Things we should be allowed to do right now
HISTORY is littered with bumptious little Hitlers who've been given too much power and who go on to abuse it.
It's something our politicians should remember, especially in Queensland where you can now be arrested for walking your dog or swimming in the ocean.
I know certain restrictions are necessary for the common good, but we are dangerously close to becoming trapped inside a police state.
Unmanned concrete road blocks set up to save lives may kill people, warned Member for Southern Downs James Lister.
Closing borders may be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but the one-size-fits-all model does not work for rural families forced to travel 200km to buy milk or get to the doctor.
"The current 'concrete barrier' closures are cutting people off from their nearest fire brigade and ambulance station," Lister said.
"The extra time it would take for them to reach a car accident, fire or heart attack puts lives at risk."
Lister is a former Australian Defence Force officer who wants to see soldiers employed to man road blocks in towns where there are insufficient police.
"I continue to receive angry complaints from people everywhere between Killarney and Mungindi about how they have to travel up to 200km in a round trip to access a manned border crossing to go to work, to buy groceries, go to the doctor, or to access the other half of their farm," he said.
"This isn't acceptable."
Lister is not being unreasonable and, like me, agrees that sensible border checks are necessary.
However, Australians will quickly tire of imprudent "big stick" tactics.
Here I have some sympathy for wallopers who have been handed a set of confusing and conflicting social distancing regulations that they will find impossible to enforce.
Already there are outbreaks of civil disobedience. And it can only get worse as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on for months, perhaps years. We may never return to "normal".
Economic collapse may bring social disorder with it.
So I don't think it is helpful for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and coastal mayors to make threats to extend bans on beach walks, surfing and sunbathing.
I'd like to see them try. Queensland has 6973km of coastline. A beach ban will never work. Young people will be the first to defy it.
Teenagers under virtual house arrest will be climbing the walls and keen for a break outdoors before winter sets in.
If young people choose to break loose there will not be enough police or jail cells to hold them. How does one enforce social distancing rules in the watch-house, I wonder?
With their studies disrupted at a crucial time of the year, it is hardly surprising students are upset.
I was startled and a little disturbed this week with the zeal by which Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said couples were not permitted to drive to their weekenders - even if they had no intention of socialising with another living soul when they arrived.
Bad news for Darby and Joan and Fido, who only wanted to do a little gardening at the beach shack.
The ban is an overbearing intrusion into the private lives of ordinary people who pose no threat to others. Eventually, even the most placid citizens will rise up to resist the trashing of their civil liberties.
Yet Carroll told a media conference she would be "ramping up" police checks on cars on coastal highways after a truck driver on a night run to Mackay reported seeing campers breaching travel rules.
OMG! Unleash the riot police!
Jeannette Young, who gave up a promising career as a professional ballet dancer to study medicine, has even been given extraordinary power, as the state's chief health officer, to decide who stays in enforced quarantine, and who does not.
Young doesn't appear to be a tyrant, but she'll have to guard against becoming a puppet for a government happy to crush personal freedoms.
I think the Palaszczuk Government has gone too far in banning access to many popular beaches, walking tracks, swimming holes, swimming pools and four-wheel drive beach recreation areas in national parks. Carefully, and with plenty of caveats, we need to begin to loosen the shackles.
Beaches should be reopened with adequate checkpoints to prevent excessive crowding. Most young people are sensible and would honour social distancing rules. Give them the run of The Spit.
I see no reason why restaurateurs who remove half their tables to create safe dining distances should not be allowed to reopen.
Similarly, I see no reason why public swimming pools, some pubs, theatres or certain sports venues should not be allowed to operate with sensible crowd restrictions.
And, frankly, I don't see much wrong with small groups of friends booking hotel rooms for private parties, provided they observe noise restrictions.
Des Houghton is a media consultant and a former editor of The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail
Originally published as Things we should be allowed to do right now