COVID pandemic Politics Science

Western Australian Government COVID Obfuscation

As I mentioned in an earlier post the Western Australian government put the entire state of about 2 million people into a 5 day lockdown (READ prison) for just 1 detected case of the alleged COVID-19 disease. Yeah, that’s right just a single case.

The Chief Heath Officer (with powers of an un-elected dictator) also required mandatory mask wearing for 14 days until Sunday morning just past. He also implemented mandatory contact tracing at every store or shopping centre you enter. That is continuing now though the lockdown was lifted and the mask wearing halted.

I initially wrote to the Senior Integrity Officer – FOI, Technology and Information Services, Office of the Director General, Western Australian Department of Health.

I requested information by email from the Department of Health (DoH), which they acknowledged receipt of. My three requests are listed below. In all three cases I requested ‘scientific papers’ concerning:

  1. Those that DoH and the Chief Medical Officer have relied upon in respect to implementing the current COVID contact tracing guidelines and those additional guidelines to begin on 12 February 2021.
  2. Since the state government has now declared a lockdown I would also like to get copies of the scientific papers on which the Chief Health Officer / Minister has relied upon to implemented this sort of measure. I want to see the science showing that such a lockdown has any effect.
  3. The mandated use of masks.

I was told that the relevant officer had sent “enquiries to relevant areas within DoH, to ascertain whether this information (e.g. reference links to ‘scientific papers’) may be publicly available.” [my emphasis added]

The words in italics are from the Senior Integrity Officer’s email to me, so it is very clear that the person understood my request. I was actually only requesting the journal references of the scientific papers. I would take it from there if I could get the references. My first actual reply came as shown below.

Dear Mr Hartnett

The WA Department of Health (DoH) Chief Health Officer keeps abreast of the developments related to COVID-19 from many sources, including scientific papers. These are publicly available and a record of all those that have been accessed is not kept, it is part of ongoing research. A subscription is generally required to access scientific journals, though public libraries may provide free access.

As the documents would be publicly available through research, the Freedom of Information Act 1992 does not apply in this instance.  DoH also advises that we are unable to provide copies of any scientific papers as this would be a breach of copyright laws.

The response to COVID-19 in Western Australia is also guided by the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC). The AHPPC has an ongoing role to advise the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) on health protection matters and national priorities. The AHPPC is also tasked with the role of mitigating emerging health threats related to infectious diseases, the environment as well as natural and human made disasters. The Committee works with states and territories to develop and adopt national health protection policies, guidelines, standards and alignment of plans.

The statements that the AHPPC have released in regard to COVID-19 related matters can be found at:

Best regards

Senior Integrity Officer – FOI

To which I replied as below:

Senior Integrity Officer – FOI

Thank you for your reply.

I understand the issue with journal subscriptions. I have been involved in academic research for 25 years as a professor.

I was not as clear as I could be. I would like a list of the references (titles/authors) of the scientific papers that the Chief Health Officer has relied upon for the WA regulations in regards to

1) Contact tracing: That means the references that show transmission of the disease from one person to another and the validation of the PCR or other tests used to confirm infection. References that show the PCR tests in terms of the level of positivity and the cycle threshold used in the tests here in WA. This also means references showing the isolation and purification of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which would be the basis for PCR testing.

2) Masks: References that show that masks work to eliminate spread of the virus. That they do not produce negative health effects for those wearing them long term.

3) Lockdown: References that show that lockdowns are an efficient and effective method to stop the spread of the virus.


Dr John Hartnett

To which the DoH officer replied as below:

Dear Mr Hartnett

The Department of Health is unable to assist you with this request, due to current commitments and workload.

As previously mentioned, the articles are publicly available and extremely numerous. 

The collating of references would involve weeks of work by a number of officers; and having to respond in the midst of the pandemic is considered unreasonable.

Best regards

Senior Integrity Officer – FOI

To which I replied as below:

Senior Integrity Officer – FOI

Thank you for your email. I never intended to put a burden on any staff and certainly not weeks of work.

Would it be possible to supply me with the journal reference for just one paper that was relied upon by the Chief Health Officer in each of the 3 areas that have become government policy: Mask wearing, contact tracing, and lockdowns?

Since there are many surely it would take only a few minutes of someone’s time to give me a short list of only 3 references? Preferably the main reference in each category. I have been a tax payer for all my life and a West Australian born citizen. I think with transparency of government that the short amount of time to supply three references would be a reasonable request. I don’t think that would take more than 30 minutes of someone’s time.


Dr John Hartnett

To which the DoH officer replied as below:

Dear Mr Hartnett

Whilst your request is not unreasonable, it is not one that is easily complied with, given the ongoing changing nature of the pandemic.  No one paper contains all the answers/relevant information; to provide one paper per category would be a misrepresentation.

The WA Chief Health Officer, Dr Robertson, references papers in multiple journals as they become available, learns from the experiences in other jurisdictions of Australia and other countries, and consults with his counterparts in other jurisdictions.  All of these sources of information/knowledge contribute to the measures implemented in WA.

The most relevant sources of information would be the WA Health website, and the AHPPC website,

Kind regards

Senior Integrity Officer – FOI

So there you have it. Frustrating! Total obfuscation! Complete run around! It reminds me of Sir Humphrey in the excellent British TV series Yes Minister.

Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey Appleby Credit: Wikipedia

One thing is for certain. The government does not serve you. They treat you as though you should serve them. And mind you this was from the officer who deals with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Initially I contacted them thinking it was an FOI request but was told it is not.

Initially the Senior Integrity Officer acknowledged that I was seeking the references that the Chief Health Officer relied upon but responds by saying that they cannot supply scientific papers due to copyright and implies that they read many but states that they don’t keep a record. What sort of bureaucrat doesn’t keep records?

I then explain that I only want the references and understand the issues with journal papers.

Then I get a response stating that many papers are sourced and that amount of work it would take for several staff to compile a list make it impossible in the midst of a pandemic. Mind you there are no COVID-19 cases in hospitals in the entire state and only about 10 in hotel quarantine. None serious. Where’s the pandemic? Not in Western Australia.

So finally I request that they give me the references to only three scientific papers, their best ones for the three issues I have outlined: lockdowns, contact tracing which involves PCR tests, and mask wearing.

Then I get a response that says that because here are so many they read that giving me one would be a misrepresentation. Just more BS. No effort made to supply a citizen with the source of scientific information upon which they rely to imposed onerous conditions on us all here.

And remember how often have you heard it said that they are following the science. But they can’t give a single reference that justifies their unjustified lockdowns, contact tracing via PCR tests and mask wearing.

Mind you the single COVID-19 case here in WA had 171 contacts while he was roaming free. They found and tested every single one of them and not one tested positive. So the whole fiasco was just that, a fiasco.

What a joke this whole COVID craziness has become. Un-elected dictators claiming to follow the science but not able to supply a single scientific reference to justify their ludicrous rules, which curtail individual liberty.

By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

4 replies on “Western Australian Government COVID Obfuscation”

John the message is quite clear re your letters to government: obey. These circumstances show how tenuous democracy is and how easy government will slip into totalitarianism. Australia will never be the same again.

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Your letters are interesting. I am from China and in my local area one of my apartment’s gate is blocked, I had similar ideas, where are the justifications for such thing, how could shut down the gate help the situation, where are the laws and reasons behind?

What could you do? May you unite many similar minded Australians to take it to court. As I heard Dr. Pam Popper, she united many local people to sue the government and turned over many government order as illegal. Here is one interview Spiro conducted with her:
“The Lawsuit That Could End Covid-1984 with Dr. Pam Popper”

Thank you for your work!

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