This is fake freedom: an unhappy Liberal MP tells her Premier and PM straight

By Tanya Davies | August 26, 2021  (Sydney Morning Herald - SMH)

In the past few weeks there has been a shift. A narrative shift by our Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Gladys Berejiklian promising that life will go back to normal when Australia hits its 80 per cent COVID vaccination target. Vaccination targets now dictate our gateway to “freedom”.

The Prime Minister wrote an article – “Lockdowns won’t be necessary for too much longer” – in which he stated that once we reach 80 per cent we “can start claiming back what COVID has been taking away from us”.

However, for the people of western and south-western Sydney there will be things that can never be claimed back, things that will never go back to normal. Our residents will never forget how they were trampled on in the panicked stampede towards “freedom”.

People are threatened to be fired on a daily basis unless they get the jab. A construction worker out here has to get a vaccination to earn an income but his co-worker from Cronulla on the same job site doesn’t need a vaccine.

Western and south-western Sydney are singled out and blamed at the 11am NSW government press conference as the cause of the statewide lockdown. Police choppers can be heard overhead until all hours of the night.

For those in my community who are trying to do the right thing by getting the priority Pfizer jab, they are being told they won’t be able to receive the second jab until eight weeks after the first, even though three weeks is recommended. We’re an area of concern and we can’t even get fully vaccinated. One can only imagine this is a supply issue and a race to hit first-dose vaccination targets.

It is a tale of two cities.

The Liberal Party’s core principles centre around the “inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples” and government that “nurtures and encourages its citizens”. These are the principles we expect to be honoured by the Liberal Party when it is in government, particularly in times of emergency and crisis. These principles are our guardrails, immutable in all situations.

If they are good and true principles, they will stand the test of time and be rewarded in the long run. Principles are what voters judge at election time.

Many in my community have lost their livelihoods, jobs, businesses. Mortgage stress is rapidly increasing. Mental distress is becoming the silent pandemic across this region. Educational standards are slipping. My community feels targeted, victimised and blamed. Trust in government has been broken.

On Thursday the Premier and Minister for Health announced greater freedoms for those who are fully vaccinated outside the areas of concern. But for those fully vaccinated within my community the only freedom on offer is an extra hour outside with the same people they’ve been stuck indoors with for the past 23 hours. A “freedom” that the majority of people from western and south-western Sydney are unable to enjoy because they can’t get their second dose until October. This is a fake offer of freedom.

I hope we get to 80 per cent so these lockdowns can come to an end. But at the end of this, when we ask ourselves how we got there, the answer will be one of intimidation, force and fear. The ends do not justify the means.

These times are certainly unprecedented, but the mark of true leadership is to bring the people with you while remaining true to the values and principles that saw you elected in the first place.

Our leaders will congratulate themselves when we reach 80 per cent. But at what cost?

[Tanya Davies is the Liberal MP for the state seat of Mulgoa.]

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