COVID-19: Time is of the essence

During the last week the most interesting piece of information I heard about dealing with the coronavirus was not who is to blame for the mess in nursing homes, or who let the passengers off the Ruby Princess, it was a short interview of Professor Michael Toole, epidemiologist at Burnet Institute, by Patricia Karvelas – Unknown COVID sources have experts worried.

Toole lays down some markers for effective testing, tracing and isolating.

He said that after a test, the results should come back and 90% of the contacts should be traced and found within 48 hours at a maximum.

He is not talking averages here, he is saying that after you do the test the longest it should take to trace and interview 90% of contacts is just 48 hours.

If you meet that standard, he says, the infection rate will be reduced by 80%. He was using plain language rather than jargon. As an example he said that if you test 10 positives, then trace and isolate 90% of the contacts of those positives within 48 hours, only two more people will become infected.

If, however, you take three days, then nine will be infected.

He said that under normal conditions every positive will have had 5 to 10 contacts. Under Stage 4 lockdowns as in Melbourne now, that reduces to 2-3.

He said that the goal was to reduce the mystery cases in the community to zero. ‘Mystery’ here means that you know that the infected person has not been infected by any known hotspot. Currently NSW was experiencing on average about one mystery case per day. Prior to Stage 4 in Melbourne they had 3000 mystery cases on their books, which were presumed to have up to 30,000 contacts.

They lacked the capacity to do the necessary tracing. In practice, the system had simply been overwhelmed.

Toole does not speak as an insider. He said there was no public information available as to how long testing and tracing was taking in Victoria.

Toole gave two country examples. First, South Korea (population about 51 million). South Korea had suppressed the virus to around 40 to 60 new cases per day, and had worked hard on testing, tracing and isolating, so the were able to keep the virus suppressed to this level for three months or more. (See worldometer site.)

South Korea had kept its economy relatively open, and were willing and able to put in the effort to keep it that way.

Second, Israel (population around 8.8 million) by contrast had a successful response at first, but then there was a second wave, where the 7-day moving average got out of control, but now seems to be stabilising at over 1400 per day. Toole said they lost control of testing, tracing and isolating during the second wave, so they just gave up.

Israel were early movers, and had strict lockdowns and travel movements in March and April. By early May they had suppressed the virus to about 15 per day.

I took a look and found that PM Benjamin Netanyahu had told Israelis to have fun when they opened up in May, and they did. Given what is said elsewhere, it is notable that they think schools have mainly brought them undone.

By early July the health chief quit.

Since then there have been protests, but this running report and this official site indicate that Israelis have little taste for a further lockdown and seem prepared to live with a comparatively high level of infection.

Among all that there was an aim to return test results within 36 hours.

To return to Toole, he does think Victoria’s testing, tracing, isolating regime needs a re-set.

Elsewhere Toole has supported wearing masks, and taking all means possible to defeat the virus, including community engagement and involvement in the design and delivery of messages.

Incidentally, Toole has discovered a trick to stop his glasses from fogging up:

    wash the glasses in soapy water and leave them to air dry. That leaves a film that prevents fogging.


Testing in Victoria has been running at around 25,000 per day (from this ABC site), more than in NSW or, in relation to population, in Queensland.

Toole’s work raises the question as to whether Victoria would be better off with more rapid and targeted testing. I recall Dan Andrews saying recently that their average was two days, at a time when some people were complaining that they waited more than five days for a result.

During the recent mini-outbreak in Queensland, from memory, test time blew out to 39 hours. Apart from that, in the US the test time was never good, and recently was said to be averaging about 7 days, which must be close to useless in terms of virus suppression. My recall is that the Chinese during thew Wuhan crisis had testing time down to about four hours.

Today at Andrew’s press briefing, he said that two weeks ago, when masks were made mandatory, the virus reproduction rate was around 1.0 or a little below. Toole is showing how that rate might be reduced to 0.2.

Clearly not enough attention is being paid to this aspect of coronavirus control.

283 thoughts on “COVID-19: Time is of the essence”

  1. Isn’t it useful when an epidemiologist is able and willing to summarise the medical facts clearly and with direct relevance to this pandemic?

    Good on him and Ms Karvelas.

    By the way, just on Burnet.
    (Esteemed medical scientist)
    I believe he was born in Traralgon, a regional town in the mighty Province of Gippsland, Victoria. – Just to introduce a bit of petty, parochial boasting.


  2. Brian: Sniffer dogs do the test in seconds. A critical tool in these times. We should be training dogs like it was going out of fashion so we can start with areas where cases are rising and build up our capacity on the basis that the problem may well last for years.
    Cracked record: We should be doing lots of things in parallel because every small thing helps bring the N value down. We should also be doing things that take time like sniffer dogs, changing air flows in pubs and clubs, testing for temperatures and….. I am sick of leaders that seem obsessed with dramatic and damaging things like lock downs. (Yep, by all means use them to fight a crisis but…)

  3. John, I think we established some time ago that lock-downs were used as a remedy to regain control when preparation had been inadequate.

    Sniffer dogs are a bit of a magic bullet if we can get enough of them. I’ve heard that dogs actively sniffing spend a fair bit of energy, and tire quite quickly, though I haven’t heard the details.

    There is also an issue with people who carry the virus but don’t develop the disease. I was going to include a bit about that but ran out of puff.

  4. At some point we are going to have to discuss the “ acceptable “ number of cases and deaths to get back to some sort of normal.

    The lockdown cures have a death toll too.

    Face it or ignore it but covid is worldwide and not leaving any time soon.

  5. Face it or ignore it but covid is worldwide and not leaving any time soon.

    I agree completely, and any concept of “normal” has to take this fact into account.
    BTW do you have any accurate data as to the death toll due to the lockdowns? I’ve not seen any reliable estimates.

  6. Well zoot, if that is a serious question, you could look into “ covid and suicide “ or “ unemployment rates and health “ or “ additional deaths from economic collapse “

    Surprise me ( I don’t speak for everyone like you do ).

  7. Jumpy: You also might look at the reduction in flu deaths caused by all the effort taken to control COVID-19.
    “Flu deaths drop in Australia as coronavirus restrictions save hundreds of lives:”
    The latest national statistics, obtained by the ABC, reveal from January to June 2020, there were just 36 deaths from the flu.
    That compares to 430 deaths in the same period for 2019.
    Ian Barr, deputy director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, said it was “great news” as influenza was very hard to combat.
    “I think if we could get this sort of effect every year, we’d be very happy,” Professor Barr said.
    “You have to do exceptional things like having very, very high vaccination rates or doing something dramatic like [what is] currently happening with a severe lockdown type of approach.

    You might also look at effect of the virus on deaths by other causes.

  8. What part of “ look into” don’t you understand ?

    I’m not at all surprised your question was an abrasive diversion, as usual.

    To coin a phrase “ the zoots of the world are sand in the vagina of civil discourse “.
    Just ignore me please.

  9. I haven’t seen any estimates either.

    Commentators seem to assume the suicide tate will rise .

    Who knows?
    Joblessness can be stressful; ditto poverty.
    I don’t mean to downplay either.

    But a few factors might also lower stress: less commuting, less pressure from a hounding boss, more time with the kids; setting aside regular extra time for exercise.

    Now I recognise that stress levels (and the ways individusls cope with, or thrive on stress) are not necessarily related to serious depression.

    But it’s a complex area and causation will be difficult to establish.

    Here’s a thought Mr J: suppose suicide were more common amongst those who are physically run-down. (No idea if this might be the case. ..). Then the much lower incidence of flu this year might lower that type of suicide.

    On anothet point, do you, Mr J, consider that poverty may be positively correlated eith suicides?

    If so, would you support anti-poverty measures on a humanitarian basis? (At the very least: to reduce the social toll of self-harm.)

  10. Mr A, I’ll get ootz banging on about me derailing and making it about me if I answer those off topic questions.

    Be happy to on the WS tomorrow though if you ask them then.

  11. So once again Jumpy has no E…Vid…Ence to support his gut feeling. Without data there is no point discussing the issue.
    I have no reliable data, but using the same method as our Mackay correspondent I would suggest that in the USA the death rate from lock downs is an infinitesimal proportion of the deaths due directly to the virus (which, if I recall, was going to disappear in April with the warm weather).
    Prove me wrong Mr J.

  12. Jumpy: My wise old mother who grew up in the depression said something along the lines that “young modern youth is miserable because they have all the physical comforts and don’t really know what they want.” “My generation was OK because we knew what we wanted, basic physical things.” Maybe the virus will focus peoples minds on the basics they need instead of mental comfort. Just speculating.
    The construction industry is a high suicide industry. What is your take on this or haven’t you worked on any isolated construction site?

  13. John cited lower flu deaths, seemingly from a reliable source.
    it’s always swings and roundabouts Mr J.

    They bring in compulsory seat belts for drivers.
    Guess what? The number of drivers and front seat passengers dying by hurtling through winsdcreens milliseconds after a crash, then reduces. And perhaps the number of accident cases leading to heavy bruising from seat belt pressure increases. Both trends, easily foreseen.

    Most of us want to see the death rate decrease.

    If I recall correctly, you (Mr J) predicted a lower ‘flu death rate for this Winter because of ‘social distancing’.

  14. Most experts commenting on death rates say that it is better done in retrospect, down the track, as it were.

    However, we can get some idea of scale.

    Jumpy’s ABS link said 3046 suicides in 2018, median age 44.4 and 76% male.

    Deaths from COVID so far are 396 in Oz, or 15 per million.

    Jumpy would prefer the Swedish approach, would he not?

    They have had 5,783 deaths, or 572 per million.

  15. To get back to where we are with the Victorian situation, I think communication from Dan Andrews and Brett Sutton has been clear, but suffers by sundry comments from the Feds, other experts, and randoms from the public that the ABC keep shoving a microphone in front of.

    The New Daily ran an article Victoria’s coronavirus second wave appears to be slowing, so what’s next for tough lockdowns and Stage 4 restrictions?. Victoria is saying the reproduction rate would need to come down at least to 0.6 before they could consider opening up.

    In another article, they said that 100 per day of new cases would be more than they could handle. Beyond that it depends on the pattern of infections, whether new clusters are opening up etc.

    When I wrote the article I thought about sniffer dogs, but didn’t want to open up a whole new area.

    Where would they be used?

    Dead set in airport arrival lounges, but would they be used in virus testing stations, where a nurse with a swab would be replaced by a person with a dog?

    A big issue is testing nursing home staff. An initial excursion into that minefield tells me that there are 1.2 million Australians receiving ages care services, about 270,500 in nursing homes, where there are 3,000 providers and 9,000 locations.

    There are about 360,000 workers, I think 240,000 in providing institutional care. As we know, the workforce is heavily part-time and casualised, with a large proportion who don’t have English as their first language. Many work at more than one place, and many don’t have sick leave, or security of employment.

    In home care, there are issues in workers picking up bugs from clients (happened to my good wife, and left her with impaired lungs), and oldies being infected by workers.

    So I’m not sure how testing is best used in that sector, or what potential dogs have to make a difference.

    However, dogs won’t come free. There are reports that in some private aged care homes, staffing numbers have been reduced since COVID.

    Industrially the pandemic sick leave extended by Victoria is manifestly inadequate, and probably too slow, while employers and federal politicians are calling for greater ‘flexibility’ in industrial relations, which translates as more discretion and power for employers, and greater uncertainty for employees.

  16. Brian: The thing about dogs is that they give an instantaneous result and are about as accurate as the conventional methods that currently take days to get a result.
    The problem with the conventional tests is that either:
    You don’t isolate until a positive test result is received which means people who are infected could be spreading the virus for days OR
    You isolate for days until a negative result is received which means that people will be reluctant to be tested if quarantine means financial and other crisis and workers in key areas like health (who should be tested frequently and are in short supply) won’t be available while waiting for test results.
    Me, I would start using dogs for critical, high risk occupations like health.
    We should be training dogs as fast as we can instead of stuffing around using excuses for not getting on with it.

  17. Brian: Ignorant Qld Border Nazis blocking access to very young baby that doctors think is very desirable.
    Key points:
    The Queensland hospital treating a newborn baby refuses entry to the baby’s mother
    The hospital wants parents from northern NSW to go into quarantine for 14 days before entering hospital
    One senior doctor says the decision borders on medical negligence because newborns need their mothers’ immunity

  18. Yeah John, there could be fatalities from that sort of thing.
    Also the lockdowns are lowering all manner of testing rates from breast screening to melanoma out of lack of access and overburdened labs.
    Add that to increased alcohol use, unemployment stresses, anxiety and depression ( many already had pre exiting conditions) Economic depressions and unemployment spikes have always seen a myriad of negative health effects causing death.

    Some people ( not you ) want to ignore those death in order to be nasty on blog chats. Poor things.

  19. John, on the “border Nazis” I have written to my local member Kate Jones, and to Steven Miles saying that what is happening is unethical, cruel and probably illegal. I’ve asked them to do something about it.

    The list of Qld ministers with contact links is here. I suggest you spread it around.

  20. John, on sniffer dogs, sure, I agree with all that. However, I suspect that rather than finding excuses for not doing anything, many have not yet heard about dogs.

    My point is that we can’t use dogs before we have them, and they may not be useful in all areas. So we have to smarten up what we are doing. As I said, Toole has set some markers for doing the job properly.

    I was in the city today, seeing my dentist. I walked through the Wintergarden Mall from Queen Street to Elizabeth Street, where you go down a bit of an escalator and walk through eateries, which are largely closed. However, it would have gladdened your heart to see big blocky yellow arrows painted on the floor pointing “One way” on the left and “One way” the opposite way on the right.

  21. Jumpy, I don’t see people here ignoring other deaths.

    Daniel Andrews in his briefing today brought along the minister who has been struggling with doing something about domestic violence, which has been exacerbated by the lockdown.

    We have to choose an optimal path, and I think that can be substantially different, depending on where you are and the circumstances.

  22. Brian,

    We have to choose an optimal path, and I think that can be substantially different, depending on where you are and the circumstances.

    Couldn’t agree more, that’s why it can’t be up to the Feds.

    There has to be, until a vaccine is proven, a discussion about the number optimal, unfortunate number of deaths ( X) between total lockdown deaths (Y) and Do nothing (Z)

    Perhaps Mr A could represent that in an equation ( I had a Shop A wanker stand in for that math term , a Mr Botcher would you believe )

  23. I’m in Perth and while there are still some restrictions by and large the city is running pretty much the way it was before the pandemic. The average Joe Blow is free to do just about anything he used to do in his day to day life. This is largely thanks to our situation as one of the world’s most isolated cities.
    I realise that near the NSW border the situation is quite fraught but how are things in more remote parts of Queensland, such as Cairns or Mackay or Charleville or Mt Isa? Is the jackboot of government oppression still firmly on the population’s neck or has life returned even slightly back towards normal?
    i.e. what is the lived experience of the average citizen?
    Serious question.

  24. “In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause — it is seen. The others unfold in succession — they are not seen: it is well for us, if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference — the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee.” ~Frederic Bastiat

    The only thing Politicians primarily see are the polls up until the next election, all of em.

  25. Brian: “My point is that we can’t use dogs before we have them, and they may not be useful in all areas. So we have to smarten up what we are doing. As I said, Toole has set some markers for doing the job properly.”
    My general point is that we need to run lots of strategies in parallel instead of debating what is best. (Particular problem with masks being held up because other approaches were considered better.
    As for dogs their big attraction is that they give a result straight away and, if anything are more accurate than current tests. Me i would start using them in aged care, meat works and essential, high risk areas where control is difficult.
    Brian I will follow your suggestion to write to Qld ministers. I will draft a letter that avoids the temptation to mention border nazis and run it past you before I send it.

  26. John, happy to have a look. If you are getting others to write they say that it is about 10 times better if everyone composes their own letter. I’ve been told that standard letters are heavily discounted by pollies and their offices.

    Labor is light years better than the LNP, but they still do some bad sh*t at times.

    Yes, the more strategies the better.

    I heard an experienced contact tracer interviewed the other day. There is always a need, apparently, and we can’t rely on new contagious diseases to be detected by dogs.

    When we looked at Taiwan I remember hearing in the radio interview I had heard how Taiwan had an impressive number of trained contact tracing teams ready to deploy. I remember how impressed I was, but I can’t remember the number, and I don’t seem to have mentioned it on the thread.

    To get back to Toole, his 48-hour limit is still relevant, even if we start with a dog.

  27. Mr J

    I agree with Mr Bastiat that economists must strive to predict, to the extent current and historical conditions can assist, the reasonably foreseeable effects of policies.

    Isn’t that what “the modelling” (economic, financial ) the Govt and Labor Opposition are always talking about, is intended to do?

    Peter Costello and his dire forecasts of possible negative outcomes of the ‘greying ‘ demographic spread

    Any number if reports on economic effects of transition to more renewables in our energy supplies. …

    Predictions aren’t unknown in economics.
    They’re very very very difficult.

    Heard of quicksilver?
    Slippery substance.
    Hard to grab.

    People are the quicksilver in the economic system. . We have fads, moods, rapid changes of heart….. preferences

    Current examples:
    Hoarding toilet paper
    Reacting to sudden under employment
    Saving rather than spending the ‘stimulus ‘ $750
    Tightening the belts
    Deciding not to travel
    Looking at items in the hardware shoo or supermarket and refusing to buy Chinese – made goods

    And any of these can happen swiftly, even without a pandemic.

    Economic forecasting is a b*stard.

  28. Mr J at 6.30pm on the 17th.

    My sympathies that you suffered under the reign of a poor mathematics teacher, as many of us did.

    I would guess that you’ve learnt more maths of practical use, outside and since that classroom. Good.

    BTW I don’t think algebra can assist in the question you raised. Political discussion will rule there.

  29. Brian: “To get back to Toole, his 48-hour limit is still relevant, even if we start with a dog.” Not sure who Toole is. A person who is detected by a sniffer dog will know they are infected or not when the dog is sniffing. Can’t see any 48 hr delay. This is why I think training dogs is important.
    “John, the New Daily has carried the article.” That is the case I was talking about. Not sure whether someone from Brisbane or the Tweed bubble would have been treated differently.

  30. John, Toole said:

      the results should come back and 90% of the contacts should be traced and found within 48 hours at a maximum.

    A sniffer dog will give you a flying start, but you still need to do the tracing within 48 hours.

    That’s all I was trying to say.

    Victoria had gotten to a stage where they were no chance, even if they’d had sniffer dogs.

  31. Move over Taiwan: “How Mongolia has kept the coronavirus at bay” despite having the longest border with China. Part of the article: “Mongolia shares the world’s longest land border with China, but its early and highly centralized pandemic response has been so effective that not a single person in the landlocked country has died from covid-19. A former army colonel turned public health official recounts how Mongolia enacted its extensive quarantine and testing regime under a state of emergency.

    We first heard about a new virus spreading in China around New Year’s Eve. On January 10, we issued our first public advisory, telling everyone in Mongolia to wear a mask.

    Here’s the thing: we don’t actually have a great public health system. That’s why our administrators were so afraid of covid-19. We don’t have many respirators, for example. We were really afraid that if we got community transmission even once, it would become a disaster for us. What was in everyone’s head was to be prepared before the spread. Another reason we were so keen to protect the community is because we have the world’s longest land border with China—2,880 miles [4,600 kilometers]—as well as continuous human flow for education and business from China to Mongolia.

    0 Covid deaths

    As of August 17, 2020. Source: WHO Dashboard

    Davaadorj Rendoo
    Mongolia is a big country with a sparse population, about 3.2 million people. Because our country has a very harsh, dry, and cold climate, every year from November to February we have an awful flu season, and the Ministry of Health always encourages people to practice good hygiene and wash hands, especially young children. So many of our suggestions were not new.

    We have been doing tests since January. We even started randomly screening pneumonia patients for covid-19 but never found a patient. We got the majority of our test kits from the World Health Organization (WHO), including rapid tests, and were able to scale it up pretty quickly.

    In February, we started flying Mongolians living abroad back home and testing them.

    Coronavirus responders
    This story is the first in a series of interviews with people on the front lines of the coronavirus response in countries around the world. Check back tomorrow for more.
    We did not detect a single domestic case until March 9. One French national working in the southern province of Dornogovi was discovered to have had coronavirus. Since that day, the Ministry of Health has been conducting daily situation briefings to talk about how many cases were imported, what the high-risk areas are. After that case was announced, people became even more obedient to our directives. But we were so ready for this case. We really had enough time to prepare.

    For that French national, we undertook very extensive contact tracing and identified 120 people who had had some contact with him. This is not the first time we have done contact tracing; it has been part of the mandate of the National Center of Communicable Diseases since its inception. We do this for all kinds of disease, including sexually transmitted diseases.

    We also opened a dedicated, 24-hour covid hotline. People were getting all kinds of wrong information from social media. One big hoax was that because Mongolians eat very healthily and live in traditional nomadic lifestyles, we would not get the virus and had a “natural immunity.” Another big one was that because it is cold and dry, the virus does not survive here, and it only survives in warm and wet climates. Today, even the majority of herders and nomadic people have satellite TV with solar energy, so they can still access information.

    One side effect of this lockdown has been a significant reduction in cases of seasonal flu, pneumonia (a very serious problem every year), and foodborne and digestive illness.

    Every day, we are still concerned, but our people are getting less worried. It’s summer now; the weather is getting nicer. People are going for picnics, riding horses. We have set up a lot of temperature checks at recreation spots in the countryside. Almost all the public spaces, starting with the malls and pharmacies, still require masks. But we realize that in the rural areas, wearing a mask every day is not possible.
    We don’t know how long the state of emergency will last. Some of our highest officials have said we will close our borders indefinitely. We cannot take anything for granted. In Japan, they lifted restrictions and the virus came back. Until the end of this summer, we are not easing quarantine at all. But schools will have to start in September. What we still recommend every day to the public is to stay ready, because community transmission might be just around the corner.”
    I guess this is another success story that Australian Governments will ignore.

  32. Brian: “Double-lung recipient misses critical check-up because of Queensland border closure”
    “The mother of a 14-year-old boy who survived a double-lung transplant says his ongoing treatment has been dangerously compromised by Queensland’s border restrictions.

    Key points:
    A 14-year-old double-lung transplant patient misses his check-up due to a delay in getting his border exemption
    It follows the Queensland Premier saying Queensland hospitals are for Queensland people
    The NSW Health Minister says life-saving services in state hospitals are regularly provided to Queenslanders
    Sean Rice received the double-lung transplant at the age of nine.
    His mother, Lee-Anne Rice from Tweed Heads South, said she could not take her son for his routine clinical review at a Brisbane hospital, where his specialist was based, because the approval to travel outside the border bubble came too late.”
    “Staff from Prince Charles Hospital in Chermside then organised an alternative plan for Sean to be reviewed by staff at the John Flynn Hospital on the Gold Coast, which is inside the border bubble.

    But Ms Rice said she believed the care given there was inappropriate.
    “The man was lovely, but he did admit that he had never done it before, he has no post-transplant experience, he has never tested a child before and it wasn’t actually his job to do the testing,” she said.
    “He tried to give my son an asthma puffer, which my son has never used before.”
    Someone like me who has worked in every state except Tasmania is appalled at the idea that people from the wrong state should be discriminated against by your premier.

  33. John, my back is hurting like sh*t, and I have to go out to the pharmacy for something else. I’ll have another look at this later tonight, but there was an article in the AFR, and another in The Saturday Paper, both paywalled, plus I heard a report about what was happening at Penola, in SA near the Victorian border.

    Same, same, but Palaszczuk’s statement that Qld hospitals are for Queenslanders was especially egregious.

    It does seem the Berejiklian and Andrews talk, whereas Palaszczuk and Berejiklian don’t.

    I believe Morrison has written to them, and it will be discussed in National Cabinet.

    Berejiklian has said that she can’t handle more exceptions. Victorian man with advanced skin cancer was seen in the car park, where he took off his shirt for the doc, because more Victorians could not be seen in surgery.

    At least he was seen by the right doctor.

    What would you do if you still lived here?

  34. Brian: “What would you do if you still lived here?”
    I would still think of myself as Australian and would still not be impressed by a state premier behaving like Anastasia or Joh.
    Only difference would be that I would have a little less knowledge of Northern NSW. However, would still be agitated given that my mother and other Northern NSW rellies have used Qld hospitals and my mother also used Lismore Base Hospital on a number of occassions.
    Growing up in NSW I thought of myself as Australian rather than a NSW person. Out state politicians didn’t rabbit on being the equivalent of Qlanders or whatever.

  35. John, the bottom line here is that you seem to be expecting something from me. I’m not sure what it is.

    Growing up I thought of myself as an Australian and as a member of the British Empire. How could I not, having to salute the flag and sing “God save the King” every morning?

    I went to St Peter’s Lutheran College for secondary education, where I naturally became more aware of my German heritage. St Peter’s was the cheapest boarding school in Brisbane, and had 20% non-Lutherans, and a good dose of ethnic Indians, Chinese from PNG, Fiji, SE Asia, and a few PNG blokes. One of my best mates was an American, and a number of German mission kids spent holidays on our farm.

    I had two years on the farm after Junior. We had quite a few German, Norwegian, and central European workers in the district.

    At university, I started majoring in German. Again, Germans, Swiss, a Dutchman from Indonesia, and others.

    My first real job was the at the University of Adelaide. By that time I thought of myself as a person who happened to be in Australia.

    It was in Adelaide that I learnt culturally that I was an outsider, and that South Australians did not think of Queensland at all unless something ridiculous happened there.

    A few years later, as a Qld government public servant I learnt very quickly that the power triangle was Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and we were outside it. The ABC had a notion of the BAPH states. they were the ones they had to throw crumbs to so that they would not become revolting.

    Then for a couple of decades I had to listen carefully to what came out of Joh’s mouth, and put up with pissweak Qld jokes about fading curtins and the pilot saying. “We are now entering Qld air space. Put back your clocks a hundred years.”

    The Commonwealth Games in 1982 helped a bit, but I think Expo in 1988 finally got Brisbane recognition as being more than a big country town and Brisvegas was born in post Fitzgerald inquiry times.

    I was on a stack of national committees, attended all sorts of conferences and got to know how others saw the world.

    I’d have to say that it was typical of NSW people not to distinguish between themselves and the nation.

    Victorians always knew they were second, but the best and smartest.

    So there!

  36. John, prior to the denial of access to health facilities at the Gold Coast, I thought Dr Jeanette Young and Premier Palaszczuk were compassionate people who would provide the necessary access. It seems that in the last case access was granted, but too late.

    The first example you cited got around the media, including TV news last night. Palaszczuk came on and gave a flat “no” saying her responsibility was to look after the health/welfare of Queenslanders.

    It seems to me that cross-border services are a standard right accorded to citizens living in another state, and I’m sure are funded accordingly.

    I have not had a reply to my complaints. If I get one I’m sure it will be a standard pro forma response.

    At National Cabinet Morrison should insist that there be a proper resolution. If Palaszczuk persists, I think a legal challenge should be a consideration, but there I’m out of my depth.

    I’m not seeking to excuse her by mentioning the bad deeds of others, but Morrison’s hands are not clean, having let 2 million people starve rather than access benefits.

    We have international obligations to crews on cruise ships, but appear to have treated them like lepers.

  37. I have to work today and tomorrow, not sure about Friday.

    There is a story on ABC online today about extending the bubble around Goondiwindi, which includes this quote:

      The Premier announced today that the border bubble around Goondiwindi would also increase in size to take in more postcodes.

      From tomorrow, people in towns including Weengalloon, Limevale, Inglewood, Gore, North Star and Deepwater will be able to cross the Queensland-New South Wales border.
      For the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic read our coronavirus live blog.

      “These are very small numbers of people and, of course, it’s just to make that movement between those border communities a little bit easier,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

      “We are continuing to work with people when it comes to their health concerns, but also when it comes to the movement of agriculture.”

      Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence Springborg said he lobbied Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young for the change, and said she saw “the common sense and practicality in that”.

    It all sounds very reasonable, so the question is raised as to why the same does not apply on the eastern seaboard.

    The obvious difference is the greater density of population, so more instances to deal with.

    That is no comfort to the people affected.

    Key to the success further west seems to be the fact the Lawrence Springborg is now Goondiwindi Mayor.

    I’m waiting to see what happens in National Cabinet. However, Mike Seccombe points out that Morrison’s position keeps shifting:

      A long-time political operator, who is no fan of the prime minister’s, said he admired the political flexibility. “Morrison’s very agile,” he said. “He shifts his position constantly, without any apparent embarrassment.”

    On borders, the latest is that he is saying the states are in control, all he wants is for them to explain and be accountable for their positions.

    In that regard, Palaszczuk has come up well short.

  38. Brian: “Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence Springborg said he lobbied Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young for the change, and said she saw “the common sense and practicality in that”.
    It all sounds very reasonable, so the question is raised as to why the same does not apply on the eastern seaboard.”
    It seems to help if an experienced Qld politician is supporting your case. Not a good and fair way to operate.
    “On borders, the latest is that Scott Morrison is saying the states are in control, all he wants is for them to explain and be accountable for their positions.
    In that regard, Palaszczuk has come up well short.” Very short.

  39. On the subject of suicides arising from the pandemic: Here’s (I hope) some words of wisdom from a medical professional. It’s on Facebook so I’m not sure how it will link if it does in fact link. (I hate FB)
    It’s worth reading the whole thing. She cautions that we have no data yet but that hasn’t stopped FB posts claiming a 200% rise in suicides. Her takeaway quote extrapolating our experience during the GFC is

    And those naively arguing for a reckless ‘Swedish model’ of CoVID-19 management in Victoria to prevent suicides are saying that losing 3,395 Victorians to CoVID-19 is an acceptable price we must pay to save 99 Victorians from economic suicide.

  40. The above link works for me but you’ll need to close the overlay that appears on top of everything. (I really hate FB)

  41. Worked for me, zoot, but then I’m on FB. How else can you keep up with what your kids are doing?

    John, I’m going to wait to see what National Cabinet brings.

  42. Today Dan Andrews appears to have enunciated what he is aiming for – ‘No blueprint’ for easing Vic virus rules, with case numbers still too high.

    Single figures of new cases, or low double figures, and not too many mysteries as to where they came from.

    Roughly, where NSW is now.

    Greg Hunt said today that NSW contact tracing was world class. He could be right. However, if your contact tracing is not world class, you need to take that into account.

    Queensland is being tested again – Worker at Brisbane Youth Detention Centre tests positive to coronavirus:

      A supervisor at Brisbane Youth Detention Centre in Wacol, in the city’s west, has tested positive to coronavirus, forcing hundreds of staff and children to be tested.

      Queensland Health said the woman, who is in her 70s and lives in the Ipswich suburb of Bundamba, did five shifts while she was infectious.

      She has since been admitted to Ipswich Hospital with minor symptoms.

      A close family member of the woman told the ABC she had no signs of illness to indicate that she should stay home from work.

      “She had no symptoms for the first three days, she had a headache for the second to last day,” the family member said.

      “No respiratory symptoms … not had a fever at all, she hasn’t had a cough at all. Nothing to indicate she had COVID-19.

    127 youth and more than 500 staff to be tested.

    No-one knows where she picked the virus up, which is unnerving.

    The article also reports 13,000 turned back at the border since March. I think the policy has around 78% support in Qld.

    Alan Joyce is right, though. Policy in Australia on borders is a mess.

    Then there is the curious case of the woman who came from Japan, quarantined in Sydney, looked after her dad for a couple of weeks in Brisbane, returned to Japan and then tested positive.

  43. Jumpy: I am not necessarily against closed borders as such but am critical of some of the details like the ones that are making life more difficult than they need to be in the area where I live.
    Logical quarantine borders are often in locations that are not in the logical place on the grounds of geological and hotspot boundaries.
    A few general comments:
    1. “The decision announced on Monday marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been shut in 100 years. Officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.”
    Couldn’t find anything about closures between NSW and Qld. What this means is that business and personal decisions in the Qld/NSW border area have been made on the assumption that the border will stay open.
    2. Anyone Who lives a bit north of Coffs Harbour will be closer to Brisbane than Sydney. Means a lot of decisions made by people who live closer to Brisbane assume that the border will remain open.
    2. It is better if borders run through areas without many people.
    This minimizes the number of people who have to frequently have to cross the border (For example if you look at the Pacific highway between the Border there are long stretches without many people between Woodburn and Iluka and Grafton and Woolgoolga.
    3. The border bubbles are a good idea but they need to be big enough to cover most of the people who will frequently cross the border.
    4. Border bubbles would be better with a buffer zone further south. (Needed if people in the bubble lose their rights if they go outside the zone.)
    I am not fan of elimination as a primary goal. NZ is busy demonstrating that “successful elimination” can be pretty fragile and result in successive hammer blows to people’s lives.

  44. Zoot, then what is the point of a fucking vaccine if herd immunity is not the aim ?

    Perhaps Dr Sara and yourself can wiggle your noses ( bewitched style) and unhappen viruses.

  45. John, I didn’t want the borders shut in the first place, remember?

    The vast majority of deaths are in old folks homes that I said should be protected as a number One priority first and foremost.
    But governments are wasting resources, effort and time on somehow trying to stop young people from getting immunity.

    And when I say young people, I’m talking under 50.
    Not sure what the >50 to <50 ratio is but it’s closer to herd immunity than %50 I’m guessing.

  46. Zoot, then what is the point of a fucking vaccine if herd immunity is not the aim ?

    You either didn’t read or didn’t understand the link.

  47. The bit Jumpy missed from the linked article:

    “Herd immunity is a concept which only applies to vaccine preventable diseases as a measure of program efficacy.
    It does not apply to the situation that we are currently in vis a vis COVID-19
    We do not have enough follow up on the virus to be anything other than extremely cautious”.

    My apologies for not being 110% pedantic with my first comment.

  48. Quite correct there, zoot. There is no quick fix to this, and if people don’t take it seriously it is going to drag on for years. Masks, hand sanitizer, distancing, and limiting exposure to unknowners (particularly fast food and restaurants where practices haven’t adapted). If you’re in a pub and can smell booze on someone’s breath, then you are way too close to them.

    Off topic and completely aside, zoot, I was struggling to remember, so seeing your comment reminded me, the name of the

    It came up because we were having some fun talking about this fashion item….

    Which has to be the 100 year celebration of the original Zoot Suit.

    Interesting that there were racial riots called the Zoot Suit Riots which were much of what we are seeing today, and for many of the same reasons.

  49. zoot, I think I fixed your tag.

    John, I agree with your comment above, except I still want to have another go at ‘elimination’, which I think is the wrong word. IMO people should be thinking about ‘control’, but more on that later.

    Unfortunately I came in on the end of Morrison’s briefing after national cabinet. I think they agreed to formulate a code for agriculture, plus a definition of ‘hotspot’, but I don’t know that the states will comply.

    The example they used was Qld declaring Canberra a hotspot when NSW people were leaving from there to get into Qld.

    There were reports on the ABC and from Nine news.

    Unfortunately Peter Dutton weighed in with hob-nailed boots, accusing Palaszczuk of playing politics to which Steven Miles reacted.

    That report does at least flush out what Dr Jeanette Young is worried about. She’s worried about the flow of people from Sydney to northern NSW, and them handballing the virus on to someone crossing the border.

    If this is her worry, I can’t see her changing until NSW gets community transmission under control, which it may well do quite soon.

    There was some change, effective from midnight last night (ie Thursday). I’ll try to look it up tomorrow, but it didn’t sound helpful to me.

  50. Thanks Brian.
    Yes BilB my nym is taken from Zoot Finster, a saxophonist made famous in Downbeat magazine in the late fifties/early sixties. He was the creation of George Crater, a very funny columnist, and named in honour of Zoot Sims, a brilliant jazz saxophonist who must have rocked a Zoot suit at some stage.

  51. I visited a number of engineering businesses this morning in the industrial band that services the fishing fleet in Stellendam. each of these businesses, burly trades guys, all had strategies in place to cope with the virus so they could continue with their business. They had things like tokens to carry into areas where there had to be a limited number of people, and the guys were all watching to make sure the rules were adhered to. It is actually easy to continue working within the rules. That is what Australia has to learn.

  52. There’s a bit of that being done in Victoria, BilB. Out here in the sticks we only have Stage 3. Melbourne metro + nearby shires such as Cardinua, Mirnington have Stage 4.

    Examples locally:
    Man at entrance to large Bunnings store counts customers leaving and halts the arrivals to keep the total below the limit (set by floor area; some aisles closed because no-one could walk past each other and maintain 1.5m separation.

    All shops that allow customers in have a huge sign outside giving max numbers, and hand sanitiser.

    Chemist shop has a sign advising that if you think you can enter without wearing a mask, you’ll need to speak to the Manager (she’s strong).

    Some sit-down meals places allow very small numbers in, but customers must supply their names and phone numbers.

    Many small businesses doing “click and collect” for online orders, that you collect at the entrance and/or doing many more home deliveries than before.

    GP clinics and retirement homes limiting numbers and checking forehead temperature at arrival. Many more phone consultations by GPs.

    Income tax appointment with accountant by phone.

    Centrelink office closed; do it via MyGov website.

    Public Library is closed. Most opp shops are closed. Food supplies in supermarkets are OK. Food Relief opp shop is giving out free bread etc.

    We’ve had since March to sort most of this out.

    ¡Viva la vida!

  53. Cardinia

    (Mirnington eez ze pronirnciation of ze late Inspector Clouseau.)

  54. Mr J

    …..” what is the point of a f**king vaccine…..?”

    Mr J, some things will never have a vaccine.
    F**king, I am told, is one such example.

  55. Chuckle, Ambi. I read that the f**king vaccine trials were abandoned due to the side effects of consistent headaches.

  56. I see further up, Ambi, that you were having some “u” and “i” problems. I’m sure with counselling we can get past it.

    The businesses that have a Covid problem are restaurants. They have to find a way to demonstrate that hey can cook and serve food without passing on the . I don’t know how to go about that, but I am staying clear of food where I can’t see how it is prepared. I am taking on the spy survival advice from the movie Red 2, “if you you didn’t cook it, you don’t eat it”. I’m sure Alexey Navalney will adhere to the advice in future, if he survives.

  57. BilB, I don’t think it’s the food (but what would I know!)

    I heard today about some overseas research which identifies most infections as occurring through unstructured movement inside buildings, such as restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs, and workplaces.

    Restaurants seem to be problematic in the placement of the tables, how close people are at the same table, how long people stay, whether people serving tables wear masks, the lack of ventilation etc etc.

    Certainly I wouldn’t go in one if I could avoid it.

    Hoping to finish new post tonight.

  58. Ambi: “Some (Bunnings) aisles closed because no-one could walk past each other and maintain 1.5m separation.”
    One way, no overtaking aisles would solve that problem. Safe spacing would be helped if everyone used a trolley, or if that is not classy enough for the likes of you, a mini high dray pulled by a 1.5m long Shetland pony.

  59. Ah, John!

    The pony….. (sigh)
    When I were a lad the local ironmonger’s shop was in a tin shed with dirt floors and the ‘air con’ was the two open ends (no walls) for the breeze to blow through. We got our “hard wear” from the ironmonger.

    He weighed out nails by the ounce.
    Not that we needed many: Dad had us lads straightening out old, salvaged nails with a hammer on a red gum stump.

    But he were a kind Dad.
    Not like Mr O’Reilly down the road, who had his boys scraping the rust off old nails.

    Not our Dad. He had us collect the rusty nails so Grannie could make up her rust juice to put around one of the hydrangea to make the flowers turn pink. Waste not, waste not.

    Back at the ironmonger’s shed, he welcomed us nippers in with our Shetlands. He used to collect the pony droppings for the missus’s vege patch.

    “Your Shetland is my Sh*t Land, boys!’ he cheerfully reminded us.

    Aye, we were ‘appy.

  60. Ambi: What about mini high drays? (Preferably narrow track and suitable for angle parking.) We need distracting details in these days of woe.

  61. Well, John.

    The Shetlands were more of a personal vehicle for each lad or lass.

    Drays were in short supply.

  62. Mini high drays? You must be must be talking about these increasingly ubiquitous electric scooters, John.

    Re the one way isle issue generally and the sniffer dogs. They are brilliant ideas in themselves and have application. However, you overestimate human capacity to deal with change on social and individual level. I seem to have problems adapting to not touch my face and that needs a certain level of behavioural change. Where as with large stores, where every square meter has to sell it self, it needs a different level of intervention is required. In a capitalistic free market world, would think said market and capital would have enough sense to be proactive and solve their own problem. There is an overseas airline offering flights which include a COVID test at the cost of the customer. That would be a very good argument to open the airports and flights again. Depending on error rates the dogs may solve the problem quicker, cheaper and in real time. But here in Australia all I hear is in infantile moaning, “are we there yet” from industry and free market mafia. There are so many new opportunities as large scale change will come about. There was an interesting program on RN The Money with Richard Aydes, where in the latter part “how the pandemic will make permanent changes to our economy” gets discussed. Very insightful.

  63. <blockquote But here in Australia all I hear is in infantile moaning, “are we there yet” from industry and free market mafia.
    That may be the result of who you choose to limit your listening to.
    Just saying.

    My experience with these rare creatures is that they’re carrying on regardless.

  64. “”… they’re carrying on regardless.“”

    Yeah like the Government’s COVID Commission manufacturing plan calls for huge public gas subsidies. While our gas is over priced and gas markets are tanking!!! Or Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, tourism and business groups express their growing frustration over blanket state border closures they see as driven by politics not health advice. Or Major Australian Business groups push to open international borders for economic boost (see link below). Proactive, …. provide solutions????

  65. All the things you list are Government faults not free market capitalism.

    As a business runner and employe, we are constantly constrained by Government fiat to give voters what they want.

    Anyway, since when did you flip from open borders to being Nationalist?
    Socialists Nationalist no less.

  66. Yeah yeah like a true IPA drone ““it is the governments fault””. Governments should cut red tape, cut taxes, and carve small businesses out of the Fair Work Act 2009 Blah di blah….
    Being Proactive …. providing solutions to COVID???

    Some idiots still do not understand the implications of a highly virulent pandemic and still dream of “bounce back“, either that or rapture. Hard to take the rabble that calls itself the political right serious with its hotch potch slogans and boutique ideologies with religious or quasie religious foundations, incapable to deal with realities dished up by nature, be that COVID or emissions and pollution eg climate change.

    Reactionaries the lot. “It’s the governments fault” when the whole lot has been engaged in actively dismantle governments, so basically we have now a show that is run by industry based advisors which has sold out to large business lobbying industry to finance electioneering and dismantled the public sectors almost unrecognisably to its former self. But still they want more blood, these nihilistic anarchists. Maybe google up ‘proactive’ and ‘innovation’ because, with or without government intervention, massive economic structural changes are going to take place.

    Btw a small survey of the only physical local independent newspaper would indicate that about two third of the people agree with the closed state borders here in deep north Queensland.

  67. Not sure surprisingly Ootz dodges the question with a nasty screed on things he doesn’t understand.

    I’ll try another angle, before free market Capitalism, how much innovation happened ?

    We all know there were governments for thousands of years everywhere before the 17th century with virtually none.

    What where their comparative innovations and proactivities to pandemics ? They’re still there.

  68. Totally agree Bilb, proactive looking for solutions:

    “”I visited a number of engineering businesses this morning in the industrial band that services the fishing fleet in Stellendam. each of these businesses, burly trades guys, all had strategies in place to cope with the virus so they could continue with their business. They had things like tokens to carry into areas where there had to be a limited number of people, and the guys were all watching to make sure the rules were adhered to. It is actually easy to continue working within the rules. That is what Australia has to learn.””

    Compare that with: “”It’s the governments fault!””

  69. Look, if we could just get back to the basics of high drays for a moment, and not get sidetracked onto a bridge in Amsterdam where the first share trading was organised……

    Perhaps an apology is due to John.
    I’ve been assuming he wrote of “high drays”.

    Perhaps he was (instead) referring to
    *Hide Rays” ??

    The tanning industry here in Victoria was going through hard times. They abolished “the strap” in Primary schools. Barbers stopped sharpening their razors on a leather strap. Chaps wore fewer trouser belts. Ladies wore fewer leather shoes.

    Tanned hide futures plummeted. The volume of hide tanning decreased to a pitiable level.

    But news arrived on a sailing ship from Europe: laboratory investigations by Mr Roentgen and Mrs Curie (Madame to you, Pierre) showed the power of mysterious “Rays”.

    Suddenly the Association of Allied Municipal and Regional Tanning Businesses had a ray of hope, so to speak.

    If a boffin or two at the Collingwood Young Men’s Technical College could only develop
    *Hide Rays*
    there might be a future for our glorious State and its beasts of burden.

    I haven’t kept up with the news, as I’m still trying to fathom what that nice Mr Democritus means by an “atom”. But there must be something in it, ‘cos you can’t see hide nor hair of Mr Bent, MP. They say he’s speculating on Tanneries.

    They tanned his hide when he died, Clyde,
    And that’s it hangin’ on the fence!

  70. Ootz, as I saw your comment I was reading article James Boyce’s article Julian of Norwich in The Monthly, which is a cracker article if you can get past the pay-wall. It asks:

      Might challenges to neoliberal orthodoxies emerge from the pandemic, as challenges to Christian faith did after the Black Death?

    Julian was in fact the first woman to write a book in English. He says she was 6 years old when the first wave of the Black Death knocked of half of the population when it came to Norwich in early 1349. Then

      it returned in 1362 (along with a storm so fierce it blew down the cathedral spire), and again in 1369 (when it was accompanied by a deadly cattle disease and harvest failure).

    She had a near death experience in 1373 when she had 16 visions. She couldn’t read French, the language of the elite, or Latin used by the educated class, so learnt to write the language of the people while becoming an ‘anchoress’ or a female anchorite.

    Boyce says:

      The mediaeval worldview did not collapse because of the Black Death. But the failure of the old religion to explain or console created the space in which an ordinary woman in Norwich wrote a subversive book, in the vernacular tongue, that challenged the orthodoxy on which the power of Church and State relied.

    Now, the few practice Christianity in Australia and Europe, but:

      In recent decades, however, a new faith has emerged. The market has come to have many characteristics formerly reserved for the deity: it punishes and rewards individuals, organisations and communities, and requires that citizens and governments trust it as an ultimately beneficial power, despite the suffering and sacrifice that must be implemented in its name. Conveying existential fear as effectively as the mediaeval Church, neoliberal economic preachers warn people to build up their earthly hoard lest in their hour of need they must rely on an unreliable, discredited and ever-shrinking state.

    Things will change probably quite radically from COVID and we should listen carefully, because the most prophetic voices may come from the margins.

  71. The free market doesn’t force or punish anyone, the hint is in the first part of its name. Although it does benefit everyone.

    But please enjoy the masks made by government from government farms and factories for free and keep believing in divine visions.

  72. I’m sure Jumpy is aching for Australia to follow the lead of the USA and make its health system market based. He must be thrilled at the prospect of paying $10 for an aspirin, or $1,00,0000 for a course of treatment for covid.
    Who wouldn’t be?
    Good find Brian.

  73. The free market doesn’t force or punish anyone, the hint is in the first part of its name.

    Just as the first word in the name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea demonstrates the essential nature of North Korea.

  74. “ free market “ isn’t a misleading label of a lying group ( like antifa ) it’s an economic mechanism, the best thus far by a long shot.

    Covid is with the world forever, we still have chicken pox,the only way to get back to part normalcy is herd immunity.

    But then there are folk that hated the normalcy we had and want the meltdown of everything that feeds them.

  75. Jumpy: Are yes. The free market:
    Free to pay your workers as little as you can.
    Free to create an economy by the rich for the rich.
    Free to be as dishonest as you can be.
    Free to avoid paying your share of taxes.
    Free to get gullible people to endlessly sprout doctrines that favour the rich.
    Free to be evil.
    Even free to be inspired by Trump.
    I could rabbit on for ages without having to repeat myself.
    PS: Thanks for the freely given opportunity to get all those true truths out of my system.

  76. What John D said.

    It’s no longer a simple binary between bosses and workers. It’s more complex than that.

    References to North Korea and Venezuela are boring.

    Jumpy, you need to buy and read Jeremy Gilbert’s Twentieth century socialism review here.

    It will be the best $20 you ever spent.

    BTW, the purpose of a review is, in part (usually), to show that the reviewer is smarter than the author. So I don’t believe the criticisms towards the end of the review are valid.

    But then I don’t quite agree with Gilbert, but that is another story.

  77. Brian, I may even read that when business slows down a bit, it’s overcooked here at the moment.

    I remember you referring to Marx, that was said to have said socialism is a stepping stone to Communism.
    I think he is correct and am against that given it’s demonstrated natural ends.

  78. If I am hearing you correctly Jumpy, mothers caring for babies, ie social engagement at its most fundamental level, will lead to communism and you are against that. So babies should be cast out to care for themselves and not be lazy hangers on and a drain on your tax dollars?

  79. I may even read that when business slows down a bit, it’s overcooked here at the moment.

    So business is booming even though we refuse to sacrifice the elderly and vulnerable? Perhaps this is what living with Covid-19 looks like.
    You should convey your experiences to Andrew Bolt and the rest of the grifters at Sky News and News Corpse. They seem to think the sky is falling.

  80. I find that mothers and babies comment puzzling, BilB.

    Back in the 60s and 70s, many of the staunchest anti-communists used to say that one of the features they most despised in the USSR and the PRC, was the State displacing mothers and families from child-rearing.

    Soulless creches.
    Tiny tots snatched from their mothers’ arms to be indoctrinated.
    Nanny State writ large and paternalistic.

    [These days, it seems to me there’s more out-of-home care of the very young in Australia, than hitherto, under capitalism.]


  81. The problem there, Ambi, is that Communism is not Socialism, just as “community” is not Communism. Communism is a command and control structure that uses the idea of socialism as feed stock for the parasitic extraction of wealth for the benefit of an elite.
    Monopolistic Capitalism is the same sort of greed driven Command and control device which uses a divide and conquer methodology to suppress dissent. This is the current US status. Capitalism itself is a healthy mechanism that enables community.

    I don’t know enough about the politics that led to the Stolen Generation, but I suspect that it was an over paternalistic, ie low empathy anti social, phase that made that possible.

    My point to the absolutes of Jumpistic thinking is that it is a self servingly simplistic distraction, blinkered to the rich social reality of life, concocted purely out of greed to avoid paying a share for the maintenance of the community that sustains us all.

  82. Despite BilBs nasty inference he does reveal not knowing the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomic and cant seperate the two.

    I would venture to say that socialist economics is micro and in the home and a good thing. Free market Capitalist economics is best for Macro.
    The difference is who owns the environment in which the mechanism is applied.

    I do hope some actual thought is used before BilB or zoot reply to this rather than lazy thoughtless jibes.

  83. Jumpy, you really should read all of the words. You should have noticed I referred to …….Monopolistic….. Capitalism. Where a small number of people, 0.01% of Americans in the case of the US, own most of the “Capital” you no longer have a “Free Market”.

    Monopolistic command of information is a further corruption
    that diminishes the ability for a “free Market” to operate.

    Who owns environments is another subject all together.

    Lazy thoughtless jibes are your speciality.

  84. Bilb: “I don’t know enough about the politics that led to the Stolen Generation, but I suspect that it was an over paternalistic, ie low empathy anti social, phase that made that possible.”
    The stolen generation was mainly of mixed descent. As you say part of it was “I suspect that it was an over paternalistic, ie low empathy anti social, phase that made that possible.” Part of it seemed to be about “doing the right thing” for the children of European fathers. Part of it may have been based on the way part Aboriginal children were treated. In Warindilyagwa custom the moiety of a child was the moiety of the father. Bit of a problem given that moiety determines critical things like who you could marry.
    My wife helped some Aboriginal women make skirts for some girls to wear in a dance festival. Each moiety had a different coloured dress. The women had no hesitation re what coloured dress should be made for my daughter’s dolls but it took a long meeting to decide what colour dress should be made for a mixed race daughter of one of the women.
    We knew a number of people who had been taken away from their mother’s on the mainland to be brought up by missionaries on Groote Eylandt. They seemed to be OK. One was on a federal government women’s committee and another went on to be the chairman of the Northern Land Council. Another who seemed OK once saved our kids from a stalking crocodile.

  85. Thanks JohnD. Yes I know nothing of the time, and cannot draw opinions. My base position is to assume that one of the oldest continuous societies on earth has the right to determine their own future, more or less, and any opinion of mine will be based on ignorance.

    Stalking Crocodiles. Nightmare material. I imagine you were extremely grateful.

  86. John, I think a big thought behind the ‘Stolen Generation’ is the the full-blood Aborigines were not capable of adapting to the modern world, and would die out.

    The Wikipedia article on Stolen Generations says it was about the lack of viability of tribal society, but one would think there was Eugenics in it, ie, the Aborigines were not seen as genetically fit for the modern world.

  87. Bilb: “My base position is to assume that one of the oldest continuous societies on earth has the right to determine their own future, more or less, and any opinion of mine will be based on ignorance.”
    I have said in the past that what I wanted for Aborigines is “for them, both as communities and individuals to be in a position where they had a choice about what they wanted to do.” However, I understand the contradictions in this statement.
    If someone is to have the choice to be a doctor the time taken and the effect of the education on their way of thinking will make it hard to for them to retain the choice of staying in the society of their parents.
    I also understand that Aboriginal societies were not static before Makassans and Europeans arrived. Their stories talk about things like the men stealing or receiving the magic from the women and individuals moving along songlines teaching people different ceremonies and ways of doing things.
    Me, I might be a bit romantic at times about the Scottish clan society my ancestors left to come to Australia. However, I am rather glad that I don’t live the life of a Scottish cattle stealer who indulged from time to time in Scottish clan massacres. Perhaps what I would say now is that Aborigines should have more choices than staying where they are or becoming part of mainstream Australia.

  88. Brian, 24th Aug at 11.14pm.

    There was a book “Imagined Destinies: Aboriginal Australians and the Doomed Race Theory, 1880 – 1939” by Russell McGregor, on that topic Brian.

    1997, Melbourne University Press.
    ISBN 0-522-84762-5

    From the cover blurb:
    White Australians once confidently – if regretfully – believed that the Aboriginals were doomed to extinction. Even in the 1950s, many Australian children were still being taught that the Australian Aborigines were a dying race …[…]

    … white perceptions of Australia’s indigenous people and their future were shaped by Enlightenment ideas about progress, Darwin’s new theories on the survival of the fittest, and other European philosophical concepts

  89. Auber Octavius Neville, Western Australia’s Protector of Aborigines addressed a conference in 1937:

    Are we going to have a population of 1 million blacks in the Commonwealth, or are we going to merge them into our white community and eventually forget that there were any Aborigines in Australia?

    I don’t see how that can be construed as anything other than eugenics.

  90. Zoot: “Are we going to have a population of 1 million blacks in the Commonwealth, or are we going to merge them into our white community and eventually forget that there were any Aborigines in Australia?”
    Then we have another view that wants “Aborigines to stay as they are like “exhibits in a zoo” living in a way that we would not be willing to live because we find that interesting.” (We found the opportunity to experience contact with fairly traditional Aboriginal culture fascinating for what it was and the light it shone on our cultural assumptions. But we recognized that traditional Aborigines have different aspirations than we do and value things like the support that comes from an obligation based society.
    One should also say that we are all very different from what our ancestors were when Captain Cook came to Botany Bay.

  91. Somehow I have come into possession of a booklet “The Skills of Our Aborigines” which was prepared by the Commonwealth Government “in connexion with the celebration of National Aborigines’ Day in Australia, 8th July, 1960”.
    It describes the policy of the day (Assimilation) thus:

    The Commonwealth Government (directly responsible only for the aborigines in the Northern Territory) and State Governments (each responsible for the aborigines within its own borders) are attacking the aboriginal problem constructively and vigorously, with mounting expenditure and effort on aboriginal welfare and development.
    These Governments now agree that the problem, in its simplest form, is that of assimilation. They agree that the numerically small aboriginal group within the vastly larger white Australian group must, to survive and prosper, learn to live as white Australians do. The problem is not a racial one – it is a social problem, a problem of enabling people to live together on equal terms and in the same society with benefit to themselves and to each other.

    Apart from the paternalism dripping from it I have difficulty with its insistence that a “social problem” can be defined in racial terms.
    Thankfully, times have changed.

  92. Would it be correct to say about the Neville quote, zoot, that it advocates eugenics only if he assumed or believes that the whites (on average) were superior to the average Abotiginals?

    Did he?

    As to the 1960 booklet, yes: very.patronising. It’s interesting that it assumes there is an “Aboriginal problem” without spelling out what that problem might be. Is it assumed that all readers will know what “problem” exists?

  93. I was heavily involved in developing Aboriginal policy for ABSCHOL/NUAUS, (the Australian students union) in 1964. Can’t remember the details but at that stage “assimilation” was considered a big advance on previous policies that ranged from “let them die gracefully” to much nastier policies than that. I guess in retrospect, ABSCHOL, which raised money to send Aborigines to University could have been described as top down assimilation organization that got some Aborigines through university before government scholarship schemes took over.
    Round about that time people started talking about “integration.” A new policy that was about integrating communities with the broader population rather than assimilating individuals. At the time I saw it as a more effective path to assimilation rather than some sort of apartheid . Over time “integration” morphed into something that was more supportive of the idea that communities and Aboriginal culture were not going to go away and didn’t have to get lost in the broader multicultural community.
    The future who knows. There are certainly still communities where a lot of what they do is driven by traditional culture or developments of that culture. There a some communities that still function as communities with some links to traditional culture, particularly obligation.
    However, many individuals are simply merging into the broad society with their historical links to Aboriginal society having much the same importance of my weakening links to my Scottishness.

  94. Back in 2014 as we drove down to Mt Dare from Alice Springs via the eastern off-highway route there was a sign to an Aboriginal settlement, I think population 300 and something, with a sign saying we couldn’t go there without a permit.

    There was a roadhouse, where we stopped for a revival. At another table was a black man and a white man. They were talking about the difficulty in generating employment in the community. ‘Employment’ isn’t a concept that would not have been there prior to 1788.

    In the 70s and 80s in the Ed Dept we were told that there were four categories of Aborigines, from still fully tribalised, to fully integrated. There are also cultural differences between Aboriginal populations.

    Stan Grant has said that what they want is recognition, and he referenced it as a philosophical term especially as it was used in the thought of Axel Honneth.

    So I searched and found Social and Political Recognition in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It stretched my brain, but I read it through. I think I’m mostly with Honneth, but I put a tick next to Heidegger and Judith Butler.

    I think what Stan Grant is saying is that Aborigines want other Australians to see them as they are, as they have been and as they are becoming, as persons and groups of value which should be valorised. In recognising their full worth we should value each other’s contribution in constructing the future. I like Heidegger’s:

      characterisation of Being (Dasein) as being-with-others. We are always already alongside others, bound up in relations of mutuality that prevent any strict ontological distinction between self, other and world.

    Just make it being and becoming, which I think he does.

    I think where the difficulty lies is in the European concept of individualism, which underlies liberalism. I heard today two Aboriginal philosophers at QU were pointing out that in terms of all human time and geographical dispersion of homo sapiens the European concept of individualism and liberalism was a narrow and recent divergence.

    Jeremy Gilbert, who I quoted the other day says:

      Human life and creativity are inherently social and collaborative.

    I would say that without others we are nothing. Our life experience is imprinted in our bodies, and especially our faces.

    Another difference is how we relate to the environment. We think we own and dominate the land. They say they are part of country.

    ‘Recognition’ as conceptualised by Honneth is also progressive. We strive for a ‘better’ future, which opens a whole new ball game, which can’t be resolved without thinking of equality and justice.

    What ‘recognition’ is not, is multiculturalism, which presumes ‘othering’ and heads towards identity politics.

    Better leave it there and geh zu Bett.

  95. John, didn’t see your comment, while laboring over mine. All that makes sense, and has the virtues of plain English.

  96. Brian: It is worth noting that that there are many in the world groups like the Jews and the Druze of Lebananon that have survived and evolved as separate cultures over long periods of time.
    We don’t say it (and probably should) but many Aboriginal groups have more choices than staying where they are or being absorbed by the invaders. They have the option of staying in their traditional country, living elsewhere but visiting for special occasions, setting up communities elsewhere or being spread out in the community like the Jews while still retaining a sense of community and meeting form time to time.
    They also have economic choices ranging from things like being camel herding nomads with limited economic links to the mainstream economy or being more like the Jews who are part of the mainstream economy while maintaining some degree of cultural separation.
    It is worth noting that Stan Grant suggests that Aborigines should look at how immigrant groups have become part of the broader community.

  97. John, all of that, but they still want and we owe them recognition of their special place in this country as they have asked in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

    I noticed last year at LEAN (Labor Environment Action Network) meetings there was always a recognition of country statement which recognised the rights of Aboriginal people with two special components.

    Can’t remember the words exactly but there was reference to generations past, present and emerging, plus there was a recognition the rights to country had never been ceded.

    In the long run we need a treaty.

  98. The thing about entrepreneurship is to have confidence in your product

    Here’s an item from Nine newspapers:

    Celebrity publicist Max Markson is under investigation by the health regulator for promoting a “quantum physics” based medical device that he claims prevents the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and stops its advance in infected patients.

    Promotional material for the $1995 “plasma medicine device” claims that it prevented deterioration in the health of infected patients at a hospital in Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the global pandemic – as well as protected passengers during a disastrous cruise ship outbreak.

    The device was registered with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration in 2010 as a “therapeutic air ionizer” with an intended purpose “to reduce the severity and frequency of colds and flu … support and assist in immune system recovery … [and] assists breathing by reducing airborne pathogens and dust.”

    But the TGA has not registered any products as preventive treatments or cures for COVID-19, with the regulator instead staging a recent crackdown on health and wellness businesses making those kinds of claims about the virus. It confirmed this week the matter was under investigation.

    Just to be clear, a “plasma” in physics is a very high temperature ionised gas.

    Ionization, however, occurs in simpler contexts such as: dissolving a salt in water (sodium chloride begets sodium ions and chloride ions); a spark in air; a lightning bolt.

    The surface of the Sun is in a plasma state, at only 5000 Celsius or thereabouts. The gentle ‘solar wind’ that blows from the solar corona past the Earth, is a plasma.

    Bullsh*t is ubiquitous, widely observed on Planet Earth.

    All of us are, fundamentally, governed by “quantum physics” but give the matter little thought, without any consequences; only Schroedinger’s cat need be unsure about itself.

  99. Ambi, I think that “therapeutic air ionizer” con was around decades ago.

    Main rule, if Donald Trump says it’s good it’s usually not.

    Dr Nick Coatsworth, Deputy CMO, did the briefing on Friday. He said there were hundreds of ‘cures’ being worked on. Most likely none will be 100% effective, but if better than placebo may be worth a go.

    It would take years to get registration under the TGA.

    He said that there was an international system of sharing information about early indications from trials that look promising and are considered safe. In Oz it’s disseminated through a database created in Melbourne through a significant amount of volunteer medical labour.

    Your GP will have access at the click of a mouse if they are at all competent.

  100. Zoot, I think the worry even with a vaccine is that coronaviruses change all the time, and a long-lasting vaccine is unlikely.

    How long? They don’t know, but I think the flu jab is only 50% for a few months.

  101. Yes Brian

    Some GPs say it may be worthwhile to get a second flu jab this winter* because you would not want to have seasonal flu with COVID19.

    And the flu vaccine is re-made every year to you account for (the most common of) the most recent Northern Hemisphere strains.

    Back in March, some epidemiologists said new strains of COVID were bound to be appear. I think the gene sequencing work distinguishes between subtly different strains.


    *winter is what we Victorians call “a season”; see also ‘snow’, 0 °C, Antarctica etc.

  102. No one on this blog has claimed that every vaccine is 100% safe.

    An example of the trade-off you speak of: in the 1960s and 1970s we had compulsory chest X-rays intended to find cases of TB, to treat the sufferer and do contact tracing.

    Eventually there was so little TB around, that we reached the point where the (miniscule) harm likely from X-ray exposure exceeded the harm caused by TB infection. So the chest X-ray programme ceased.

    Public health specialists are very well aware of the trade-off you refer to.

  103. No one on this blog has claimed that every vaccine is 100% safe.

    Certainly not me.
    The most important person in my life (after immediate family) was a nursing sister who was vaccinated against polio in 1953. Instead of immunity the vaccine gave her the disease and she spent the next 40 years paralysed below the waist. Luckily for me she became a first class psychologist and for the final 15 years or so of her life my mentor.

  104. A remarkable person, zoot.

    It’s easy to forget how many people, only a generation or two ago, were affected severely by polio, or tuberculosis, or indeed malaria.

    In my extended family there were instances of each.

    Anti-vaxxers really are a herd apart. Most medicos wish they were neither seen nor herd. Their free speech is very much akin to the freedom to yell “Fire” in a crowded cinems, as the cliche tells us.

  105. Mr A

    No one on this blog has claimed that every vaccine is 100% safe.

    No one claimed they did, did they ?

  106. Antivaxers get a free ride as long as enough others get vaccinated to produce the herd immunity required protect them. If there is no herd immunity a logical, selfish individualist might make a vaccination decision on the basis of the risk of vaccination vs risk of not being vaccinated.
    Keep in mind that herd immunity is not a All vs Nothing proposition. Risk to the un-vaccinated drops the more vaccinated people there are.
    Also keep in mind that full herd immunity is achieved when the point is reached where the number of people infected per infected person drops below 1.0.

  107. Infer?

    That’s Victorians trying to keep warm when the winds blow from Antarctica.


  108. Jumpy: “Only 6% of deaths attributed to China virus were heathy, the other 94% already sick.”
    I found it a bit hard to determine from your link how important the contributing factors were in the deaths. For example, we know that diabetes makes people more vulnerable and extreme diabetes can kill in its own right but my interpretation was that the primary cause of death was the virus with diabetes a contributing factor.
    According to the report, “only 6% of the COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. list COVID-19 as the only cause of death. 94% of COVID-19 deaths involved at least one other underlying health condition, and on average involved “2.6 additional conditions or causes of death.” My reading was thatthe virus
    Then again I may just be another old man in denial with a number of conditions listed and a touching belief in physical fitness as a cure-all,

  109. In the end the doctor has to write something on the death certificate, it can be a judgement call.

    Certainly most deaths in Australia have been older people. However, as that lawyer man said, we haven’t been protecting our oldies all that well, and our proportion from aged care homes is way above the odds.

    My second point is that a death is a death, and I don’t think people take too kindly to Gigi Foster’s approach where she gets stuck into authorities for:

      using full value-of-a-statistical-life (VSL) numbers, rather than age-adjusted VSL or quality-adjusted life years, when valuing lives lost to COVID-19 (which are predominantly the lives of older people with a few years, not an entire life, left to live).

    We are talking about deaths, and we only get one of those, and that’s final!

    I totally get Foster’s point about the cost of lockdowns, but I think we’ve sorted on this blog that lockdowns are a sign of policy and strategy failure.

    Finally, there are effects other than death. The Health Report had an interesting segment on losing your sense of smell .

    Apparently it happens to around 80% of cases, even if that is your only symptom.

    When your sense of smell goes it is because neurones actually die. Your sense of smell therefore needs replacement neurones to regrow. Such regrowth may not be complete.

    A sense of smell is not trivial, can be associated with anxiety and depression. There are many other organs affected.

  110. Brian,

    I question Gigi’s suggestion that there is such a thing as “age-adjusted VSL”.

    To the person living the actual life, and to her loving family and loving partner (if she has such) and to her closest friends (if she has such) her life cannot be “age-adjusted”.

    To a professional economist who harbours such concepts, I say: “Begone, you cold and calculating boor!”

    Let the actuaries and insurance companies and workers’ compensation lawyers and such, scuttle about and do their calculations.

    This is a life, a human life.
    Omnia vincit amor Love conquers all.

    A human life is unique. It’s not for an outsider to that life, to put a ‘value’ on it. What would they bl**dy know??? Even those oldies with dementia have passages of clarity. Yes, we all die: that’s a given. Yes, euthanasia should be available.

    But if an economist oversteps the mark, she errs.

    A mathematical model is only a model.
    It can indicate; it must not remove empathy and devotion.

    Albert Schweitzer will now walk amongst the congregation with the collection plate to collect small coins. No metal washers please – the parish has enough, this year.

  111. I would argue that the economists are sorely mistaken in equating the price of any life (which they can calculate) with its value, which can’t be determined in dollar terms.

  112. Yes, zoot.

    Wasn’t economics for a while called “the dismal science”?

    How on earth would it have earned that reputation??

  113. It seems Thomas Carlyle coined the name, possibly because that other Thomas (Malthus), chief inventor of Mathematical Pessimism, was such a boring and dismal worrier.

  114. If somebody with tertiary syphilis has their life shortened because they contract bubonic plague I would submit that the cause of death is the plague.
    In my understanding this is how doctors generally approach certifying cause of death.
    For example my father’s death certificate states as cause of death:

    Adenocarcinoma prostate with extensive metastasis (4 months)
    (Contributory Cause) Ischaemic heart disease with acute myocardial infarction, Chronic obstructive airways disease (years)

    (Approximate interval between onset of disease or condition and death is shown in brackets)
    I don’t think anyone can argue that his cause of death was heart disease.

  115. Professor Quiggin has an interesting challenge for our intellectual elite (looking at you Andrew Bolt, Chris Kenny, Adam Creighton). He has done an assessment of the lockdown policy compared to a baseline case: no government-imposed restrictions and no economic policy response.
    His conclusion

    To sum up, the baseline case would involve vastly more death and suffering for no economic benefit to the community.

    And his challenge

    So, here’s an invitation to any lockdown opponents. Feel free to challenge these numbers. Or, propose a policy alternative that you are willing to defend.

    Anybody around here ready to take him up?

  116. Zoot, I think Quiggin’s piece is fair enough as a rough guide.

    People seem to forget how in Italy and NY the hospitals choked up, the mortuaries were full, let alone Brazil, India and elsewhere.

    It’s timely because Tony Abbott has been ranting about “health dictatorships” saying we just have to live with the virus, even though that means dying for some.

    Here’s Tony in full compassion mode:

      “In this climate of fear it was hard for governments to ask ‘how much is a life worth?’ because every life is precious, and every death is sad, but that has never stopped families sometimes electing to make elderly relatives as comfortable as possible while nature takes its course.”

  117. Past Australian Health minister “Tony Abbott urges against coronavirus restrictions, argues ‘uncomfortable questions’ need to be asked.
    Tony is a man who fought against euthanasia. Forcing people to keep living when they had decided that they have had enough. Now he is arguing for letting people who want to live die because it costs too much.
    Tony is the man who inspired me to become an active Green.

  118. Quiggin again successfully bashes a stawman of his own making.

    No one argues governments do nothing at all.

  119. …….. (Quiggin)..” Or, propose a policy alternative that you are willing to defend.”

    So,…Jumpy,…Your alternative proposal is…..?
    Else you are just a huffin, puffin bad breathed windbag!

  120. I would suggest that this is not the appropriate forum in which to debate Professor Quiggin, particularly since he has requested input on his own blog.
    BTW when I checked there were already 38 comments with very few actually accepting Quiggin’s challenge.

  121. Thanks BilB

    And may I mention that engineer John, our fellow correspondent, has been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission on this blog, for months?

    Even going so far as to suggest some kind of UV irradiation lamps being installed inside ventilation ducts in buildings.

    Many of us read it first here on CP.
    Hats off to John and Brian.

  122. I agree, Ambi. We have been over this ground a number of times. The problem is that there are those who want to create another “reality” but with rhetoric rather than altered behaviour or restructured environment. One of the biggest problems is that it is hard to be young and careful. Those who are advocating herd immunity don’t appreciate that for a virus to survive it needs a reservoir of bodies to carry it around, and it seems for this virus in the human species is the young, and in the animal population where life takes just one year to grow to self sustenance it becomes a simple numbers game. But in the human population where the young require family support for a minimum 16 years the virus reservoir has the very real probability of being orphaned sometime in that period as the opportunity to become infected increases over time with repeated exposure and as the virus mutates.

    Nature has finally found a way to cull the plague of humanity, and our biggest vulnerability is in being too smart, too self opinionated and too determined to be free of the considerations of others (personal externalities).

  123. I would also return to my original argument: clearly the economy as it stands can’t deal with a pandemic. Logic suggests we need to change the economy so it can survive shocks like this. Given our gross neglect of the planet they are going to arrive even more frequently in future.
    As a first step I would suggest discarding GDP as a measure of the economy’s health.

  124. Again, no one is advocating governments do absolutely nothing.

    I’ve stated various approaches in dribs and drabs to nothing but derision. That said, if I thought anyone would take seriously, without instant knee jerk opposition, what I think would be the optimal path forward then I’ll take the time when I have it.

    Until then, stay as nasty and blinkered as always BilB.

  125. Zoot,

    As a first step I would suggest discarding GDP as a measure of the economy’s health.

    Heartily agree.
    But it can’t be GINI either, inequality is not a measure of the economy’s health either.

    I’ve been ask for an alternative in the past and the answer is unfortunately the same, I don’t know of one even remotely accurate.

  126. I agree with zoot and Jumpy that GDP is a poor index.

    (BTW, not all that happy with CPI but that’s a different story.)

    Jumpy: you have repeatedly said that the main focus should have been to shore up the infection defences of aged care facilities (I would include there nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and retirement villages). What measures weren’t taken that should have been?

    For example, should nursing-home staff have been prohibited from working at more than one facility, from March onwards?

    Once again, I apologise to the rest of youse for our incompetent ‘hotel “”Quarantine”” ‘ in Victoria.

    BilB: I like your “it is hard to be young and careful”

  127. Again, no one is advocating governments do absolutely nothing.

    I disagree, and I referred to the main offenders in my first comment on this subject. I would also include people who advocated we follow the Swedish model.
    But that is not Quiggin’s point, he is saying that is a baseline to compare with lockdowns. His challenge is for opponents of lockdowns to state (on his thread) what level of govt action they would support. So far he seems to be getting mainly a lot of arm waving and very little real response.

  128. Jumpy, thanks for the ebola link. That’s what we need in a world distracted by the new coronavirus.

    Zoot, I can’t post on Quiggin’s blog, because the WP software there has me as a troll, so I’m limited to commenting here.

    As you say, zoot, he is addressing the anti-lockdown argument. Hi conclusion is that no government action “would involve vastly more death and suffering for no economic benefit to the community.”

    Elsewhere in a post Whataboutery and the pandemic he says that the ultimate policy aim, in whatever arena, be it road deaths, smoking or whatever, is to achieve zero deaths. It then amounts to a question of what needs to be done the means available, and how much priority you give it.

    Jumpy might tell us what he thinks governments should be doing and not doing now.

  129. BilB, that was a decent roundup on masks. It mentioned the Chu article in the Lancet that I referenced in Covid 19: the importance of face masks. I think the Nature article does not reflect how comprehensive their study was.

    In that post prof Raina McIntyre tells that masks have long been problematic in health policy. When Norman Swan asked:

      MacIntyre said that the issue of masks had been problematic for over a decade, and subject to what she called “politics”. When asked by Norman Swan what she meant by that, she said:

      The debate and discussion around the use of masks is not driven by evidence, it’s driven by other issues, ideology and beliefs and issues that have not got anything to do with the scientific evidence, that’s all I can say.

    I also said back then we simply don’t know how big the viral load has to be to cause infection. So while aerosols are definitely a problem, we don’t know how much. I think that is still true.

  130. Brian: “I also said back then we simply don’t know how big the viral load has to be to cause infection. So while aerosols are definitely a problem, we don’t know how much. I think that is still true.”
    Suspect that the answer is that chance of being infected increases with loading from a very low starting point.
    We also need to accept that social distancing is a crude approach that doesn’t take account of air flow direction and speed. For example, if the air flow is from the Nth I have nothing to fear from a person who is south, east and west of me. High air speeds will reduce virus concentrations but maybe reach people who are further away.
    Social distancing is difficult to maintain when people are moving around. One of the reasons I wear a mask in the supermarket and go after dinner to avoid the crowds. I also hold my breath when passing close to people.
    Qantas claims planes are fairly safe. The air flows from above towards the feet and a substantial part of the circulating air is treated for pathogens. Maybe restaurants and governments should take notice.

  131. This link includes factors that increase/decrease number of cases.
    We found positive correlations (active case numbers increased along with these factors) for:


    population growth rate from 2011 to 2016

    persons per dwelling

    unemployment rate

    adult smokers

    fair or poor health.

    We found negative correlations (active numbers fell) for:

    English-only is spoken at home

    population aged 80 or over

    socioeconomic status, as shown by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ SEIFA Index.

    Read more: Your local train station can predict health and death

    Portrait of elderly couple at home
    The correlation between areas with many people over the age of 80 and low rates of COVID-19 suggests those living at home took care to protect themselves. Lopolo/Shutterstock
    Four variables explained 63.9% of the variance in active case numbers by LGA as at August 14. Factors such as the unemployment rate, SEIFA Index and fair/poor health dropped out, as these were significantly correlated with other retained variables.

    The four retained variables were:

    resident population – a larger LGA population is associated with more active case numbers

    percentage speaking English-only at home – a lower proportion is associated with more active cases, emphasising the importance of language-appropriate COVID messaging

    percentage of the population aged 80 and over – a larger proportion is associated with fewer active cases, suggesting good risk awareness in this vulnerable age group (although the impacts in many aged care homes have been shocking)

    percentage of smokers – a higher rate is associated with larger active case numbers, perhaps suggesting respiratory vulnerability and/or lower risk awareness of this group.

  132. That is a good summation there, JohnD.

    The understanding of risk factors is a developing picture. Here is more recent information from autopsies….
    …and this gives perspective on some of those past government decisions such as the soft drink sugar tax. Government encouraged obesity now becomes an extended pandemic risk factor. What becomes round, goes round (or flat).

  133. And that obesity risk factor for this pandemic, Brian…… No-one can say, “why pick on obesity? The pandemic couldn’t be foreseen!” …… because, in fact, public health ladies had been warning for many years that obesity in Australia is a risk factor for
    Heart disease
    Decreasing fitness
    etc etc

    As I understand it, those risks were some of the already existing reasons for attempting a sugary drinks tax, even before the WuFlu arrived .

  134. Apologies BilB

    You it was who raised obesity in u our recent comment.

    “What becomes round goes round”

  135. “Australia can push to zero COVID-19 cases with ‘smarter’ and ‘longer’ restrictions, former health chief says.”
    Worth a read but my problem is that our governments seemed to be locked into a limited number of strategies and seem to love lockdowns since they are so macho and hint of “strong government.” (Who could object to strong government in a crisis like this one?)
    My take still is that we need more strategies running in parallel to drive the infection down faster. In particular we need more strategies that cause less collateral damage than brute force strategies such as lockdowns and border closures. (The graph in the article says “N” has been below 1.0 since Aug 9 and is currently 0.95) Can’t say that Morrison and Andrews look like they are the ones to do this.

  136. More data, from a comment on the good professor’s blog.

    Contrary to the idea of a trade-off, we see that countries which suffered the most severe economic downturns – like Peru, Spain and the UK – are generally among the countries with the highest COVID-19 death rate.

    Off topic, but how on earth did Brian get tagged as a troll?

  137. My comment was, Ambi, that the government(s) protected the sugar industry ……. corporate deep state digression ahead…

    The fact is that the sugar industry tried desperately to increase the mandated ethanol content above 2% and this was fought tooth and nail by the oil industry (I believe, but it is hard to figure out what the real history here is). The sugar industry can make far more from ethanol production than it does from fattening Australians, and yet they seem to have been beaten into submission with 68% of our ethanol being produced from grain starch and just 40 Ml produced from cane starch. And you get of the mark futurists such as
    Saying the biofuel future is sketchy. WTF. When I researched this back in 2007 the industry was saying that they could produce 9000 litres of ethanol per hectare and Australia had some 400,000 suitable hectares for such production. My crude maths says that is some 3.6 billion litres potential ethanol production. Australia desperately needs to convert to electric vehicles and the ideal vehicle for our wide spaces are hybrids which can be configured to run on E95 fuel. Consider that combination. A vehicle fleet running on as much solar energy as they can get then running on bio ethanol when they can’t. Do the maths. You will see that Australia can go almost completely zero emissions. So what are we doing? Using grain which people can eat to produce ethanol, and forcing sugar, which people shouldn’t eat onto an ever obese population. If you do the research you will see that this trail leads right back to John Bloody Howard who was helping his buddy who had a grain ethanol plant in NSW somewhere by subsidising can farmers to rip out their cane fields. The plan came unstuck in the big noughties drought.
    ………. has been pushing sugar on the public despite all knowledge scientific, health professional, and common sense, purely for corporate interests. And now that fattened public is primed for a cull by a pandemic. “Gosh who could have seen that coming so we are not responsible!”

    • how on earth did Brian get tagged as a troll?

    zoot, it’s just a quirk of the software. I recall it happening to one poor bloke at LP. I used to fish his comments out of the spam bucket, but in that environment he could never be part of a conversation.

    It welcomes me but if I write a comment it doesn’t appear.

    I emailed Quiggin about it, and he said he couldn’t see a way of fixing it. There was no way of telling the software that this character is OK.

  138. Just to reinforce “it aint over until the fat guy is dragged kicking and screaming from the White House”.
    I remember our Mackay correspondent in the early stages of the pandemic making a lot of noise about US States with Democrat leaders having much higher death rates than those with Republican leaders.
    At the time it was an accurate statement, but six months down the track the situation has reversed.

  139. it looks like Trump has taken DailyKos to Kourt as that page doesn’t load, at least not yet.

    and I am with you, zoot, on dragging the fat guy, only he doesn’t need to be screaming or kicking to meet my satisfaction.

    You might see a name change for me from BilB to BilB2. my financial controller several years ago in a cost cutting attempt inadvertenly cancelled the service provider account that BilB was created under and that has become an increasing problem so I’ve created a new and imaginative wordpress name to post under.

  140. Zoot: Your link gave: “Of all 51 states, 24 have Democratic governors. These have a total population of 178.0 million people and recorded 9,865 deaths in August. That is a death rate of 55.4 per million population for the month. Not good.
    The other 27 states with Republican governors have a total population of 150.2 million and recorded 19,629 deaths in August. That is a death rate of 130.7 per million for the month. That is disastrous.
    This difference is highly statistically significant. States with Republican governors have been worse hit by a multiple of nearly 2.4.”
    The current figure for Aus is 27 deaths per million.

  141. Last 31 days, nice cherry. Let’s see at the finish mark.

    There has been a very large exodus from D to R Cities due to the violence and rioting so the contraction of covid and eventual death destination may have inflated some results.

    That said, if you look at overall death per million it’s still Democrat governors 7 to 3 in the top ten.

    Sucked in by Dem media propaganda again zoot, willingly as always.
    I’m thinking the self uppercuts might not be enough.

  142. Some sympathy must be given to Massachusetts for there poor results given their major hot spot is Boston under a Democrat Mayor.

  143. All of that said and as zoot is oft to pull out of his arse when it suits him, correlation is not causation.

    Even though it’s completely obvious.

  144. Hi Mr J

    Do you have any figures for this “very large exodus”??

    I mean it would have to be a GIANT exodus to give rise to this kind of factor:
    worse hit by a multiple of nearly 2.4.
    quoted by John Davidson.

    To shift the numbers that much, this ‘exodus’ of which you write would need to have been much, much larger than that mass movement of Syrian refugees across Europe (mostly hoping for Germany). Remember that?

    Where are the traffic jams? the crowded buses, trains, airliners? Where are the price hikes for renting or buying homes, in the destinations?? Where are the refugee tent cities?

    Surely a news story we would have heard???

  145. Ambi, surely such an exodus would be of oppressed Blacks moving to safe white neighbourhoods? that can only be a good thing for all. Great big melting potwise.

  146. John, there is a saliva test also, and I have heard suggestions that it could possibly be done at home. So far, however, my research indicates it is being sent to a lab, and it is around 87% as accurate as the swab test. So I don’t think it is going to catch on just yet, although further research might change that.

    The big news of the day is that 7 of 8 states and territories are on board Morrison’s bus to open borders by Christmas, which is conveniently quite a long way away. See here and here.

    However, it seems there is no agreed definition of a hotspot just yet, and in one article we have this:

      On Friday night, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took to Twitter saying: “Queensland has not agreed to the Federal Government’s hotpot definition … I agree with WA — our borders protect our health and our economy.”

    As of now all I know is that ScoMo loves making announcements.

  147. BilB, your comment as BilB2 didn’t show, because if you change your nym it automatically goes into moderation.

    Now that I’ve approved that comment all subsequent comments with BilB2 as the nym should be posted, no problem.

    For the record the comment contained this information :

      You might see a name change for me from BilB to BilB2. my financial controller several years ago in a cost cutting attempt inadvertently cancelled the service provider account that BilB was created under and that has become an increasing problem so I’ve created a new and imaginative wordpress name to post under.

    So, in short, BilB2 should work from now on.

  148. Back to ScoMo’s big announcement, today ABC NewsRadio says that what was agreed was that they would work on a developing a concept, except that there is no agreement on what that concept is. My perception is that that lack of agreement is not confined to Queensland. I don’t think Victoria is fully on board, except in spirit.

    One big problem is that if you have a hotspot in the suburbs you are meant to throw a ring around it and contain it. Victoria tried that and it didn’t work.

    Although Morrison says he doesn’t favour any one view, he is in fact lining up with NSW.

    The problem with that is NSW’s approach depends on it’s world class contact tracing system.

    The problem with Qld and Victoria is that they can’t pretend they have a world class system when the don’t. Sure they can try to improve, but excellence is not achieved easily, except perhaps from an arm chair.

    NZ’s approach is predicated on it’s recognition of the limitations of their health system.

  149. I’ve just changed the last sentence of first para to “I don’t think Victoria is fully on board, except in spirit. ”

    That is, they are happy to talk.

    I need to have a closer look at what McLaws said and some of the other ideas running around, before I can get a good handle on it.

    I don’t think Palaszczuk is happy talking, because everyone just accuses her of being political, and no-one wants to listen.

    Part of her problem is that she isn’t the one working on the issues and doesn’t articulate the Qld case very well.

    She says that the criticism is “relentless” and “intimidating”. I think it’s costing her politically, and she knows it, but the criticism is making her dig in until she gets different advice from Jeanette Young and Steven Miles.

    Meanwhile the Qld western bubble has been extended to Moree, which apparently uses Brisbane as a service hub and exports its grain through Brisbane.

  150. This is five comments in a row for me.

    My dearly beloved has just returned negative on a COVID test, taken because she felt a bit crook. So that is the good news.

    Not so happy, it took 25 hours, which is on the slow side.

  151. Good heavens that Jennifer Westacott is top shelf thinker, PM material.
    Brilliant again on insiders.

  152. Not at all Brian.
    She’s a highly intelligent, successful, influential person with terrific and logical solutions.

    Is her being a woman bother you ?

  153. If Jumpy bothered to listen to Dan Andrews media briefing today you would understand how self-interested, narrow and shallow Westacott was being. Gender has nothing to do with it.

  154. Please link to it Mate I’ll have a listen.
    I’m open minded but I can’t be expected to view every premiers media briefing.

  155. Yep, I watched Jennifer again, she nails it.
    Again Brian, what did she say that you had issue with ?

    Andrews is in full bacon saving mode but I’ll have a listen.

  156. The clownish Vic Govt thinks suspending tge Melb property market for another couple of months is a terrific idea.

    This doesn’t only affect buyers and sellers; renters are also affected. Not many golk would want to rent an apartment ir house without first looing through it in person.


    In Vic, Spring is the peak buying and selling season, BTW.

  157. Likely they would want to be looking through a house.

    Looing through it is considered VERY impolite. And when toilet paper is scarce, an utter faux pas .

  158. Jumpy: Sat SMH said that suicide rates had remained unchanged. I think suicide is sometimes about seeing no hope rather than something people expect to be short term.
    However, a surge in failed business suicides may just get hidden in the overall suicide numbers.

  159. John,

    The difficulty with these matters is that many can only be seen clearly with hindsight*. Whereas politicians, bureaucrats, business owners, renters and parents are supposed to face the future with foresight.

    “Funny old game”, life. Eh?

    *In COVID, causes of death are retrospectively being reconsidered in a small proportion of instances.

    * In Australia, quarterly economic statistics (various closely watched numbers) are for the previous quarter.

    John Clark and co-writers had great fun with that in “A Royal Commission into the Australian Economy” (a stage show, years ago).

  160. Here’s a quote:

    Ms Westacott warned that “a long road out” of restrictions could result in ”businesses leaving Victoria.”

    “The Australian”.

    Well, that’s not news.
    Every year, businesses leave Victoria.
    Others open up a branch in Victoria.
    Others start up (from scratch) in Victoria.

    So bl**dy what?

  161. So bloody what ?
    Have you got the guts to replace these business and the employee that result in this climate ?

    Somehow employers are being taken as granted again.
    Me, I wouldn’t dream of starting the gamble today that I did when it looked unlikely but doable.

    There’s a bit of hindsight and foresight for ya.

  162. I was just about to post a comment about Andrews/Westacott when my young son turned up to share a meal with us for Fathers Day.

    Then we watched a bit of the SBS News ‘On Demand’. Seems Westacott and other business leaders p*ssed all over Andrews’ plan, just because it didn’t make the virus go away when they stamped their feet.

    My reading is that if they were in charge, Victoria would be in lockdown with a third wave over Christmas/New Year for sure.

    The virus is not intimidated by people who shout and yell.

    If Andrews plan works, which it should, but nothing can be guaranteed, Victoria would be a very good place to be in 2021.

    Andrews will have demonstrated that the virus can be controlled, at least in Victoria.

    Now I’ll go and finish my comment.

  163. Andrews is planning, carefully and thoroughly, for a safe way out that is sustainable with no back-tracking.

    Westacott is mouthing off, pretending she knows something more than epidemiologists might know, off the top of her head, because she wants things to go faster than they can.

    It’s disrespectful to epidemiologists and meant to make Andrews look bad.

    She’s cherry-picked opening places like OfficeWorks, Bunnings etc because she reckons it’s a good idea, and no-one on the staff has caught the virus. Firstly, she doesn’t know that is true. Secondly, she doesn’t know that other people have not caught the virus there.

    I’ve seen people in OfficeWorks talking into each others faces about a foot apart.

    I’ve seen some workers in Bunnings this Friday wearing masks and others not.

    Andrews is opening things up gradually, but on the best information and science, with the object of not having to back track.

    I heard him on NewsRadio. I believe he was also on ABC News 24. I don’t know whether you can see any of their stuff retrospectively and I cant find a video on the net.

    This ABC Online piece gives a good summary. This one gives more detail on Melbourne.

    I haven’t followed it up, but you could start here on the Vic Gov site.

    What is not said there is that they worked with Monash and the U of New England in what he said was the largest modelling exercise ever undertaken in Australia, and would be of world interest. I think a bloke called Prof Allen Cheng was the one working on it.

    Back in May in a big love-in Minister Hunt called Cheng “a world-leading epidemiologist”. Cheng, it seems, took the Prof McLaws colour-coded model, found his own number of averaging new cases, and all the other information available, came out with 1,000 different scenarios, and then optimised their course of action.

    What they have come up with is pathways to suit Melbourne as a whole, a pathway for the regions, and the possibility of varying to suit the local conditions in a way that would never, could never be done from Canberra.

    A second thing not said in the papers is that Andrews says they have improved their testing contact tracing performance, so that now everything gets done within the magic 48 hours, except for those that point blank refuse, or absent themselves.

    However, coming out of lockdown is different from going in. He says the new cases are still many multiples of what NSW is handling. With their present load, absent the lockdown, they would be quickly overwhelmed.

    Andrews says the approach they settled on was not a 50:50 call. He’s sure as can be it will work. Masks are likely to have an ongoing place, and they may have to specify further a minimum standard.

    Seems business reckons nothing will work unless they were involved in figuring it all out.

    I make no comment on that, but I don’t think it serves them well to join in a chorus and call it a road to nowhere.

  164. Fathers Day by Zoom over here in Victoria.
    You blighters have done very well.

    Jumpy – I meant that she had to be much more specific and cite actual facts to make a case, rather than vague guesses and doomish at that.

    Examples: you may recall predictions of a jump in suicides;
    you no doubt remember predictions of widespread bankruptcies; others foresaw ‘negative interest rates’; many predicted hospital systems overwhelmed…..
    So many predictions…… fell flat.

    I would like Ms Westacott to cite figures.
    That’s not too much to ask.

  165. Ambi: One of the things that didn’t impress me about Andrews was that he was along way into the second wave before he started making masks compulsory. Unlike me he seems to favour a limited number of big strategies rather than a lot of strategies running in parallel.
    The other impression I perhaps unfairly get is that he is in denial about the third wave. I have no objection to his concentration on the current crisis but Vic and Australia need to have teams working on the third wave.
    Working on the third way needs people thinking about:
    Why did the second wave get out of control so quickly?
    What sort of developments might have slowed it down or stopped it getting out of control?
    What other things might be done in parallel to shrink infections faster?
    What other investigations should be done to kill the second wave faster or block the third wave?
    I could rabbit on and on and….

  166. I agree about the masks.

    The Premier seems to have been walking on egg shells. Afraid of upsetting Melburnians?? Hard to tell.

    We’re out in Gippsland but were surprised how LATE mask wearing was widely mandated in Melbourne.

    And that’s just ONE measure, as you say.


  167. John, I thought Andrews acted too slowly going into the second wave.

    Another correction, Prof Allen Cheng comes from AlfredHealth and the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.

    Cheng has been appointed as Victorian Deputy Chief health Officer to work on solutions, separately from the virus suppression operation, but with access to all their information. I gather he does this without resigning his substantive positions.

    However, the modelling is being done with Melbourne Uni and U of NE, not Monash.

    The modelling is based on a paper by prof Tony Blakely et al, not on the McLaws colour coded approach, which came later.

    Hafta go now to another appointment.

  168. My perhaps unfair take is that Andrews is too focused on the day to day and not making sure that the work that needs to be done to do better is being done.
    Vic isn’t being helped by Morrison’s gotcha campaign.
    Morrison is playing politics and not doing much about the longer term either. At least Andrews is fair dinkum trying.

  169. Some critics have described Premier Andrews style as ‘micromanaging’. In your experience on large projects and working with extensive teams, John, is that fair to him?

  170. Alistair: “Some critics have described Premier Andrews style as ‘micromanaging’. ” That is how it comes across to me but in a crisis leaders need to be seen to leave. However, it is OK for people with different talents to do different things.
    However, it is crucial that somebody is making sure that all the things that need to be done can be done. Problem is that Andrews doesn’t appear to be delegating this role.

  171. “….leaders need to be seen to leave…”

    That’s more or less what Scotty did last Summer when NSW had bushfires.

    He left.
    He was not “seen to be leaving” because his office tried to keep his holiday overseas secret.

  172. Ambi: Spell check. Leaders need to be seen to lead. Morrison may have been leading well in Hawaii but it wasn’t seen to be leading. Then, given the way he is leading at the moment and trying to sneak in fossil gas and all sorts nasty things it might be better if he was leading from some place without internet or phone connection.

  173. There are two audios I’d recommend.

    The first is Hilary Harper on Life Matters, talking to Prof Margaret Hellard, who is sympatico to what the Victorians are doing, and Paul Guerra, head of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who is not as rabid as some other industry reps. (Haven’t checked the name spelling.) The interview rocks along to about 13:40, when it goes into questions right up to about 40:00. Quite interesting, but of particular note was Alex, the second caller at 14:50, who is doing research on ‘cognitive thinking bias’. The suggestion is that there is a lot of it about. I would agree with that.

    The second is Patricia Karvelas, talking to Martin Pakula, Victorian Minister for the Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Industry Support and Recovery and then (impossible name) a journo who is political correspondent for The Age.

    You have to listen to the whole program audio.

    Pakula comes on at 3:10 and runs to 15:00. While Dan Andrews is looking after the virus, Pakula seems to be doing quite a good job at looking after shaping Victoria’s future with COVID post the lock-down.

    The journo comes on at around 15:50.

    She says the states are doing what they are meant to do under the constitution – solving the problem in their own way under their own circumstances.

    She thinks Scotty, if he wants to help, should come up with his own alternative, which he hasn’t done.

    There is no doubt that Andrews has gotten business and the feds offside, by telling them what he’s going to do, rather than debating the thing to death first in our great democracy, as caller Alex above would have it.

    I don’t have the answer to that. I could have taken the Vics three weeks or more longer to come up with a plan, and the chance of agreement was slim.

    The basic problem is that Scotty told us back in March that we’d all be back to ‘normal’ at the end of September, and that is how Joshie planned his budget support.

    Scotty thought hotspots and colours was the thing, but what he is finding now is that the states are in very different places. WA have cut themselves adrift. Tasmania, NT, ACT and SA have been pretty much virus free and want to stay that way. Victoria, NSW and Qld would ideally have the same approach and open their borders. It’s just that Victoria fell into a hole, and Qld was virus free for long enough to want to stay that way.

    Meanwhile Gladys, Scotty and company say we should all be as good at living with a bit of virus as NSW is, then we could all have our borders open.

    That is easier said than done, but saying it is what Scotty is really good at.

    I think NSW is a 50:50 bet of staying out of lock-down. Palaszczuk and Andrews want better odds than that.

    Meanwhile I suspect that the Victorian plan is being significantly misrepresented, but to find out I’ll have to try to read it.

  174. NSW is the ‘gold standard’ for COVID-19 management according to the PM — here’s why.
    Worth a read. system. NSW has spent more money on its health system and the systems regional nature means that local knowledge and links help get things done.
    No thanks to Scotty. He cant even spend money on the old age care he is responsible for. (Wonder what the covid stats are for the age care system he is responsible for?)

  175. Brian: “COVID-19 border restrictions see NSW parents call in political help to visit children in Queensland hospitals. ”
    “Some northern NSW families are being turned away from their children in Queensland hospitals
    Queensland hospitals have allowed access to patients after intervention from NSW politicians
    Page MP Kevin Hogan says the need for political intervention proves the system is ‘broken'”
    Just another example of people in Northern NSW being treated appallingly by the Qld Gov.
    Qlanders would be, quite rightly, screaming like stuck pigs if the situation was reversed.

  176. John, as I said on the other thread, I read the official Qld instructions, but they were written by lawyers and I could not understand them well enough to work out what was supposed to happen in particular cases. I would hope setting up a special hotline staffed by competent people would solve the issue.

    I imagine there is a problem of embedded wrong ideas now in hospital staff and systems.

    I can understand why Qld wanted to close the border, but I can’t defend the way they did it.

    The article you linked NSW is the ‘gold standard’ for COVID-19 management according to the PM — here’s why is excellent value, but as Prof McIntyre says, could have been overwhelmed.

  177. That is a good article, JohnD. It kind of makes one proud when things are done competently. A simple mechanism that could be deployed is for every one to have google makes tracing on when they go out. We all carry phones, its easy to turn google maps tracing on. The app can give everyone a weekly report on their movements. Give it a try.

  178. Ambi, my bro recently lost his phone inside his house. I’m told he found where it was with the help of his son, while at his son’s house.

    bilb2 that would be fantastic in contact tracing.

  179. There were 8 new cases of COVID identified in Qld yesterday. All are rellies of either the Wacol training facility or Ipswich Hospital. However, one is a lad attending St Edmunds College.

    All of these infections came originally from the three young women who visited Melbourne when they said they visited Sydney. So we have had by my count six institutions which have either formed clusters or were capable of forming clusters.

    So none of the cases are “mystery” or from unknown community transmission, so Qld is fairly confident the outbreak is ‘controlled’ but only a run of days without new cases will confirm that.


    Good anecdote on the lost phone, Brian.

    Our location app gave the location within a circle of about 15 metres radius. Sadly, that included some outdoor space where a wet, rained-upon phone might have proved tricky.

    When we found the phone (indoors Phew!!) it was at the centre of the circle


  181. Good one, Ambi.

    A couple of days ago, in this comment, I gave the wrong link to the Victorian government site for Andrews’ COVID plan.

    The correct site is here. It’s not hard to follow.

    My apologies for not checking it.

    Having listened to all and sundry unload on Andrews, it seems clear to me that Andrews neglect of community consultation early on has come back to bite him. The problem goes right back to March, where community leaders repeatedly asked for a COVID defense plan for the high rise towers, and his government failed to respond.

    Other than that he is also suffering from shutting out the ruling class, people in business and industry.

    So his MO is basically authoritarian, by making rules and enforcing them.

    Morrison’s performance is also problematic in a major way, and has exacerbated the situation. One of the major shortcomings is that he failed to get agreement on what the endgame should be, whether it is ‘aggressive suppression’ or ‘elimination’ and what that meant exactly.

    Now he’s trying to force the border issue without addressing the underlying issue of diverse endgames in the various states, which simply won’t work. The geographically cognate states of SA, Victoria, NSW and QLD all have different endgames as far as I can see.

    A further issue is how Australia is going to relate to the rest of the world. It is said that we are preventing our own citizens from travelling more than any other country. We are also very tight-fisted about letting our own citizens come home.

    There are 23,000 Australians who want to come home, for example a man in South Africa who has a partner in Oz, plus a baby he has never seen. He has been told that he must present his credentials to a specific Australian office in South Africa which happens to have closed.

    62 couples with babies in the UK who are out of work there have organised a private plane to come home. Problem is, the plane can’t get landing rights in Australia.

    There are now more than 100,000 foreign people who want join there partners in Australia. Morrison in a former role deemed that only 4,000 every year would be approved.

    I’ve decided not to do a separate post on Dan’s plan just now. Possibly later. To do so now would be like jumping into a bog in blogging terms. I need to clarify a few things first.

    There is a real question as to whether Dan’s first step is necessary, but the down-trend has been slow.

    There is a question also whether the final step is possible if too many people simply give up on getting tested.

    There is a question too, I think, whether his COVID normal is too loose.

    Here are a few links:

    Dan’s plan was done on the basis that only 25% of contacts were followed up within 48 hours.

    He reckons they are now up to speed, and has sent a mission to NSW to see what they can learn.

    They have also started to decentralise their effort both in the provinces and in Melbourne.

    They have also initiated sewerage testing which will cover 70% of the population.

    It is a fact that early in June Victoria started to wind down their contact tracing group, because they thought the job was done.

  182. Thanks Brian

    That Tim Colebatch article arguing that most of the industrialised nations would fail the Premier Andrews “test” is a worry.

    As cases decrease, the 7 day average lags behind the latest daily figure.

    Are we meant to reach 5 cases per day? It’s possible to do a rough estimate.

    Let’s suppose Victoria has about 50 now. Need a reduction by a factor of 10.

    Three halvings would be a factor of 8 while four halvings would be a factor of 16. OK, let’s say a factor of 10 represents about 3.2 halvings. If late October is about 48 days away, that means on average ” each halving ” can take about 15 days.

    Rule of 70 tells me the daily percentage drop should average 70/15 = 14/3 or almost 5%.

    So “r” needs to stay well below 0.95

    (The above fails to include the “lag effect” of the seven day moving average.)

    We shall see.
    Tim Colebatch is correct: it’s an elimination strategy .

  183. Ambi, the reason I don’t want to tackle Dan’s plan now is that there are a number of rabbit holes to run up. One is the socalled elimination strategy which, properly considered, is a hairs-breadth away from an aggressive suppression strategy.

    I need to do another post which will look at those concepts and show (I hope) that the key concept is actually control.

    Colebatch is right in pointing out that strictly, Dan’s figures haven’t been met elsewhere, but if you take out overseas returners and look at community acquired, my guess is that Taiwan would look even better. They haven’t had a 7-day average of more than 2 since April 28.

    Should we not ask what we would need to do to emulate their record, rather than praise ourselves for being better than the countries we usually compare ourselves with?

    There does appear to be a relationship between virus performance and economic damage, especially if we allow those other economies into the calculation, like China, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

    My bottom line would be that urbanisation, especially big cities, is a significant factor, along with a few others.

    Where that takes you is that NSW and Victoria are in a different place than states like WA, SA, Tas. Qld is somewhere in between.

    So, yes, he’s right, Dan will probably have to change.

  184. Ambi, I look at cases per million first up. We are 1036.

    Countries we might think about are S Korea 421, Japan 526, Hong Kong 653 and NZ 357.

    Of those S Korea did better than us economically.

    However, that was end of June. We may not look so good by Sept 30.

  185. Thanks again, Brian.

    Your diligence is admirable.

    Correct on the terminology: since ‘elimination’ is (strictly speaking) impossible until the virus evolves into puny shadows of its former self; ‘aggressive suppression’ is a more accurate description of Premier Andrews’ aims.

    {Speculation alert}
    I wouldn’t be surprised, were Mr Andrews to be held in place as Premier/scapegoat by his Govt colleagues, until the ‘quarantine enquiry’ reports back…. Then, after a “decent interval”, removed so that a new Premier has time to prepare for a State election. {/speculation}

    We have family matters to attend to at present, so my internet time is limited. (Another benefit: fewer minutes every day listening to, or watching news programs.)

    Cheerio from the Cart Horse State;
    Clydesdales Rule!!

  186. Ambi, Wikipedia tells me Andrews has a wife and three kids. Although in the modern fashion his birth date is not given, he graduated from university in 1996, so he is relatively young.

    I’ve been thinking for some time that he may stand aside from the premiership after all this settles down, don’t know enough about politics there to know whether there would be a shove, but there are usually people of ambition around in any government.

    Look after you and yours. This little blog is greatly enhanced by your presence.

    I need to address the ‘elimination’ thing at greater length.

    You did say that “r” needs to stay well below 0.95. In the post Prof Toole says that if you get 90% of contact tracing done within 48 hours of the test then the reproduction rate will be 0.2. If you take 3 days it will be 0.9.

    If Toole is right, and Victoria’s performance is as good as Dan says, then it seems to me Victoria’s numbers should be falling faster than they are.

    Roughly speaking, I haven’t examined the situation closely.

  187. Ambi, elimination is what you might do in your own country, or state if that is your area of responsibility.

    Eradication is what happens if every country eliminates. It’s only happened with smallpox.

    The thing with elimination is that if you do your people will very much want you to keep it that way.

    This morning I was going to post this one from Frank Bongiorno – An obedient nation of larrikins: why Victorians are not revolting.

    He says that Victorians, and Australians generally, disrespect authority, but normally obey it.

    They might, however, decide at the next election that it’s time to try a different overlord.

  188. There were two excellent articles on Dan’s plan in the AFR today:

    In the first Catherine Bennett, the epidemiological chair at Deakin University says the fear is palpable in the Victorian government over the presence of ‘mystery cases’ popping up.

    Not sure how what she says is helpful, but the article does show different views from epidemiologists. Here’s three:

      UNSW Professor Mary-Louise McLaws said she supported the target of five cases per fortnight as the threshold for ending stage four restrictions.

      “Once you get over seven cases a day it accelerates. At 10 cases a day you will have 140 cases over a fortnight and it will accelerate really quickly,” Professor McLaws said.

      “We saw that at the start of Victoria’s second wave and it exploded. I have been using five cases as a safe zone.”

      Her UNSW colleague, Professor Raina MacIntyre, said the Victorian government will be concerned about going into the Christmas and New Year period with any community transmission.

      “This will be the time when epidemic risk increases, because of family and religious gatherings, New Year celebrations etc. It is in everyone’s best interests if we have no community transmission by November.”

      ANU infectious disease Professor Peter Collignon said he thought the targets are unrealistic.

      “You don’t get to have a funeral with more than 20 people till we have had no cases for 28 days. That to me is elimination,” Professor Collignon said.

      “The only country to get to elimination and hold it is Taiwan. Not even New Zealand could do it.”

    It’s not clear to me why we should reckon the Taiwan approach is beyond us.

    Blakely wanted Victoria to go straight into Stage four in early July, and was recommending elimination. He is very strong on the notion that the three eastern states should be in sync. Here’s what he says now:

      As of now, we are in a very different place; an explicit elimination strategy is no longer the clear-cut winner. First, the timeline to a vaccine is looking promising, and another two months have gone by making the amount of time to reap the long-term benefits of elimination less relative to the short-term pain of achieving elimination.

      Second, jurisdictions such as NSW and South Korea have demonstrated that you can find a sweet spot to live with the virus without being in stringent lockdown – although outbreaks will still happen as in South Korea now, meaning you cannot rule out the need for a lockdown at some point.

      Third, given NSW now has low-level community transmission, for Victoria to pursue an elimination strategy requires doing so jointly with NSW.

      Fourth, seven out of eight states and territories have signed up to reopening their borders with a yet to be defined hotspot strategy; such a strategy is sensible given where we are now, but explicitly achieving elimination off the back of a hotspot strategy would be difficult (as the virus will be out there, somewhere).

  189. “The Australian” claims this story is an exclusive:

    World-leading scientists linked to the modelling Daniel Andrews has used to lock down Melbourne say the research has been misrepresented and have urged the Premier to rethink the restrictions as his virus ­suppression targets are impossible to meet.

    Melbourne University’s dean and head of medicine is urging the Victorian Premier to rerun the model with more ­realistic data that could allow an earlier move to ­restrictions being lifted.

    The scientists have argued that aged care, which has been devastated by the outbreak, should be ­separated from the model, which didn’t distinguish between those cases and those in the general community.

    In a bombshell claim that will ramp up pressure on the Victorian leader to revise his controversial COVID-19 road map, Shitij Kapur, dean and assistant vice-chancellor of health, and University of Melbourne colleague James McCaw, professor of mathematical ­biology, said no city in the world, apart from the virus source city of Wuhan, had achieved the same suppression goals contained in Mr Andrews’ road map released last Sunday.

    Writing in The Weekend Australian, the respected scientists ­suggest that the models do not support the extreme lockdowns imposed and have been over-relied on by the government to make a political decision.

    “Translating model outputs into a decision requires a consideration of many other factors,” they said. “It requires consideration of acceptable risk. In this case, the risk of overwhelming the public health response, in turn leading to unacceptable social, economic and health and medical costs.

    Prof. James McCaw is an outstanding mathematical biology modeller. He and colleagues developed and revised the models used by Prof. Sutton and Premier Andrews back in March. (I heard about this directly from a younger colleague of theirs.)

    If you take away the “bombshell” noun, this is pertinent.

    The standard, easiest model has only three populations.
    I = infected
    R = recovered
    S = everyone else

    The model – making assumptions of course – tracks how people move from one category to another (there are also D= dead, of course. Normally their numbers are miniscule, proportionally).

    The model does NOT have exact, analytical solutions (involving linear or exponential functions, for example). It is ‘solved numerically’.

    A very simple version of the article’s suggestion is that you would add some variables: you could have an extra (separate) S’, I’, R’ for aged care residents; and (separate) variables representing the aged-care-home staff.

    This would require more assumptions to be made, but the widened model would still need to be ‘solved numerically’. It would NOT be intractable. Anyone with spreadsheet software could run such a model in minutes.

    Here endeth today’s “sums” lesson.

  190. Jumpy, the age decile with the most cases is 20-29 yr-olds.

    So your model is for the young to infect the old, who are more likely to die.

    Is that it?

  191. Brian

    So your model is for the young to infect the old, who are more likely to die.

    No, the opposite of that.
    But I’m used to that sort of misrepresentation around here.

    Are you serious about limiting covid deaths instead of some imagined “ bash the fash “ nonsense ?

  192. And why are the Dems stopping a 2 trillion dollar economic stimulus bill till after the election?

    My take is they want things to get worse so that Harris can be President and their mail in fraud voting may not be enough due to trumps popularity among latinos and blacks ( as the Dems call them )

  193. Ambi, Michelle Grattan yesterday at The Conversation wrote about the problem of experts not agreeing.

    Andrews has made clear that he is making the decisions. Palaszczuk has made clear that by law she doesn’t, but no-one will believe her. In her case I think the law was enacted to take the politics out of these decisions, but it hasn’t worked.

    As expected the McCaw article is pay-walled, so thanks for the run-down. Last night I found this article which talks about a very simple error that crept into the Federal government’s early modelling. So I’d reckon if McCaw says Victoria’s modelling needs to be redone, then it does.

    Today I found Victoria could move to reopen as new cases largely restricted to health workers, experts say.

    Well, they don’t all say that. However, I find McCaw’s comment that a focus needs to be on making the masks worn by staff in aged care etc fit, and also how the staff interact with each other points well made.

    Isolating that sector, however, I think is fraught. Staff live in the community, have partners that work elsewhere, kids that go to school etc.

    And sometimes people travel two hours or more each way to work.

    If you look at Sydney’s map and NSW Covid-19 hotspots: list of Sydney and regional outbreak locations where they tell you to get tested if you live in or have visited the central city area (city proper, plus 7 suburbs) plus another 10 LGAs and 2 suburbs, you’ll see what NSW is coping with in virus suppression mode.

    In Qld we seem to be stretched coping with what we’ve got.

    Yet yesterday an expert epidemiologist said (without taking a look, obviously) that NSW and Qld had the same levels of infection. On 12 Sept Qld had 28 active cases, NSW 146, and Victoria 1136, noting that NSW only counts locally acquired cases.

    Andrews has to make his own decisions listening to all the experts, and in view of what the Victorian system can handle.

  194. It has occurred to me that perhaps some suitable flowers might be place at the entrance of at risk work places, and workers asked to check whether they can smell them as they log in.

  195. Brian

    Andrews has made clear that he is making the decisions. Palaszczuk has made clear that by law she doesn’t, but no-one will believe her

    Aside from by whom or when those laws were introduced Palacechook has a slim majority and no senate. She could change that any time.
    In fact why have Palacechook there if she’s not being a leader ?

    My take is she’s duck shoving in election mode.
    And I’m not the only one.

  196. A couple of days ago, the Victorian Chief Health Officer faced journo questions about “why can’t my favourite cafe re-open?”

    Yes, it was at about that level.

    Two journos in succession said, “months ago most cases (the Govt worried about) were due to community transmission. Now the vast majority are in aged care. Why can’t community activities restart, while extreme care continues in aged care homes?”

    The Health Officer said, “You can’t separate the two. People from the community work in aged care homes.”

    Your point exactly, Brian.

    BTW Jumpy, there are plenty of institutions and activities which are deliberately put beyond the direct remit of politicians .

    Examples include police investigations, jury deliberations, judicial decisions, weather forecasting, ATO decisions on individual taxpayers, etc. Of course govts fund the police and the ATO and the BOM and pay judges. I’m talking about direct, day-to-day meddling by pollies.

    It was controversial when the RBA was made independent; older listeners will remember when Federal Treasurers set interest rates. Aussie govts used to control currency exchange rates. Both of those meant that pollies copped flak, whatever they decided.

    One view of these principles of independence is that it takes a little power AWAY from politicians. No doubt a lover of liberty would be pleased by that.

  197. Jumpy, she could, but it’s not as clear that she should, or if she did what the ideal advisory structure should be.

    If she’s “duck shoving in election mode” she is doing a rotten job of it. The CM reckons they’ve done a poll, and 80% of people think she’s handled the border issue badly.

    Queenslanders are good with closed borders, but they don’t like how it’s being done. This is no surprise.

    If you want my prediction, I think we’ll have a new premier come 1 November. Dr Young will be replaced by someone more politically biddable. Then there is an excellent chance we’ll either be in lockdown by Christmas, or be told, like Tony Abbott says, that we just have to get used to people dying with this new disease.

  198. Ambi I didn’t see your comment before I posted mine. I agree completely.

    The Qld economy, including the tourist industry, is not doing too badly at present. What with 13 AFL teams relocated here, plus the Melbourne Storm, netball and stuff going on.

    Qld did not initiate any of that, but it’s happening through strict protocols. Don’t know about AFL, but one Storm player who brought his family, said he was told that when he was with his family he had to maintain 1.5m distance from the kids, and could not touch the family cat.

    Didn’t say what was permissible with the missus.

    Players have been penalised for minor infractions.

    Most of the people complaining are either big business, or outfits like restaurants which have been kept alive by JobSeeker, but are not going to be viable when JobSeeker runs out.

    I’m wondering whether we should use the phrase “post-COVID” as it’s misleading.

  199. On the Qld economy, Palaszczuk in a formal answer in parliament said the Treasury advice was that a return to a stage 3 lockdown would cost Qld 330,000 jobs, and $3.1 billion per month.

  200. Queensland has now got a bigger State debt than what
    Costello got from Keating. ( admittedly half of that was Howard’s, the fool ).

  201. Jumpy, what is really scary is that Tim Mander, duty leader and shadow treasurer, says they are going to spend all this money on infrastructure, unclog all Brisbane’s traffic problems, turn the rivers inland with the Bradfield scheme etc etc without using debt financing.

    At the same time the reserve bank head honcho is suggesting states spend an extra $45 billion, using debt, and economist Chris Richardson said the other day that what the Feds are paying in debt interest, with all Frydenberg’s spending, is actually going down.

  202. Yes, the interest rates are falling more quickly than the debt is rising, so the repayments are reducing.

    I’ll give an example [not real figures]

    Debt rises like this: 800, 900, 1100, 1500

    In the same time frames, interest rates move like : 8%, 6.5%, 5%, 3.5%

    Simple interest payments:
    64, 58.5, 55, 52.5

    Debt rose.
    Interest payments fell.

    Yes, I cherry-picked some figures from my fundament; if that can fairly be called “cherry picking”.

    On that Storm bloke, Brian, perhaps he could use the ancient Indian text The Karma Corona : “This is called the congress of the bandicoot. The gentleman stands with his football above his tackle. The lady flees.”

  203. Jumpy, before I shut down tonight, upthread I couldn’t be bothered taking the bait when you again came up with “Palacechook”. However, it says something about you.

    You have done what Henry Palaszczuk was predicting that the juveniles of Inala State High School would do all those years ago when he gave his preferred pronunciation.

    With a bit of luck, they will have grown up by now.


    This is from Clay Lucas, in Nine Newspapers, and claimed as an “exclusive”:

    A security guard who shared a house with an aged care worker has been identified as the first formal link made between Victoria’s calamitous hotel quarantine program and the spread of coronavirus to an aged care home.

    The state Health Department has revealed an infection went from the Rydges on Swanston hotel to Embracia Aged Care in June.

    It came as the managing director of Embracia – which has had five residents in one of its homes die after contracting COVID-19 – criticised the Health Department over its poor contact tracing among aged care staff.

    Like Brian and Brett said, “the hotel guards and hotel workers can be involved in ‘community transmission’ which gets the d*mn virus into aged care homes – and from there, via the staff, back out to the community”. Though Brett and Brian put it more elegantly.

    Back in February, March, a friend dared to call cruise ships floating Petri dishes’.
    How rude!!

    It appears now that any
    *aged care home
    (*in Singapore, migrant worker hostel)

    can also morph into a Petri dish, as quickly as I can cough or breathe.

    So stop picking on cruise ships; attend to every possibility; practise an abundance of caution.

  205. Mr Jumpy

    Do you accept that the chief burden of state debt (or corporate debt) is the interest payments?

    Do you accept current forecasts that exceptionally low interest rates on debt are here to stay for the medium term?

    Do you recognise any difference between debts undertaken for different purposes.

    Or is it all “Deficit Bad. Surplus Good!” in your world.

    BTW, a surplus means the Govt is gouging too much tax, si?
    A deficit means less gouging, si?

    Do you ever catch yourself arguing against yourself??

  206. Mr A

    Do you accept that the chief burden of state debt (or corporate debt) is the interest payments?

    Yes, or more accurately the lost opportunity cost. What is it now, $2 billion per month ? A lot of good could be done with that taxpayer blood.

    Do you accept current forecasts that exceptionally low interest rates on debt are here to stay for the medium term?

    Yes, a perfect time to tighten the Federal belt now for when the rates go up. Do you think the rates will never go up ?

    Do you recognise any difference between debts undertaken for different purposes.

    Of course. Debt taken on by the private sector for growth, innovation and fiscally prudent is fine, risky but acceptable. Debt taken on by the public sector that doesn’t provide growth, is not innovative and only to get votes is not fine.

    Or is it all “Deficit Bad. Surplus Good!” in your world.

    As guardian of two sets of double sided ledgers ( private and business) the ideal position is always surplus. Being enslaved to debt rather than have surpluses be your slave if foolish.

    BTW, a surplus means the Govt is gouging too much tax, si?
    A deficit means less gouging, si?

    The government should BALANCE the budget. Live within its means. You know, that word that has be made negative by the left recently but has been a positive for all of history, austerity?

    Do you ever catch yourself arguing against yourself??

    No, because I’m speaking with fundamental basic truths as a basis, not totally discredited keynesians rubbish and twisting definitions into pretzels.

  207. Thanks Mr J.

    I think interest rates will inevitably rise at some point.

    I recall the punishingly high rates – for households and businesses – under P. J. Keating. I recall also reasurer Costello warning families o consider, before taking out a variable rate mortgage, that interest rates could rise by as much as 2% in the medium term. So, be cautious. For most families, the home mortgage is their largest borrowing, over their whole lives.

    I’m all in favour of prudence, caution, etc.

    So, to narrow down one of the questions (posed earlier), what of Govt borrowing to fund (or subsidise) infrastructure?
    e.g. social housing
    solar array ‘farms’
    pumped storage (small scale, local)
    offshore wind turbines
    recycling plants

    At present, Govt spending is attempting to rescue, or maintain on ‘life support’, a faltering economy.

    It’s not really Keynesian “pump priming”, because private and business spending has plummeted. Very little danger in 2020, 2021 that Govt spending will “crowd out” private investments, si?

    I don’t like the way the word “unprecendented” has been tossed around willy (or indeed nilly) this year; but the economic vista we face right now is novel and requires a clever approach, si?

    Up your way, what are small and medium firms doing to keep producing?

  208. Mr A, the Federal Government is responsible for ONE road.
    All the other stuff is State or private issues.
    If the renewballs stuff was remotely viable in the near to long term then the private sector would gobble it up.
    But it’s not because it’s competing with government.

    Anyway, back to covid.
    The Feds should have stuck to Australian border and ports quarantine ( not State borders like Shortarse said on insider whilst waving around a Constitution A4 printout). With permission from the state’s Highway A1.
    And for some ridiculous reason aged care health but that’s a State responsibility fundamentally and should return there. The Fed is totally unable to manage it.

  209. Jumpy, I don’t actually know who you mean by “Shortarse”.

    The nym’s you use here tip over into being abusive rather than just being disrespectful and funny in the tradition of Australian humour.

  210. On NewsRadio Andrews has just announced a stimulus package of $6 billion from state funds to get Victoria moving again. Also saying provincial Victoria is going to open up.

    However, he said the “ring of steel” around Melbourne is going to stay in place. I didn’t realise that police were actually restricting travel to the regions but seems they are.

    ‘Ring fencing’ has actually long been part of the endemic disease control playbook, but is hard to implement on any scale outside places like China, essentially because of manpower and civil rights issues.

    Andrews is saying that Melbourne people should take heart from the success of the regions.

    Elsewhere, no new cases in Qld, and recent community cases have been close contacts who are already in isolation.

    In NSW 8, I think, and a general warning from Health authorities that the virus is circulating in the community.

  211. Only when it’s about an ALP politician, that’s obvious.
    And I’m sure you know who I was referring to or you wouldn’t be so butt hurt about it.

    I didn’t call him “ tits shorten “ or “ peanut head “ like those on the right do, I thought I was being quite reserved as a matter of fact 🙂

  212. It’s also getting boring that rather than engaging the substance of a comment, folk dodge all of it to fain outrage over a word or two.

    • A security guard who shared a house with an aged care worker has been identified as the first formal link made between Victoria’s calamitous hotel quarantine program and the spread of coronavirus to an aged care home.

    Ambi, I think Australia has a bigger problem than most with people with insecure work and no sick leave working several jobs, and living with partners or house-mates who do the same.

    In the Rydges and hotel quarantine issue, I heard on NewsRadio the while the Police made the decision to use private security services, the security people had no power to do anything except watch. They were not authorised to stop anyone leaving the room or the building, merely to report same to police, who were meant to be cruising somewhere in the area, and on call.

    In delegation terms, this would have been well down the chain from Andrews, but journos who have never run anything think that he should have his head into every nook and cranny.

    Carmen Lawrence got pinged originally because she made the wrong decision on something she would have given seconds of time to in the course of her busy day.

  213. Jumpy: “If the renewballs stuff was remotely viable in the near to long term then the private sector would gobble it up.”
    In case you haven’t noticed the private sector is going gangbusters with renewables while ignoring the coal kissing government.
    They even seem to be offering no support for government incentives to invest in fossil power.
    Where do you say you live? Trumpiverse?

  214. Brian, it’s not a fine line, it’s quite distinct.

    I regard myself as a regular working Australian, not a journalist or politician or “ unbiased expert “ that agrees with you.

    If you don’t hear an normal opposing perspective from me then where else would you be exposed to one ?

    I’m not here for regurgitated talking point alone, although that’s handy to know, I’m interested in the thinking of Individual leftist thinking and how and why its is so unrealistic at times.

    As for IIGCC, they look like another crony “ capitalist “ rent seeker attempting the vacuum up more billions in taxpayer subsidies. There should be zero subsidies toward energy production in any direction and let the consumers decide from where it comes.

  215. There should be zero subsidies toward energy production in any direction and let the consumers decide from where it comes.

    This isn’t one of Jumpy’s regurgitated talking points, no sir, not at all! This is what passes for a normal opposing perspective in our Mackay correspondent’s fevered imagination (even though it is without any supporting argument or data).
    It has all the intellectual gravitas of the classic “four legs good two legs bad” and is about half as useful. I guess it’s too much to hope he will one day graduate from yelling “my team’s better than yours” at us to actually discussing different points of view.

  216. Jumpy, I’m talking about the language you use in referring to public figures.

    Most people respect the norms of the group they are mixing with.

    I didn’t need that sermon.

  217. Here’s an event that Jumpy could attend if he were truly interested in dialogue.
    It’s free and online and it promises to present options which have never occurred to him. (So of course he will reject it)

  218. Brian, I’m primarily in a group of one, with care level radiating out to many other groups. Public figures are way down the list, especially the one I help pay and can’t talk to.o

    Scotty from marketing, PM Rabbit, Orange Man, Noddy Newman, Bushes Bitch Howard, Helicopter Bishop, the other Bishop Jewellery the Foreign Minister, Quincelanders, and all the rest are fine by me, you ?

    Satirical name calling is as Australian as kangaroos.
    Perhaps lighten up and give all sides equal “ poetic license “.

  219. On satirical monikers going around at the moment I’m thumbing up VicDanistan and Talibandan.

    Any hoot, going to watch insiders now, see yas after, maybe.
    ( let’s see if the cartoon section is funny for the first time ever )

  220. Jumpy, in terms of your list, I hadn’t heard of some. The one I had discomfort with was “Bushes Bitch Howard”.

    So I googled and came up with nothing, except bush bitch, a derogatory term used to refer to black women, presumably in the USA.

    You can say “life is a bitch” or you can bitch about the weather or something, but I wouldn’t use the term to refer to a person in prose on the internet. Probably not anywhere.

    I don’t want you using it here. Got it?

    Today’s Insiders was worse than usual. First time I can remember not taking any notes.

  221. Insiders was predominantly about holier than thou journalists talking about other journalists just as holy.
    On the Bush’s bitch I had no reference other than all the mentions on LP about a protest sign with Little Johnny on a leash.
    Pretty popular derogatory term there for a minute on LP.

    Any other terms and conditions not previously stated?

  222. That Speers bloke just hasn’t learnt.

    It’s rude to interrupt someone who’s answering your question. Speersie seems to make a habit of it. Not smart. Rude. Does it occur to him that viewers might want to hear the answer? Yes, even an answer from Minister Dutton. Is Mr Speers imitating Leigh Sales of 7.30? He’s worse than her.

    I briefly heard Fran saying (I think) what a terrible thing it was to oppose protection of koalas after so many of the dear, cute little furry animals had died in bushfires.

    Is she a political reporter, Ms Fran?
    Has it not occurred to her that Mr Barilaro may have been using “the koala protection issue” in a purely opportunistic way? Fran, some politicians are cunning hypocrites. They speak with forked tongues, Fran.

  223. Jumpy at 9.18am.

    When talking about “government spending”, I wasn’t referring only to spending by the Federal Govt. Go back and take a gander. You and I are both aware that State goverments and local governments also employ people and spend rates or taxes or duties.

    ‘Government spending’ covers quite a range of activities.

    Your “only ONE road ” is not a serious response, I venture to suggest.

  224. Ambi, I think Leigh Sales, Speers, Patricia Karvelas et al are imitating Kezza (Kerry) O’Brien and Tony Jones.

    It’s meant to be hard-nosed journalism, holding people to account, with the ultimate prize of a gotcha.

    I didn’t like their style either, but they were better briefed and let people finish a sentence.

  225. Jumpy, LP was a big place, and I didn’t follow all of it. All the authors were two generations younger than I was, and a lot of feminists. So I’m surprised they used to refer to John Howard in that way. I was inclined to think of him as a barnacle on Bush’s posterior.

    Times have changed and the treatment of Julia Gillard has changed what is permissible in some language usage.

    There are no new “terms and conditions”.

  226. Just a gentle reminder that Covid-19 does not give us an either/or choice between people dying from the disease and saving the economy.
    Generally, the countries with the highest death rates have taken bigger hits to their economies than those that moved more cautiously.
    The old approaches are no longer effective. Capitalism in its present form cannot cope with pandemics.
    Since we are assured there will be more pandemics in the future it’s about time we made our economic system robust enough to withstand them.

  227. BTW I call BS on Jumpy’s assertion that Howard was ever called a bitch on LP. He was Bush’s deputy sheriff.
    One link will prove me wrong Mr J. Bet you can’t find it.

  228. Today I heard a senior medical advisor telli g the public that the Medical profesdion have discovered new things about COVID. IT’ not a lung, chest disease. It’s oassed on that way.

    But affects heart and all parts of the body.

  229. …telling the public that the medical profession has discovered new things about COVID19.

    It’s not a lung disease.
    It’s not ‘flu.

    It’s passed on via the lungs but affects many organs. So we must prevent as many INFECTIONS as possible.

  230. The Conversation: “Now everyone’s a statistician. Here’s what armchair COVID experts are getting wrong” Interesting one that helps guide us through the various stats and what they do and don’t mean. For example:
    “1. It’s the infection rate that’s scary, not the death rate
    Social media posts comparing COVID-19 to other causes of death, such as the flu, imply COVID-19 isn’t really that deadly.
    But these posts miss COVID-19’s infectiousness. For that, we need to look at the infection fatality rate (IFR) — the number of COVID-19 deaths divided by all those infected (a number we can only estimate at this stage, see also point 3 below).
    While the jury is still out, COVID-19 has a higher IFR than the flu. Posts implying a low IFR for COVID-19 most certainly underestimate it. They also miss two other points.
    First, if we compare the typical flu IFR of 0.1% with the most optimistic COVID-19 estimate of 0.25%, then COVID-19 remains more than twice as deadly as the flu.
    Second, and more importantly, we need to look at the basic reproduction number (R₀) for each virus. This is the number of extra people one infected person is estimated to infect.
    Flu’s R₀ is about 1.3. Although COVID-19 estimates vary, its R₀ sits around a median of 2.8. Because of the way infections grow exponentially (see below), the jump from 1.3 to 2.8 means COVID-19 is vastly more infectious than flu.
    When you combine all these statistics, you can see the motivation behind our public health measures to “limit the spread”. It’s not only that COVID-19 is so deadly, it’s deadly and highly infectious.

  231. Good find, John.

    On the basic reproduction number R_o , a value of 1.3 equates to 30% increase.

    Because 1.30 = 130/100.

    A value of R at 1.0 corresponds to 0% increase (steady number of infections, neither increasing nor decreasing).

    Then R with a value 2.80 means an increase of

    Note: that is 180%, SIX times larger than 30%.**

    Comparing 2.80 with 1.30 directly could mislead; it may look like “a bit larger than TWICE”.

    ** and its worse than SIX too, because exponential growth is deadly if it continues for a while.


    Napier will pass amongst you, showing off his lovely logarithms, or his bones.

  232. There was an article recently in the New Scientist asking whether the virus is becoming less deadly.

    Answer, no-one knows, but as such probably not.

    What matters a lot is what humans do to limit or avoid transmission, how early it is recognised, and types and levels of care may help if affected.

    Also general health of the population, plus weather temperature makes a lot of difference, the colder the worse.

    That’s apart from the fancy aspects of the maths.

    Dan Andrews said today that currently the French R_o was now 2, and with near 10,000 new cases per day they look to be in big trouble.

  233. Brian, I did see a comment on that which if i recall was something like some new strains were less severe but more transmissable

  234. Brian

    Back in March I heard an epidemiologist on the wireless say, “Look, most viruses evolve. Our experience is that later strains might be less deadly – or less transmissable. In the latter case they tend to die out (because R_o is low). But with COVID19 we don’t know yet.”

    While stressing that COVID is not ‘flu, the expert pointed out that with ‘flu, they make a new vaccine every year because there are new strains, which cannot be protected against by last year’s vaccine. This was presented as an analogy.

    BTW: the ‘fancy maths’ is not very difficult. Exponential growth is a shocker. If a growth rate is 20% per day, the number doubles every 3.5 days (Rule of 70). In about a fortnight, that’s four doublings – a growth by factor 16.

    At some point, the ‘health system’ (hospitals, clinics) really does become overwhelmed.
    Then there are the burials…..

    I don’t think Scotty or Dan or Anastasia or Gladys, or any of them “panicked”.

    The guy who “panicked” was Mr T in the White House (“I try to reassure everyone” – that’s the reaction of someone without a plan; addicted to spin.)

  235. Ambi, I pride myself on doing back of the envelope maths to put things in perspective, but my own maths did not go any further than what we called Maths A in yr 12 in secondary school and Maths B to Yr 10. So I got basic algebra but not calculus.

    On the virus, my understanding is that the coronavirus family tends to become more infectious but less lethal over time, and these times can be very long, like centuries. A statement was made that what we now have as colds and flu may have been much more potent once upon a time.

    The NS article was quoting actual research, which was inconclusive, because we are only dealing with a matter of months, and the research wasn’t set up in the form of a controlled experiment.

    Moreover, infection opportunities change as government restrictions change, people’s reaction and compliance etc, plus seasonal changes.

  236. You have a very good working knowledge of maths, Brian.

    The “exponential function” is merely a variant of ‘power functions’.

    Example: 2^n, 2 to the power n, has values
    2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64,… [‘growth factor’ 2 per step]

    Similarly 3^n has values
    3, 9, 27, 81, 243, ….

    If the growth factor were 1.1, the function would become
    values 1.1, 1.21, 1.331, 1.4641, etc

    If the ‘growth factor’ is 0.9, early values go like this
    0.9, 0.81, 0.729, ….


  237. There was an excellent roundup of information about the virus yesterday on ABC RN,’s program Big Ideas. See Pandemic-proofing our future with Professor Ian Frazer, Dr Kirsty Short and Professor Paul Young, all from the University of Queensland.

    I didn’t hear it all, but will try to listen to the whole 54 mins again.

    Frazer said that over time a successful virus does not kill its host, and that we carry many viruses that we don’t know are there. There was information on the immune system and the different responses evoked by viruses and bacteria.

    On infection rates, Frazer said it depended very much on the circumstances within a particular society. He said that Sweden appeared to be benefiting from a degree of herd immunity, given how many had been infected and how people were now taking precautions. The price was that 0.5% of the population died.

    That is a lot, but way below early modelling, which perhaps did not take into account how people’s behaviour would change.
    I don’t think this is any comfort to the elderly, who need to be protected from the young, their carers, and each other, especially when they get together and do dangerous things like singing.

  238. There were a couple of interesting virus things I heard yesterday.

    The first was Nick Coatsworth, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, giving the standard daily virus briefing from the national virus committee.

    He was asked whether they had changed from ‘aggressive suppression’ to ‘elimination’. – words to that effect.

    He said nothing had changed, ‘aggressive suppression’ always meant the elimination of transmission in the community.

    So why does Scotty Morrison keep slip-sliding between the two?

    The second was the horrific news that in the UK testing capability was so poor that doctors, nurses and health workers had to isolate without being tested if they had been in close contact with someone infected.

    Here’s the story – Widespread UK testing shortages could take weeks to resolve, Government admits:

    • A surge in demand for coronavirus testing in the UK has seen doctors and nurses unable to be tested
    • The UK Government says it could be weeks before the bottlenecks are fixed
  239. From Nine newspapers.

    An epidemiologist speaks (of High Dray State):

    Professor Bennett said the daily numbers could still bounce a bit, but the 14-day average was steadily decreasing.

    She said the state’s effective reproductive number (R number) was averaging about 0.7, which meant those with coronavirus were typically not infecting others, and daily case numbers should continue to decline.

    – well, strictly speaking, quite a few are infecting others; but the majority are not. Or the mean of further infections, is less than 1.

    /pedantry of the arithmetical kind

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