Thursday, 21 October 2021

COVID-19 State of Play: Northern NSW infection growth 15 to 19 October 2021


Between Friday 16 October and Tuesday 19 October 2021 there were 6 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases across postcodes 2460, 2462 & 2463 in the Clarence Valley Local Government Area,   In the same time period there was 1 case reported in Lismore LGA and 1 in Ballina LGA.


Up to 19 October there have been a total of 102 COVID-19 cases recorded in the Northern NSW Local Health District since the Delta Variant Outbreak entered north-east NSW on or about 13 September 2021 and within days community transmission started to spread into all 7 local government areas.  


It would appear that to date around 28 per cent of all people in north-east NSW infected in this outbreak reside in the Clarence Valley.


Wednesday, 20 October 2021

A brief overview of part of Day Two of 2021 NSW ICAC Operation Keppel investigation public hearings


 

Apparently the Liberal MP for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire first approached the NSW Minister for Sport Graham Annesley in September 2012 requesting the minister meet with the Executive Officer of the Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA), concerning the possibility of a government grant to upgrade the facilities of an existing regional gun club in his electorate.


At that time Liberal MP for Willoughby Gladys Berejiklian was Minisrer for Transport and it is understood from evidence given to ICAC in 2020 that the admitted close personal friendship of Maguire and Berejiklian began sometime between 2013 and 2015.


The outcome of that particular meeting was a ministerial request that funding be sought from within the then Liberal MP for Manly & NSW Treasurer Mike Bairds portfolio. However as a low-priority project it was rejected for funding the 2013/14 state budget.


Sometime in January 2016 the Member for Wagga Wagga appears to have again written to Minister for Sport (now the Liberal MP for Penrith Stuart Ayers) advising that the Australian Clay Target Association’s original somewhat sketchy proposal had been tightened and reworked from an upgrade of the shooting range to the building of a suitable new clubhouse.


At that time Maguire informed the Minister for Sport that he had also approached the Treasurer. By this time Gladys Berejiklian had been NSW Treasurer since 2 April 2015.


It was also after January 2016 that the funding request had morphed into a plan to for ISSF level facilities as well as a new clubhouse and office complex.


It seems ACTA had $1.2 million set aside for this project and was requesting an additional $4.9 million in funding from the Baird Coalition Government.


Presumably for the Wagga Wagga club to compete for hosting rights to a World Cup event for trap shooting - even though there was already a large Olympic standard facility in Sydney.


By 20 June 2016. despite still being assessed as a low-priority project, the Minister for Sports, now the Liberal Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayers, apparently suggested a $40,000 grant for ACTA to develop a business case for the club.


BACKGROUND

19-10-2021 transcript18719/10/211989-20111.45pm to 2.48pm
19-10-2021 transcript29219/10/211936-198810.00am to 12.44pm
18-10-2021 transcript26018/10/211892-19352.00pm to 3.57pm
18-10-2021 transcript27118/10/211844-189110.00am to 1.09pm


 

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Do you know that in the NSW Parliament, the upper house ventilation system has been upgraded to ensure 8 exchanges of fresh air every hour on the advice of health experts. Our school kids get told to open a window. Want to change that? Then take a moment to sign this official e-Petition to Parliament


"An excellent COVID-19 safety plan has been developed for parliament that includes rapid antigen testing, mask-wearing, social distancing and upgraded ventilation systems. A strictly limited number of members would be permitted in the chamber and there will be remote online participation of members. As the opposition Whip in the Upper House, I have spent time examining the plan in great detail, and it is among the strictest set of work practices in our state’s workplaces." [Mark Buttigeig MLC, in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 2021]


When it comes to a complete suite of COVID-19 pandemic health response measures across the entire population, first the Berejiklian and now the Perrottet, NSW governments have rarely been proactive unless pushed.


If the world we live in had attained true equality and equity our children would be having their schools fitted out with high quality ventilation systems, but they are not.


This e-petition set out below has yet to reach the 10,000 signature target which would mean it will be considered by the NSW Parliament.


The SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant Outbreak & COVID-19 infection spread generally are far from over.


Please sign for the sake of kindergarten, primary & high school students across the state.


This petition is not the complete answer but it is a good start. Bringing community concerns right into the Legislative Assembly, where history through Hansard makes every single one of the current 93 members accountable. Make people power count!


NSW Parliament e-Petition with close date 21 October 2021:


Signing ePetition 


To sign the ePetition, confirm you are a resident of New South Wales and enter your title, first name and last name. Once you click ‘submit’ you will have signed the ePetition and will be re-directed to the Legislative Assembly’s ‘ePetitions open for signature’ page 


Covid-19 safety measures in schools: ventilation & air filtration 


To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, 


 We call upon the NSW government to take immediate action to ensure adequate ventilation is installed and maintained in Primary Schools. The current measures undertaken by the Department of Education to ensure windows and doors are able to be opened is not sufficient.

 

Covid-19 is an airborne disease. Ventilation, along with vaccination and vital covid-safe steps, are essential to keep children safe. Children under 12 years of age are not currently eligible for vaccination, so adequate ventilation in Primary Schools is a priority. 


 OzSAGE, a network of public health experts, believes ventilation in classrooms is a key requirement for the safe lifting of restrictions in NSW. Their stance is supported by both the CDC in the USA and the ECDC across Europe. 


 In the NSW Parliament, the upper house ventilation system has been upgraded to ensure eight exchanges of fresh air every hour on the advice of health experts. Our children should be afforded the same protection as our elected officials. 


 We are asking for a state-wide ventilation plan to include: 

• Carbon dioxide monitors to be installed in classrooms 

• Air purification devices (including HEPA filters) to be distributed 

 • Funding for shade sails to increase outdoor learning spaces and make it easier for classes to be conducted outdoors 


 With Kindy and Stage 1 children returning to classrooms on the 25th October 2021, we implore you to take urgent action to ensure our children’s health and safety.


To sign online go to:

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/Pages/ePetition-details.aspx?q=rpEwNg2UB9+LpW1NhPZzdA==


BACKGROUND

"COVIDSAFE Plan to support the sittings of the Legislative Council (LC)" at:

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/tp/files/80383/COVIDSAFE%20Plan%20to%20support%20the%20sittings%20of%20the%20Legislative%20Council%20-%20%20%209%20September%202021.pdf


Monday, 18 October 2021

Two enormous authoritarian egos battle for control of Australia's fate

 

NSW Premier Dominic Francis Perrottet (left) and Australian Prime Minister Scott John Morrison (right). IMAGE: Crikey, 6 October 2021


It has been painfully obvious since he first gained a federal government ministry that the Liberal prime minister of almost 200 social media 'nicknames', Scott John Morrison, is firm in his belief that his own political and personal decisions have the blessing of his god.


It is also becoming apparent that, in his turn, the current Liberal premier of NSW, Dominic Francis Perrottet, is unshakeably convinced his way is always the right way for the state and for the country.


The belief of both these proudly Christian, rigidly authoritarian, xenophobic, chauvinistic men in the rightness of their 'leadership', means they wield power with little thought to the public good or the safety of their citizens.


No matter how parlous their respective budgetary bottom lines are or how close economic neoliberalism is to their hearts, in the midst of a global pandemic is not the time for ego-driven 'one-upmanship' by the 'Prime Minister of NSW'  and the 'Premier of Australia'. 


Communities and families right across the country will suffer if these two politicians won't cease pawing the ground, tossing heads, snorting and bellowing, in a foolish attempt to establish dominance & territory.



Financial Review, 15 October 2021:


A couple of weeks ago, without consulting the states, the Prime Minister announced he would be re-opening the international borders in states where the vaccination rate had hit 80 per cent.


It’s time to give Australians their lives back,” Scott Morrison said, in what appeared for all intents and purposes to be a move designed to ensure he was the bloke getting the credit for opening things up, whatever states and territories might be doing, not to mention giving the whole opening up thing a good nudge along the way.


The fact he hadn’t mentioned it to the states – despite the significant ramifications it has for them as the ones responsible for trying to manage the spread of COVID-19 and the quarantine system (offloaded by the federal government) – meant the Prime Minister could hardly complain on Friday when the new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet returned the favour by announcing his government would be removing both quarantine requirements and caps on overseas arrivals from November 1.


Perrottet didn’t mention it to any of the other states either of course, leaving the country in an apparently ludicrous shambles of restrictions: as many people have pointed out, of being able to travel from Sydney to Paris, but not Brisbane, Perth, Tasmania, the Northern Territory or even Canberra.


The last vestiges of the “national plan” – if there were any after Morrison’s move on international borders – have thus been smashed: that is, the stated idea that no one would open up until everyone had reached 80 per cent, regardless of individual states’ vaccination figures.


There’s so much to contemplate in this development: the humiliation – if the federal government was apt to feel such a thing – of a state government appearing to unilaterally end quarantine arrangements (the responsibility of the federal government) and overseas arrivals caps for starters


It looked for all the world as if the state government was running the joint. Perrottet the premier of Australia. Just as Scott Morrison has been dubbed the prime minister for NSW.


Before Perrottet’s announcement, we had heard nothing this week from the PM since Monday – when he emerged out of The Lodge to once again try to share in the joy of (and credit for) the end of lockdown in NSW……


Read the complete article by Laura Tingle here.


A regional NSW weekend of #COVIDIOTS in the pub & in the bush

 


NSW Police, News, 16 & 17 October 2021:


Statement from Commissioner Mick Fuller regarding Singleton business closure

Saturday, 16 October 2021 05:14:23 PM


Officers from Hunter Valley Police District have served a licensed premises on George Street, Singleton, with an order to close today (Saturday 16 October 2021), due to alleged repeated breaches of the public health orders.


The closure order follows a number of previous interactions with the licensee – a 57-year-old man – due to repeated and continued breaches of the Public Health Order by allegedly allowing – and not taking steps to prevent – unvaccinated people being at the premises. [my yellow highlighting]


Police have attended the venue numerous times in the past week and issued the licensee three PINs and staff members three PINs for breaching the public health orders.


The venue will remain closed until midnight on Tuesday (19 October 2021).


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Charges laid after unauthorised events - Tweed/Byron

Sunday, 17 October 2021 04:43:51 PM


Eleven people have been charged following unauthorised gatherings held at national parks on the state’s north coast overnight. [my yellow highlighting]


Just after 9.15pm (Saturday 16 October 2021), police were alerted to an unauthorised gathering being held within bushland at Tyagarah Nature Reserve.


Officers from Tweed/Byron Police District attended, and the crowd dispersed into bushland.


About 1am (Sunday 17 October 2021), police were alerted to a separate event at Billinudgel Nature Reserve and shut down the event, dispersing the crowd.


The organiser, a 25-year-old man, was spoken to with sound and lighting equipment and prohibited drugs seized from the site.


The Byron Bay man was issued a cannabis caution after being found in possession of cannabis as well as a $1,000 PIN for breaching the Public Health Order and an infringement for the consumption of alcohol in a National Park.


Police established a stationary breath testing site at the intersection of Jones and Wooyung Roods.


During the operation 10 drivers were charged, five with low-range PCA and five with Mid-Range PCA. They will all face court at a later date. An additional four drivers were issued infringements for traffic offences.


Of note, a Toyota Hiace was stopped by officers on Wooyong Road, after failing to stop at the site. [my yellow highlighting]


The driver fled into nearby bushland and following a foot pursuit, the 21-year-old man, was found injured, with a suspected fractured ankle.


He was treated by paramedics and taken to Tweed Hospital, under police guard, for treatment.


The man was later transferred to Tweed Heads Police Station and charged with drive motor vehicle during disqualification period. An outstanding warrant was also executed.


He is due to appear at Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday 6 December 2021.


Inquiries continue to identify attendees and further breaches.


Tweed/Byron Police District Commander, Superintendent David Roptell said unauthorised gatherings of this type will not be tolerated and we appeal to the community to report suspected breaches which may impact on the health and safety of the community.


Not only are events like these illegal, but they also pose a serious safety risk to attendees and responding police due to the location and terrain, Supt Roptell said.


The local community and environment are also being impacted by the noise and the rubbish left behind.


Police will work closely with National Parks and Wildlife Services to target these events and prosecute offenders accordingly,” Supt Roptell said.


Anyone with information about is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.


Sunday, 17 October 2021

Due to the speed at which NSW COVID-19 Public Health Orders & Restrictions are amended - here are links to updates

 


NSW Public Health Orders & Restrictions
 - UPDATES can be found
 at:

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/public-health-orders.aspx#affected


BACKGROUND


Public health orders

Exemptions to public health orders can be found here.

 

In force

 

No longer in force


Tomorrow, 18 October 2021 at 10am Operation Keppel public hearings begin into the conduct of former Premier & not yet retired Member for Willoughby, Gladys Berejiklian


Gladys Berejiklian
IMAGE: news.com.au

 

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), media release, 1 October 2021:


The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a further public inquiry in Operation Keppel from 10:00 am on Monday 18 October 2021.


The Commission is investigating whether, between 2012 and 2018, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP engaged in conduct that:

  • constituted or involved a breach of public trust by exercising public functions in circumstances where she was in a position of conflict between her public duties and her private interest as a person who was in a personal relationship with the then NSW Member of Parliament, Mr Daryl Maguire, in connection with: grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc in 2016/2017; and grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018; and/or
  • constituted or involved the partial exercise of any of her official functions, in connection with: grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc in 2016/2017; grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018; and/or
  • constituted or involved the dishonest or partial exercise of any of her official functions and/or a breach of public trust by refusing to exercise her duty pursuant to section 11 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 to report any matter that she suspected on reasonable grounds concerned or may concern corrupt conduct in relation to the conduct of Mr Daryl Maguire; and/or
  • was liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct by Mr Maguire.


The Commission is also investigating whether, between 2012 and August 2018, Mr Maguire engaged in conduct that involved a breach of public trust by using his public office, involving his duties as a member of the NSW Parliament, and the use of parliamentary resources, to improperly gain a benefit for himself, G8wayInternational/G8wayInternational Pty Ltd and associated persons.


The general scope and purpose of the public inquiry is to gather evidence relevant to the matters being investigated for the purpose of determining the matters referred to in section 13(2) of the ICAC Act.


The Commission has decided that public inquiries will be conducted, as far as practicable, remotely via audio visual link (AVL) until there is a change in the current COVID-19 public health orders. Only those whose presence on Commission premises is deemed essential for the effective conduct of the public inquiry will be permitted on-site. Members of the public and the media will therefore not be permitted to attend the premises for the course of the Operation Keppel public inquiry. There is further information in the public inquiry protocol on the Commission’s website.


MS Teams is the AVL technology that the Commission will use to conduct the public inquiry remotely. The Commission will live stream the MS Teams proceedings via its website, www.icac.nsw.gov.au. The Commission will also upload exhibits (provided they are not subject to non-publication orders), transcripts and witness lists to the website. Updates will be provided throughout the course of the inquiry via the ICAC Twitter account (@nswicac).


Assistant Commissioner the Hon Ruth McColl AO SC will preside at the public inquiry. Counsel Assisting the Commission will be Mr Scott Robertson and Mr Alex Brown.


It is expected that the inquiry will continue for approximately 10 days. A witness list for the first week of the public inquiry will be published closer to the commencement date of the proceedings, along with further information about how to access the live stream. The Commission will also advise if there are changes to the public health orders that may affect the conduct of the inquiry.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


OPERATION KEPPEL PUBLIC INQUIRY COMMENCING 18 OCTOBER 2021: WITNESS LIST as of 14 October 2021:


Monday 18 October

Michael Toohey (Current Director, Office of Sport, Greater Sydney Area, NSW)


Tuesday 19 October

Paul Doorn (Current CEO NSW Rugby Union & NSW Waratahs)


Wednesday 20 October

Nigel Blunden (Current Head of Government Affairs – HammondCare & Scott Morrison’s ‘captain's pick' in July 21 to help promote the national vaccination program rollout]

Mike Baird (Current CEO HammondCare & former NSW Liberal Premier from 17 Apr 2014 to 23 Jan 2017)


Thursday 21 October

Chris Hanger (Deputy Secretary, Public Works Advisory and Regional Development Group in the Department of Regional NSW)


Friday 22 October

Stuart Ayres (Current Liberal Member for Penrith, Deputy Leader of the NSW Parliamentary Liberal Party, Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney & Minister for Industry and Trade - previously NSW Minister for Sport 2017-2019 & Minister for Police & Emergency Services 2017-2019). Member of the NSW Government COVID-19 crisis committee)

Gary Barnes (Secretary for the Department of Regional NSW)


Records of ICAC Operation Keppel proceeding commenced in 2020


Former NSW MP for Wagga Wagga – allegations concerning breach of public trust to improperly gain a benefit (Operation Keppel) at https://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/investigations/current-investigations/2020/former-nsw-mp-for-wagga-wagga-operation-keppel/former-nsw-mp-for-wagga-wagga-allegations-concerning-breach-of-public-trust-to-improperly-gain-a-benefit-operation-keppel


Friday, 15 October 2021

Morrison Government seeks to reopen Love v Commonwealth of Australia in High Court seeking reversal of a February 2020 judgment which found Aboriginal Australians, even when born outside Commonwealth borders, are not aliens under the Constitution and cannot be deported

 


The Guardian, 14 October 2021: 


The federal government is seeking to overturn a landmark high court decision that deemed Aboriginal Australians cannot be aliens and cannot be deported. 


The Love and Thoms ruling in February 2020 ranks as the high court’s most significant constitutional decision in recent years, with the narrow four-to-three judgment prompting Coalition conservatives to publicly lobby for black-letter judges to be appointed. 


 Just a year and a half later, the commonwealth has revealed it wants the precedent to be overturned after a New Zealand man tried to fight deportation using the Love and Thoms precedent..... 


 In June 2020 Amanda Stoker, now the assistant attorney general, noted in a research paper that given the two retirements “there is a significant possibility that a reconstituted bench would reconsider the decision in the event of challenge”. In its submissions, the commonwealth revealed that the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, and home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, will seek leave “to the extent necessary, to argue that Love was wrongly decided”..... 


 [High Court Justice] Keane said it would be difficult for the high court to hear the case in 2021, given the number of cases already delayed by Covid. Keane agreed to remove the constitutional aspects of the case to the high court, giving interveners until 22 November to join the case, likely to be heard in the new year.


Read the full article here.


Thursday, 14 October 2021

A southern low pressure system and a La Niña ALERT are not warmly welcomed news for the NSW North Coast, as it's possible some heavy rain events could occur between now and January 2022

 

Ch 9 News on 13 October 2021 reported; Meteorologists warn a "beast from the south" will produce a dangerous mix of heavy rain, severe thunderstorms, damaging winds, hail and snow over Australia's south-east as a week of spring wet weather continues.


Coastal catchments with much of their historical and ongoing development situated on floodplains are particularly vulnerable when a climate driver triggers prolonged or frequent heavy rainfall events, as widespread or flash flooding can result. Property damage, stock & crop losses may occur and, sometimes the deaths of people caught in flood waters. 


Similarly low pressure systems can batter coastal catchments.


WeatherZone tweeted this.....


This was the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), on 12 October 2021:


The Bureau's ENSO Outlook has been raised to La Niña ALERT. This is due to continued cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean and an increase in the number of climate models showing sustained La Niña conditions over summer. Historically, when La Niña ALERT criteria have been met, La Niña has subsequently developed around 70% of the time. A 70% chance of an event is approximately triple the normal likelihood. La Niña events increase the chances of above-average rainfall for northern and eastern Australia during spring and summer.


Most oceanic and atmospheric indicators of ENSO are currently within the ENSO-neutral range, but some have shifted towards a La Niña-like state. Sea surface temperatures in the central tropical Pacific Ocean are neutral, but have cooled over the past three months and are supported by cooler than average waters beneath the surface. Some atmospheric indicators, such as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and cloudiness near the Date Line, are approaching La Niña levels. Six of the seven international climate models surveyed by the Bureau meet La Niña criteria from November.


A weak negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event continues. Most models suggest the negative IOD event will ease to neutral levels in late spring. A negative IOD increases the chances of above-average spring rainfall for much of southern and eastern Australia, while a neutral IOD has little influence on Australian climate.


The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) has been active over the Maritime Continent since late September. The MJO is forecast to progress eastwards over the coming week and weaken as it approaches the western Pacific. While the MJO is over the Maritime Continent region, it encourages enhanced rainfall over the tropics to the north of Australia.


The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index has been neutral for the past week after 5 to 6 weeks at positive levels. While it is forecast to remain neutral for the coming week, it is expected to return to generally positive levels from October to December. A positive SAM during spring typically brings wetter weather to eastern parts of Australia, but drier than average conditions for western Tasmania.


Climate change continues to influence Australian and global climate. Australia's climate has warmed by around 1.44 °C for the 1910–2019 period. Rainfall across northern Australia during its wet season (October–April) has increased since the late 1990s. In recent decades there has been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high intensity short duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia.......


The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral.


However, all of the seven international climate models surveyed by the Bureau anticipate further cooling of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures. All models surveyed indicate La Niña thresholds may be met during November. Six of the seven models indicate this cooling will be sustained at La Niña levels until at least January 2022—long enough to meet minimum La Niña event criteria (i.e. at least three months). Four models continue the event into February, but by March only two models continue to meet the threshold.


La Niña typically enhances spring rainfall in northern and eastern Australia.


BACKGROUND



Major floods frequently isolate towns, and can cause death, major disruptions to road and rail links, the evacuation of many houses and business premises, and the widespread flooding of farmland…..

As we are specifically concerned with major flooding near the coast, we consider a flood to be major if (i) it causes inundation of a river within approximately 50 km of the coast or (ii) if there is non-riverine flooding overland near the coast, from the active part of a weather system, that extends at least 20 km along the coast. In (i) extreme rainfall extends well into the hinterland and the upper reaches of the river catchments, causing a flood that drains down the river systems to coastal areas. In (ii) extreme rainfall is confined to the coast and floods form directly over the coastal area rather than propagating down the river systems. At major coastal centres there are official river height records that determine whether a flood meets the major level or not, and we have used this data available.” [ResearhGate, Callaghan J & Scott, S in Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal 64(3):183-21 DOI:10.22499/2.6403.002]



On Australia’s eastern shores East Coast Lows are also often a trigger for heavy rainfall and widespread flooding. Sea surface temperature gradients associated with the warm eddies of the East Australian Current are an important contributor to the development of the lows.