Saturday, January 01, 2022

'In 2022, the pandemic will END': Face of Australia's vaccine rollout promises a New Year's Omicron miracle

It's the message of hope Australia has been waiting to hear - one of the nation's top doctors has now confidently predicted: 'In 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic will end.'

Former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says vaccination jabs and the spread of the mild Omicron strain will finally make the world immune to Covid.

His welcome words have come as Australia again hit record new case numbers across the country - but thankfully ICU numbers remain stubbornly low.

And that mirrors the experience overseas where death rates have barely budged despite massive surges in numbers - and in the UK, deaths have actually dropped during the current Omicron outbreak.

Now Dr Coatsworth says the world is on the verge of using Omicron to bounce back from the nightmare of the last two years.

'We will live our lives again as part of the incredibly social and incurably optimistic human species that thrives on this planet,' he said in an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald. '2022 will be the year the pandemic ends. It could even be sooner than we think.'

More than 137,000 Australians were infected with Covid on New Year's Day - but there are just 135 patients currently in ICU with the virus, including 79 in NSW where the state recorded 22, 577 new cases on Saturday.

He was the face of Australia's vaccination programme rollout when it first began, and he said the massive widespread uptake will be key to our future.

He hailed the way the Australian public had rallied to the cause and got jabbed to protect themselves and the community.

'The virus itself has also helped us,' he said. 'It has evolved into a definitively milder illness with a complete uncoupling of case numbers and hospitalisations.'

In South Africa, where Omicron was first identified, cases are already dropping dramatically just a month after the new variant first began to spread.

Now Dr Coatsworth has called for an end to social media scaremongering and says it's time to learn to live with the virus.

'In light of our community success, the evolution of the virus to a milder form and effective new treatments, the time for mandates and whole-of-community restrictions is therefore over,' he said.

He added: 'We can be rightly proud of what we have achieved as Australians in the face of what was the challenge of our lifetime.

'We will emerge a stronger, healthier and more prosperous nation for our efforts.'


Des Houghton: My irritant of the year award goes to the ABC

My Irritant of the Year is the ABC. Our national broadcaster has splashed $856,000 of our money on advertising, promotions and audience research each month since last July.

The huge expenditure came despite the ABC crying poor and saying it would have to let go 250 staff due to budget cuts. Clearly, the ABC propagandists are not to be believed. There were no budget cuts.

Official budget papers show revenue from the government was $1,045,911,000 in 2018-19, jumping to $1,062,265,000 in 2019-20 and rising again to $1,065,354,000 in 2020-21.

Another year, another billion, and then some. Yet still the ABC greedily demands more.

Forward estimates show government revenue for 2021-22 jumped to $1,070,649,000 and will rise again to $1,073,090,000 in 2022-23. What business wouldn’t like a billion-dollar-plus top-up every year?

Remember also that the ABC was exempt from recent Commonwealth “efficiency dividends”, a term used to describe cuts in departmental funding. Is the ABC worth the vast sums spent on it?

I’m not going to pretend it does not do some fine work.

But it seems to me to be increasingly riddled with bias – either conscious bias or unconscious bias. There are signs the newsrooms are run by elites who see themselves as morally and culturally superior. They do not like to correct their mistakes and they do not always uphold their own rules.

The ABC’s internal guide insists on “due impartially”.

Journalists and producers are instructed to “present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented”. In my opinion the ABC ignores this rule daily. It is also guilty of selective reporting. This goes largely unnoticed and unchallenged.

Any person or group that does not align with Aunty’s espoused, green-Left values is either ridiculed or simply frozen out of the debate. This seems to fly in the face of its news code: “Do not misrepresent any perspective.” And: “Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.”

I don’t think I’m the only one who no longer trusts the ABC. A burning sense of moral superiority has blinded itself to its faults.

The ABC’s requirement for impartiality is defined in the statutory obligation in the ABC Act to gather and present news and information that is “accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism”.

Already the ABC seems to be turning on conservatives in the lead-up to the election. And it will get worse. Listen for the half-smart “gotcha” questions, the bad manners and the mock outrage from prickly commentators who see it as their duty to undermine conservatives.

Minor stumbles by the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues will be magnified, while the missteps of the Greens and the Labor Party will be glossed over as trifling affairs.

Meanwhile, the ABC spends tens of thousands of dollars on outside lawyers despite having a team of lawyers on its payroll.

Many viewers and listeners feel “their ABC” regularly fails to represent them and have turned away in droves.

Is it not the time for the ABC to help pay its own way?

Imposing a paywall would be fair. People who don’t use the ABC resent paying for a service they do not use and do not want.

The ABC should also allow advertising to lessen the taxpayers’ burden. The SBS model shows there is no harm in paid advertising away from news and current affairs programs. Aunty remains in denial. It’s just not loved anymore. You get better drama on Foxtel and Netflix. Sky News is sharper and quicker to breaking news. It often makes the ABC look like the History Channel.

There are other problems for Aunty. Because of its ingrained bias, the ABC programs are beginning to display a boring sameness. In the digital world, that’s death.

The arrogant elites in the newsroom may have already condemned themselves to irrelevancy. And because their heads are up their own backsides, they can’t see it.


Vomiting mum told she must join blown out PCR queues even though rapid test was positive

Pity anybody who falls into the hands of a bureaucracy!

Highly symptomatic and extremely ill Queenslanders are being told the only way they can get a Covid PCR test is to line up at overwhelmed testing centres, as infectious disease experts warn the snaking queues are a breeding ground for virus spread.

Gold Coast woman Natalie Rittson has had vomiting and diarrhoea, migraine, sore throat and soaring temperatures since Boxing Day and a rapid antigen test has found her positive to Covid.

But the mum has hit brick walls trying to access a PCR test that does not require her to leave her sick bed and line up for as long as five hours or more at a testing clinic.

The 57-year-old, who is double vaccinated, lives with her teenage son who cannot drive and her sister Sam have revealed to The Courier-Mail the “frightening details of the last few days” that has seen Natalie get a”diabolic” run-around from health officials

“The message from every single person has been get yourself to a testing centre, regardless of the fact that she lives alone with her son and is very sick,” Sam Rittson said.

“You would think they wouldn’t want someone with those kind of symptoms at a testing centre or a hospital. It doesn’t make sense.

“Even when the rapid test showed that she was Covid positive, it was still the same message — get out of bed and line up.

“I rang Queensland Health on Tuesday morning to see if I could persuade someone to go to her house to test her but still the same message — go to a testing clinic.”


Rail extension plan keeps coal on track

The push for net-zero emissions by 2050 has pitted the Coalition and Labor’s climate change policies against the bipartisan proposal to expand the Inland Rail train line to Gladstone.

While the federal government has pledged $10m towards a business case to assess the feasibility of extending the freight line from Toowoomba to Gladstone, a private economic analysis of the ­proposed route this year found its viability was contingent on the creation of new thermal coalmines in the nearby Surat Basin.

Both main parties insist new coalmines would not be at odds with their emissions-reduction commitments.

In the Gladstone-based electorate of Flynn, both the Liberal National Party candidate Colin Boyce and Labor candidate Matt Burnett – the Gladstone mayor – have backed the extension and the possibility of new coalmines.

Flynn is held with a margin of 7.6 per cent by the LNP’s Ken O’Dowd, who is retiring, and is a key target of Labor in next year’s federal election campaign.

The electorate is dominated by mining, heavy industry and agriculture and is regarded by party insiders as a litmus test for the _climate change policies of both major parties, thrusting issues such as Inland Rail and coal to the forefront of political debate.

The Inland Rail economic analysis prepared this year by consultancy AEC Group for the Central Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils found that the Gladstone extension of the 1700km rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane would be feasible if it factored in the likely development of coalmines in the Surat Basin using the freight line to move their product to Gladstone’s port.

Mr Boyce, who is currently the state MP for Callide, said opening new coalmines to make the rail line feasible was not inconsistent with the Coalition’s pathway to net zero emissions. “Extending the line opens up all sorts of ­opportunities for other proposals, some of them being coal,” Mr Boyce said.

The government’s “long-term emissions-reduction plan”, released by Scott Morrison in October, said future coal exports would be determined by the international market, not by government.

Similarly, Labor’s policy states that any emissions generated from export coal would count ­towards the emissions of the country using the coal, rather than Australia’s.

Mr Boyce said coal-fired power stations under construction around the world, and existing power stations such as the one at Callide, west of Gladstone, would rely on Queensland coal.

“There will be a demand well into 2050 for the coal industry in Australia,” he said.

Mr Burnett said he was confident the government’s business case, also backed by Labor, would show the rail line to Gladstone had economic merit with or without new coalmines, particularly through the freight of local resources and produce.

“I’m personally not opposed to new mines,” Mr Burnett said. “I think a business case on the ­Inland Rail stacks up on its own. “I know there are people across the country who don’t want to see new coalmines, but let’s let the business case determine that.”

Mr Burnett is cognisant of the damage that Labor’s ambivalence toward coal played in Labor’s loss in the 2019 election and the need to assure the industry’s workers of their future. “There are plenty of great employment opportunities in mining and coal-fired power in central Queens­land and there are new and exciting industries too,” he said.

Labor senator Murray Watt said the implications for the Gladstone connection for coal and other industries would be considered in that business case.

“Labor will continue to support coalmining and the workers in the industry for as long as there is demand for it,” he said.




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