Prime Minister Albanese wisely decided not to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos this year, and neither did any of his ministers. He was not alone in avoiding the controversial gathering. In previous years, sitting leaders including Donald Trump, Angela Merkel and Theresa May turned up. This year, even billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros pulled out, tweeting that he had an ‘unavoidable scheduling conflict’. And Bill Gates didn’t participate despite regularly attending since 1996.
But if Davos Man – the term was coined by Samuel Huntingdon in 2004 – is suffering a little reputational damage at the moment, he is down rather than out. Sure, Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk posted an online poll that showed 86 per cent of 2.42 million voters opposed the WEF controlling the world. But billionaire plutocrats don’t have to worry about winning elections, just influencing their outcomes, or the winners.
Apropos, the US contingent this year included key members of the intelligence agencies, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. Why? To participate in the sessions on social media censorship? That certainly seems to be a key concern of the FBI these days. Wray said at Davos that he was happy with ‘the level of collaboration between the private sector and the government, especially with the FBI.’ No kidding. The Twitter files show that the FBI and Twitter worked hand in glove to censor anything or anyone who threatened Biden’s election chances or his vaccine agenda. Of course, no one talks about censorship at Davos. It was discussed in a session entitled ‘The clear and present danger of disinformation’ where European Commission Vice President Vera Jourová, one of the panellists, predicted that the US will ‘soon’ have laws governing ‘illegal hate speech’.
Davos Man, and Woman, pride themselves on their clairvoyant powers. And why not? In 2019, Event 201, a simulation of a global coronavirus pandemic was announced at the WEF and hey, presto! In 2020, there was a global coronavirus pandemic.
But since Albanese didn’t go to the WEF, the WEF came to Albanese in the form of Gates – close friend of WEF founder Klaus Schwab – who jetted into Sydney this week in his gas-guzzling private plane. Gates says he’s aware that he is ‘an imperfect messenger on climate change’, a rich man, with big houses, who flies around the world in private planes, including to Paris for the climate conference. But this sort of hypocrisy doesn’t bother Davos Man. Discouraging people from eating meat has been on the Davos agenda for years, but real meat is always on the menu and in the canapés.
With the usual Davos ‘prescience’, Gates says he warned Albanese to be ready for the next pandemic which could be man-made and far more brutal. He was echoing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who warned at this year’s WEF that ‘a resurgence of tuberculosis may be coming’. And not to be outdone in the gloom and doom department, WEF officials also predicted a ‘catastrophic cyber event’ which they think is ‘likely in the next two years’.
Gates says countries need to run comprehensive exercises at both country and regional levels to develop pandemic preparedness every five year with a global group that scores everybody. Great idea! Let’s give Mr Gates and the WHO a score for their pandemic performance over the last three years. How about a big fat zero?
One of the key themes at Davos this year was ‘combatting misinformation’. The WEF claims that it is the victim of ‘disinformation campaigns’ by which it meant that it was unhappy that an article on its website that began, ‘Welcome to 2030: I own nothing, have no privacy and life has never been better’ has been widely criticised.
Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna was highly critical of the fact that some countries had allowed debate – shock, horror – about the Covid vaccines. He said, ‘You could see some countries where you had scientific debate and political debate and social media … those three things and the vaccine rate was very very low.’ Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla lamented the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines were ‘politicised’ by people questioning whether they worked, and that this was ‘constantly in our way’. He must have been horrified when Rebel News ran into him on a snowy street in Davos and asked more uncomfortable questions about the vaccines in three minutes than he has faced in the last three years.
Gates was at least honest about the dismal failure of the Covid vaccines admitting that they are ‘not infection-blocking, they’re not broad, so when new variants come up you lose protection, and they have very short duration, particularly in the people who matter who are old people’. But he said nothing about the appalling injuries and deaths they have caused. Not that he needed to worry. In Australia, the media has barely queried the nation’s frightening increase in excess mortality since the vaccine rollout began.
In any event, the Albanese government has the matter in hand. Late on Friday last week it announced new Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) powers to ‘combat harmful online misinformation and disinformation’, an agenda already promoted by former Liberal communications minister, Paul Fletcher.
What is mis- or disinformation? A June 2021 report that Acma published gives an extraordinary insight. It commissioned the News & Media Research Centre (N&MRC) at the University of Canberra to measure misinformation. So, the N&MRC asked Australians to respond to five claims about Covid-19, for example, whether wearing a mask significantly reduces your risk of infection or spreading the virus. Those who agreed with official advice at the time for all five statements were considered ‘informed’ whereas those who disagreed with three to five statements were considered highly ‘misinformed’. In other words, anyone who expressed any view other than that of the government was be deemed to be misinformed and will presumably be censored.
That will be music to the ears of Schwab, Bourla and Bancel. Davos Man has nothing to fear down under.