Gladys goes. What does that mean for us?

Michael McGowan and Anne Davies had the story on Friday 1 Oct 2021 NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian resigns after ICAC announces investigation:

(Image from Michelle Grattan’s story at The Conversation.)

I think her greater misdemeanor lies elsewhere. However her demise has further trashed politicians and politics in the public mind, opening opportunities for independents, and minor parties in so far as they present as people who are not politicians.

This is not good for democracy.

First, let’s look at the current matter.

Unless ICAC have more than they have yet revealed, it seems to me that she knew that her ex-lover, the former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, was up to no good, but failed to report him. It’s noteworthy that the relationship “was ended after Maguire was named as a person of interest in 2019 by the commission and was under investigation.” That is, after he was named, and before the proceedings began.

There are other matters relating to a possible conflict of interest in:

    grants to two organisations: the Australian Clay Target Association in 2016-2017, which Maguire had championed, and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018.

In this item from the 7.30 Report Anthony Whealy QC, former judge of the NSW Court of Appeal and Chair of The Centre for Public Integrity says that if she was involved in the decision it would represent a clear conflict of interest.

Her stance is clear:

    “I state categorically that I have always acted with the highest level of integrity.”

    “History will demonstrate I have executed my duties again with the highest level of integrity for the benefit of the people of NSW, for who I have had the privilege to serve,” she said.

    Insisting that she did not want to become “a distraction” for the government as NSW attempted to exit the three-month lockdown caused by an outbreak of Covid-19, Berejiklian said simply standing aside while Icac conducted its investigation was “not an option”.

She says they take too long. This might in part be because they are underfunded.

There has been criticism of ICAC’s timing. I understand that by law they have to ignore timing.

There has also been strident criticism of ICAC itself, with Barnaby Joyce comparing the New South Wales anti-corruption watchdog to the “Spanish Inquisition” and complained that it’s making politicians “terrified to do their job”.

Craig Emerson’s latest AFR column provides a succinct outline of ICAC and the reason why we need such accountability. It’s available in his site as Taxpayers lose by pulling ICAC’s teeth

He points out that in the case of Barry O’Farrell, ICAC made no adverse findings, having been “satisfied that there was no intention on Mr O’Farrell’s part to mislead the Commission.”

Emerson was worked over three times by the Queensland anti-corruption body when he served as a departmental CEO in the 1990s Labor government in what I recall as vexatious allegations by the LNP. Yet Emerson remains:

    a strong supporter of what is now the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission. And of the NSW ICAC. And of a National Anti-Corruption Commission as promised by Labor. And of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, promised by the Morrison government almost three years ago but still not delivered.

    But a commission with teeth, including a capacity to investigate the practice of ministerial offices dishing out taxpayer-funded grants to target electorates as if it were their political party’s own money.

    Calls to emasculate anti-corruption commissions portray politicians as the victims. If the critics got their way, taxpayers and their confidence in the political process would be the true victims. (Emphasis added)

Dishing out taxpayer-funded grants to target electorates as if it were their political party’s own money is what I recall Berejiklian doing with the Stronger Communities Fund, where 95% of the total of $250 million grants went to government electorates.

We had Gladys Berejiklian’s documents approving of council grants were shredded by her office:

    The inquiry heard that $141.8 million of the grant funding was allocated by the Premier, with $61.3million allocated by the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and $48.9 million by the Minister for Local Government.

Following practice, an amorphous team of public servants working across ministries gathered the approvals, then shredded the documents and deleted the computer files.

Then this:

Business as usual, she is saying, nothing to see.

Then we had in the SMH NSW Premier’s office cleared of breach after shredding documents and Report finds Premier’s office broke the law shredding documents from $250m grant scheme.

It seemed like Berejiklian had survived on a technicality. I understand Berejiklian’s practice was to approve with a tick or a circle, then the papers were shredded.

Her defence put simply seemed to be (a) that she reckons pork barrelling is common practice, and hence OK, and (b) that no-one instructed the papers to be shredded.

Tony Harris, former NSW Auditor-General and senior Commonwealth officer, was in no doubt. In Maguire aside, the Premier’s steadfast command has been shredded he thought she should resign. He asks:

    How can we have responsible government if we do not have the chain of steadfast command expected in a parliamentary system?

We are moving to a situation where “grants approved by the Premier” merely meant “grants recommended by the Premier” and no-one actually approves them.

Now we have Gladys Berejiklian approached by senior Liberals to run in federal seat of Warringah.

With those standards, she should fit in well with the Morrison government, which has normalised industrial-scale pork barrelling.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, The Betoota Advocate wondered NSW Liberals completely divided over which of the 42 white men named Paul should replace Gladys. Their substantive point was that it was difficult to tell the candidates apart:

    Every single candidate appears to be a devout Christian who likes rugby union and went to one of three elite private schools on Sydney’s North Shore.

It turns out to be Dominic Perrottet:

    a conservative who opposed laws to force priests to disclose child abuse arguing “the confessional seal is sacrosanct no matter what sins are confessed”.

And some very strange ideas about a lot of things. See Conservative warrior, economic reformer, premier? Meet Dominic Perrottet, NSW’s likely next leader and Dominic Perrottet’s controversial past comments revealed as he becomes new NSW premier.

So where does that leave us, and I mean all of us? In brief:

  1. On COVID he could have let things roll, as after landing in a disastrous mess, Berejiklian seemed to be plotting a steady course to a post-COVID world. However, he believes he can make some adjustments to what Berejiklian and our prime minister told was the best of the class. See NSW roadmap out of lockdown under review.

Small changes, he says, but a big focus on economic recovery.

  1. While his earlier statements indicate he is a climate change sceptic, he seems to recognise that other people think differently. However, it looks as though the best climate change minister in Australia, Matt Keen, is going to be treasurer. This may be a genuine loss to the nation. We need competent and steadfast state ministers to keep a check on the devious Commonwealth minister, Angus Taylor, whose latest is to support with taxpayer money a gas power-station at Kurri Kurri (NSW can deny him planning approvl) and institute Arena regulations to subvert its purpose which may well be unlawful.

Peter Switzer says Perrottet has seen that there are votes in being green, but it matters who will be environment minister. With John Barilaro and Andrew Constance also heading for the exit door, Perrottet will wait for the by-elections before a full ministerial reshuffle.

  1. We badly need a national integrity commission to rid the body politic of industrial scale pork barrelling, and other unacceptable behaviour on the public payroll.

Crikey has lined up Angus Taylor, Bridget McKenzie, Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce, Josh Frydenberg, Paul Fletcher, Michael Sukkar, Alan Tudge, Susan Ley, and a bloke called Scott Morrison as an initial work program for a national ICAC.

Shadow AG Mark Dreyfus wants a federal anti-corruption body that will have “all the powers of a standing royal commission”, be able to initiate inquiries on its own account, hold hearings in public and be able to examine retrospective cases.

Amanda Stoker wants a version that acts in secret and protects politicians.

Stephen Charles QC, from The Centre for Public Integrity and former Victorian Court of Appeal Judge, has been part of a study reviewing the proposed federal body against existing state bodies.

He says the proposed body is strong in relation to the AFP and Border Force, but farcically weak for politicians, designed to make no adverse findings. The study found ICAC the most robust and effective of the state bodies. He explains why public hearings, except in exceptional cases, are essential.

  1. The effect of Berejiklian’s demise will increase disaffection with traditional parties, and encourage independents to run. I want to explore this separately, but point out here that being able to leverage outcomes from a balance of power situation seems to me essentially undemocratic. I prefer the German and New Zealand situation, where you need to create a party , plus gain at least 5% of the national vote to get a gig.

  2. States and the Commonwealth need regulations so that monies being dispersed can only happen with an auditable paper trail to show authorisation by an officer with a delegated expenditure authority. It’s public administration 101. I was shocked when security firms were used in Victorian quarantine,only to find that no-one knew who authorised their employment. Seems operating without accountable expenditure authorities is becoming alarmingly common.

31 thoughts on “Gladys goes. What does that mean for us?”

  1. New premier, new covid roadmap

    Dominic Perrottet was only sworn in this week, but he’s wasted no time putting his stamp on NSW’s lockdown exit.
    In just a couple of weeks, face masks will be optional in offices for fully vaccinated people, while schools will open for many year groups earlier than expected.
    From Monday, double-dosed adults will be able to gather in larger groups than previously thought in homes, and public outdoor spaces.

    Current trends in NSW suggest that increased vaccinations are having some effect. However what is having effect is the combination of policies in operation in NSW.
    I am not impressed by the rush to do symbolic things like easing of rules like the use of facemasks that are making a difference and are only mildly inconvenient.
    I do think that easing lockdown and movement rules that are having a big effect on people’s lives do need to be eased as soon as this can be done responsibly. but easing facemask rules? Noooo.

  2. Hello Brian and all.
    From North Queensland looking at NSW politics and the apparent framing of the Federal Integrity Commission, I get the strong whiff of Trumpesqe.
    In each country, the belief in democracy is being dismantled, right before our eyes, in full view.
    I’m not a conspiracy person but I increasingly feel that politicians have lost the “nobility” and decency that is expected of them, ideally anyway.

  3. Our American son had this to say about the affect of actions other than vaccination:

    Sure, if the vax rate is under about 90% and everyone wanders around maskless as if there’s no pandemic any more then the shit hits the fan pretty fast. But if you require everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of whether they’re vaccinated, and you require either
    proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours to enter places like restaurants and bars where consistent masking isn’t possible, and you mandate vaccination for anyone who works with the unvaccinated or otherwise vulnerable (ie school and daycare staff, hospital staff etc), then the transmission rate gets pretty low. eg,
    Los Angeles currently has 57.6% of the population fully vaccinated (and over 70% one dose), and the above set of mask and vaccine mandates, and has a rolling 7 day death rate of 24 (down from 241 over Christmas), or about 0.2 deaths per 100,000 population per day, with ~97% of those
    deaths being among unvaccinated adults.

    Meanwhile, in South Dakota, where the vax rate is 51% fully vaccinated, so not much lower than LA’s, mask mandates and asking people their vaccine status have been banned by the state government and their daily death rate is more than double ours (and their data is deeply suspect and likely an undercount). Oh, and one in every 500 residents of the state have died of covid since the start of the pandemic…
    None of this is ideal, 24 people dying every day in LA is still 24
    people who shouldn’t be dead, but this whole thing is going to be a vaccine + masks + enforcement thing for a while to come, not just a vaccine only thing.

    To put it bluntly some of the NSW populist changes are going to kill people.
    Gladys seemed to be able to make unpopular decisions when she thought it was necessary. Can’t say the same for her successor.

  4. John, your link in the 11:11am comment doesn’t work for me. This is a different article with I think much the same information:

    The news came through just after I’d posted.

    I think the fact that Kerry Chant did not show up to the media released speaks volumes.

    When challenged about her absence, he said health advice was part of it, but he also had an economy to look after.

    I thought that Gladys, having got the place into a mess, was probably taking the optimal path out of it. This could come unstuck big time.

    Morrison had a press conference, early afternoon your time, in which he had nothing new to announce. He simply had to do it because of the NSW opening milestone, to look as though he was in charge.

    He even seemed to take ownership of Qld’s progress. We hit 50% double-dosed today.

    Morrison said he fully supported Perrottet, so is the latter comes a gutser, Morrison might like to own that as well. Then surely the people would wake up and kick him out.

  5. Geoff, welcome back! Missed you!

    Largely I think you are right. I’d like to do a post on Adam Tooze, who says that leaders with an authoritarian bent have used COVID to increase their power permanently.

    On exception might be Germany, where the next chancellor will be much like the last. Pragmatic problem solver who doesn’t panic in a crisis, but not much vision anywhere to be seen.

  6. Brian: AMA warns Dominic Perrottet’s faster reopening could see hospital admissions ‘skyrocket’

    The peak body representing doctors fears changes to the New South Wales roadmap out of lockdown could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
    The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is concerned the state is moving “too fast, too soon” after Premier Dominic Perrottet announced changes to the lockdown exit plan.
    The changes mean several restrictions will be eased faster than was planned under the Gladys Berejiklian government.
    The AMA’s New South Wales president Danielle McMullen warned the accelerated easing could mean “the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital skyrockets”.
    “Keeping people safe must be the Premier’s top priority,” she said.
    “We’ve got a new Premier in the driver’s seat, but that’s not a good enough reason to deviate from the course previously set.”

    Amen
    I think the Scomo plan is is to make a hero of himself by opening up the country and having an election on the basis that he has liberated the country before the s hits the fan.
    Dunno whether Perrott is just stupid or actively seeking to help the Scomo campaign strategy.

    1. John, I agree with that, but I’m wondering if the government is concerned about a rush of civil disobedience if the restrictions remain in place much longer.

  7. Geoff: “I’m wondering if the government is concerned about a rush of civil disobedience if the restrictions remain in place much longer.”
    Not sure. I believe that what Perrot is doing is trying to boost the economy, reward people like me me who are double vaxxed while retaining pressure on the anti-vaxxers.
    My problem with what he is doing is that covid is best fought by using a number of strategies in parallel. There are good reasons looking for an easing of lockdowns because of the harm that it is doing to many businesses and those who have been lock downed for months. On the other hand we should be staying with things like using face masks, distance rules, crowd sizes etc. as well as short sharp local lockdowns.
    However, we should not be stopping minor irritations such as face mark rules and gathering rules while covid is still out there in a community.
    Me I live near the anti-vax capital of Australia. I use the following strategies:
    Carry a mask all day, put it under my chin in places where I may encounter some people.
    Put the mask over my face when near to people other than my wife.
    Hold my breath when passing people.
    Be conscious of wind direction. When talking to people try and avoid being up or downwind of people.
    Time my visit to/select shops to avoid crowds.
    Select routes that are less risky (fewer people, less being close to people.)
    I could rabbit on but you should get the gist.

  8. John and Geoff, Perrottet had urged greater speed in opening up prior to Gladys B falling on her sword. My guess is that he is genuine upper middle class, and prioritises the economy over health and safety. According to Wikipedia he went to a private school, after graduating in law worked as a commercial lawyer for Henry Davis York in the areas of banking restructuring and insolvency law. He entered parliament at age 28. His dad is John Perrottet, who works for the World Bank as the Global Lead for Tourism at the International Finance Corporation, in Washington, DC.

    Gladys Berejiklian was working class, and is said to be good at listening to people.

    I think in a lockdown you have a shadow epidemic in mental health and social deprivation, especially for children and the young. So you have to balance across a broad scale of personal, social and economic well-being.

    Perrottet’s balance is noticeably different. He has now overhauled the crisis cabinet to prioritise economic recovery renaming it:

    the COVID and Economic Recovery Committee, with NSW Chief Economist Stephen Walters to provide regular advice to the group.

    He spent a whole day talking to Kerry Chant and Brad Hazard about the changes, so its not capricious, but there would not have been time for detailed modelling of the changes.

    I think downgrading masks and doubling the numbers permitted to be in a household at any one time are almost bound to cause trouble. Gladys B had repeatedly warned that the opening she planned would see more cases, more in hospital, and presumably more dead.

    Perrottet has a bit of a cheer squad, with Tim Soutphommasane and Marc Stears for example in Left behind: progressives need to catch up with Perrottet and stop being so afraid of freedom.

    And what precisely is their expertise in the matter?

    It’s not freedom, it’s a virus that we should be afraid of if we have half a brain. In case they don’t know, if you are vaccinated you can still carry the virus and infect others.

    He thinks we think we can hide from the virus. While NSW started with one quarantine driver and now has had 60,000 cases, here in Qld we have had 50 cases in the community, and seem to have defeated it for the moment.

    There is simply no notion that we think we can hide from the virus. The health authorities here keep telling us, some day, probably soon, it will come and rip through the unvaccinated community, so get your jab now. The latest is pop-up vaccination clinics at 19 high school locations in places where vaccination has been slow, with more to follow.

  9. Brian: Part of the problem is that pollies have convinced themselves that the crisis is about to go away soon and that it is not worth fixing some things that would either help speed up the end of the virus and/or reduce the damage being done to people and the economy.
    Think, for example, of the damage being caused by the Qld/NSW covid border being the same as the state border. Ditto some of the LGA borders being in the wrong place for covid or damage reduction reasons.
    Think also of the ability of air cleaning systems to remove the virus and render places safer. But it costs money and is not worth doing because we all know the covid problem will be fixed in the run-up to the federal election and……!!!

  10. John, not sure I can comment on that. I’m sure some things will change, but never enough.

    Our CHO Dr Jeanette Young said today that she would like to see 95% vaccination before opening up, in line with other major infectious diseases.

    It won’t be up to her, of course, because she’s heading for Government House, and will be replaced by Krispin Hajkowicz at the end of this month.

    He is bound to have his own ideas. I get the impression Young works with the Health Dept, Police, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath and Deputy Premier Steven Miles. They all seem to be on the same page.

    When Palaszczuk was asked a question on COVID the other day, she said she’d know when she got the phone call, then she’s be the first to let them know.

    NSW looks to me a bit like Britain at present, where they seem to ignore the virus and are happy with over 30,000 new cases par day and over 100 deaths.

  11. Brian: The new man in NSW doesn’t impress when it comes to covid. He sees it a disease control vs the economy with the economy being given more importance. Suspect that the border problem will persist for a while despite sensible developments when the deputy premiers talked to each other.

    1. There is every reason to be concerned I think. Certainly, early easing of lockdowns caused havoc, but there ought to be some positive effect from the vaccination density.
      I hear also that the ACT is on the cusp of loosening up, but I don’t know details.
      Here in Cairns, we have only 3 days of lockdown which was really just compulsory masks

  12. Geoff: Quite a bit of the lockdown damage was caused by a lack of interest in government’s putting the effort into finding ways to reduce the damage of lockdowns.
    Using the Qld border as the lockdown in the Tweed/Coolongatta area is an example. The border towns operated as one big city with residents from both sides normally crossing for work, healthcare, shopping etc. Logic says that the lockdown border should have been in the area between Evans head and Iluka where very few people live and very few people would need to cross daily and the few who did could be given special arrangements.
    for sure it is reasonable for existing borders to be used for a temporary crisis but changes should have been made.
    Much the same can be said for the use of LGA borders for setting lockdown boundaries.

  13. John, our last big lockdown (only a week or so) was 11 contiguous LGAs, one of which was Brisbane. The only real problem with that would be the state border with NSW.

    Perrottet has been fingered today for standing up in a bar when he should have been sitting, and not having an Auslan interpreter at a stage press conference.

    He’s on training wheels, but does he realise it?

  14. Brian: “John, our last big lockdown (only a week or so) was 11 contiguous LGAs, one of which was Brisbane. The only real problem with that would be the state border with NSW.”
    I am a bit more open minded about the are involved short lockdowns, particularly when you are not sure where contacts have occurred and where contacted people may have travelled to.
    Also not sure whether the 11 contiguous LGAs really needed to be all shut down or whether that reflects a lack of effort to look at what really needs to shut down.
    However, the last time I looked the Melbourne lockdown had been going to a world record 35 weeks! Effort really should have gone into looking at what areas really did need to be locked down and minimizing area locked down and lockdown times. Ditto challenging some lockdown rules such as curfews. (Excising late at night when there aren’t many people around makes more sense to me.) At one point a case in Shepperton Vic was the justification for shutting down a place 700 km away. A place that was about to have some big festival.
    In NSW the people of Wagga were really pissed when they were shut down despite not having a case in 400 days!! Vic and NSW premiers seem to be very capital city centric. (Qld premiers seem to do a lot better in this regard.)

    • Also not sure whether the 11 contiguous LGAs really needed to be all shut down or whether that reflects a lack of effort to look at what really needs to shut down.

    John, if I may say so, I think you have a tendency to think the worst of our mob. I can’t remember the details, but at the time I looked, and thought Dr Young was living a bit dangerously. Last year she probably overdid it through an abundance of caution. This year I have continually been surprised that she did not lock down more and longer, and relaxed way before she would have last year.

    Now I think it is because they have learnt a thing or two and are more confident about what they can do.

    From memory, we had 3 or 4 cases, and it was through thinking were they had been and where the virus could have spread.

    You were complaining that there had been no cases for x hundred kms, but when the virus came to you I seem to remember it came by air.

    Also we have been penetrated in recent delta times by no fewer than 7 infected truckies.

    Just saying.

  15. There was another little incident worth reporting.

    All we get here from the federal authorities, and the health people also piling in, is being shouted at and told how ridiculous we are.

    The other day Rebecca Levingston got Greg Hunt on the phone on local radio.

    I could not believe how he fawned and scraped, saying how brilliant Qld had been. At contact tracing, he said we were the best. So good in fact they had secconded the deputy CHO from Qld to the national program as yet another deputy CMO to work on contact tracing all over the country.

    We need some decent journalism to find out what is going on, but all we get is gotchas and stories.

  16. Third, and final for now.

    Clearly the virus loves big cities, and thrives when people are working under pressure in poorly paid jobs and part-time insecure jobs.

    I’ve always thought it was a different scenario in each state, so state comparisons don’t actually mean much.

    SEQ has some of that big city feel, but is not as dense. Qld is unique in having a provincial population larger than the capital. In fact its provincial population is more numerous than either NSW’s or Vic’s, and is spread over a far greater area. We also have a greater indigenous population than the two larger states.

    Within that broad canvas there are areas of real deprivation and of isolation.

    In SA, by contrast, they talk of “the settled areas” and it’s not much. People live just about everywhere in Qld. So cut us some slack in getting everyone vaccinated. We are not “lagging” we are getting there at a decent pace.

    And we saved Australian organised sport for Chrissake!

  17. Brian: “And we saved Australian organised sport for Chrissake!” Touchy, touchy, touchy?
    My real problem is that I think that, apart from starting vaccinations the medical side of the pandemic has been effective. On the other hand, with a bit more thought, a lot more could have been done to reduce the non-medical damage being done by the pandemic. What was missing were damage reducing task forces and the delegation of things like border disputes. (The NSW/Qld border issues were helped when it was handed to the deputy premiers for example.)
    Some of the medical focus was not helping medical issues.
    For example, the medical testing would have been more effective if more thought had been put into the people effects of medically testing:
    From a pure medical point of view the right thing to do was insist on people isolating for long periods after the test. Medically correct if you assume that this isolating policy made no difference to the number of people tested or the delay between people being infected and being tested. (The testing issue is not helped by the rather vague symptoms that are supposed to prompt a test.) We now have “instant tests but my impression is that medical people don’t like the test compared with the standard tests that require lockdowns guilty or not. I suspect a lot more people would be tested if the instant/no lockdown test was available. Perhaps people who are in critical jobs could be asked to test daily before starting work.

  18. John, certainly there should be a comprehensive revue of our COVID response, because it is not going to be the last pandemic the world will face.

    There has been too much group think, and too much commentary by socalled experts, some of whom have questionable expertise. Nearly 2 years down the track there seems to be an endless supply of professors I’ve never heard of previously.

    Here in Qld Palaszczuk is being caned by not nominating an opening date, with Christmas coming on. I think there is a problem with the changeover in CHOs at the end of this month. When a health emergency has been declared by law the CHO has the call. As I’ve said, there seems to be close co-operation with the relevant public service and ministerial operatives, but we have to expect that the new CHO will have his own contribution to make.

    My son tells me that on the Twittersphere Palaszczuk said yesterday that she would like to see everyone jabbed in the next 5 weeks.

    Certainly Yvette D’Ath and Palaszczuk have been pushing hard in public, D’Ath saying that it will go right through the unvaccinated, don’t assume you can avoid it, Palaszczuk emphasising that she wants all sections of the population covered.

  19. On the news tonight we had the latest unemployment figures. Employment, in hours worked, was down in NSW and Victoria, but up by 5% in Qld.

    So the recommendation from those who don’t live here, is for Qld to open up for the good of the economy, so that people here can get sick and die, and we lock down and be like everyone else, and then we open up so we can ‘live’ (and die) with COVID like everyone else.

    Or did I miss something?

    That’s disregarding SA, WA, Tasmania, of course, who don’t matter all that much and are allowed to do what they want, because they will anyway, and because not many people want to go there.

    I think I’ll give this up for now, and write about something else!

    1. Brian I agree let’s go non-Covid a bit.

      I’ve told JD that I’m late in the semester and already out of breath. I’m doing a Master social work at James Cook. Very strong focus on First Nations history, abuse, and much more. Right now I am writing a few words about Cameron Doomadgee, who died after just 40 minutes in police custody. Here’s the ABC doco:
      https://mediasite.jcu.edu.au/Mediasite/Play/b8b05b1110fa41ce8468805957015f0e1d
      Ten years on and the matter is still front of mind on Palm Island.
      See: https://nit.com.au/blak-lives-betrayed-mulrunji-doomadgee/

      There is a not terribly subtle invitation to comment about Indigenous generally, or more specifically on Palm Island. (Transparency notice: your commentary will likely find its way into my writing)

  20. In the 1970’s when we lived on Groote Eylandt, the locals were responsible for 30% of NT jail population. Interestingly, there were no Groote deaths in custody during the 8 yrs we lived on Groote. My theory was that any Groote Eylandters in jail would have plenty of support from rellies who were in jail at the same time. Some people also thought that jail was a rite of passage for young Groote Eylandt men.

  21. Brian: NSW regional travel postponed as towns lag behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates

    Sydneysiders will have to wait until November 1 until they can travel to regional NSW.

    There are now 77.8 per cent of people aged 16 and over fully vaccinated, with more freedoms set to return when the state reaches 80 per cent coverage.

    Regional travel was meant to be among the restrictions lifted at this milestone — expected to happen on Monday— but will now be delayed.

    Mayors from the regions are worried about the unequal vaccination rates between their areas and Greater Sydney, and how the virus could easily spread if regional travel was open to all.
    In the Byron Bay local government area (LGA), only 47.1 per cent of those eligible to get a vaccine have had two doses.
    The Hunter region’s Cessnock LGA and the Clarence Valley LGA in the state’s north also have low vaccination rates, at 58.4 per cent and 56.6 per cent respectively.

    The cases we get up here all seem to start with a visitor from Sydney. Northern rivers would be a lot better off if it was part of Qld.

  22. Funny, that. People from Sydney are buggering it up everywhere.

    John, between campaigning for the Greens do you have time to start a secession movement?

  23. Geoff, where I grew up we did not have any aborigines. Pretty much all cleaned out after the Hornet Bank Massacre, which my parents heard about when they were young from people who would have been alive at the time.

    I used to wonder how they lived in the dense scrub we had on the farm, but it probably thickened after they were thinned out.

    I’ve got my head into all sorts of things at the moment, flat out as a lizard drinking, as they say, or said. You’ll have to be patient with me.

    I’d certainly be interested in what you are writing.

    1. Brian my [faulty] opinion of Indigenous was formed by an uninformed account of Aboriginal peoples populating a not-so-proud suburb of Sydney – Redfern.
      I got a lot from Sally Morgan’s “My Place” that gave me the importance of Place in Aboriginal culture. Prior to that, I was restricted to a town-planning concept.
      There was then a TV series (Secret River, Kate Grenfell) and I went on to read the book. That stirred me a bit. Then came “Dark Emu” (Bruce Pascoe). Pascoe has copped criticism for some scholarly aspects of his book, but it is a good opener to changing the hunter-gather notion of Indigenous. A further read is Bill Gammage, “The Biggest Estate on Earth”. Have a look in your spare time Brian.

  24. Geoff: My initial links with Aborigines was based on membership of the university ABSCOL society in the early sixties. It was enhanced when I chaired a national ABSCOL committee that prepared the Aboriginal policy for NUSA (I think that meant National University Students Association.) This committee included the young Charlie Perkins.)
    Later on the Davidson’s spent 8 yrs living on the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal reserve and then 10 yrs at Newman at a time when it acquired a pretty disastrous fringe community.
    Trust me I am about to write a conversation post on Aborigines to satisfy your request for a discussion on Aboriginal issues.

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