Thoughts on economics and liberty

My preliminary draft speech for a candidates forum at the Doncaster Church of Christ on 11 May

PRELIMINARY DRAFT – I’d appreciate comments/ suggestions at I’ll keep updating this, so this is work in progress.


Dear Mr Bob Hodges and friends

I thank the organisers from the Doncaster Church of Christ for giving me the opportunity to outline to you, the constituents of Menzies, why I am best placed to represent you in Australia’s Parliament.

My name is Sanjeev Sabhlok. I’m contesting from the Australian Federation Party – the Federation Party in short.

The Federation Party is led by Peter Harris who was founder-Chairman of the Family First party many years ago and has returned to politics after a gap of over 15 years. Peter Harris is a fervent Christian and wants to see the return of the values which we have lost due to the woke movement of the last few decades. For instance, our party will ensure that abortion is not treated in the manner we treat the extraction of a tooth.

With a PhD in economics from the USA, I am the economic spokesperson of the party. As a senior economist in the Treasury Department of Victoria till September 2020, I advised the Treasurers of Victoria on a wide range of public policies for 15 years.

Our party is a safe pair of hands. We do not tolerate extremist policies. We are committed to keeping the size of the government and taxes under control. We are committed to fully costing our policies.

We are committed to the ideas of reason and liberty that emerged from Christianity and which underpin the Western civilisation. As I explained in an article in The Spectator a couple of weeks ago, Western civilisation has two main pillars: [the first is that] the government must not interfere in the life of citizens without a strong justification, and [the second is that] public policy must be based on evidence, not on the arbitrary whim of the government. And definitely not on mathematical models (which inevitably constitute garbage-in-garbage-out).

Australia’s politicians from both major party have generally followed this process in the past, so I never felt the need to join politics. I was a happy daily commuter by bus to the CBD from Bulleen – route 905.

I had migrated to Australia in December 2000 after resigning my job as a senior civil servant in India. After taking citizenship of Australia in 2005, I mainly voted for the Liberal Party but found nothing particularly objectionable about the Labor Party, either – in comparison with the corrupt political parties of in India.

But in March 2020 everything changed. The policy system that we had – of risk-based, evidence-based, proportionate intervention by the government – gave way to totalitarian policies straight from the playbook of communist China.

Yes, COVID was a serious pandemic. Yes, we needed to take urgent measures. But these measures had to be targeted to the risk. Victoria’s pandemic plan of 10 March 2020 committed to a targeted, risk-based approach. We needed to cocoon our elderly without brutally isolating them from their families, and we needed to recommend that everyone else take precautions.

But the Liberal and Labor parties tossed out our own plans and adopted Wuhan-style lockdowns, curfews and mandatory masks.

Victoria exploded with police atrocities in July 2020. I found myself serving a Labor government whose Police was behaving no better than Third World Indian police. They almost choked a young girl for not wearing a mask outdoors. A man not wearing a mask was hit by a police car and had to be sent into induced coma to save his life. And they snatched the phone of an elderly lady sitting on a park bench.

Ethics and morality is, to me, the most important thing in life. We had moral education classes in the Christian missionary schools I went to till grade 8 in India. But one doesn’t have to be a Christian to know that beating up people in the name of protecting their health is wrong.

By April 2020 the data was also clear: All models and predictions had failed. This was no mega-pandemic. COVID was in the range of the Asian flu or Hong Kong flu. The country did not have to shut down.

Many economists within the Treasury department in Victoria asked for a cost-benefit analysis of these draconian policies. Our request was denied. I then raised my concerns about the Police State in Victoria on my Twitter account. In September 2020, the department asked me to remove my tweets. I resigned. I will not be silenced when innocent fellow citizens are being beaten up.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrote about my resignation on his Facebook page on 16 September 2020. I quote: There’s not a lot of courage in our public life and there’s even less honour. I don’t know Sanjeev Sabhlok but his piece in the Financial Review is a timely and potent contribution to a debate that has been stifled for far too long. He’s resigned and openly published what he thinks needs to be said. Bravo! End of quote.

I then wrote a book, The Great Hysteria and The Broken State in October 2020. A sitting Liberal Party MP of the Victorian Parliament, Neil Angus has written to me about it. I quote:

I have just finished reading your book. I thought it was excellent and heartily agreed with your views. In my view, we have faced the darkest time in Australia’s history due to gross government incompetence. End of quote.

I then engaged with Tony Abbott and Mathew Guy in a zoom-based international conference in December 2020 and physically met a number of Liberal MPs.

The Liberal Party initially was supportive of my resignation because they thought I was only opposing Dan Andrews. But no, I was opposing the entire body of lies this nation was being told, including by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Morrison compared COVID with a once-in-100-year event, placing it in the league of the Spanish flu. He gave his blessings to border closures, lockdowns and curfews. Now he claims that his policies have saved 40,000 lives. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister is a man without any honour, without any values. I also consider him to be the biggest liar in Australia’s history, a man who brings great shame to the party founded by the great Robert Menzies.

Recently, the world’s most cited epidemiologist John Ioannidis of Stanford has confirmed to me via email that COVID is 50 to 500 times less lethal than the Spanish flu. If we account for the fact that the Spanish flu killed mainly the young while COVID mainly kills the elderly, the effective lethality of COVID is around 150-1500 times less than that of the Spanish flu. And we locked down Australia for this!!

Professor Gigi Foster of Sydney has released today the summary of a cost-benefit analysis of these policies. I have assisted her for the past eight months in this analysis. She finds that even with the most charitable assumptions, these draconian policies might have prevented (but basically delayed) around 10,000 COVID deaths – mainly of the elderly: definitely not 40,000.

But the totalitarian policies of Australia have harmed vastly more – mostly younger people. Children’s education and mental health has been badly harmed. And thousands of small businesses have permanently lost a lifetime of work. And these policies have killed 7,233 more people from non-COVID causes in 2021 compared to what we might have ordinarily expected. Over 3,000 of these were excess cancer deaths – of people who were made so fearful of visiting their doctors in 2020 that their cancer could not be identified and treated in time. And there were around 1,000 excess dementia deaths and 500 excess diabetes deaths in 2021.

When all harms and benefits are counted, the harms from these China-style policies exceed any benefits by at least 30 times.

The Federation Party is committed to following in the footsteps of Robert Menzies. We are determined to become Australia’s real liberal party – but with a huge focus on values: Christian values. We will stop the slide into socialism of the Liberal and Labor parties.

Please keep in mind the lies and incompetence of the Labor and Liberal parties as you enter the polling booth. Do you want honesty, decency and moral values in public life, or cowardice, deception and use the of China-style force against people?

Please vote No. 1 for me, then for the freedom parties. And do not forget to place the Liberals and Labor last in any order that you wish.

My many thanks, once again, to the Doncaster Church of Christ, for giving me this opportunity to speak. And many thanks to all of you, who have spared your valuable time to come and listen!



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