The Coronavirus: Old vs Young


  • James Allan


This paper makes a sceptical case against the way Australia’s government (and most other governments) invoked lockdowns to handle the coronavirus outbreak. This governmental response amounted to one of the biggest inroads into civil liberties in this country ever. It was based on modelling that has not stood the test of time. It significantly hurt those in the small business private sector but not those in public service or the politicians themselves. And most particularly, it was a response that differentially affected those who are young considerably more than those who are old. The author considers the morality of that and argues that this has been one of the worst public policy misfires of the last century.



A Articles/Books/Reports

Allan, James and Michael Kirby, ‘A Public Conversation on Constitutionalism and the Judiciary between Professor James Allan and the Honourable Michael Kirby’ (2009) 33(3) Melbourne University Law Review 1032

Allan, James, ‘Against Written Constitutionalism’ (2015) 14(1) Otago Law Review 191

Allan, James, ‘Bills of Rights and Judicial Power – A Liberal’s Quandary’ (1996) 16(2) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 337

Allan, James, ‘Free Speech is Far Too Important to be Left to Unelected Judges’ (2013) 4 The Western Australian Jurist 5

Allan, James, ‘Hate Speech Law and Disagreement’ (2013) 29(1) Constitutional Commentary 59

Allan, James, ‘Portia, Bassanio or Dick the Butcher? Constraining Judges in the Twenty-First Century’ (2006) 17(1) King’s College Law Journal 1

Allan, James, ‘Statutory Bills of Rights: You Read Words In, You Read Words Out, You Take Parliament’s Clear Intention and You Shake It All About – Doin’ the Sankey Hanky Panky’, in Tom Campbell, K D Ewing and Adam Tomkins (eds), The Legal Protection of Human Rights: Sceptical Essays (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Allan, James, ‘The Administration of Australian Universities: A National Scandal? or Amiss in Funderland?’ in William O. Coleman (ed), Campus Meltdown: The Deepening Crisis in Australian Universities (Connor Court, 2019) 23

Allan, James, ‘Why Politics Matters: A Review of Why Law Matters’ (2018) 9(1) Jurisprudence 132

Allan, James, and Grant Huscroft, ‘Constitutional Rights Coming Home to Roost? Rights Internationalism in American Courts’ (2006) 43(1) San Diego Law Review 1

Allan, James, Democracy in Decline: Steps in the Wrong Direction (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014)

Allan, James, Sympathy and Antipathy: Essays Legal and Philosophical (Ashgate, 2002)

Caduff, Carlo, ‘What Went Wrong: Corona and the World After the Full Stop’ (2020) Medical Anthropology Quarterly (forthcoming)

Denaro, Charles, and Jennifer Martin, ‘The Challenge of Costly Drugs’ (2016) 39(3) Australian Prescriber 72

Miles, David, Mike Stedman and Adrian Heald, ‘Living with COVID 19: Balancing Costs Against Benefits in the Face of the Virus’ (2020) International Journal of Clinical Practice (forthcoming)

Pennsylvania Department of Heath Bureau of Health Statistics and Registries Weekly Report for Deaths Attributed to COVID-19 (Report, 17 May 2020)

Westen, Peter, ‘The Empty Idea of Equality’ (1982) 95(3) Harvard Law Review 537

B Cases

Law v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497

C Other

‘Economist Gigi Foster Questions Lockdown Decision on Q+A’, ABC News (online, 21 April 2020) <>

Allan, James, ‘Churchill in Reverse’, Spectator Australia (online, 9 May 2020) <>

Allan, James, ‘Corona Notes’, Spectator Australia (online, 18 April 2020) <>

Allan, James, ‘Fear Porn Panic’, Spectator Australia (online, 23 May 2020) <>

Bhattacharya, Jayanta, and Mikko Packalen, ‘Lives vs Lives – The Global Cost of Lockdown’, The Spectator (online, 16 May 2020) <>

Conifer, Dan, ‘Australia Crashing Down International Leaderboard for Education, Falling Behind Kazakhstan’, ABC News (online, 30 November 2016) <>

Creighton, Adam, ‘Lockdowns Could Eventually Be Seen As An Over-Reaction’, The Australian (online, 13 August 2020) <>

Ioannidis, John, Sally Cripps and Martin Tanner, ‘Forecasting for COVID-19 has Failed’, International Institute of Forecasters (Blog Post, 11 June 2020) <>

Kellow, Aynsley, ‘COVID-19 and the Problem with Official Science’, Quadrant (online, 15 June 2020) <>

Knapton, Sarah, and Christopher Hope, ‘School Age Children More Likely to be Hit by Lightning than Die of The Coronavirus’ The Telegraph (online, 9 June 2020) <>

McCauley, Dana, Eryk Bagshaw, and Rob Harris, ‘Australia Prepares For 50,000 to 150,000 Coronavirus Deaths’, Sydney Morning Herald, (online, 16 March 2020) <>

Prime Minister of Australia, ‘$130 Billion Jobkeeper Payment to Keep Australians in a Job’ (Media Release, 30 March 2020) <>

Shriver, Lionel, ‘If This is a War, Let’s Fight it Like One’, The Spectator (online, 9 June 2020) <>

Shriver, Lionel, ‘Is Living Without Risk Really Living at all?’, The Spectator (online, 30 May 2020) <>

Thakur, Ramesh, ‘Responding to COVID-19: Are Lockdowns Doing More Harm Than Good?’, The Strategist (online, 6 May 2020) <>

Thakur, Ramesh, ‘Six Deadly Lockdown Sins’, The Japan Times (online, 29 May 2020) <>

Ramesh Thakur, ‘The Rise and Fall of Coronavirus Modelling’, Pearls and Irritations (Web Page, 27 May 2020) <>

The Editorial Board, ‘The Covid Age Penalty’, The Wall Street Journal (online, 12 June 2020) <>

‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Web Page) <>

‘COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic’, Worldometer (Web Page, 6 July 2020) <>

Young, Graham, ‘Open Up Our Country – Sign The Open Letter’, Australian Institute of Progress (online, 8 June 2020) <>

Young, Toby, ‘Who Watches the Broadcast Watchdog?’ Spectator Australia (online, 27 June 2020) <>