Tuesday, 28 July 2020

A musing on the "guilty"

There was a book written by three journalists in 1940 under the pseudonym "Cato" which accused fifteen prominent men of the appeasement of Adolf Hitler and the failure of British government to rearm in between wars.

The "guilty men" identified as drawing Britain into the Second World War were: Neville Chamberlain, Sir John Simon, Sir Samuel Hoare, Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Lord Halifax, Sir Kingsley Wood, Ernest Brown, David MargessonSir Horace Wilson, Sir Thomas Inskip, Leslie Burgin, James Earl Stanhope, W. S. Morrison, and Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith.

If one were to lay the blame for where the world stands right now who would we decide to blame for the retreat of democracy, increased social & economic inequality, widespread environmental degradation, global pandemics, endless small wars, a rogue banking & finance industry, an untrustworthy fourth estate, world-wide climate change and a plethora of crazy conspiracy theories on any subject imaginable?

There is a cast of thousands to chose from across these categories.

My own list of "guilty" individuals would be much longer than Cato's and from a personal perspective begin but not end with: Queen Elizabeth IISir John Kerr, John Malcolm Fraser, John Winston Howard, Richard Milhous NixonFrançois Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand, William Jefferson 'Bill' ClintonGeorge Herbert Walker BushGeorge Walker Bush, Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin LadenAnthony Charles Lynton 'Tony' BlairMargaret Hilda ThatcherKeith Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer, Johannes Bejlke Petersen, Anthony John 'Tony' AbbottGeorge PellDavid & Charles Koch, Mark Zuckerberg, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Donald John TrumpAlexander Boris de Pfeffel JohnsonScott John MorrisonLiberal Party of Australia, U.S. Republican Party and the U.K. Conservative Party.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Supreme Court removes authorised status from a planned protest march from Sydney Town Hall to NSW Parliament House & rally calling for justice for Indigenous man David Dungay Jr. who died in police custody in 2015

NSW Police, Latest News, 26 July 2020:

NSW Police Force statement on Supreme Court decision  

The NSW Supreme Court has prohibited a public assembly planned for Sydney on Tuesday (28 July 2020) due to health and safety concerns associated with COVID-19. 

The protest is now unauthorised. 

Those thinking of attending – despite the Supreme Court decision and health advice – are strongly urged to reconsider their plans. 

While the NSW Police Force recognises and supports the rights of individuals to exercise their right to free speech, large-scale events, such as these, are currently subject to restrictions under the Public Health Act. 

As such, police will not hesitate to take the appropriate action, if required.

The NSW Supreme Court case in question was Commissioner of Police, New South Wales Police Force v Padraic Gibson (OBO Dungay Family) - 2020/00213575.

A Northern Region NSW Police officer charged over alleged neglect of duty with regard to a domestic violence incident

Destroy The Joint: Counting Dead Women, 15 July 2020

NSW Police, Latest News, 22 July 2020:

A police officer has been charged following an investigation into alleged neglect of duty. 

In January 2020, an investigation was commenced by officers from a northern region police district after an officer allegedly failed to appropriately investigate a reported domestic violence incident. 

Following inquiries, a male senior constable was issued a Future Court Attendance Notice yesterday (Tuesday 21 July 2020), for neglect of duty. 

He is due to appear before Newcastle Local Court on Thursday 3 September 2020. 

The officer is currently suspended with pay.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Byron Central Hospital fever clinic has confirmed two new positive COVID-19 cases following testing of a couple aged in their 60s who presented on 24 July 2020

Northern NSW Local Health District, media release, 25 July 2020:

Byron Central Hospital fever clinic has confirmed two new positive COVID-19 cases following testing of a couple aged in their 60s who presented yesterday. 

The couple had recently returned from Sydney and their cases have been associated with a series of funeral gatherings and a church service attended by a woman in her 40s from the Fairfield area, in Sydney. 

NSW Public Health Unit is conducting relevant interviews and contact tracing to ensure all steps are being taken to manage the risk. The couple are currently self isolating at home. 

This now brings the total number of cases in Northern NSW to 58.

NNSWLHD cases by likely source of infection: 

Overseas or interstate acquired  53 
Locally acquired – contact of a confirmed case or in a known cluster 4 Locally acquired- source not identified 1 
Under investigation 0 
Total 58 

We encourage anyone with even the mildest of symptoms to come forward for testing to help contain community spread of COVID-19. 

The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, loss of smell and taste. 

Even if minor symptoms develop, please seek testing and self-isolate. 

Clinics are located at The Tweed Hospital, Byron Central Hospital, Lismore Base Hospital and Grafton Base Hospital, or other GP or pop up clinics in the region. 

A full list of testing clinics can be found at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/clinics.aspx

Big Ted talks about the ABC, Australia's public broadcaster


Australian governments receive yet another warning that mass extinction events are getting closer

All three tiers of Australian governments - federal, state and local - need to turn and face this reality.

Nature, Ecology & Evolution magazine, 20 July 2020:

Impact of 2019–2020 mega-fires on Australian fauna habitat 

Michelle Ward, Ayesha I. T. Tulloch, James Q. Radford, Brooke A. Williams, April E. Reside, Stewart L. Macdonald, Helen J. Mayfield, Martine Maron, Hugh P. Possingham, Samantha J. Vine, James L. O’Connor, Emily J. Massingham, Aaron C. Greenville, John C. Z. Woinarski, Stephen T. Garnett, Mark Lintermans, Ben C. Scheele, Josie Carwardine, Dale G. Nimmo, David B. Lindenmayer, Robert M. Kooyman, Jeremy S. Simmonds, Laura J. Sonter & James E. M. Watson 


Australia’s 2019–2020 mega-fires were exacerbated by drought, anthropogenic climate change and existing land-use management. 
Here, using a combination of remotely sensed data and species distribution models, we found these fires burnt ~97,000 km2 of vegetation across southern and eastern Australia, which is considered habitat for 832 species of native vertebrate fauna. 

Seventy taxa had a substantial proportion (>30%) of habitat impacted; 21 of these were already listed as threatened with extinction. 
To avoid further species declines, Australia must urgently reassess the extinction vulnerability of fire-impacted species and assist the recovery of populations in both burnt and unburnt areas. 

Population recovery requires multipronged strategies aimed at ameliorating current and fire-induced threats, including proactively protecting unburnt habitats. [my yellow highlighting]

The Guardian, 21 July 2020: 

The publication of the peer-reviewed study in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution followed the Morrison government on Monday releasing an independent review of the laws, known as the Environment Protection and Conservation Biodiversity (EPBC) Act. 

The interim review led by Graeme Samuel, a former competition watchdog head, found Australia’s environment was in an unsustainable state of decline and the laws were not fit to address current and future environmental challenges. 

Samuel recommended the introduction of national environmental standards that set clear rules for conservation protection while allowing sustainable development, and the establishment of an independent environmental regulator to monitor and enforce compliance. 

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, agreed to develop environmental standards, but rejected the call for an independent regulator and said she would immediately start work on an accreditation process to devolve responsibility for most environmental approvals to the states and territories. 

One of the Nature Ecology study’s authors, Prof James Watson, said the laws could be effective but only if protections were enforced. 

The act, which has been widely criticised for failing to stem a developing extinction crisis, largely leaves decisions to the discretion of the environment minister of the day.....

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Australia 2020: and now for some economic bad news

On 23 July 2020 Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg delivered a national economic and fiscal update.

He dutifully posted an upbeat media release and published the official update documents.

Here is a preliminary takeaway from this update*:

  • total federal government payments have increased by $58.0 billion in 2019-20 and increased by $187.5 billion over the two years to 2020-21. The net impact of policy decisions since the 2019-20 MYEFO has increased payments by $58.0 billion in 2019-20 and $113.7 billion in 2020-21.
  • declines in taxation receipts were $31.7 billion in 2019-20 and are expected to be $63.9 billion in 2020-21;
  • the underlying cash balance is expected to decrease to an $85.8 billion deficit in 2019-20 and an $184.5 billion deficit in 2020-21. This is a a deterioration of $281.4 billion over these two years since the 2019-20 MYEFO;
  • as a percentage of GDP the underlying cash balance is expected to be -9.7 per cent in 2020-21;
  • debt levels have increased significantly. Gross debt was $546 billion (28.1 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2019 and $684.3 billion (34.4 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2020 and is expected to be $851.9 billion (45.0 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2021. With net debt at 30 June 2019 standing at 373.5 billion (19.2 per cent of GDP), expected to be $488.2 billion (24.6 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2020 and increase to $677.1 billion (35.7 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2021;
  • on a calendar-year basis real GDP fell by 3.75 per cent;
  • real GDP is forecast to have fallen sharply in the June quarter 2020 by 7 per cent;
  • nominal GDP is expected to be -4.75 per cent in 2020-21;
  • nationally 709,000 jobs were lost in the June quarter 2020;
  • the unemployment rate in June 2020 was 7.4 per cent and is expected to peak at around 9.25 per cent in the December quarter 2020 and is forecast to be at 8.75 per cent in 2020-21;
  • Treasury has predicted that immigration will fall to 31,000 individuals in 2020-21 which is likely to affect the national budget bottom line; and
  • the Morrison Government's go-to remedy for the poor economic outlook is to (i) consider reducing the federal government's taxation income even further by est. $143 billion in personal income tax receipts over 10 years commencing in 2021-22, (ii) reduce welfare spending by further limiting eligibility and reducing payment levels for JobSeeker and JobKeeper recipients from 25 September 2020 with the Coronavirus Supplement due to be removed completely by 31 December 2020, (iii) incease the level of casual and insecure work via industrial relations 'reform', and (iv) encourage women to have more babies to compensate for the current moribund population growth rate.

* The Economic and Fiscal Update June 2020 is affected by the economic impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and to a lesser extent by the the impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires. 

Componding the situation is the high level of federal government borrowings which regularly occurred after 18 September 2013.

On 30 September 2013 the gross national debt stood at est. $220.67 billion and net national debt was $174.55 billion. At that time net national debt was in the vicinity of 13% of GDP. 

By 2 April 2019 the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government had raised the gross national debt to $534.42 billion. That's more than double the national debt left by the previous Labor federal government. 

On 2 April 2019 Frydenberg was predicting that gross national debt would rise to $627.26 billion by end of June 2019 with net national debt coming in at $373.47 billion and net debt predicted to come in at 19.2% of GDP by end of June. 

By 30 June 2019 the federal government paid est. $18.15 billion in interest on this debt in the 2018-19 financial year. 

The bottom line is that before either the bushfires or the pandemic even began the Morrison Government gross national debt stood at $546 billion or 28.1 per cent of Australia's GDP and net debt stood at 373.5 billion or 19.2 per cent of GDP by 30 June 2019.

Therefore emergency national funding for bushfires and pandemic only accounts for est. 23.5 per cent of the current national debt.

As at 30 May the Morrison Government's total liabilities in 2020 ran to $1,324.95 billion against assets of $700.74 billion according to Australian Government General Government Sector Monthly Financial Statements May 2020.