones — yes, with bombs and bullets — to bring our readers the news. That’s what I thought our priority was as journalists.
“Now half my colleagues in the media have emerged as trembling amateur epidemiologists, scouring the online world to find the youngest and healthiest victim to ramp up the terror and prove this disease attacks anyone, not just the old and sick, when that’s manifestly not the case.”
The following month Waterson declared the country was no longer facing a health crisis but economic carnage.
“Our leaders are stunned into idiotic paralysis. The defiant stupidity is beyond parody, and beyond comical. So far, the pain is dulled by unsustainable federal handouts, ludicrously applied. When we reach the end of this economic disaster, let’s not forget it was man-made.
“There is no stopping this madness without some concerted effort by the public to make our leaders wake up to their errors, but I despair at our timid acquiescence to their witless rulings.”
As the year progressed Waterson became increasingly distressed by his father Hugh’s death, a gregarious man who died a lonely and bewildered death without family thanks to Covid restrictions.
In June he wrote: “Hugh’s story joins millions of lives damaged and destroyed, not by the virus but by the fevered reaction to it. For him the proximate cause was medical, and he might not have made Christmas anyway; but for so many more the misery of unemployment, the feelings of shame as their lovingly nurtured businesses collapse in debt and bankruptcy, the terrifying prospect of penurious old age, will poison their remaining years.
“Every day more illogical, arbitrary, contradictory regulations pop up, contort themselves, disappear and bubble up again like the wax in a 1960s lava lamp. There is, I think, only one way to make sense of them all: that is to understand that our politicians and the experts who counsel them have literally no idea how to escape the madness they have plunged us into.”
By August Waterson was even more exercised, declaring Australia’s politicians were unable to admit their response to the virus, the ultimate blunt instrument of lockdown, brutally enforced, hadn’t worked, and would never work.
“They can’t do so because it would mean all they have done up to this point has been in vain. How could anyone who had wreaked damage on this cataclysmic scale ever admit to themselves, let alone to the nation, that it was all for nothing?
“Instead, like the pokie addict, they have doubled down to unleash a runaway epidemic of stupidity.
“They’ve destroyed our economy and put thousands out of work; they’ve refashioned many of our famously easygoing population into masked informers; and we’ve handed control of our lives to a clown car packed with idiots.”
This piece was written and compiled by veteran Australian journalist John Stapleton.
A collection of his journalism is being constructed here.