Tuesday, October 05, 2021

China shoots itself in the foot

While Australian coal exports go from strength to strength

China is facing an ongoing power crisis and rolling outages as it sticks to its snub of Australian coal, with exports dropping to less than one per cent of what it was.

The coal ban has been described as a “disastrous failure” by one foreign policy expert who said desperate Beijing could be forced to temporarily lift its unofficial sanction and pay for Aussie coal at inflated prices due to the risk of blackouts it wants to avoid.

Just $24.8 million in metallurgical coal, used for making steel, was traded to the super power in the first quarter of the year, compared to $2.04 billion the year before, according to Department of Industry responses to Senate estimates questions.

New data shows that no Australian thermal coal was exported to China in the first quarter of this year, compared to $1.04 billion in the same time 2020.

China has been facing power shortages and turned to rationing electricity in some parts, as Chinese industry ramps up production in the wake of the pandemic, and demand increases as winter approaches, combined with a coal shortage in the country.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute director Peter Jennings said while politically China would want to source its coal from elsewhere, other markets it would normally turn to like Mongolia and Indonesia are dealing with supply issues.

“This demonstrates the failure of Beijing’s attempts to coerce us,” he said.

“The intent was to punish Australia and to make us submit ourselves, but it hasn’t worked. It helped a lot of our industries diversify and it’s punished Chinese consumers.

“As much as they may not want to do it, they may considering taking Australian exports at that bubble price.

“It’s been a disastrous police failure for (China’s President) Xi Jinping.”

But Mr Jennings warned local producers that any new purchases would likely only be short term.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last week said Australia had found new markets for 90 per cent of its product.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt said Australian thermal coal was already fetching record prices, topping $US200 a tonne, saying it was in demand as a reliable, dispatchable energy.

“Our coal sector has done a remarkable job in the face of challenges over the past year opening up new markets, and expanding existing ones, and is now reaping the rewards,” he said.

“The shortfall in coal exports to China has now been balanced out by increases in sales to other markets, particularly throughout Asia.

“Forecasts released last week indicated Australian resources and energy exports will hit a record high of close to $350 billion this financial year and coal will be a significant contributor to that.”


760,000 Aussie frontline workers are considering quitting their jobs

All over Australia, hundreds of thousands of workers are fed up, and on the verge of quitting their jobs - which would spell disaster for the country.

ICU nurse Helen Connors* feels a huge amount of “guilt” that people have died alone on her ward as they battle Covid-19 and she hasn’t had the time to sit there and hold their hand.

She works in a busy Sydney hospital but was also sent to a regional area for two weeks as the outbreak spread and the pandemic caused massive shortages.

As Covid cases soared over a thousand in NSW for a number of weeks, Ms Connors said the last month and a half had been the “worst” and “extremely stressful” as the ICU ward dealt with patients who are very sick.

And she’s not alone - new research has found nearly one fifth of essential workers in education, emergency services and healthcare have considered quitting their jobs because of the pandemic.

This represents around 760,000 essential workers across Australia who could be at risk of leaving their front-line profession, and would lead to already stretched professions moving closer to breaking point.

Ms Conners, who is in her late 20s, said the huge amount of people requiring ICU care is putting a massive strain on staff.

Those unfamiliar with ICU are required to upskill immediately or more experienced workers like her have the responsibility to train up workers under a highly pressured environment, she explained.

“There is a lot of tasks and things to learn like the ventilator and different ways of monitoring and that stuff is all learned on the job. In a normal environment you get six months to get to that point, but at the moment you have no time,” she said.

“These people who have nursing skills from wards are having to learn extra stuff as soon as they possibly can as we need them now.

“Not everyone has the same skills or same knowledge as we do in ICU, so its quite stressful having someone that may not know exactly what doing. So you have to do your own work and watch over them and make sure they are doing their job properly. But it’s not their fault and it’s better than not having anyone at all.”

But Ms Connors, who works in an ICU with 50 beds, said the “emotional burden” is the heaviest thing to come out of working during the pandemic’s current outbreak in Sydney.

“We deal with death in ICU normally but there is definitely more death than normal around with this illness and it’s made 10 times harder as a lot of these patients can’t have their family there if they are dying as their families also have Covid,” she said.

She said its “really sad” when someone is at their sickest and they can’t have the comfort of their mum, dad, sibling or partner being by their side.

“It’s really hard to know that they can’t have that person there, especially when they are dying. I feel a lot of emotion for the families and often they are so sick they are unaware at that point but I feel a lot of empathy for families and they are ones that go on knowing their loved one died alone,” she said.

“We try our best to be there and hold their hands. But that’s happened to me – I've been busy with another patient and my other patient is expected to die and has died .... It’s hard to know that people are dying alone essentially.”

She said all her colleagues feel so “stretched” and that they don’t have the time to give the “full package of empathy” such as spending time talking to lonely patients.

Meanwhile wearing full PPE, while essential for their protection, also adds to the patient’s isolation as they can’t even see their nurse’s hair colour or smile, she added..

The Sydneysider said the “added pressure and guilt” of the job is also spilling over into her personal life too where she is more irritable with her partner, but she isn’t ready yet to give up a job she is “passionate” about.

Then there’s Rachel Ahmed*, a teacher from a school in a Western Sydney hot spot area.

She is seeing a concerning trend among children as she delivers classes online at a crucial age where they are learning to read.

“I teach year one and delivering learning that supports those children is really challenging as you have children that have an adult who is supporting them and some that are there by themselves,” she told news.com.au.

“It’s been really challenging and it’s been a case of if you know they don’t have an adult around there is only so much you can do and it’s almost like you have to turn a blind eye that they aren’t learning.

“The gap between my students will be huge when we return to the classroom and it's not due to a lack of ability but due to lack of support, which is really hard.”

She said there are children who haven’t picked up a book in six weeks, which will hinder their ability to access the learning when they return.

But she doesn’t blame parents who are juggling working from home and supervising their children during school time.

The Sydneysider said her job has been “turned on its head” during lockdown – increasing her workload dramatically.

On any one day she’s expected to plan lessons by creating slides and audio, conduct Zoom calls with her class, offer tech support, check in on the wellbeing of students, guide them through the online delivery platform and answer any questions raised.

There’s also expectation to check in with families every week via a phone call.

“It’s been a mammoth task. It's not just a few minutes conversation,” she said.

“I’m speaking to families that have lost everything being in a hotspot – they have lost work and are feeling depressed. I am meant to be speaking about their child and it ends up being a half an hour conversation. I could cut it short but when you’re supporting someone going through a tough emotional time its hard to do.”

The teacher, in her late 20s, said there is minimal downtime for her. “It’s not as if working from home has allowed me to have extra time to do anything,” she said.

“My time has been eaten up by all the additional tasks I have to do and its really draining to have to go through your own issues and the way you’re feeling, and not only supporting your class but their families as well.”

Another huge concern is the massive misinformation being spread surrounding kids getting vaccinated, with some parents questioning whether they could trust her as they believed she would be immunising their children in “secret”, Ms Ahmed said.

Obviously that would never be allowed, Ms Ahmed added, but this puts her in “uncharted territory” as she is not a “medical professional” and doesn’t want to get drawn into the debate around vaccines.

Working from home has also made it hard to “switch off”, yet she feels guilty about how parents are coping with the impact of lockdown.

“I feel like my life has just been school and that’s been really upsetting,” she said.

“But I know that there are people in really stressful situations in terms of having a lot of children and not having a steady income and I feel guilty about not doing everything in my power to help.”

Most of all she is worried about her children, who fill out a check in questionnaire each morning, and increasingly the responses are “heartbreaking”.

“More and more children are not doing so well and they have missed me and missed coming to school,” she said.

“A lot of the time it’s that social interaction they are missing, where they just don’t get to play especially if they are not from a big family as they are not playing with other kids, which is a really scary thought in terms of social development.”

Being an essential worker, although often less recognised than roles such as healthcare, is taking its toll on Ms Ahmoud.

“I’m bitter as I’m expected to be everything for everyone and it makes me upset,” she said. However, she isn’t ready to give up on the profession she loves.

New research commissioned by Hiver, a member-owned bank for essential workers, also revealed that 58 per cent essential workers had experienced threats to their personal safety at work, while 65 per cent reported greater difficulty looking after their own mental health as the pandemic continued.

In Victoria and New South Wales, almost 80 per cent of essential workers reported that they have found it harder to fulfil their roles on the front line this year.

This was a significantly different experience to essential workers in other states, where only around 38 per cent found their jobs harder to fulfil in 2021.

Carolyn Murphy, chief digital bank officer of Hiver, said the responsibilities of workers were more intense than ever because of the pandemic.

“The people who face-up to the very personal impacts of Covid-19 on a daily basis are telling us they are nearing breaking point,” she said.

“As the pandemic goes on, if we are expecting to continue our reliance on essential workers, we need to look carefully at how we can provide meaningful support in their lives.”

She added the research found that 41 per cent of essential workers aged 18-34 are finding it difficult to get affordable housing close to their work.

“We believe (affordable housing) could assist in reducing stress and improving the mental wellbeing of many of our front line workers,” she added.


NSW’s new premier has hit out at critics who fear his religious views will impact the way he governs the state

Dominic Perrottet has been elevated from Treasurer to Premier after a landslide win in a vote among Liberal colleagues. Sworn in at a Government House ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Perrottet is the state’s youngest ever Premier, at the age of 39.

He will also be seen as a far more conservative leader than his moderate predecessor Gladys Berejiklian.

Mr Perrottet, a conservative Catholic who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion reforms, said it would be “sad” if people thought he shouldn’t serve as premier because of his religion.

“My religious views and my Christian faith is something I am incredibly proud of, as many people across our state are,” he told reporters.

“Does that in any way take away my capacity to serve as premier? Well, I do not think so, and I think it is a sad thing that some people do.

“People right across our state, in the main, believe in freedom of religion and freedom of the opportunity to serve in public life regardless of what your ethnic background is what your religious values are.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Perrottet won the party room ballot 39 votes to five, comfortably defeating Planning Minister Rob Stokes. Stuart Ayres became his deputy.

“It’s been an honour and an absolute privilege to be elected as the parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party,” Mr Perrottet told reporters. “I really appreciate the trust that my colleagues are putting in me.”

Mr Stokes also spoke to reporters after suffering a resounding loss. “I always said that I would give people a choice – they have chosen emphatically,” he said.

“Democracy is the winner today. Dom Perrottet will be a magnificent premier and he has my undivided loyalty and support. “I will use every ounce of strength in my body to make sure he is re-elected as premier of NSW when we go to the polls in 2023.”

Asked whether he would like to remain in the cabinet, Mr Stokes said it would be “entirely up to the premier”.

Moderate faction powerbroker Matt Kean was promoted to Treasurer after helping Mr Perrottet secure victory. He will also keep his portfolio of Environment Minister for the time being.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard offered a philosophical take after emerging from the meeting.

Mr Hazzard said the atmosphere in the room was “good, but obviously sad” because MPs were mourning the loss of Ms Berejiklian as leader.

“We talked about Gladys, obviously, how sad we all are,” he told NCA NewsWire.

Calling an official press conference soon after the meeting, Mr Perrottet praised his predecessor, Gladys Berejiklian.

“It is my hope that I will continue the strong leadership that Gladys has shown throughout this pandemic,” he said.

Mr Perrottet also heaped praise on his new deputy, along with his wife and children.

The new state leader said he would not only be an “infrastructure premier” but also a “family premier”.

His ascendancy to the top job came after his Ms Berejiklian resigned as a result of an anti-corruption investigation into her conduct in office.

Her announcement was followed by an intense weekend of backroom wrangling that saw Mr Perrottet amass enough support to feel he could win the vote by Sunday.

As treasurer, Mr Perrottet was the second-highest ranking Liberal in the NSW parliament. Ms Berejiklian held the same position before she was chosen as premier in 2017.

The 39-year-old Catholic and father-of-six is the leader of the party’s right faction and was previously the deputy leader of the NSW Liberal Party

The Epping MP lives in northwest Sydney with his wife Helen and children Charlotte, Amelia, Annabelle, William, Harriet and Beatrice.

His choice of having a big family of his own may have been inspired by his own upbringing – Mr Perrottet is the third eldest of a dozen brothers and sisters.

Mr Perrottet studied law at Sydney University and worked as a lawyer before he was elected to the NSW parliament in 2011.

Mr Perrottet graduated from Redfield College, a Catholic school that has an Opus Dei priest as its chaplain, and has said his politics are partly influenced by his Christian faith.

“It’s certainly part of who I am (politically), it inspires me to try and make a difference,” he told a Catholic podcast last year.

In a statement on Friday, he said Ms Berejiklian’s departure was “an incredibly sad day for NSW”.

“The interests of the people of NSW must always come first, and the priority for the government is to ensure we continue to keep people safe, and that we reopen the economy and get people back to work, kids back to school, and life back to normal as fast as possible,” Mr Perrottet said.


‘Save Australia’ protest erupts in New York (!)

Australia became the surprising focal point of an American anti vaccine mandate protest march for teachers in New York City overnight, with hundreds of demonstrators chanting “Save Australia” and some waving Aussie flags.

The large crowd gathered outside the Australian consulate in the city for speeches in support of Australia after they marched through Manhattan.

The march began in Brooklyn outside Department of Education headquarters earlier in the day, as hundreds of people gathered to hear speeches. It mobilised and moved across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan, with chants of “Wake up, New York,” “Let us teach,” and “We, the people, will not comply.”

Some members of the crowd flipped over a Covid-19 testing site tent on their way through the city, with many of them booing and chanting, “Shame on you!”

One man, recording on his phone, overturned the testing site’s table. Another then pulled down the tent, before police officers intervened.

The march ended outside the Australian consulate in Midtown, where speeches were held in support of Australia.

“What’s going on in Australia is not just going to be Australia. And when it shows up on our doorsteps, we’re gonna punch it right in the f***ing teeth,” one speaker said. “We’re holding the line for Australia, we support Australia!” said another.

Australia has become a focal point for some commentators in the USA who see the nation as an extreme example of lockdowns and Covid restrictions.

For example, last month, the Texas Freedom Coalition posted the image to its Facebook page that likened Australia’s strict Covid-19 lockdown laws to a penitentiary system.

A map of Australia is pictured alongside the text: “What the world’s largest prison looks like from space”.

It is understood that the majority of those taking part in the march in New York overnight were Department of Education (DOE) staffers – protesting the agency’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate as it went into effect on Monday.

Teachers and other DOE employees at the rally told the New York Post they had been officially placed on unpaid leave with health insurance after refusing to get the jab.

Others said they were still being paid, but weren’t being allowed in their schools as their religious or medical exemption requests are still being considered.

In New York State, looming deadlines for vaccination have been accompanied by a substantial bump in shots among healthcare workers and others.

And about 96 per cent of New York City teachers have had at least one vaccination shot, with a surge taking place in the past week as the deadline approached.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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