Tuesday 31 January 2023

Climate Change & Putin's aggression see the Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight in January 2023

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a media organization, publishing a free-access website and a bimonthly magazine. It began as an emergency action, created by scientists who saw an immediate need for a public reckoning in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Since 1947 it has published the Doomsday Clock, which to date has been updated a total of 24 times. “The closer the clocks’ hands move toward midnight, the closer humanity supposedly moves toward self-inflicted destruction. As well as assessing risks from nuclear war, the scientists incorporate dangers from climate change, bioweapons and more.” [Time Magazine, 24 January 2023]

Science and Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2023 Doomsday Clock Statement, 24 January 2023:

A time of unprecedented danger: It is 90 seconds to midnight

This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.

The war in Ukraine may enter a second horrifying year, with both sides convinced they can win. Ukraine’s sovereignty and broader European security arrangements that have largely held since the end of World War II are at stake. Also, Russia’s war on Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact, eroding norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks.

And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high.

Russia’s recent actions contravene decades of commitments by Moscow. In 1994, Russia joined the United States and United Kingdom in Budapest, Hungary, to solemnly declare that it would "respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine" and "refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine..." These assurances were made explicitly on the understanding that Ukraine would relinquish nuclear weapons on its soil and sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—both of which Ukraine did.

Russia has also brought its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites, violating international protocols and risking widespread release of radioactive materials. Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to secure these plants so far have been rebuffed.

As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty between Russia and the United States, New START, stands in jeopardy. Unless the two parties resume negotiations and find a basis for further reductions, the treaty will expire in February 2026. This would eliminate mutual inspections, deepen mistrust, spur a nuclear arms race, and heighten the possibility of a nuclear exchange.

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in August, the world has entered “a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War.”

The war’s effects are not limited to an increase in nuclear danger; they also undermine global efforts to combat climate change. Countries dependent on Russian oil and gas have sought to diversify their supplies and suppliers, leading to expanded investment in natural gas exactly when such investment should have been shrinking.

In the context of a hot war and against the backdrop of nuclear threats, Russia’s false accusations that Ukraine planned to use radiological dispersal devices, chemical weapons, and biological weapons take on new meaning as well. The continuing stream of disinformation about bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine raises concerns that Russia itself may be thinking of deploying such weapons, which many experts believe it continues to develop.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of nuclear weapons use, raised the specter of biological and chemical weapons use, hamstrung the world’s response to climate change, and hampered international efforts to deal with other global concerns. The invasion and annexation of Ukrainian territory have also violated international norms in ways that may embolden others to take actions that challenge previous understandings and threaten stability.

There is no clear pathway for forging a just peace that discourages future aggression under the shadow of nuclear weapons. But at a minimum, the United States must keep the door open to principled engagement with Moscow that reduces the dangerous increase in nuclear risk the war has fostered. One element of risk reduction could involve sustained, high-level US military-to-military contacts with Russia to reduce the likelihood of miscalculation. The US government, its NATO allies, and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue; they all should be explored. Finding a path to serious peace negotiations could go a long way toward reducing the risk of escalation. In this time of unprecedented global danger, concerted action is required, and every second counts.

Countervailing dynamics: Addressing climate change during the invasion of Ukraine

Addressing climate change requires faith in institutions of multilateral governance. The geopolitical fissure opened by the invasion of Ukraine has weakened the global will to cooperate while undermining confidence in the durability, or even the feasibility, of broad-based multilateral collaboration.

With Russia second only to the United States in global production of both natural gas and oil, the invasion of Ukraine sparked a rush to establish independence from Russian energy supplies, particularly in the European Union. From the standpoint of climate change, this has contributed to two countervailing dynamics.

First, the elevated energy prices have spurred investment in renewables and motivated countries to implement policies that support renewables development. With this rise in deployment, the International Energy Agency now projects that wind and solar energy combined will approach 20 percent of global power generation five years from now, with China installing nearly half of the new renewable power capacity.

At the same time, however, high natural gas prices have driven a quest to develop new gas supplies, spurring investment in natural gas production and export infrastructure in the United States, the EU, Africa, and elsewhere, largely financed by major oil and gas transnationals and investment firms. This private capital continues to flow into developing new fossil fuel resources, even while public finance is facing pressure to pull out. All G7 countries have pledged to end public financing of international fossil fuel projects this year, and the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, a group of eight countries, has formally committed to end new concessions, licensing or leasing rounds for oil and gas production and exploration, and to set a timeline for ending production that is consistent with their Paris agreement pledges.

Notwithstanding these two processes, both of which should in principle reduce demand for Russian gas, Russia was on course in 2022 to earn as much as the previous year from oil and gas exports, largely owing to continued European demand.

As a consequence, global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, after having rebounded from the COVID economic decline to an all-time high in 2021, continued to rise in 2022 and hit another record high. A decline in Chinese emissions was overshadowed by a rise in the United States, India, and elsewhere…. 

Monday 30 January 2023

National Bird Week "Great Aussie Bird Count" 2022 results


 Over seven days in October 2022 - from Monday 17th to  Sunday 23rd - a total of 17,419 people participated in the annual Great Aussie Bird Count under the auspices by Birdlife Australia. Between them submitting 124,430 online check lists.

Despite record rains and flooding across much of Australia during National Bird Week the number of individual birds counted reached 3,913,281 across 620 species.


NSW : 1,222, 597 

Vic: 944,536

Qld: 789,156

SA: 382,586

WA: 289,740

Tas: 128,885

ACT: 80,898

NT: 72,915

External territories: 1,967.

Top 10 Birds Australia-wide : 1. Rainbow Lorikeet, 2. Noisy Miner, 3. Australian Magpie, 4. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, 5. Galah, 6. House Sparrow, 7. Welcome Swallow, 8. Silver Gull, 9. Red Wattlebird, 10. Australian White Ibis.

Top 3 Birds by State or Territory: Qld Rainbow Lorikeet, Noisy Miner, Torresian Crow; NSW Rainbow Lorikeet, Noisy Miner, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo; ACT Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Australian Magpie, Galah; Vic Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Noisy Miner; Tas House Sparrow, Common Blackbird, Common Starling; SA Rainbow Lorikeet, New Holland Honeyeater, Noisy Miner; WA Rainbow Lorikeet, New Holland Honeyeater, Galah; External Territories Red Junglefowl, White Tern, Great Frigatebird.


Sunday 29 January 2023

Widespread flooding in first half of 2022 sees latest land valuations expected to fall in worst hit areas of the Northern Rivers region

Due to Northern Rivers flooding in February-March and June 2022, property owners in flood affected locations in Lismore City local government area such as North, South and central Lismore experienced decreases in demand for their lots. As did property owners in flood affected Ocean Shores and Golden Beach in Byron Shire

"Lismore saw a 23.9% decrease [in commercial land demand] after the 2022 floods significantly impacted the area, with the entire CBD being inundated....Lismore [industrial land] decreased slightly (5.2%) as a two-tier market emerged with premiums being paid for flood free industrial land.....Strong demand continued in Lismore (23.7%) for productive farmlands to the northwest which were not as severely affected by the 2022 floods."

Valuer General of New South Wales, Valuation NSW, Media Release, 19 January 2023:

New land values published for the North Coast region

The NSW Valuer General has published land values for the North Coast region. The land values reflect the value of land only, as at 1 July 2022.

Land value is the value of the land only. It does not include the value of a home or other structure. Property sales are the most important factor valuers consider when determining land values. [my yellow highlighting]

The new land values will be used by Revenue NSW to calculate land tax for the 2023 land tax year. Registered land tax clients will receive their land tax assessment from Revenue NSW from January 2023. More information on land tax can be found at revenue.nsw.gov.au.

Councils receive new land values for rating at least every three years. Land values are one factor used by councils to calculate rates. All councils have been issued with the 1 July 2022 land values.

Landholders will receive a Notice of Valuation showing their land value before it is used by council for rating. Notices will be issued from January 2023. This gives landholders time to consider their land value.

The latest land values for all properties in NSW are available on the Valuer General NSW website, along with information on trends, medians and typical land values for each local government area.

Please visit www.valuergeneral.nsw.gov.au for more information on land values and the NSW valuation system.

North Coast Region local government areas

Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, MidCoast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley and Tweed.

General overview

The total land value for the North Coast NSW region increased by 35.9% between 1 July 2021 and 1 July 2022 from $116 billion to $158 billion.

Residential land values increased 36.8% overall. Demand for rural villages, hinterland and beachside locations continue as sea and tree changers relocate to work remotely. This trend was particularly evident in Coffs Harbour (46.7%), Port Macquarie (38%) and Clarence Valley (46.5%). Lismore (31.5%) saw increased demand in flood free areas including Goonellabah, Lismore Heights and Richmond Hill while flood affected locations such as North, South and central Lismore experienced decreases. Byron (18.2%) varied as decreases in flood affected Ocean Shores and Golden Beach offset increases at Brunswick Heads, Suffolk Park and elevated Pacific Vista Drive, Byron Bay.

Commercial land values increased 24.1% overall. Relative affordability contributed to Bellingen (56.7%) and Clarence Valley (40%) experiencing the strongest increases. In Ballina (14.9%), the flood impacted CBD experienced moderate to slight increases while Lennox Head and Wollongbar increased strongly due to tight supply. Byron (25.2%) increases highlight continued strength in the Byron tourism sector and investor demand. Lismore saw a 23.9% decrease after the 2022 floods significantly impacted the area, with the entire CBD being inundated.

Industrial land values increased by 29.6% overall. Clarence Valley (122.5%) saw heightened demand for a limited supply of affordable fringe industrial land around Grafton and Yamba. Similar supply issues led very strong increases in Kempsey (56.4%), especially South Kempsey precinct, and drove values in affordable fringe locations of Woolgoolga and Macksville which contributed to very strong increases in Coffs Harbour (41.5%) and Nambucca (37.7%). Lismore decreased slightly (5.2%) as a two-tier market emerged with premiums being paid for flood free industrial land.

Rural land values increased 37.4%. Strong commodity prices drove demand for quality agricultural land with reliable water and resulted in increases regionwide, with Port Macquarie-Hastings (54.5%) leading the trend. Relative affordability drove demand in several local government areas including Nambucca (51.4%) and Kempsey (40.3%). Across Byron (26.1%), values remained steady in flood impacted localities including Main Arm and Mullumbimby while purchasers underpinned strong demand for rural homes and hobby farms in areas like Myocum and Bangalow. Strong demand continued in Lismore (23.7%) for productive farmlands to the northwest which were not as severely affected by the 2022 floods.


Saturday 28 January 2023

Tweet of the Week

Cartoons of the Week


Jon Kudelka

Peter Broelman

Friday 27 January 2023

Less than 10 weeks out from a NSW state election and Perrottet & Co. don't seem to be winning over hearts and minds yet


The Poll Bludger, 22 January 2023:

Today’s Sunday Telegraph has a YouGov poll suggesting Labor is headed for a comfortable win at the New South Wales state election on March 25, leading the Coalition 56-44 on two-party preferred and 39% to 33% on the primary vote, with the Greens on 11% and others on 17%.

The poll also encompasses questions on the Dominic Perrotet Nazi costume scandal (67% say it won’t affect their vote, 20% say it will make them less likely to vote Coalition, and 8% demonstrate the problems with this sort of question by saying it makes them more likely to vote Coalition), cashless gaming cards (61% are in favour with 19% opposed), better party to deal with the cost of living (30% Labor, 25% Liberal, 26% neither) and issue salience (39% cost of living, 17% economy, 14% health, 10% each for housing affordability and environment). The poll was conducted January 14 to 17 from a sample of 1069.

Newcastle Herald, 23 January 2023, excerpt p.2:

The NSW government is on track to lose the March state election as Premier Dominic Perrottet's popularity wanes.

A YouGov poll shows the Coalition well behind in both first preference and two-party preferred standings.

Labor led the Coalition by 56 per cent to 44 per cent on a two-party preferred basis, while it was ahead by 39-33 per cent on first preferences…..

Both figures point to a parliamentary majority for Labor, which was buoyed in the poll by strong backing from young voters.

Support for Mr Perrottet also dropped, with only 44 per cent of those surveyed preferring him over Labor leader Chris Minns. But Mr Minns says he isn't paying attention to the latest poll as many voters remain undecided.

EveningReport.nz, 23 January 2023, excerpt:

On other topics, the poll found a majority of voters supported cashless gaming cards (61% in favour, 19% opposed). On the party best to deal with the cost of living, 30% selected Labor, 25% the Liberals, and 26% neither. Cost of living was rated the most important issue by 39%, far ahead of the 17% who rated the economy most important.

This YouGov poll found 46% of NSW voters supported a federal Indigenous Voice to Parliament, while 30% did not.

If these recent polls are accurate, the Coalition is likely to be defeated in March after three terms and 12 years in government. If this happens, Labor would govern federally and in all states and territories except Tasmania.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

The Day Before.....

Tomorrow is Thursday, 26th January 2023. As a mark of respect for First Nations communities across Australia North Coast Voices will not be posting that day.

17 Jan 17 2023

First Nations dance theatre Marrugeku have collaborated with Noongar rapper Beni Bjah on an Australian take on Childish Gambino’s provocative 2018 hit This Is America.

This Is Australia is a blistering tirade against First Nations incarceration, deaths in custody and Australia's treatment of asylum seekers. Filmed on the lands of the Bunuba people in Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley, and directed by Marrugeku's artistic directors Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain, the video features Marrugeku performers and locals, and is packed with references to Australian history and recent events….


Tuesday 24 January 2023

Albanese Government's Fraud Fusion Taskforce & the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission at work in 2023


The banning orders against these entities send a strong message to any provider trying to take advantage of the NDIS and Australian taxpayers.

For too long, rogue providers have been able to make use of a lack of communication and coordination between government agencies. Australians relying on the NDIS are some of our most vulnerable, and any organisation taking advantage of their safety net must be stopped.” [Minister for the NDIS and Government Services Bill Shorten, media release, 22 January 2023]

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, NDIS Provider Register – Part 2 – Section 73zs National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013, last updated 21 January 2023, excerpt:

Banning Orders

The effect of a banning order is that the individual or organisation that is the subject of the order is prohibited from providing NDIS supports and services, or their provision of NDIS supports or services is restricted. For example, a banning order may be made against an individual on the ground that he or she is believed not to be suitable to provide supports or services to people with disability. The basis for that belief might be the fact that the individual has been charged with a criminal offence. In such a case, the NDIS Commission needs to ensure that the making of the order would not prejudice, in any way, criminal proceedings relating to the charge and that it would not be inconsistent with the presumption of the individual’s innocence. Consequently, the order would initially be for a period long enough for the proceedings to be concluded. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the length of the banning order would be revisited, having regard to the outcome of the proceedings and other relevant factors. The result could range from making the order permanent to revoking it.

The following corporations and individuals have been named in the aforementioned document between 4 January and 18 January 2023:

Rafael Ukken, Harris Park NSW – prohibited from providing disability supports and services, directly or indirectly, to NDIS-funded participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, for a period of two (2) years, effective from 5:00 pm on 24 January 2023.

Millennium Disability Care Pty Ltd, Williams Landing Vic – permanently prohibited from providing NDIS supports and services to people with disability, effective from 5:00 pm on 13 January 2022.

A.C.N. 615 641 079 Pty Ltd trading as Australian Home and Community Care; SIL Finder, Kurunjang Vic – permanently prohibited from providing NDIS supports and services to people with disability, effective from 5:00 pm on 19 January 2022.

Sarah Michael Leen Manyok Thiak, Kurunjang Vic – prohibited from being involved in the provision of NDIS supports and services to people with disability for a period of five (5) years, effective from 5.00 pm on 19 January 2023.

David Anyoun Manyok Thiak, Williams Landing, Vicprohibited from being involved in the provision of NDIS supports and services to people with disability for a period of 10 years, effective from 5.00 pm on 19 January 2023.

Ambrose Mareng, Melton, Vicprohibited from being involved in the provision of NDIS supports and services to people with disability for a period of five (5) years, effective from 5.00 pm on 19 January 2023.

Aman Manyok Thiak, Melton West, Vicprohibited from being involved in the provision of NDIS supports and services to people with disability for a period of five (5) years, effective from 5.00 pm on 19 January 2023.

Deng Manyok Thiak, Braybrook, Vic – prohibited from being involved in the provision of NDIS supports and services to people with disability for a period of five (5) years, effective from 5.00 pm on 19 January 2023.

Ramesh Saini, North West Rocks, NSW – prohibited from being involved in the provision of supports or services to people with disability, for a period of two (2) years, effective from 5:00pm on 11 January 2023.

Further details can be found at:


This file covers the period March 2019 to January 2023 and lists NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission bans currently in force [pp. 2-32], bans no longer in force [pp. 33-36], compliance notices currently in force [pp. 37-41], notices complied with/completed [pp. 42-51], suspension of registrations no longer in force [pp. 53-61], revocations of registration of registered NDIS providers [pp. 62-70], infringement notices [pp. 71-73] and refusals to re-register previously registered NDIS providers [pp. 74-77].

Monday 23 January 2023

A look at common ticks which bite humans in Australia


LEFT: Australian Paralysis Tick before & after feeding. 
Image: WikipediA
RIGHT: Southern Paralysis Tick. Image: iNaturalist

LEFT: Ornate Kangaroo Tick. Image: WikipediA
RIGHT: Common Marsupial Tick. Image: shire.science.uq.edu.au

LEFT: Southern Reptile Tick (Male). RIGHT: Southern Reptile Tick (Female).  
Images: Tasmanian Arachnids

In early November 2022 authorities began to warn that this summer was likely to see a rise in tick numbers due to to widespread and persistent wet weather. At the same time, veterinarians were warning that the high number of domestic animals suffering tick bites was placing a strain on tick anti-venom supplies.

Now in 2023 the Australian Dept. of Heath has observed that globally in recent decades, “ticks have been expanding their geographic ranges largely due to climate change.”

Below is what might be described as a cliffs note on common ticks which bite humans in Australia.

Australian Government Dept of Health and Aging, Guidance Note: Introduction to Ticks, Australian Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases and Illnesses, excerpt, January 2023:

Overview and summary

Ticks are parasites that feed off animal and human blood. Globally, ticks, along with mosquitoes, are recognised as the most important vectors in the transmission of bacterial and viral pathogens to humans and animals. Ticks transmit the most diverse array of infectious agents of any blood-feeding arthropod and have the potential to pose public health and biosecurity risks.

Globally, there are almost 900 species of tick, distributed into two main families: soft ticks (Argasidae) and hard ticks (Ixodidae). Of these nearly 900 tick species, only 28 species globally are recognised to transmit human pathogens, which include organisms such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

Hard ticks have a hard, flat body and elongated mouthparts with rows of backward pointing teeth. This group includes the most important species that bite humans. Hard ticks favour habitats with areas of vegetation, such as forests and fields where females lay eggs on the ground, however, they may also be found in urban areas if there are unoccupied patches of grass.

Soft ticks have a wrinkled leathery appearance. Only a few species of this type are found in Australia, and they rarely come into contact with people. Soft ticks generally favour sheltered habitats and will hide in the nests of hosts or areas where hosts rest.

While ticks and tick-borne diseases are often limited to specific geographical regions, they may be potentially found anywhere in the world, with international travel from endemic regions to non-endemic regions by people, animals and cargo, potentially transporting ticks.

In recent decades, ticks have been expanding their geographic ranges largely due to climate change.

Australian ticks and tick-borne illnesses

In Australia, there are over 70 species of tick, 66 of which are endemic to Australia. Five species were introduced by humans with domestic animals (‘exotic’ ticks), which result in economically important diseases restricted to domestic animal hosts. None of the exotic ticks typically bite or feed on humans.

Of the tick species endemic to Australia, 17 may attach and feed on humans, but only six of these ticks are able to act as competent vectors for the transmission of pathogens to humans. Apart from the occasional local bacterial infection at the tick bite site (eschar) the only two systemic infections that are definitely known to be transmitted by tick bites in Australia are rickettsial infections from infection with Rickettsia spp.(Queensland tick typhus (QTT), Flinders Island spotted fever (FISF), and Australian spotted fever (ASF)), and Q fever (Coxiella burnetii).

Two additional species of Rickettsia (other than those that cause QTT, FISF and ASF) have been identified in Australian ticks and may be considered potential pathogens, although their presence in febrile patients has yet to be confirmed. These new species are Rickettsia gravesii and Candidatus Rickettsia tasmanensis.

The species of Australian ticks known to bite humans and transmit bacterial infection are:

the Australian paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus), which is endemic on the east coast of Australia and causes QTT due to Rickettsia australis and causes Q fever due to C. burnetii

the common marsupial tick (Ixodes tasmani), which occurs in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria and causes QTT due to R. australis and causes ASF due to Rickettsia honei subsp. Marmionii

the southern paralysis tick (Ixodes cornuatus), which occurs in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and causes QTT due to R. australis

the ornate kangaroo tick (Amblyomma trigutattum), which occurs throughout much of the central, northern and western Australia and causes Q fever due to C. burnetii

the southern reptile tick (Bothriocroton hydrosauri), which occurs mainly in southeastern Australia and causes FISF due to R. honei

the Haemaphysalis novaeguineae tick (no common name), which causes ASF due to R. honei subsp. Marmionii.

Three of the 66 species endemic to Australia are well-known for biting and feeding on humans - the Australian paralysis tick (I. holocyclus), the ornate kangaroo tick (A. triguttatum), and the southern reptile tick (B. hydrosauri).

In Australia, most tick bites pose no medical problems if the tick is safely removed. Tick bites can lead to a variety of illnesses in patients, with the most common being allergic reactions. The Australian paralysis tick is the most medically significant tick in Australia and is

responsible for over 95% of tick bites in humans in eastern Australia and for most tick-borne illnesses in Australia. The Australian paralysis tick can cause several illnesses, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), mammalian meat allergy (MMA), paralysis, and death.

While tick bites in Australia can lead to a variety of illnesses in patients, as indicated above, much about Australian ticks and the [non-allergic] medical outcomes following tick bites remains unknown and requires further research…..

In Australia, no definite tick-borne viral infections of humans are known, although a new tick virus has recently been isolated (Graves, unpublished).2

2 Unpublished at the time of publication of this Guidance Note. Provided by Graves, S. R., April 2021

Sunday 22 January 2023

COVID-19 NSW STATE OF PLAY 2023: Counting Dead People


The NSW Perrottet Government publishes a very basic update of COVID-19 infection statistics once every 7 days and it releases a weekly epidemiological report whenever it feels in the mood.

So the only NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report-weekly epidemiology summary currently available which contains data on new infections, hospitalisation and basic mortality demographics, only covers the period 1-7 January 2023.

In that particular 7 days only two out of the 15 state local health districts did not record a death due to COVID-19, these were the Far West and Northern NSW.

Of the total 92 deaths of people (aged between 30-39 years & 90+ years) recorded between 1-7 January, 36 were aged care residents (14 of these people died in hospital and 22 died at an aged care facility), 7 people diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to death died at home and presumably the remaining 49 died in local public hospitals.

The following graphics show that while infection and hospitalisation numbers are falling in the first three weeks of 2023 the death toll continues to mount.


Graphics via @NSWHealth


The total number of deaths included in these four graphs represent 352 people.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 2023:

Everyone dies. But last year in NSW, far more people than usual did. Every single week up to September, dozens more deaths were reported than the state’s average. The cause is no secret: a rapidly ageing population combined with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

But behind those numbers stands a colossal and often misunderstood industry that deals with everything from palliative care and burials to cremation and counselling.

And under immense pressure, 2022 changed it forever.

Crematorium operators spent the year dealing with a “high volume” of requests, funeral directors have been forced to increase their services and, as if to prove bureaucracy stays with you to the grave, the city’s cemeteries are set to be full within 10 years.

Guardian Funerals, a giant provider of funerals across the state, said they assisted “more families than ever before in 2022 and as we have commenced 2023, there continues to be an increased demand for our services.”….. [my yellow highlighting]

It’s only now, after a few years of increased focus on dying, that the public is experiencing what those in the industry have known for decades: when it comes to dealing with death, Sydney is headed for a crisis.

Saturday 21 January 2023

Cartoon of the Week


Patrick Chappattee
via @WilliamJRipple

Tweet of the Week


Friday 20 January 2023

NORTHERN RIVERS NSW STATE OF PLAY JANUARY 2023: in 39 days time it will be exactly one year since a catastrophic extreme flood devastated Lismore


As this sad milestone approaches for Lismore residents it must often feel as though the pain will never stop.

ABC News, 18 January 2023:

The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW says it has received dozens of complaints about power bills issued for unoccupied flood-affected homes & businesses on the state's Far North Coast.

Lismore business owner Anne Walker said she had not used her business premises since it was flooded in February 2022, but months later she received messages from her retailer that said she owed more than $700.

"The texts were coming in saying if I didn't pay this amount, they were going to discontinue my electricity, which is ironic because there was no electricity," she said.

Ms Walker spoke to her provider in October to address the issue, but it took until last week to be resolved.

"It was very stressful — extremely stressful," she said.

The ombudsman's office recorded 55 complaints from the Northern Rivers since the start of September, including 28 from the Lismore area.

"Often there's no resident there, the property is not occupied and, of course, the billing doesn't reflect the fact that," said ombudsman Janine Young.

"[There is] either no usage or, where there is some usage, it's overestimated."

Estimated bills to be reviewed

Residents who spoke to the ABC said the incorrect bills they received were based on estimates of their usage.

This occurs when a meter reader is unable to access a property to record the energy usage, so an estimated bill is issued by the energy provider.

In the case of a situation that has led to vastly reduced energy usage, or no usage at all, Ms Young said the rules for bill estimates needed to be reviewed.

"When estimates are done, the rules allow an estimated bill based on the same period the prior year, or on what a comparable customer might be," she said.

"When there's been floods & there's been no usage, if you're getting an estimate based on the prior year, that's completely wrong.

"Those rules have to be looked at."

Customers should first try to resolve any dispute with their retailer, but those left dissatisfied could turn to Ms Young's office for help, she said.

"We've had outcomes where we've got the bill waived, where we've had the daily supply charges waived as well," Ms Young said.

"The retailer is much more aware of the customer circumstances & when it's likely that the property can be again inhabited — if it can be."

No meters, no power

Adrian Walsh from Broadwater said he received an estimated usage bill of about $800, despite not having power after the flood.

"When I first rang up & complained [to the retailer] ... their solution was to pay the bill & perhaps I could claim it back later," he said.

"I wasn't really in the mood for that."

Bungawalbin's Keely Patch said metering equipment damaged by the floods was still not working in her area.

Despite having only a single working power point in her home, Ms Patch said she was sent estimated usage bills that totalled $800.

"If estimated bills are based off previous usages, that kind of gets taken out of the picture when, for months, there was no usage at all," Ms Patch said.

"Since the bills have come in, I've only been running a fridge & some lights & that's pretty much all I've got."

The ABC heard from people who were experiencing similar issues across a range of energy retailers.

In a statement, Origin Energy said it was committed to supporting customers affected by floods…...

Red Energy said it stopped billing & debt collection activities in the aftermath of the floods while it assessed the situation…….

....Eleven months ago, an unprecedented deluge swept across the eastern seaboard, inundating towns across southeast Queensland and northern NSW, in one of the worst recorded flooding disasters in the nation’s history.

With communities such as Woodburn, Kyogle and Nimbin in the northeastern corner of NSW facing a monumental rebuild, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet vowed not a dollar would be spared in the recovery effort, saying those who had lost homes were a primary concern.

But of the $1.6bn promised by the government in May last year, Service NSW data reveals only $322.2m has been distributed eight months later.

Inordinately high numbers of grants had been ruled ineligible by the government, with more than 67 per cent of small business grants rejected.

South Lismore cafe owner Tony Zammit said his experience in the aftermath of the floods had been positive, but he had faced issues applying for the small grants program later on, with multiple applications green-lit by Service NSW staff before being subsequently rejected.

Early on they were helpful but as time went on it became daunting. By the end, honest claims and applicants were treated as criminals,” Mr Zammit, the owner of The Sassy Bean cafe, said.

One near-$50,000 claim was deemed ineligible by Service NSW because assessors could not verify an $1100 electrician’s bill, he said. When he attempted to resubmit his claim, Mr Zammit was told he could not submit any of the same receipts as they had all been deemed fraudulent.

More than 80 per cent of rental support applications have been declined, while of special disaster grants available to farmers and primary producers, only $116m of $302m claimed has been paid out, despite 86 per cent of applications being approved or rejected.

Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke warned in May last year the government had an “obligation” to ensure the proper processes were in place to filter out fraudulent grant applications. The NSW government’s independent 2022 flood inquiry noted concerns among flood-impacted farming communities that there were “onerous processes for accessing grants, and for submitting development applications”.

An upper house inquiry reached similar conclusions, finding a lack of streamlined grants processes meant applicants were repeatedly interviewed, “leading to frustration and trauma”, while a lack of assessors on the ground “delayed the rollout of grants”…..