Showing posts with label deaths. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deaths. Show all posts

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Quote of the Week

'“Yeah, it is quantitatively if you look at it, it is. I mean the numbers don’t lie,” Fauci said when asked during an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta whether the U.S. had the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak. The U.S., which accounts for less than 5% of the world population, leads all other countries in global coronavirus infections and deaths.'  [Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, quoted by CNBC on 5 August 2020]

a woman who had told NSW Police at the Victorian border she would be self-isolating at Nimbin on the NSW North Coast was issued a $1000 fine after she was located 470 kilometres south in a vehicle at Nabiac. She was also directed to return to Victoria.” [WAtoday , 7 August 2020]

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Fair Work Commission shuts the door after COVID-19 has bolted

In April 2020 the Fair Work Commission was aware of a need and varied 99 modern awards to support the inclusion of "unpaid pandemic leave".

At the time it was also aware that there was a need to consider paid pandemic leave in respect of “health care workers” covered by a number of awards.

However, on 8 July the Fair Work Commission dithered and refused to vary identified “Health awards” to provide for paid pandemic leave.

This refusal came despite the strong suspicion that some private sector aged care workers in insecure employment were not declaring COVID-19 symptoms as they could not afford to stay home without suffering financial hardship and possible loss of ongoing employment.

The inevitable began to occur. COVID-19 infection numbers began to rise again in private sector aged care facilities in Victoria where there are now at least 440 active cases in 61 aged care facilities and the death toll for those in residential care stands at 47 elderly people.

In addition these 61 aged care facilities appear to be associated with another 78 COVID-19 cases.

Although Victoria has the highest death toll New South Wales is not far behind, with 29 elderly people in residential care dead since the start of the pandemic.

The national COVID-19 death toll in residential care stood at 78 on 29 July 2020 according to the Australian Government Dept. of Health. 

It was only on 27 July that the Fair Work Commission decided it was convinced there was a need for paid pandemic leave in the aged care sector*.

ABC News, 28 July 2020:

Aged care workers employed under three awards will be entitled to two weeks' paid leave if they are required to self-isolate due to having coronavirus symptoms or being a close contact of a confirmed case, following a ruling from the Fair Work Commission.

The amendments will come into effect from Wednesday, July 29, and last for three months.

Conditions attached to the paid leave include:
  • Workers must be aged 17 or older and be likely to have worked during the self-isolation period
  • Cannot be receiving any income — including other leave or JobKeeper — during their time in quarantine
  • If workers test positive to the virus they will be provided with workers compensation leave, which will supersede the pandemic leave
  • If the direction to self-isolate comes from a doctor, and not come the Government or employer, the worker must provide a medical certificate
  • The entitlement extends to casual employees "engaged on a regular and systemic basis" and the payment would be based on their average earnings over the past six weeks.....
In its ruling, the FWC stated "it cannot be assumed that the current outbreak will remain confined to Victoria".

"The recent events in that state demonstrate how rapidly circumstances can change," the full bench of the commission found.

"Recent developments in New South Wales are not encouraging. The award of the entitlement remains necessary notwithstanding that the current locus of the pandemic is in Victoria."…...

Key points:
  • The Fair Work Commission ruled the paid leave was necessary nationwide due to recent events demonstrating "how rapidly circumstances can change"
  • The ruling follows submissions from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Health Services Union and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation calling for paid pandemic leave to apply for all staff in aged care across the country until the end of September
  • Only casual employees who can have been employed on a "regular and systemic basis" will be entitled to the paid leave
  • The commission's ruling grants paid pandemic leave to staff working in residential aged care under the Aged Care Award, the Nurses Award and the Health Professionals Award.
* See Fair Work Commission, Decisions, Health Sector Awards—Pandemic Leave, (AM2020/13), 27 July 2020

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Australia During Pandemic 2020: Portraits in Selfishness & Self-interest

Crikey, 13 July 2020:
For some business leaders and lobby groups, the return to lockdown in Melbourne is intolerable. The most prominent is the Australian Industry Group (AIG).

Last week it condemned the Melbourne lockdown, saying “widespread shutdowns is a strategy that can be used just once.” The following day it called for the reopening of the NSW-Victorian border on the basis that the Melbourne lockdown — which it had opposed the previous day — had removed any threat of community transmission of COVID-19 outside Victoria.

The carefully chosen words of last week, though, were replaced by an altogether harsher view articulated by AIG head Innes Willox to The Australian over the weekend.

State premiers, Willox complained, were trying “to outdo, outbid and outrace each other to smother any chance of economic recovery” — a couple of days after Queensland had reopened its borders.

Putting up artificial barriers, closing borders and turning Australians against each other is not going to get us there.”

That coincided with the head of Flight Centre, Graham “Skroo” Turner calling for Australia to “learn to live with the virus”, which would get “society and business back to a reasonable level of normality”.

After dismissing herd immunity, and the tens of thousands of deaths that would require, as “not a great option”, Turner, or his ghost-writer, suggested that Australia had embraced a “model of states, territories or governments who have no COVID-19 objectives or clear science and data-based strategies”.

Despite complaining about this alleged lack of clear objectives and strategies, it wasn’t clear what Turner’s “living with the virus” meant beyond “containment by proven health and hygiene practices, widespread testing and tracing but without hard lockdown.” Unsurprisingly for the head of a travel company, Turner wants international borders and tourism reopened as soon as possible. The Australian backed Turner in an editorial.

Turner’s “strategy” would amount to letting the virus rip, with contact tracers — let alone hospitals — rapidly overwhelmed. That’s exactly the scenario that is unfolding in places like Florida and Texas right now. Funnily enough, that’s not very good for consumer sentiment, even without hard lockdowns….. [my yellow highlighting]

Read full article here.

The New Daily, 13 July 2020:

A group of six Victorians has been fined more than $24,000 after trying to cross the border into Queensland in a minivan. 

The group, who had lied on their border declaration forms, told police patrolling entry the state’s points that they had been working in NSW for three weeks. 

However, evidence on their phones revealed they had been in coronavirus hotspots in Victoria during the past 14 days. 

“Police intercepted a minivan on Saturday night, where all six occupants were refused entry at the M1 border control check point,” Queensland Police said. 

“On Sunday, officers intercepted the same van on Stuart Street in Coolangatta around 2pm.” 

All six in the group – two 19-year-old women and four men aged 18, 19, 23 and 28 – were fined $4,003 for failing to comply border directions and turned around immediately....

NSW Police, 13 July 2020:

A man has been fined after failing to follow self-isolation ministerial directions in the state’s south west. 
 At 2.30pm on Wednesday 8 July 2020, a 24-year-old man was stopped by police on the Newell Highway at Tocumwal, as part of border enforcement patrols. 

The man was issued a direction under the Public Health Act to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days and was provided with information before being allowed to leave. 

Officers from Murrumbidgee Police District attended the man’s home in Leeton at 12pm and again at 4pm on Thursday 9 July 2020, and found the man was not home as directed in the orders. 

Police attended the home again at 5.30pm and provided the man with a formal warning in relation to self-isolation. 

About 8pm on Friday 10 July 2020, police attended the man’s home and again found he was not home. 

About 4.20pm yesterday (Sunday 12 July 2020), police attended the man’s home and issued him with a $1000 Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) for failing to comply with a direction under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW). 

Since Operation Border Closure started at midnight on Wednesday 8 July 2020, police have facilitated the movement of tens of thousands of vehicles crossing the border from Victoria into NSW. 

To date, more than 300 people have been issued with directions to self-isolate as they enter NSW.....

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Are koalas on NSW North Coast now facing local extinction?

SBS News, 9 December 2019:

Koala Paul in the ICU recovering from burns at The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on November 29, 2019.Hospital Works To Save Injured Animals Following Bushfires Across Eastern Australia
Paul the koala in the ICU recovering from burns at The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on November 29, 2019. Source: Getty

NSW parliament's upper house will hold an urgent hearing on the extent of damage to the koala population from the recent bushfires, with 2,000 feared dead. 

An inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW is expected to hear evidence that more than 2,000 of the native Australian marsupial may have died on the state's north coast in recent bushfires. 

The state parliament's upper house inquiry will hold an urgent hearing on Monday to discuss the extent of damage to the koala population from bushfires. 

Thousands of hectares of koala habitat across northern NSW and southeast Queensland have been destroyed in the recent bushfires. 

Koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, NSW and the ACT, largely a result of habitat clearing......
A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Source Getty
North East Forest Alliance president and ecologist Dailan Pugh is expected to give evidence on Monday that more than 2,000 koalas may have died and up to one-third of koala habitat on the state's north coast may have been lost in the fires..... 

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital's clinical director Cheyne Flanagan and Indigenous fire practitioners are also due to give evidence, as well as representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment....

The Guardian, 9 December 2019:

Photograph: Supplied by Jimboomba Police

Mark Graham, an ecologist with the Nature Conservation Council, told the inquiry that koalas in most instances “really have no capacity to move fast enough to get away” from fast-moving crown fires that spread from treetop to treetop.

“The fires have burned so hot and so fast that there has been significant mortality of animals in the trees, but there is such a big area now that is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never find the bodies,” Graham said.
The crown fires which have torn through broad expanses of NSW north coast forest, a known biodiversity hotspot, were unprecedented.
“We’ve lost such a massive swath of known koala habitat that I think we can say without any doubt there will be ongoing declines in koala populations from this point forward,” Graham said.
Science for Wildlife executive director Dr Kellie Leigh told the hearing there was no resources or planning in place to save koala populations in the Blue Mountains from fires currently threatening the region.
“We’re getting a lot of lessons out of this and it’s just showing how unprepared we are,” Dr Leigh said on Monday.
“There’s no procedures or protocols in place ... even wildlife carers don’t have protocols for when they can go in after fire.”
The Blue Mountains fires have already hit two-thirds of the northern population the organisation has studied and one-third of the Kanangra-Boyd National Park population, Dr Leigh said......

Echo NetDaily, 9 December 2019:

Prior to the current bushfires koalas were at risk of major population decline through habitat loss and logging but with significant areas of their habitat being burnt out by bushfire many of the previously stable colonies are on the verge of collapse. Recognising the disastrous impact that the fires are having on koala populations a call is being put out to the NSW government to stop logging of koala habitat.
A number of groups appearing before today’s NSW Legislative Council inquiry into koala populations and habitat in New South Wales have requested the committee actively call on the NSW government to put in place a moratorium on logging koala habitat across public and private lands as an emergency response to the loss of thousands of koalas and their habitat due to wildfires....

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's cruel war on asylum seekers continues.....

On 4 December 2019 the Leader of the Morrison Government in the Senate, Mathias Cormann, moved to suspend standing orders to consider the for the remainder of the day.

According to the Government; The Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 (the Bill) amends the Migration Act 1958 (the Migration Act) to repeal the provisions inserted by Schedule 6 to theHome Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019 (the medical transfer provisions). As the medical transfer provisions do not provide for any return or removal mechanism, the Bill also amends the Migration Act to extend existing powers in relation to persons transferred to Australia under the medical transfer provisions to allow for their removal from Australia or return to a regional processing country once they no longer need to be in Australia for the temporary purpose for which they were brought. 

Thus Morrison wanted to ensure doctors did not retain more say in the medical treatment of offshore asylum seeker detainees and intended to remove those detainees already transferred to Australia in the last eight months as soon as possible. He and his government saw this as compatible with Australia's human rights obligations.

At 10.08 am Cormann moved that; That a motion to provide for the consideration of the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.

This motion passed 38 to 36 with a majority of 2.

By 11.21am the bill was passed 37 to 35 with a majority of 2.

Those voting in support of the bill were:

Abetz, Eric (Lib-Tas) Antic, Alexander (Lib-SA) Askew, Wendy (Lib-Tas).
Bernardi, Cory (Ind-SA) Bragg, Andrew J (Lib-NSW) Brockman, Slade (Lib-WA).
Canavan, Matthew J (Lib-Qld) Cash, Michaelia C (Lib-WA) Chandler, Claire (Lib-Tas) Colbeck, Richard (Lib-Tas) Cormann, Mathias (Lib-WA).
Davey, Perin (Nats-NSW) Duniam, Jonathon (Lib-Tas).
Fawcett, David J (Lib-SA) Fierravanti-Wells, Concetta (Lib-NSW).
Hanson, Pauline (ON-Qld) Henderson, Sarah M (Lib-Vic) Hughes, Hollie (Lib-NSW) Hume, Jane (Lib-Vic).
Lambie, Jacqui (JLN-Tas).
McDonald, Susan (LNP-Qld) McGrath, James (LNP-Qld) McKenzie, Bridget (Nats-Vic) McMahon, Samantha (Lib-NT) Molan, A "Jim" (Lib-NSW).
O'Sullivan, Matthew A (Lib-WA).
Paterson, James (Lib-Vic).
Rennick, Gerard (LNP-Qld) Reynolds, Linda (Lib-WA) Roberts, Malcolm (ON-Qld) Ruston, Anne (Lib-SA) Ryan, Scott M (Lib-Vic)
Scarr, Paul (LNP-Qld) Seselja, Zdenko (Lib-ACT)  Smith, Dean A (Lib-WA) Stoker, Amanda J (LNP-Qld).
          Van, David (Lib-Vic).

These are the politicians who (along with their counterparts in the House of Representatives) returned Australian society to the days when, as a mattter of policy, offshore detainees were refused medical transfer to Australia unless they were on the brink of death. 

In the past this policy resulted in avoidable detainee deaths such as that of Hamid Kehazaei - it will likely do so again.

As soon as the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Act 2019 receives assent, Prime Minister Morrison will in all probability quickly move to return the 179 medevac detainees back to Nauru and Manus Island.

Monday, 18 November 2019

With 6 people burnt to death to date during the current NSW 2019 fire season, one reputable Australian journalist pointed the finger squarely at who and what is to blame

TheGuardian, 16 November 2019:

The history of climate policy in Australia is a history of self-interest, posturing and shameful inaction. Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

In a dispiriting political week like the one we’ve just had, it helps to keep things simple. Let’s begin with the organising idea of the week, where various politicians asserted, both in measured ways and unhinged ways, that it was inappropriate to talk about climate change while bushfires ravaged the country.

Let’s be clear about what this line of argument is.

It’s self-serving crap.

It is entirely possible to have a sensible discussion about climate change and the risks it poses, including the risks of longer and more intense fire seasons, and still do all the things that need to be done to protect lives and property.

We have that bandwidth. In fact Australia demonstrated amply over the course of the past few days our collective capacity to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Despite all the finger waggling from politicians, or perhaps because of it, the climate conversation happened in tandem with heroic efforts by emergency services workers to save lives and contain the damage. In fact, the most compelling part of the conversation about bushfires being a symptom of climate change was led by emergency service workers: a coalition of former fire chiefs, who point blank refused various invitations from politicians to shut up.

Given there is no law that says bushfires preclude sensible, evidence-based policy conversations, it’s reasonable to ask why this particular prohibition was asserted.

The answer to that is simple. The Coalition does not want its record raked over at a time when Australians are deeply anxious, because it’s hard to control the narrative in those conditions. The government does not want people who are not particularly engaged in politics, and who make a point of not following Canberra’s periodically rancid policy debates (and climate is the most toxic of the lot), switching on to this issue at a time where they have a personal stake in the conversation.

While Scott Morrison has acknowledged there is a link between climate change and natural disasters, and in attitudinal terms that acknowledgement is a positive development, it’s not really in the prime minister’s interests for anyone to press very assertively on that pressure point, particularly not at a time when the prolonged drought (another symptom of climate change) is already making the Coalition’s supporters restive.

Morrison doesn’t invite the climate action interrogation, because the government’s record is abysmal, and I don’t invoke that word lightly. The Liberal and National parties have done everything within their collective power to frustrate climate action in Australia for more than a decade. The Coalition repealed the carbon price. They attempted to gut the renewable energy target. They imposed fig-leaf policies costing taxpayers billions that have failed to stop emissions rising every quarter.

Lest this wrecking, self-interested, destructive behaviour seem a quirk of history – a quaint vestige of the Abbott era curtailed by the sensible man in the Lodge – be reminded that the Liberals blasted Malcolm Turnbull out of the prime ministership only last August in part for the thought crime of trying to impose a policy mechanism that would have reduced emissions in the electricity sector.

Reflections on a catastrophic week of bushfires

Not content with that, the Coalition, Morrison and his ministers, also claimed during the May election that an emissions reduction target broadly consistent with climate science would be a wrecking ball in the Australian economy. Not content with that, Morrison and his ministers characterised a sensible policy by Labor to try and encourage the electrification of the car fleet to reduce emissions in transport as a “war on the weekend”.

What Australian voters needed after the election in May was a government of whatever stripe prepared to put the country on an orderly path towards decarbonisation.

But what the Coalition needed was different. It wanted to remain in power, and one of the principle means to power it deemed necessary proved to be convincing voters in the outer suburbs and regions that Bill Shorten was crazy and shifty about climate change and would confiscate your ute.

To put this point very starkly, there was a climate election in May, and the climate lost.

I hope it’s clear by now, as a consequence of this heart-warming romp through recent political history, that the arbitrary prohibition of the week – we can’t talk about climate because the country is burning – is about politics, and about self-interest, and not about anything else.

And rather than applying false balance and blaming everyone and declaring the whole business of politics and democracy a debacle, let’s also acknowledge that everyone has certainly stuffed up at one point or another, but one political movement more than any other bears the responsibility for Australia’s failure to get on with the necessary transition to low emissions.

That’s the Liberal and National parties.

Read the full article here.

The dead to date in the 2019 NSW bushfire season

77 year-old man & 68 year-old woman burnt inside their home on Deadman Creek Road in Coongbar, Upper Clarence Valley in October
53 year-old woman burnt in her home at Johns River, north of Taree in November
elderly man found in a burnt out car at Wytaliba, east of Glen Innes in November
68 year-old woman burnt on her property at Wytaliba in November
58 year-old man burnt at the southern end of the Kyuna Track at Willawarrin, 34km west of Kempsey in November