Australia's high density buildings are not designed to mitigate the spread of a virus as they have poor air circulation, insufficient balconies, and are usually designed for people who are away all day and only home to sleep. Our cities do not have enough open space areas for residents in high density apartments to escape to, yet we are still inundated with business and media statements extolling the benefits of population growth that can be accommodated in ever higher densitie
The lab team behind the mutant variant was accused of “playing with fire.” Scientists at Boston University claim to have created a new variant of Covid-19 with an 80% mortality rate, by combining the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus with the original Wuhan strain. The research, which echoes experiments thought to have created the virus in the first place, has caused outrage.
A new network has been launched calling on the Australian Government to support a UN Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons.
This interview actually gets to the nub of why Julian Assange (and David McBride) are being persecuted and why most Australians and the mainstream press have almost no idea of what is going on. McBride , who is a professional soldier and lawyer, and served in Afghanistan, lends credibility to John Shipton's explosive analysis.
The public health measures that have worked so well in China should not be lightly dismissed.
In May and June of 2022 two milestones were passed in the world’s battle with Covid and were widely noted in the press, one in the U.S. and one in China. They invite a comparison between the two countries and their approach to combatting Covid-19.
For four days now my old body is fighting the COVID19. In this I had joined some 360 million fellow human beings. I was reluctant to write on this for many reasons including that the experiences of many others is far more poignant. Two faculty members at the university and two close relatives andseveral friends lost their lives already tp this virus. Dozens of friends and relatives also survived it and described the experience to me in detail.
Australians, and others, may be interested to compare costs and conditions in Norweigan hotel quarantine, as related and experienced by travel-blogger, Anton - who does some excellent film work with drones, in this and in his other videos, and has an original point of view. This video is highly informative about how Norway manages its oil profits and energy supply.
A Provocate press release dated Thursday 20 January 2022 claims that Australia has just passed two million official Covid cases today (Thursday), with one-in-10 New South Wales and Victorian residents now living with a diagnosis leading into the upcoming Federal Election, according to "the latest VaxEnomicTM Forecaster from C-suite strategy group."
Senior representatives of the five peak general practice organisations, including Presidents and CEOs, met yesterday with Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Minister for Regional Health David Gillespie to discuss the challenges facing general practice and the support needed to ensure GPs can stay open and deliver the essential high quality care Australians need at this time.
Recently the Serbian President Aleksander Vucic accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of a "political witch hunt" and of harassing the world's best tennis player.
Novak Djokovic's parents also slammed this decision to refuse their son's entry into Victoria for the Australian Tennis Open.
His mother claimed the anti-vaxxer and her multi-millionaire son was being wrongly detained in an immigration detention hotel with bugs and poor food.
The New South Wales Australia Premier, Dominic Perrottet, a practising Catholic with six children and a seventh on the way, took over from Gladys Berajicklan, a childless, unmarried woman.
Australia will reach one million people officially living with a Covid diagnosis within days – more than lung disease and cancer – with one in every 20 New South Wales and Victorian residents already contracting the virus, the latest VaxEnomicTM Forecaster from C-suite strategy group Provocate reveals.
There is not much comparison between the situation of the multi-millionaire tennis player Novak Djokovic and his fellow detainees in the Park Hotel, Carlton (in Victoria, Australia.) Petitioners for the release of the long term detainees and those for Djokovic have coincided over the last day but probably have little in common.
This is an allegorical poem about some creatures on a farm during a covid-like lockdown.
THE BARNYARD’S ARK by Sandra Garnier
Once upon a time in a land of endless sunrises and sunsets …
There lived a barnyard of animals
Of all descriptions, some large and some small
Some short and some tall.
They made up the barnyard family,
Amid the laughter, fun, and calamity
"I am highly concerned that residents’ rights are being eroded progressively and quietly by the State government through these Planning Reforms under the veil and distraction of a COVID emergency." (Kate Hely, Mayor of Stonnington.) The Toorak Residents' Group emailed the Malvern East Group material including the comments below, which are from the Mayor of Stonnington, Kate Hely, who, with a number of Mayors, had asked for a meeting with Minister Wynne to discuss the recent Planning Scheme Amendments. Minister Wynne chose not to meet with them. He sent one of his staff instead and the Mayors were NOT pleased. It is thought that he won't meet with the MAV either and that organisation is not pleased either. Mr. Wynne's disdain for local communities is well known.
"The State is looking to introduce a new Planning Reform that could lead to further removal of the community’s ability to shape local planning decisions; reforms that could remove your ability to meaningfully object to a development next door or down the road; and that could ignore the desire of our communities and the commitment of our councils to build neighbourhoods to be proud of.
I am highly concerned that residents’ rights are being eroded progressively and quietly by the State government through these Planning Reforms under the veil and distraction of a COVID emergency."
I recently led a group of 10 metro mayors who together represented 1.4 million people and 12,000 planning decisions a year to politely discuss our concerns about potential reforms with the Minister for Planning, and yet we were only deemed worthy of meeting his advisor.
We overtly asked to be involved in forming reform decisions but were essentially dismissed.
This week I heard that the President of the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria - the peak body for all 79 Victorian councils) had not even been able to get a meeting with the Minister to discuss the concerns of our sector. So councils have been proactively trying to cooperate and work with the State on these reforms, and yet the door remains shut to us.
Compounding this sense of alarm, Council officers have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements with DWELP (The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - which is the State Government department in charge of planning) such that they cannot share information about the proposed Planning Reforms with the community elected councillors.
….. They are attempting to block the ability for democratically elected community representatives to know about or feed into what will dramatically impact our community, villages, streets and neighbourhoods! Alarm bells should be going off!
I have not been given any detail about these reforms. There is a discussion that they could speed up the planning process. But is that by simply removing the voice of our community? There is discussion that the reforms will help to stimulate a post-COVID recovery. But are quick builds more important than long-term neighbourhood character and due consideration of context?
My neighbouring Mayor, Gary Thompson of Boroondara pointed out, “Over the last 24 years each State Government has introduced a few new Planning Provisions. The Andrews State Government has introduced 1/3 of all the Planning Provisions over the last 24 years in just over two and a half years…. Why? Because they have the power to do so in Government.”
This is not democracy in action. It is more like democracy being locked out of the room.
And it all might happen before Christmas. However, we don't really know because they will not share with locally elected representatives what’s behind the ‘secret planning reform’ door.
Stonnington Council has goals and plans for how we want to preserve and enhance our neighbourhoods, villages and streets. We have educated and sophisticated residents that expect to be able to have a voice in what happens in their neighbourhoods and streets. We have residents who expect their Council to advocate on their behalf. I am highly concerned about these reforms - and our community should be too."
During Victoria's lockdown(s), I re-read The Plague, by Albert Camus, which was a prescribed text for me and other Higher School Certificate students (Year 12) way back in 1972. The plot concerns the Algerian town of Oran, which is struck down by bubonic plague in the 1940s. The townsfolk are sealed off and isolated from the outside world, as the plague exacts an increasingly terrible and deadly toll. The book depicts their different reactions to their situation. It has immense power in getting to the heart of what things, and what values, are important in life.
The plague in Oran, and the coronavirus pandemic in Australia, have some clear differences. While the people of Oran are cut off from the world, they are not cut off from each other. They mix at restaurants and cafes and the like. Social distancing doesn’t play any noticeable role – whether this was wise from a health perspective is not spelt out.
Another noticeable difference is that the initial reaction of the townsfolk is largely selfish. It is over time that many of them come to the realization that “we are all in this together”, and join the efforts of the medical team to help those who have been infected. By comparison I feel that the initial response of Australians in 2020 to coronavirus was a “Team Australia” approach, but that as the pandemic has worn on that people have tended to become fatigued and less concerned about the welfare of others.
These differences notwithstanding, I think the book rings many bells for our present situation. Camus says the townsfolk initially believed the pestilence wasn’t real, or that it would soon pass. “A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure, therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogey of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away…”
Camus also says that the town’s leaders and officials were slow to take the plague seriously. He says they had good intentions: “That, in fact, was what struck one most – the excellence of their intentions. But as regards plague their competence was practically nil”. And the epidemic spells the ruin of Oran’s tourist trade.
Then the plague produces a new variant, moving from bubonic to pneumonic. The officials are left “groping, more or less, in the dark”. Camus observes that “Officialdom can never cope with something really catastrophic”. This realization prompts one of the book’s key characters to organize voluntary groups of helpers to help the sick.
Camus also discusses the fatalism in Oran at the time, which is echoed today in the regularly heard observation that “we are going to have to learn to live with COVID”. He wrote “Many fledgling moralists in those days were going about our town proclaiming that there was nothing to be done about it and we should bow to the inevitable”.
But he rejects that fatalism. He goes on to say “And Tarrou, Rieux and their friends might give one answer or another, but its conclusion was always the same, their certitude that a fight must be put up, in this way or that, and there must be no bowing down. The essential thing was to save the greatest possible number of persons from dying”.
Indeed. It is an issue of fundamental humanity. In the last year and a half most people I have talked to have overwhelmingly supported community action to save every possible life. They have not displayed any sympathy for the Darwinian “survival of the fittest” approach. I have been impressed by their basic humanity and concern for those around them.
The Plague is worth a read. It is not an easy book, but then we don’t live in easy times.
Dr Mike Hansen is a lung specialist who works in emergency medicine in the United States. He has been giving reports and updates on Covid 19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Here, he is very clear on Ivermectin dosage and risks, as well as analysing trials to date on its effectiveness. He also gives his opinion about the effectiveness of vaccines from his own experience treating thousands of hospitalised COVID-19 patients.
Candobetter Editor: We have been reluctant to get into any COVID-19 treatment controversies, because we figure it is hard enough dealing with a pandemic, without the additional stress of wondering about unproven treatments. Recent framing of Ivermectin as dangerous horse-medicine, however, is unfair and misleading. Ivermectin has been long been used to treat humans as well as other animals. This treatment might be controversial, but it should not be that controversial. We would make the case that, since people will take Ivermectin, whether or not it is prescribed by a doctor, it would be better for it to be prescribed and supervised by a doctor, to avoid the risk of major overdose and serious consequences. (Details on adverse consequences can be found in Dr Hansen's video: /node/6172.) The article below is based on a statement from the COVID-19 Antiviral Advisory Group, which references a major meta-analysis of Ivermectin as treatment and prophylaxis for COVID-19. A contrary analysis by can be found at https://www.cochrane.org/news/ivermectin-preventing-and-treating-covid-19. That study finds no proof as yet for or against. Another analysis by US lung specialist in emergency medicine can be found here: /node/6172.
Ivermectin for COVID-19: real-time meta-analysis of 63 studies - https://ivmmeta.com/. The COVID-19 Antiviral Advisory Group which advises more than 200 Australian doctors on early antiviral treatments for COVID-19 has called on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to immediately reverse its decision that was announced late on Friday, which effectively prevents doctors from prescribing an effective triple therapy medication off-label for COVID-19 because it includes ivermectin. The Antiviral Advisory Groups says, "This represents an unprecedented attack on the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and interferes with normal clinical practice."
The Group quotes Professor Robert Clancy:
“September 10, 2021, was a black day, the day a group of faceless bureaucrats known as the “Advisory Committee for Medicines Scheduling”, through its effector arm, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), compromised medical practice and the health of their fellow Australians. The TGA used its regulatory muscle to prevent doctors at the COVID-19 pandemic’s coalface from prescribing ivermectin (IVM), the one therapy available that is safe, cheap and which reduces mortality in the order of 60 per cent. This poorly conceived action threatens the high standards of medical practice we have achieved in Australia, and the credibility of the administrative structure within which medicine operates.” (Professor Robert Clancy in Quadrant Magazine - 14 September, 2021. Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Newcastle Medical School. Member of the Australian Academy of Science’s COVID-19 Expert Database. https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/public-health/2021/09/a-sad-and-shameful-day-for-australian-medicine/
The Advisory Group states that the TGA has seriously compromised Australian doctors’ ability to practice medicine and treat patients by banning the use of TGA approved ivermectin as an off-label prescription. It says that the TGA in its statement said it aimed to ‘protect public health’ but instead has damaged public health by increasing mortality.
The Advisory Group states that off-label prescriptions comprise more than 25% of prescriptions in Australia. This allows doctors to customise their treatment of care to patients for a vast range of chronic and life-threatening conditions.
"People are being sent home with a positive COVID-19 test and told to call a doctor or an ambulance if their condition deteriorates. Without the off-label ivermectin triple therapy as an treatment more people will die at home or end up in Emergency and ICU."
In their press release, they give the example of Patient Katia Dandan, who they say was severely ill with Covid and is now 100% healed, saying:
“I am alive today because of the courage of a doctor who was willing to prescribe ivermectin triple protocol. I do not want the people of Australia to be deprived of a medication that works. I do not want people to be allowed to die because TGA has some other agenda for banning this drug. It is a criminal act to ban a medication that saves lives.”
[Candobetter Editor comment: Patient testimony is not valid scientific argument.]
The COVID-19 Antiviral Advisory Group states,
"This is an unprecedented attack on the medical profession and the Australian people who trust us for their health. The TGA should not be telling doctors how to treat patients and practice medicine without proper and open consultation."
As a group we have given more than 450 patients Ivermectin Triple Therapy prescriptions which are saving lives and keeping people out of the emergency hospital system. On top of this, there have been hundreds of preventative prescriptions of this protocol to protect frontline health workers from infection. These treatments are extremely safe and effective and all patients we have treated have been healed within a matter of days.
The Group sees this is an unprecedented move by the TGA to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship without proper and open consultation. It says,
"The TGA is effectively stopping us from practicing medicine. Indeed, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt recently wrote to one of the doctors in Australia who prescribes ivermectin confirming that he was aware that some physicians are prescribing ivermectin off-label for Covid and that they were quite within their rights as:
“…the practice of prescribing registered medicines outside of their approved indications is not regulated or controlled by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), it is at the discretion of the prescribing physician”.
The Doctors in the COVID-19 Antiviral Advisory Group call for the TGA to:
· Immediately remove the Sept 10 Amendment in the next 48 hours because people will die.
· Provide complete transparency around the data and reasoning that has informed the TGA’s ban.
· Immediately provide Ivermectin Triple Therapy access to the 14,000 Australians in NSW currently in quarantine (and other States as needed), with a working party of frontline doctors overseeing distribution, management, and data collection processes.
The Group's press release concludes:
This TGA draconian overreach will drive patients out of doctors’ offices where they get safe, trusted medical advice and prescriptions, to self-treat using veterinary products. Ivermectin has proven to be safe and effective with 33 countries using it currently as part of COVID-19 therapy.
This Nobel Prize award-winning medicine was discovered 30 years ago. It has been safely prescribed more than 3.2 billion times to humans and has saved millions of lives. Ivermectin alone or in combinations has been used for long-term treatment of parasites which only require low doses. Slightly higher doses have been used safely for the aggressive Delta strain but using doses within published safe range. No increase in adverse side effects have been seen. Ivermectin toxicity is not a known condition.
“Ivermectin is generally very well tolerated, with no indication of associated CNS toxicity for doses up to 10 times the highest FDA-approved dose of 200 μg/kg.” See study in American College of Clinical Pharmacology published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
The Group concludes its statement:
Do we want to see more patients die in their homes and further stress our hospital system because they have been denied treatments by the TGA otherwise available overseas? To ban a TGA approved therapy when there are limited at home treatment alternatives for people diagnosed with COVID-19 will mean that patients will die.”
The claim that Australia has low supply of ivermectin is quite incorrect as there is an adequate supply for all in Australia through compounding chemists.
The Triple Therapy includes human prescription only Ivermectin, combined with prescription only Doxycycline and over the counter zinc. All doctors confirm that this is an early, safe and effective treatment for Covid but shouldn’t replace the need for patients to discuss vaccination with their doctors."
Short film interviewing Dr Tess Lawrie, leading UK researcher on Ivermectin early treatment protocols: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2EEDJuQNrI
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has welcomed the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that show population growth has fallen to near zero (0.1 per cent) despite an apparent baby boom. Yesterday, the ABS released figures for the year ending March 31. Australia’s population grew by 35,700 or 0.14 per cent. Annual natural increase was 131,000 and net overseas migration (NOM) was -95,300. This news came not long after NSW Health announced more than 19,000 babies were born in NSW hospitals from April to June this year, a nine per cent increase on the same period last year.
Victoria is also experiencing a baby boom with the maternity system stretched to “breaking point”, according to the Victorian health minister, Martin Foley.
“News that our overall population growth has dropped to almost zero is very welcome,” the president of SPA Ms Jenny Goldie says. “In the initial period of border closures, the large number of people leaving the country compared to those entering meant NOM was negative, though not quite enough to offset natural increase of 131,000. In the current year, growth will be higher since most of those that would leave Australia have done so already.
“Now is the perfect time to dispense with the Big Australia goal of perpetual population growth promoted by big business. Instead let’s aim for a stable and sustainable population. These new figures prove that it can be done.
“The annual growth figures from pre-Covid years, which sometimes exceeded 400,000, were simply not sustainable in environmental, social or economic terms.
“Environmentally, population growth causes loss of natural habitat through urban expansion and water diversion, and increases pollution, not least carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
“Socially, infrastructure never kept pace with the needs of a rapidly expanding population, and led to undue crowding in schools, congestion and longer hospital waiting times.
“Economically, workers suffered wage stagnation and capital was diverted from wealth- producing enterprises to speculating on rising land values, creating Australia’s housing unaffordability crisis.
“This is the time when we must review honestly the costs and benefits of the non-humanitarian parts of our migration program. We should never return to the days of immigration-fuelled high population growth,” says Ms Goldie.
An international taskforce created by a UNSW Science psychology researcher has recommended a set of neurocognitive and mental health questionnaires to harmonise the assessment of patients with long COVID.
The recommended tests and questionnaires, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, can be used internationally and in a variety of cultural settings.
“Because COVID-19 is a new disease and the research deriving from it is new, we need to develop excellent research methods to address questions, such as: how many people have the problem, how long does it last, how many patients fully recover, do these neurocognitive difficulties precipitate dementia in some people?,” lead author and Research Fellow in UNSW’s School of Psychology, Dr Lucette Cysique, says. “Now we will be able to assess these problems in the best way possible using these expert recommendations.”
Dr Cysique, an expert in HIV neuropsychology, last year set up a group made up of members of the NeuroCOVID International Neuropsychological Society special interest group, which is now a taskforce of more than 120 members. She says the NeuroCOVID International Neuropsychology taskforce recommendations encompass brief, medium, and comprehensive evaluations.
The brief evaluation includes a short screening conducted at a patients’ bedside or by telehealth, and short questionnaire to assess olfaction, taste, and mental health. At the more comprehensive level, there are options for cognitive computerised assessments, standard neuropsychological tests and objective testing of taste and smell. There are also mental health recommendations which cover a wide range of pandemic stress impacts and pre-existing psycho-social vulnerabilities. The recommendations can be applied in all phases of infection as well as in a variety of resource settings.
Dr Cysique and her colleagues trialled the recommended methods in the landmark ADAPT study led by Associate Professor Gail Matthews from the Kirby Institute, who is also Head of Infectious Diseases at St Vincent’s Hospital. The ADAPT study is over 150 individuals who have had COVID-19 for up to two years to understand how people recover following their infection.
“A significant proportion of individuals continue to have a variety of symptoms, or long COVID, several months after acute infection,” Prof. Matthews says.
Researchers within the study are exploring whether abnormalities in the immune response to COVID-19 are driving this new syndrome. “When studying a new phenomenon such as long COVID it is critical that we use a set of well validated globally generalisable measures such as these developed by the NeuroCOVID International Neuropsychology taskforce,” Prof. Matthews says.
Dr Cysique says the recommended methods showed up to 23 per cent of study participants had neurocognitive difficulties six months after infection.
“Importantly, we found that these neurocognitive difficulties were not associated with depression or anxiety but were associated with an increased immune response,” Dr Cysique says.
The use of standard neurocognitive methods was critical in finding this result.
Dr Cysique was one of the first neuropsychologists to recognise that COVID-19 may lead to neurocognitive complications. These complications may result from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, directly infecting the brain or provoking an abnormal immune response, she says.
“Both mechanisms occur in the context of HIV-related neurocognitive complications,” Dr Cysique says.
She says accurately knowing who is experiencing difficulties is the first step for intervention with long COVID.
“We know that some people develop a “brain fog” such as difficulties in concentrating and paying attention and this can persist months after infection,” Dr Cysique says. “In some patients, such difficulties are associated with a feeling of generalised fatigue which can be severe enough that people cannot work as efficiently as they used to.”
She says she hopes that the recommendations will lead to the creation of a large global research database which will produce robust research results to determine what is the frequency of neurocognitive problems in people with long COVID.
“This will assist in developing an accurate picture of what is the burden of neurocognitive difficulties post COVID,” Dr Cysique says. “This in turn will assist in patients’ management and inform health policies.”
I was talking to someone on the phone about something I had to do. She suggested that I go up and stay in The Lodge with Scott Morrison and work on it with him. She checked with "Scott" and got back to me immediately, that it was OK.
So I drove up to Canberra and pretty soon arrived at the front door of The Lodge. "Scott", who was expecting me answered the door and genially admitted me to a sort of foyer with seating and potted palms whose fronds floated overhead.
We immediately started talking about what we were doing together, which could have been running the country or making a submission about protecting the environment.
Pretty soon though, Treasurer Josh Freidenberg also arrived at the door, happily greeting both of us, seeming not to think anything was wrong.
I said to them "Look, I can't stay if both of you are going to be here."
They hesitated and made some smoothing noises about trying to work it out.
"Josh" said, "You've been vaccinated haven't you?" to which I answered, "Yes," but I said, "That doesn't really help in the situation."
I then left by the front door and made my way out to the road. Almost immediately, I realised that I wasn't sure how to get onto the road out of Canberra towards Melbourne. I seemed to have forgotten about my car and, instead, found a bus shelter with a map. I picked out a straight road right through the middle of the maze of circular roads, which I deduced was Northbourne Avenue. I was quite anxious at this stage and climbed on a bus.
In the bus I was siting next to a young woman and asked her - just as I had ascertained from the position of the sun overhead that I was travelling in the wrong direction - the way out of Canberra. She confirmed that I was in fact travelling in the wrong direction.
I got out at the next stop and tried to walk back the way we had come in search of another bus stop, but I was still on the same side of the road .
I then met a young man, who I asked for help. Meantime, I had realised that I wasn't wearing a mask. I could feel the police nearby and I was desperately trying to hide my face.
The two of us ended up in an outdoor food place which served all sorts of pre-prepared pizza and pie-like stuff. I wasn't at all interested in this fare, but felt obliged to get something, which I brought back to an outdoor table, and sat with this young man, eating.
When we had finished, I frantically gathered up the paper in which the food had been wrapped, fashioning it into a mask, and placed it over my face. We then took off on foot ….
I woke up at this point.
It's been a long time since I have seen my friends and family, who live interstate in Australia. There have been unprecedented border closures and, even when we could travel, it's been too risky, because we could pay dearly for our trip with two weeks isolation on our return. No doubt, due to the current COVID-19 situation, there will be those we will not see again. Some grandparents may never see their interstate grandchildren. Many special occasions will be missed.
This is pretty serious stuff. In fact, it is next in seriousness to the possibility of becoming very ill or dying from COVID-19.
Most of the Australian population has been very cooperative in trying to contain the virus, through self discipline and adaptability, and this has worked. Victoria brought a fairly torrid situation under control in 2020 through a severe lockdown, over many weeks. They are now, perhaps rather belatedly, trying to do this in NSW. These lockdowns cost us dearly in terms of people's incomes, loss of social outlets, loss of classroom education for schoolchildren, increased workload for teachers and parents. The arts have had to mark time for about eighteen months. There are delayed medical and surgical appointments, and then there are the mental health costs.
The financial costs will have been partially covered with "job keeper" and similar payments but the emphasis is on "partially." Rentals and mortgages have actually climbed during the pandemic, due to the protected status of the property development industry. The unreasonable price of keeping a roof over one's head means that no government payment can match the real cost of living in Australia. And, ultimately, who pays for this government protection of the incomes the industry deems its due, whilst renters and home-buyers cannot even go to work?
We hear much anxious talk about the future cost of COVID-19 tailored welfare payments, but will maintaining the property development industry, in the style it is accustomed to, mean reduced spending on other official hardship programs, like unemployment benefits and pensions?
One way or another, we are in a precarious situation.
Yet our Federal Government seems willing to increase the risks still more for all of us, by repatriating people currently overseas, in countries where new variants of COVID-19 are literally running rampant. Inevitably, many of those we repatriate now, will bring these infections with them. Inevitably, the virus leaks out of our makeshift quarantine arrangements and half a million Australian children suddenly cannot go to school again! Is this reasonable?
Much public sympathy is canvassed on the corporate and public media for these returning Australians, who went to see their relatives in another country, yet the same media never seem to express comparable sympathy for Australians who would like to see their relatives in another state again one day!
It is incomprehensible to me that the Federal Government apparently holds the Australian population in such low regard. Many of our woes were entirely avoidable. We knew the behaviour of the virus early last year, eighteen months ago. We knew it could be transmitted for up to fourteen days in asymptomatic people. That's a fundamental problem and requires either closed borders or purpose-built quarantine, not a stack of excuses. Our governments have failed to protect us and, in addition to treating our health and welfare in cavalier fashion, they have trashed our local economy and cost individuals and taxpayers $multi-billions.
I remain aghast at our political elite's repeated wilful reinfection of Australia's population, because they are also risking their own lives, and those of their wives, mistresses, friends and families. Similarly, I am completely bamboozled by the way they are also prepared apparently to trash the economy, normally their greatest priority and obsession, as it stalls with every outbreak.
The situation raises questions, which must have answers. Obviously there are benefits for some elites by letting overseas people return, even at the risk of being infected themselves. These benefits must be significant. One can only speculate as to what they actually are.
In the meantime, why have they not built proper quarantine facilities? How hard is it? True, they would need multiple well-trained personnel prepared to work in remote locations, and regularly quarantine prior to taking any leave. What would be wrong with using the army for this? It has doctors and nurses, prepared for every kind of event, and disciplined to remain on location until leave is deemed appropriate. At least, such a project would represent a planned inconvenience, rather than the series of botched quarantines by which we have been jolted.
Another possibility is that our political elites and their economic advisors operate with a kind of nincompoop optimism, and just hope that there will not be another outbreak, each time there is one. And so, they just put off organising better quarantine facilities. Along the same lines, the incomprehensible economic approach might be due to the fact that the usual economic theorists do not have a paradigm to deal with our current reality - or any reality, really. Usually they deal in trends, as if those trends were crystal balls to the future, although they are just extrapolations with a few variables. The pandemic has interfered with most trends, especially the population-growth trends beloved of corporate and government economic planners. This is like smashing the fortune-teller's crystal ball, while the wild wind of nature snatches away her tent, exposing the overdressed tart beneath.
Then again, the big boys, like the banks, the multinational internet companies, and many traditional corporations, are making billions hand over fist, and this is reflected in bloated but buoyant sharemarkets, so how could our financial and political elite really be sincerely concerned? Sure, there are going to be a lot of mortgage defaults and evictions not too far down the pandemic track, but the banks can always resell those foreclosed properties, so, why would they care about the fate of their ex-owners?
There is obviously money to be made by prolonging the pandemic.
I will leave you with that thought.
The mainstream media has given a great deal of coverage to the COVID-19 pandemic - as it should - but interwoven among the stories on poor vaccination rates, conspiracy theories, and the people ignoring quarantine, there is a consistent run of horror stories on the impact of lockdowns, often with a message that we must get back to the pre pandemic "normal" life. This is understandable, businesses are going broke, unemployment is rising, domestic violence and mental illness are increasing. It is an unpleasant situation, but returning to the old norm is not a solution. This, after all, was the lifestyle that created human movement into wilderness areas, bringing us into contact with pathogens that we have little resistance to combat.
While Covid is terrible, Ebola is far worse, as was the Black Death before antibiotics, and scientists warn that there are more diseases in the pipe line, either through contact with animals, or the mutations of existing ones. We have made pandemics more likely by concentrating humans in apartment towers, prisons, aged-care centres, and supermarkets. As well, we have simplified transmission, with fast transport systems that spread the virus rapidly around the globe, while human failures - denial, human rights issues - all assist in keeping the virus in circulation.
But while we anguish over these self-induced plagues, most of us are unaware of other plagues that threaten the global food system. The world is even more susceptible to an agricultural pandemic than it was to COVID-19, and is less prepared to fight it, simply because of the enormous range of threats to live stock and plants. Food production is also highly concentrated. In the US, three states supply 75% of the vegetables, and 2 percent of feedlots supply three-quarters of the country’s beef. More alarmingly, both crops and livestock are genetically uniform. "Over the past century, crops have lost 75 per cent of their genetic diversity, making them potentially more susceptible to new pathogens or pests.". (See https://ecos.csiro.au/australian-farmers-face-increasing-threat-new-diseases-report/.)
A quarter of the genetic material in America’s entire Holstein herd comes from just five bulls. Monocultures like this are exceptionally vulnerable to disease. They are like fast-food for pests, like locusts, rats or mice, and for pathogens like stem rust, rice blast, foot-and-mouth disease, avian flu, hog cholera, all of which threaten all our major food sources.
Foot-and-mouth disease is so contagious that the discovery of one case in a herd usually triggers mass culls. In the UK, an outbreak in Northumberland in 2001, occurred when contaminated pork, that had likely been illegally imported from Asia, was fed to a herd of pigs, triggering a national epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease. Soldiers were brought in to help slaughter the affected herds. Six million sheep, pigs, and cattle, died. As film of the British countryside alight with burning animal corpses, and bulldozers shoveling rigid carcasses into huge piles for incineration, reached more people, tourism dropped 10 percent. By the time the outbreak ended, at least 60 farmers had taken their own lives.
Researchers are racing to develop a treatment or vaccine for African swine fever. This highly contagious hemorrhagic disease does not infect humans, but in the past couple of years, it has killed a quarter of the world’s pigs. African swine fever has not yet been detected in Australia but in China, the virus has claimed at least 40 percent of the country’s pig population, and the price of pork more than doubled from 2018 to 2019 — a serious problem for a commodity whose cost has a high political significance, and forcing the government to import over a million tonnes in March this year. There has also been mass cullings of poultry in Korea, India and Japan due to the H5N1 virus. The situation was even worse in China, where 100 million young chicks were slaughtered because Covid travel restrictions had blocked poultry food shipments.
Australian agriculture, plants, animals, fish, and native fauna, are highly vulnerable to imported pathogens due to free trade, people movements, and a lack of understanding of the dangers. One example is Myrtle rust, a fungus that causes diseases in the plant family Myrtaceae, which is Australia’s dominant plant family, with over 2000 varieties, right across the continent. This Myrtle rust fungus jumped from the Amazon forests to eucalyptus trees, which had been raised in large commercial plantations in Brazil. Australian scientists warned governments of the danger in 2008.
The Invasive Species Council at https://invasives.org.au/our-work/pathogens/myrtle-rust/ describes how the rust was found on a commercial property in NSW in April 2010. And that, “Inexplicably, after just one week of searching and finding the rust in only one other nearby facility and none in surrounding bushland, the national response was stood down by a federal committee.” A national response was “only reinstated in December after the disease was found in in multiple sites” … and “deemed irradicable.”
“It has now spread to far north Queensland and Victoria and there are no control options in bushland. NSW has already made a preliminary determination to list myrtle and eucalyptus rusts as key threatening processes. They note that the area of highest risk in NSW – the coastal zone from Illawarra to the Queensland border – includes a large proportion of the state’s conservation reserve system, many Myrtaceae-dominated ecological communities, and most of NSW’s World Heritage-listed rainforest.”
Our failure to prevent this disease from entering suggests that we are likely to see many more, including rabies, which, if it became established, would have a profound toll on human and animal health, with mass cullings of domestic and wild dogs necessary.
This is borne out by the discovery of a new disease – cucumber green mottle mosaic virus – which suddenly appeared in the NT - devastating crops around Katharine and seems likely to spread to other regions. See https://nt.gov.au/industry/agriculture/food-crops-plants-and-quarantine/cucumber-green-mottle-mosaic-virus. Atlantic salmon have been hit by a virus that possibly arrived with imported fish food, while the white spot disease that hit prawn farms in Queensland has now spread to wild prawns and crabs. See https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2021-01-17/prawn-white-spot-virus-killing-wild-australian-prawns-and-crabs/13060200
The fungal disease wheat rust, which can reduce harvests by up to 40%, is believed to have arrived here in 1973, on the clothes of an international traveler. This strain has now been controlled but a new and more virulent strain, Ug-99 is sweeping through the world and is expected to reach Australia. See https://www.agriculture.gov.au/pests-diseases-weeds/plant/ug99
Honeybees pollinate a third of Australia’s food crops but they are under threat from the Varroa mite, as well as our absurd reliance on pesticides that are fatal to bees. Combined with an outbreak of foot and mouth disease these three would create a disastrous scenario according to Gary Fitt in his report to the CSIRO http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Farming-food/Innovation-and-technology-for-the-future/Biosecurity-Future-Report. Such a combination would not only cost Australia’s economy billions of dollars, but would also devastate our agricultural industries and environment and severely alter our way of life.
Gary Fitt reminds us that “Australia’s agriculture sector is already constrained by limited soil and water resources and future intensification will bring its own challenges through herbicide resistance and more intensive animal production systems. These factors could all increase the impacts of a biosecurity incident, and reduce the industry’s ability to sustainably meet demand”.
It is an alarming situation, considering that we need to increase food production in order to cater for a growing population, and the need to export food in order to balance our trade, which - through bad governance - depends heavily on imported goods.
To this we could add climate change.
It's interesting how so many sentences and ideas now trail off into the inevitable denouement "… but that didn't happen because of Covid"…"We had to change plans because of Covid." It's as though Sir Humphrey Covid is some VIP, for whom doors must be opened and the seas must part. Or, as though Covid is an unexpected first born baby to a couple in their 40s whose lives are now utterly transformed. "We couldn't celebrate Henry's birthday this year because of … Baby Covid." "Covid" could be anything or anyone terribly important - one's mother in law arriving from Europe or a visitation from a long dead relative. All must stop … for Covid!
One of my friends refuses to name this interloper, usually spoken of with such reverence. This seems an excellent way of handling the situation!
Sir Humphrey is noted more for what he prevents, rather than what he facilitates or mandates. Think of the thousands of people who have not attended football matches they otherwise would have flocked to, and further ,who have not caught planes, boarded cruise ships for exotic ports, nor played bingo in the ornate lounges of the oversized ships. Think of all the three-course breakfasts that have not been eaten in the multitudinous choice of ship and hotel dining rooms all over the world! Sir Humphrey has put a decisive stop to these hedonistic activities.
Millions of people have not attended work for months, because of one entity, already named and and derisively "knighted."
All these aforementioned effects are from the point of view of us "ordinary people." It is our friends and relatives plans that have given way to COVID-19. But what about if we look further out to decisions beyond our sphere of influence ? It seems that "Sir Humphrey" has affected activities on a much greater scale.
Even chronic wage depression, and endemic high rates of unemployment, will stop. These, associated with globalised out-sourcing, must stop for Covid. These, which blew out further after the Kennet-led destruction of state awards and John Howard’s new use of the Corporation clause in the Constitution, with a new stream of cheap immigrant labour (see above) - must stop for Covid. So we are now looking at the first increases in employment rates and wages prospects, for decades.
It has been hard, according to Australian farmers, to find fruit-pickers, since the highly exploitable backpacker stream dried up with Sir Humphrey Covid. See [Fruit Picking Jobs Australia]. However, Australians complain that they are often rejected when they apply to work. In fact a lot of Australians are working in the industry, now the farmers don’t have a choice to exploit disoriented young migrants. See, ”Thousands of unemployed Australians do go for fruit-picking”. Of course, if there are not enough Australians to pick the fruit for low wages, the fruit growers could get together and raise their prices. For this to be viable, Australia would have to stop importing fruit from countries with endemic slave labour, and Australians would have to buy fruit by the piece, rather than in large quantities that often are not eaten and go bad in the bowl. Low carb dieters and Dr Lustig (see, for instance, “Fat Chance Fructose 2.0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3WkXJokBAU), would all say that we have been encouraged to eat far too much fruit and fructose-laden processed foods, so raising the price of fruit would be all to the good.
Yes, Sir Humphrey, but ...
You would think that governments would be quaking in their boots as their personal and party investments in real-estate threatened to take a dive and the property developer-industry mafias and triads would start cruising with kalachnikovs past politicians’ private residences late at night. But this has not happened – because the governments control the remaining levers that regulate land and housing prices and they ARE the mafia. [See, for instance, Labor Inc.]
Yes, with the sudden drop in mass migration, both temporary, landed, and permanent, many expected a huge drop in land and housing prices. However, this did not happen, due to the Federal government outrageously permitting people to cash-in on their superannuation, and the Reserve bank dropping borrowing interest rates. This created even more buyers than usual. The pressure on supply led to higher prices. The pressure has extended to the regions, raising both purchase and rental prices in places where the homeless have traditionally fled in search of affordable rentals.
Instead of a famine, it’s been a feast for the land-speculators, and misery has compounded for the homeless and precarious. If Jimmy Dore is right (see also, below), this will form part of a cycle: as a proportion of people default on their mortgages, with the next financial crash or when the Reserve Bank raises interest rates again, the banks will just put them on the market again, and again, and again.
With Australia’s borders closed indefinitely, however, outsourced-state land-companies and their colleagues in private development, fear that persistent lack of mass migration will ultimately outlast the super-cash-and-low-interest-loans-bonanza-in-demand. Then, they fear, land and housing prices will finally fall to reasonable levels, far too low for the growth lobby’s addiction to the high prices.
They have a strategy though. As readers of /node/2363 know, the growth lobby in government and corporate form has been trying to liberate big houses on big lots from the tenacious claws of undeserving old ladies, who rattle about so wastefully within them, unreasonably refusing to die and make way for more deserving younger age-cohorts. For this purpose the Liberal (Turnbull) government initiated a ‘downsizing tax-break” from July 2018, whereby if you are 65 years old or older and meet the eligibility requirements, you may be able to make a downsizer contribution into your superannuation of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling your home. (They don’t check the size of your new home.)
And, of course, there is another string to this house-liberation strategy, involving nursing-homes, whereby you sacrifice your home towards the cost of your ‘care’ in a nursing home. Over 65s are not real welcome in ordinary hospitals these days, and tend to finish up in nursing homes when anything goes wrong, overfilling them. Thankfully, COVID-19 has helped liberate nursing homes as well as houses, but apparently this may not be enough.
Which brings us to the ultimate strategy – or should I say - ‘final solution’? The AstraZenica vaccine. Introduced with a friendly face, initially, AstraZenica has acquired a spectral character, not unlike those Grim Reapers of the 1980s AIDS safe-sex ads. It has gradually been withdrawn from use by younger cohorts, until now, only those usually considered ‘too old to work’ - the ones who are imagined to rattle alone in rambling residences in leafy suburbs – qualify for AstraZenica, and only for AstraZenica. We are told that the average odds of their dying from the ‘rare blood clotting disorder’ linked to the AstraZenica vaccine are lower than the average odds of their dying of COVID-19 – if they get it. And they are damned if they do take the vaccine and damned if they don’t, because one or the other may still get them.
Are the risks of enough elderly thus liberating large lots in leafy suburbs for subdivision statistically high enough to compensate for low migration for a few years? It is difficult to estimate exactly, but every little bit helps, Sir Humphrey.
The United States government PLANNED for mortgagees to lose their homes from the 2009 financial crash?
In this Youtube broadcast of 23 March, Jimmy Dore gives his interpretation of how United States' Democrats planned to cause ordinary Americans to lose their houses as a consequence of the 2009 financial crisis! Incredibly, they seem to have colluded with Wall Street creditors to enable them to be able to seize mortgaged homes when mortgagees found themselves unable to make repayments.
You may have been wondering when and who would point out the silver lining in the current situation, where the interruption of decades of mass immigration has seen employment prospects and living standards for many ordinary people looking good in Australia for the first time in decades. If so, you will be very pleased to catch the following interview between 2GB's Michael McLaren and the Sustainable Australia Party's William Bourke, on this very issue. We are living through fascinating times.
On 10 May 2021, Michael Mclaren (2GB radio) was joined by William Bourke, President of the Sustainable Australia Party, to comment on the RBA’s report that suggests that the pause in immigration due to the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to higher living standards in Australia and could spark wage rises in some regions and industries - even though the economy will be smaller than previously expected. In its quarterly statement on monetary policy the preceding week, the RBA noted, “The Australian economy is transitioning from recovery to expansion phase earlier and with more momentum than anticipated.”
[Candobetter editor: Note that this was done via automatic transcript then corrected by a human editor. Please let us know if you find any mistakes.]
MICHAEL : Well, there has been a lot of side-effects from the Cornona Virus … we’re probably all sick to death of talking about it but, one that probably hasn’t been mentioned is that it has done a couple of people probably out of a job – at the very least, it has proved them right – I’m talking about the team behind the Sustainable Australia Party – because, if nothing else, COVID has closed the borders. There are now no real prospects of masses of migrants coming in to work or to fill job vacancies, or whatever the story was, prior to the pandemic.
However, as I said, I think it has proved the point, because, for many years, William Bourke and the whole team behind him at Sustainable Australia and people like Dick Smith, who’ve supported them, have been banging the drum of logic, saying that Australia does not need unsustainable levels of growth in the population to remain wealthy, to remain prosperous, indeed to grow.
And, sure enough, they have now got an ally, I don’t know if they meant to or not, in the form of the Reserve Bank. In their quarterly statement, on monetary policy – it was released on Friday - most people don’t read it of course – but they made the point that the level of GDP – Gross Domestic Product – is expected to remain a little below forecast before the pandemic – mostly due to the lower population growth – however, in per capita terms, GDP is expected to be on a higher trajectory, supported by higher per capita household income and a strong contribution from public demand. In other words, the pause to Big Australia will lead to higher living standards and could spark wage-rises in some regions and some industries according to the Reserve Bank.
Now, the Big Australia advocates said this was impossible. Many of us said they were wrong all along and motivated by greed.
Well, William Bourke is the President of the Sustainable Australia Party and on the line. William, nice to talk with you again.
WILLIAM BOURKE: Good to be with you, Michael.
MICHAEL: Sadly, I suppose, COVID has done you out of a gig. The borders are closed. The population will flatline for a while, and the experiment that you’ve called for will happen, for no other reason than medical science has demanded it happens. I suppose, if you are proved right, you will go out a happy man, won’t you?
WILLIAM BOURKE: Well Michael, obviously population growth is something we’ve been concerned about, since we’ve been going – probably a decade or so. We’ve got some other issues we do stand for, overdevelopment and environmental issues, but yes, absolutely, it’s amazing that COVID has revealed, once and for all, that high immigration is notnecessary to either keep the economy growing, or to create jobs.
So, it’s great to see the RBA coming to their senses. And many other mainstream economists are also saying things like, ‘Lower immigration is equalling higher wages.’ So there’s a great lot of things that are coming out of this unfortunate COVID pandemic.
MICHAEL MCLAREN: And it’s logical, is it not, because, when you flood the economy with workers, obviously the whiphand is that of the bosses. They can say to Bob, well, if you don’t want to work for that amount of money, I’ll go over there to Frank. He’ll do it. But when the number of people available for jobs is smaller, Bob and Frank both start, all of a sudden, to have a bit of bargaining power, don’t they!
WILLIAM BOURKE: Indeed, and obviously, when you bring in highly exploitable people, who really don’t have a lot of bargaining power, who aren’t part of … I guess, unions and so forth, then you can beat down wages. And we’ve seen a lot of – you know – probably the lowest growth in wages over the last decade in the last century.
These things are now starting to see a pick-up in wages, and that’s a good thing for the average Australian.
MICHAEL MCLAREN: They are. I saw that Tom Dusevic of the Australian said, and I quote,
”During recent years, when population growth averaged a rich, world-leading, one and a half per cent a year [...]"
- which is just madness -
“with two thirds of it due to net-overseas migration, per capita incomes fell, even though national output was expanding at a fast clip, compared to our peers.”
In other words, the nation was getting wealthier – that’s National GDP, the individuals that make up the nation, that do the work, were actually going backwards.
WILLIAM BOURKE: Exactly, and the point there being that GDP per capita is really the proxy for living standards. So, the aggregate growth in GDP really doesn’t matter, if all of us are going backwards on average. And we know that there has been a lot of discussion about, you know, this 20 plus year run of ‘no recessions’ and so forth, but if you look at it on a GDP per capita basis, there were three recessions over the last 25 or so years, where GDP per capita went backwards, two quarters in a row. So, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we really need to look at the per capita of GDP, not the aggregate level.
MICHAEL MCLAREN: Yep. Now, none of this is to gloat. There are some sections of the economy which are doing it particularly difficult. The business model was heavily reliant on the migrant labour workforce. Hospitality, for example, their business model has been disrupted. A lot of people are doing it tough, but on a per capita basis, the average Australian looks like they may come out in front. And, of course, again, to be completely up-front, a huge amount of stimulus from the Federal Government also helps in that respect, and to remove that might have created a different story, but it just goes to prove the point, does it not, William, that you don’t need record levels of migration to continue economic growth?
WILLIAM BOURKE: That’s exactly the point. There’s a lot of studies out there about the impact of immigration on the economy, but a lot of it is based on, you know, assumptions. This is empirical evidence. This is very very very clear now, that where there is no immigration, we are still growing our economy and we are still creating jobs, and we have actually reduced the unemployment rate. So we’ve gone from seven odd per cent down to about five and a half per cent, and we look like going down to around four and a half per cent. That’s because a lot of people who have been long-term unemployed are now getting an opportunity to get a job. And isn't that a great thing?
MICHAEL MCLAREN: Well, it is and the tighter labor market Also pushes an important extra emphasis on behalf of government, and even business, on the issue of skills or re-skilling the Australian population, including those that are unemployed.
Most unemployed people want to work. They take they take no pride in not having a job but they may not have the skills to do it, so, you know, it's great. We've got the budget, of course tomorrow night. There may be something in there about this too, but there is a greater emphasis on business and government to say, well, look, you're not going to get the fresh blood in anytime soon. There is a bit floating around here though that needs a gig. Train them up, get them in a job.
WILLIAM BOURKE: There's a much greater focus on training and education as you say Michael and I'm sure that Treasurer Josh will be mentioning much more investment in training and education in the budget, and I've seen, you know, some media reports to that extent. So that's it. That's a really encouraging thing, because at the end of the day, we do have the labour here in Australia. We do need to continue to evolve our economy and evolve our skills. And that's what's happening right now, and it's a good thing.
MICHAEL MCLAREN: And, Will, to add to all of this, the re-emphasis, or the newly emerged emphasis, on needing to be more self resilient, more independent, instead of relying on international supply chains and there. And, there again, all of a sudden, you are incentivising people to re-establish, or freshly establish, sovereign industries in this country, particularly manufacturing-oriented industries, which – again - will help mop up a percentage of the unemployed.
WILLIAM BOURKE: Exactly right. And, at the moment, you're probably aware, the Upper Hunter by-election is on in New South Wales. We've got a candidate running there and he works on the railways.
He's an engineer working on railway maintenance and, you know, we built the Tangara trains in Newcastle, you know, the Hunter area and now we're importing them from South Korea. So we need to turn back to making our own trains. And manufacturing, you know, our medical supplies. All of those issues that we thought we can just outsource overseas. I think we're now realizing finally that that's not a sustainable way to run an economy.
WILLIAM MCLAREN: Why then for so many years, we mention those record levels of immigration, despite the average Australian not wanting it. People are in favor of some immigration, sure, a bit of fresh blood doesn't hurt, but there's sort of nonsense of one-and-a-half percent growth per year. It was just a disaster on the property , on traffic – everything. Services. Why did it persist for so long? I mean, I'm a bit ignorant, I suppose, but I thought that democracy was basically the elected officials representing the will of the people, but on that issue, it couldn't have been more opposite. So, why did it persist for so long?
WILLIAM BOURKE: So, I think Michael there are some groups in our society, in our economy, in our political environment, they have a little bit more power than the average person. And obviously, you know, the property industry, you know, big business and so forth. You know, they have a fair bit of sway. They've been complaining, even very lately about skills shortages and, Immigration Minister Alex Hawk, has just allowed a doubling of the hours of foreign students from 20 to 40 hours a week. So they're having a lot of influence, you know, because of political donations and other aspects of the body politic. And I guess that it would be nice if we did have a plebiscite or a referendum. Do we want to grow our population at this extreme rate of 1.5 plus percent when the developed world really should grow at, you know 0.2 per cent at the most.
MICHAEL MCLAREN: I was a little facetious early when I said that covid had probably done you out of a gig. Sustainable Australia, as you quite rightly said, stands for more than just a population issue. Just talk us through a little of what else it is that interests your party.
WILLIAM BOURKE: Well, we're a fairly centrist party Michael. So, you know, we talk about the big picture issues that matter. Obviously sustainable is about protecting our environment, and we really do want to make sure that, you know, we're not sprawling our suburbs, over our agricultural farm land. For example, we really want to stop overdevelopment and return planning powers to local communities.
I'm running in the North Sydney council elections in a couple of months. So, you know, making sure that local people have a say on the character of and the heritage values of their neighborhood. So those are some of the issues.
Corruption is an increasingly big issue that we're focusing on and I think there's a bit of corruption in this Big Australia, where vested interests are influencing our politicians rather than the public interest being put first. So that's just a couple of things that we stand for.
MICHAEL MCLAREN: A lot of common sense. Always good to talk to you. We’ll speak again, soon, William. Thank you so much for all that time.
WILLIAM BOURKE: Thanks for having me. Michael.
MICHAEL MCLAREN: That's my pleasure William Burke. As I said the President of the Sustainable Australia Party
India is in a terrible state due to the pandemic, a situation largely the result of gross mismanagement by the government. The spread of the virus was difficult to control because of high-density cities that made lock-downs extremely difficult for residents, and safe separation impossible. A highly infectious new variant may also be a driver, but there are other factors, including an underfunded health service, and a severe shortage of doctors. India needs about 600,000 more doctors, just to meet the WHO recommendations for doctor to patient ratio. Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. A study by the Indian Journal of public health found that, because of population growth, India will need another 2 million doctors by 2030.
Yet training more doctors is but part of the solution, as it is becoming increasingly clear that India is in a highly competitive battle with developed countries to retain the services of their newly minted doctors.
“Out of the total number of graduates, 10% are opting for pastures abroad. The basic fact is that India needs them, and India is not in a position to retain them,” says Dr. Vedprakash Mishra, vice chancellor of DMIMS University, a medical college in Nagpur.
In 2007, the WHO estimated that over 100,000 Indian-trained doctors were employed overseas. About half these expatriate Indian doctors were in the US, followed by the numbers in Canada and Australia. About a third of doctors practicing in Australia and Canada had done their initial training overseas, many being from developing nations. In 2017, there were 4771 Indian doctors working in Australia, as well as 2287 from Africa, and even 116 from Oceania. Not all overseas-qualified doctors in Australia are working as doctors because of professional qualifying hurdles, meaning that many skilled migrants may find it impossible to find employment in their chosen career.
From an economics point of view skilled migration is a bargain. It’s also immoral, but morality isn’t part of economics.
Maybe we could adapt our foreign aid to subsidize the employment of doctors in poor countries?
Australian Government Report: "Medical practitioners workforce 2015, Who are medical Practitioners?"
Farz Edraki and Cathy Pryor, "Doctors and engineers end up driving taxis': The uphill battle facing migrants to Australia," ABC, 31 October 2019.
Navin J Antony, Health care: India needs more doctors," The Week, August 17, 2019.
Table 1: Employed medical practitioners: country of initial medical qualification, 2015
Some people assert that only populations vulnerable to severe impact from COVID-19 should be quarantined, but this article shows how difficult this is. In fact COVID-19 vulnerable people are also those who require a lot of professional health care maintenance, however they cannot access that health-care when there is a high infection risk of COVID-19. They are, in effect, on the horns of a dilemma, if we don't suppress this disease and their diseases. The article below, based on a UNSW and international study has a number of recommendations for dealing with the current problem.
The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated into a ‘syndemic’ for people with chronic illnesses, a new UNSW study analysing data from low and middle-income countries shows. There has never been a more dangerous time than the COVID-19 pandemic for people with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer, respiratory problems or cardiovascular conditions, new UNSW Sydney research has found.
Among the adverse impacts of the pandemic for people with NCDs, the study found they are more vulnerable to catching and dying from COVID-19, while their exposure to NCD risk factors – such as substance abuse, social isolation and unhealthy diets – has increased during the pandemic.
The researchers also found COVID-19 disrupted essential public health services which people with NCDs rely on to manage their conditions.
The study, published in Frontiers in Public Health recently, reviewed the literature on the synergistic impact of COVID-19 on people with NCDs in low and middle-income countries such as Brazil, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Nigeria.
The paper, which analysed almost 50 studies, was a collaboration between UNSW and public health researchers in Nepal, Bangladesh and India.
Lead author Uday Yadav, PhD candidate under Scientia Professor Mark Harris of UNSW Medicine, said the interaction between NCDs and COVID-19 was important to study because global data showed COVID-19-related deaths were disproportionally high among people with NCDs – as the UNSW researchers confirmed.
“This illustrates the negative effect of the COVID-19 ‘syndemic’ – also known as a ‘synergistic epidemic’ – a term coined by medical anthropologist Merrill Singer in the 1990s to describe the relationship between HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and violence,” Mr Yadav said.
“We applied this term to describe the interrelationship between COVID-19 and the various biological and socio-ecological factors behind NCDs.
“So, people are familiar with COVID-19 as a pandemic, but we analysed it through a syndemic lens in order to determine the impact of both COVID-19 and future pandemics on people with NCDs.”
Mr Yadav said the COVID-19 syndemic would persist, just as NCDs affected people in the long-term.
“NCDs are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors and there is no quick fix, such as a vaccine or cure,” he said.
“So, it’s no surprise we found that NCD patients’ exposure to NCD risk factors has increased amid the pandemic, and they are more vulnerable to catching COVID-19 because of the syndemic interaction between biological and socio-ecological factors.
“The evidence we analysed also showed there was poor self-management of NCDs at a community level and COVID-19 has disrupted essential public health services which people with NCDs rely on.”
Tackling NCDs in the COVID-19 era
Mr Yadav said the researchers’ findings led them to recommend a series of strategies for healthcare stakeholders – such as decision-makers, policymakers and frontline health workers – to better manage people with NCDs in light of the COVID-19 syndemic.
“Healthcare systems – such as Australia’s – do have some of these strategies in place, but they need improvement,” he said.
Highlights from the recommended strategies include:
• Develop plans for how to best provide health services to people with NCDs, from the moment they are assessed through to their treatment and palliation.
• Develop digital campaigns to disseminate information on how to make positive behaviour changes and better self-manage NCDs and COVID-19.
• Decentralise healthcare delivery for people with NCDs: involving local health districts and investing in community health worker programs could help to mitigate future outbreaks. In addition, tailor self-management interventions for people with NCDs.
• Ensure effective social and economic support for people with NCDs who are vulnerable to catching COVID-19, particularly Indigenous, rural, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and refugee communities, as well as people with severe mental illness.
• Evaluate technology-assisted medical interventions to improve healthcare services, because complex case management, assessment and support is increasingly being done via telehealth appointments or other technology.
Why healthcare must focus on prevention
Mr Yadav said high-income countries could also learn from the researchers’ findings.
“COVID-19 has been a major threat to people with NCDs in developed countries – for example, new statistics from Britain show that in 2020, high numbers of people in England and Wales died from NCDs at home after shunning the healthcare system because of the pandemic,” he said.
“In Australia, COVID-19 will increase inequality and poses a risk to some high and middle-income earners, but it’s a double threat to others such as Indigenous, rural, CALD and refugee communities, as well as people with severe mental illness – as reflected in our paper.”
Mr Yadav said in Australia in 2018, the most recent data available, 89 per cent of deaths were associated with 10 chronic diseases.
“The Australian healthcare system needs a bigger focus on preventive healthcare, to improve outcomes for patients with NCDs and prevent more people from developing these diseases amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Mr Yadav said putting serious preventive healthcare investment on the backburner could lead to individual, societal and economic upheaval in the long-term.
“If this trend continues, Australia will struggle to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.4, which is to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by a third by 2030 – relative to 2015 levels and to promote mental health and wellbeing,” he said.
“Investment in prevention today will help save healthcare costs in the long-term, help reduce the incidence of NCDs and enhance our resilience against future pandemics.”
RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said that GPs would be managing the long-term impacts of the virus on some patients for years to come.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is warning government that GPs will need adequate resources to manage the long-term care of COVID-19 positive patients. The RACGP has released a guide for GPs providing care to adult patients who have previously tested positive to COVID-19 or have a history suggestive of undiagnosed COVID-19 and have - or are at risk of - post-COVID-19 conditions. The guide was developed in collaboration with HealthPathways. RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said that GPs would be managing the long-term impacts of the virus on some patients for years to come.
“Some COVID-19 positive patients quickly make a full recovery but that is certainly not the case for all people,” he said.
“Evidence is emerging that some patients are being left with serious physical, cognitive and psychological impairments that will require long-term care. For these patients, it is not a case of contracting the virus, getting better and never thinking about it again.
“Post-COVID-19 conditions include lung scarring, post-viral fatigue as well as ‘brain fog’. Emerging data suggests that up to 80% of people with severe cases of COVID-19 resulting in hospitalisation will experience post-COVOD-19 conditions.
“There is also evidence that people who have contracted COVID-19 exhibit neurological symptoms, from loss of smell, to cognitive impairment, to an increased risk of stroke. There are also potential long-lasting consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following severe illness, liver dysfunction, and heart failure.
“These long-term effects are likely to be particularly severe for older people, those with chronic disease and those who experienced severe acute COVID-19. GPs will be crucial in managing the health and wellbeing of these patients in the years ahead.”
The Acting RACGP President said that GPs need government support in caring for the potentially significant needs of patients with post-COVD-19 conditions.
“When we look at the patients most likely to suffer severe post-COVID-19 health concerns it is older people and those with multiple chronic conditions, including patients who have delayed or avoided care during the pandemic,” he said.
“A voluntary patient enrolment model, where clinics receive additional payments for ‘enrolling’ a patient with a regular GP, would be particularly beneficial for these patients. This model enhances comprehensive care for patients and reduces hospitalisations for those who frequently visit GPs.
“Post-COVID-19 health impacts will take a significant toll on many patients including on their mental health. The guide is mindful of this and includes information on accessing mental health services or online supports.
“The Federal Budget included a $100.8 million investment in extending the doubling of Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people who have used their initial 10 sessions.
“That is a welcome announcement that will make a real difference. However, in the longer term, many patients including those suffering the after effects of COVID-19 would benefit enormously from new Medicare subsidies for longer consultations.
“Longer consultations allow GPs to take the time to talk through what our patients are experiencing and how we can help them.
“Similarly, new Medicare subsidies for longer consultations for people with chronic conditions would be very helpful. These are the patients who require a bit more time and attention, particularly if they have had COVID-19.”
The guide includes information on:
· infection control precautions and advising patients that having COVID-19 may not confer complete immunity
· collaborating with the patient to develop an individualised plan to support their recovery. This also presents a unique opportunity to optimise the management of existing chronic conditions
· providing care for specific groups recovering from the virus including those with severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation, older patients and people with disability
· options for enhancing support for patients including home delivery of medicines, assistance with food and meals and support lines including the Older Persons COVID-19 support line.
Long Term Effects of COVID (“Long-Haulers”)
"Can the people with COVID suffer long term effects? Including long term effects that affect the brain? Yes. These are the so-called “long-haulers.” And it is not necessarily just people with COVID who have required the intensive care unit."
"Dexamethasone, a steroid medication, specifically a glucocorticoid. Yes, it can cause anxiety, irritation, psychosis, delirium, sleep disturbance. This is why when we do give steroids, we try to avoid giving them before sleep. When assessing someone’s mental status, or psychiatric state, its important to know what they are normally like at their baseline. Are they acting differently? That’s really what you’re looking for. Steroids are prescribed very frequently, and these side effects, are not necessarily rare, its not like we give steroids and necessarily expect them to have these side effects. It's very hard to put a number on how often these side effects occur because there are so many different medications that can cause these symptoms and so many other factors that can contribute towards mental status changes. So you will never get a concrete number on how often these mental side effects occur, but if I had to put a number, I would say less than 10%, at least based on my experience of giving thousands of patients steroids.
Well, let me start out by saying there are over 30 million documented COVID cases and 1 million deaths worldwide, and over 200,000 deaths in the US. The clinical spectrum of disease can range anywhere form no symptoms to mild symptoms, to pneumonia, to ARDS and shock with multiorgan failure, and death. Because COVID is a new disease, the possible long-term health consequences, are still not well-known. So these long-term effects of COVID, we can call this postacute COVID, defined as the presence of symptoms extending beyond 3 weeks from the initial onset of symptoms. And Chronic COVID is beyond 12 weeks.
But postacute COVID syndrome is not just seen in those who had a severe illness and were hospitalized. In a telephone survey conducted by the CDC among a random sample of 292 adults (≥18 years) who had a positive outpatient COVID test and were symptomatic, 35% said they did not return to their usual state of health 2 weeks or more after testing. And this occurred in all ages of adults.
The most commonly reported symptoms after acute COVID are fatigue and dyspnea. And this is exactly what I’ve been seeing with some of my patients with COVID. This persistence of fatigue, and feeling short of breath. Other symptoms include joint pain and chest pain. In addition to these symptoms, there are cases of patients with specific organ dysfunction, primarily involving the heart, lungs, and brain. This might be a result of the viral invasion, by hijacking those ACE2 receptors in our body, but it can also be related to the intense inflammation and cytokine storm, or a combination of these.
In a study of 55 patients with COVID, at 3 months after discharge, 35 had persistent symptoms and 39 had abnormal findings on chest x-ray or CT scan, meaning interstitial thickening and evidence of fibrosis, meaning scarring. In 2 different studies that were done, they looked at patients with COVID who were discharged from the hospital. At about three months after discharge, about 25-30% of patients had at least some impairment in lung function, as evidenced by pulmonary function tests.
Heart damage, aka myocardial injury, as defined by an increased troponin level in the blood, has been described in patients with severe acute COVID. Inflammation of the heart muscle, meaning myocarditis, in addition to heart arrhythmias, has also been described after SARS-CoV-2 infection. I dedicated an entire video to this topic, so you can check that out for more details. The virus that causes COVID, SARS-CoV-2, can infiltrate brain tissue when the virus gets in the blood. It can also get to the brain by invading the olfactory nerve, which is the nerve responsible for the smell. This is why the loss of smell is a common symptom. Besides the loss of smell and loss of taste, the most common long-term neurologic symptoms after COVID are headache and dizziness. Less common, but still possible, is stroke, brain inflammation, meaning encephalitis, and seizures. In previous pandemics with SARS, MERS, and influenza, some people who recovered from those illnesses had neuropsychiatric issues that lingered for months. So were talking about cognitive health here, like depression and anxiety. And the post-COVID is known to cause “brain fog” and mood swings, this has been reported up to 2 to 3 months after initial COVID" illness. [Source: Partial transcript accompanying the video above.]