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The Locked-up Country

A timely analysis of Australia’s response to the pandemic, which asks what have we learned?

(Trade paperback)
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Donald Horne famously called Australia ‘the lucky country’. So how did we become the locked-up country and how might the future look different?

Australia has changed enormously since Horne’s 1960s, but its response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the enduring truth of his thesis that our ‘luck’ was undeserved and wouldn’t last. By closing its borders and imposing a nationally coordinated lockdown, Australia unexpectedly eliminated COVID-19 in 2020, achieving one of the world’s lowest excess mortality rates.

But as governments proceeded to bungle key planks of the pandemic response, by mid-2021, Australia was ‘locked up’ – closed off to the world and fragmented along state and territory borders, with its major cities enduring repeated and extended lockdowns. It soon became clear that Australia’s regulatory state had let us down. But these failures were not inevitable, and we can manage future crises more successfully.

In The Locked-up Country, political experts Tom Chodor and Shahar Hameiri identify the source of Australia’s recent challenges and suggest a better way forward.

Tom Chodor
Photo by Red Butterfly Photography

Tom Chodor

Tom Chodor is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the School of Social Sciences, Monash University. His research focuses on the global governance of the global economy, and the role of private actors in contributing to and contesting global policy agendas. He has published articles in Review of International Political Economy, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Globalizations and Global Governance, and is the author of Neoliberal Hegemony and The Pink Tide in Latin America: Breaking Up With TINA? (Palgrave 2015), and co-author of Unravelling the Crime-Development Nexus (Rowman & Littlefield 2022).

Shahar Hameiri

Shahar Hameiri

Shahar Hameiri is Professor of International Politics at the University of Queensland. An expert on security and development in Asia, Shahar has authored several books, including Fractured China (co-authored with Lee Jones), published by Cambridge University Press in 2021. Shahar has also written extensively on the politics of global health security. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Shahar directed his attention towards understanding the response back home in Australia. The result is his latest book, The Locked-up Country, co-authored with Dr Tom Chodor.