Friday, July 10, 2020

Apartheid for the poor

The virus restrictions in the Melbourne towers make little sense.  What is there to stop contact between the residents already IN the towers?  The restrictions presumably in fact make it more likely that people will talk to their neighbours -- thus potentially spreading the virus.  This policy is CREATING infections, not stopping it

As Pauline Hanson has pointed out, many residents of the towers will be people with health problems of various sorts -- including large numbers of the elderly, the prime group that the virus kills. So by making sure such people are locked up WITH the virus, it will make sure that they are infected.  The restrictions will actually kill people

The moral dimension of singling out poor people for harsh treatment does not appear to have been considered by the Labor government.  So much for "compassionate" Leftism

Across a verdant footy oval, some residents of Flemington's social housing towers can look out to a gleaming residential tower complex complete with a rooftop 'sky garden' designed by Jamie Durie.

The ALT-Sienna tower complex — designed by the same architecture firm behind Hobart's MONA Museum — is about an eight-minute walk from Flemington's public housing estate, now subject to an unprecedented lockdown to prevent coronavirus spreading among residents.

A similarly severe lockdown has been imposed on public housing towers in North Melbourne, some of which stand across the street from another luxury tower complex named Arden Gardens.

"Arden Gardens is a new landmark development for North Melbourne — an iconic address boasting the location of the inner-city along with the luxury of a park-side location, private landscaped plaza, cinemas, ground floor Woolworths and stunning city views," the complex's website reads.

Those in the nine public housing blocks in Flemington and North Melbourne are entering their fifth day of a total "hard lockdown" which forbids residents from leaving the property at all.

As of Wednesday morning, 75 total cases of coronavirus have been detected across the towers, though Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has previously said the true number of infections may be much higher.

Under the "detention directions" governing the nine towers, the lockdown can last for up to 14 days — ending at 3:30pm on Saturday July 18 — and those who refuse coronavirus tests can be detained for another 10 days.

As he announced the sudden lockdown, Premier Daniel Andrews said it would last at least five days.

Their neighbours in private apartment blocks, who have not had any documented coronavirus cases, can still leave the house for the four main reasons allowed under the state's stage three restrictions: shopping for food, exercise, work or education and medical care or caregiving.

Some 3,000 people are spread across nine towers in two separate estates in Flemington and North Melbourne in the city's inner north-west.

Authorities have warned of the "explosive" potential for the virus to spread within the public housing towers.

Airflow, proximity, ventilation and plumbing have all been considered as contributing factors to the way the virus has spread within the walls of the high-rise towers.

Tenants in these apartment blocks often share facilities like lifts, corridors, rubbish facilities and laundry rooms.

Some residents have told the ABC about broken lifts making it "impossible" to safely distance.

It's understood many of the tenants work public-facing essential jobs, making it more likely they will come into contact with the virus.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) told the ABC that the nine-tower lockdown was based on "expert public health advice".

"There are a significant number of vulnerable residents — including the elderly and people with medical conditions that place them at greater risk — while close confines and the shared community spaces within these large apartment blocks means this virus can spread rapidly," the spokesperson said.

Chris McLay, a North Melbourne resident in a private apartment near some of the towers, told the ABC "it was immediately obvious" that the public housing residents were going to face difficulties when the lockdown was announced.

"Living in an apartment building during the pandemic, it's so obvious how easily a building's residents can share the virus with each other," he said.

But he added the lockdown "was a huge burden for the people in the towers to take on".

"I just trust that the people who know best about public health think it's necessary, and hope that they can end it as soon as possible," he said.

Since the estate lockdown began, some residents of these public housing towers have criticised the sudden restrictions, which some said made them feel like criminals and may exacerbate existing tensions between some residents and police.

The nearby Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Service has previously claimed that many of the towers' residents of African descent are subject to over-policing and racial discrimination.

'If you live in public housing, it's easier to shut you up'
public housing towers can be seen from the aerial view
The Victorian Government said residents in these towers had to be locked down because of the number of active coronavirus cases.(ABC News: Simon Winter)

To qualify for public housing, dwellings are usually reserved for those from low socio-economic or migrant backgrounds, as well as those fleeing from domestic violence.


Queensland locks out 'Sicktorians': Those coming from Victoria will no longer be able to enter or quarantine in the Sunshine State after second wave of coronavirus cases

Queensland has strengthened its border restrictions on Victorians as Melbourne goes into lockdown due to a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Previously Victorians could enter the Sunshine State if they spent two weeks in quarantine - but now they have been totally banned and will be turned back if they try to enter Queensland.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said too many Victorians - who have been dubbed 'sicktorians' by social media users - were prepared to pay $2,800 for their own quarantine just to get out of Melbourne.

He said the government wants to preserve quarantine places for Queenslanders. From midday on Friday, Queenslanders will have to pay for their own quarantine if they are returning from Victoria. 'Please get home now. Please get home as quickly as you can,' Mr Miles said on Thursday.

'They (Victoria) now have more than twice the number of cases that Queensland had in total (and) they now have more locally acquired cases than Queensland had overseas acquired cases.'

Australians from other states and territories will be allowed to enter Queensland from midday on Friday but will be required to sign a declaration form promising to get tested if they develop symptoms.

Anyone who develops symptoms but does not immediately get tested will be fined $4,000, he said.

Border passes for freight drivers will need to be renewed every week.

Next week an estimated 238,000 people were forecast to be entering the state, police said.

Despite the relaxation of border restrictions, Queensland's premier said many lockdown restrictions will remain.

'Until there is a vaccine, we have to keep up with the social distancing, we never know when there could be a new case,' Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

'We have contact tracing in place ready to go and as we've seen, it can emerge very quickly, like it has in Victoria.'

The state government will continue to review restrictions and potentially ease them when safe to do so.

Melburnians were back in stay-at-home lockdown for six weeks in a bid to contain a second wave of coronavirus cases in the state.

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, north of the city, can only leave their homes to get food and supplies, receive or provide care, exercise, and study or work.

Premier Daniel Andrews says it's crucial Melburnians don't breach the rules and head into regional Victoria, which is largely coronavirus free.

'We are doing the hard work to look at options to accelerate opening up in regional Victoria, that comes with significant economic benefit, for them and therefore the whole state,' he said on Wednesday.

'That is only possible if we continue to safeguard the very low COVID or COVID-free status of large parts of regional and country Victoria.'


Canberra has been coronavirus free for almost a month, and sewage samples confirm no hidden cases

Canberra has been free of 'known' cases of COVID-19 for some time — but it was the 'unknown' cases, potentially hiding within the community, that had authorities and many in the community worried.

Now, researchers from the Australian National University can confirm they had nothing to fear.

The ACT's sewage has been regularly tested for the last two months, with researchers looking for traces of SARS-CoV-2 within Canberra's waste.

Throughout all of May they did not find a single trace of the virus, suggesting it was entirely absent from the community.

June's results are still pending.

It adds an extra layer of confidence to the message from health authorities, that the virus is firmly under control — or in fact, non-existent — in the ACT


Australia’s lack of fuel our national security ‘Achilles’ heel’

The town of Winnie in Texas, close to the border with Louisiana, is a very long way from Australia – more than 8000 kilometres as the crow flies.

It’s one of several sites that make up the US’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), designed so the country doesn’t run out of fuel should the unexpected happen. And in the past few months the Australian Government has scooped up almost $100 million of that fuel to “boost the nation’s long-term fuel security”.

But it has some scratching their heads about how Australia’s domestic fuel security is safeguarded by having that fuel stored half a world away from Australia.

“It‘s an issue of national security – having something in the US doesn’t provide for our national interest to be protected in the way that it should,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese said in April.

“It’s a solution but not the solution we need,” a security analyst has told, adding the lack of fuel security was Australia’s “Achilles’ heel”.

Signatories to the International Energy Agency, of which Australia is one, should have a minimum of 90 days oil on tap, “in the event of a severe oil supply disruption”.

According to the monthly Australia Petroleum Statistics report Australia had 79 days’ worth of fuel in April.

However, that figure includes not only fuel stored in Australia but also oil on ships heading our way and oil sitting at overseas terminals destined for Australia.

Take those away and Australia only has 61 days’ worth of fuel. Indeed, we haven’t had 90 days’ worth of fuel since 2012.

In terms of petrol and jet fuel, it’s worse. We have only 30 days’ worth in the national tank and a mere 20 days of diesel.

“The average person thinks of fuel security as fuel for the car. But it impacts across the economy,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) security analyst John Coyne told

“It’s high-grade jet fuel to deep fat fryer oil. It’s diesel, and petroleum products to make bitumen and plastics.”

Throughout the pandemic, Australians were assured that we produced three times the food we could consume. That’s true, but food security is dependent on oil security.

“If you don’t have fuel, you can’t go out and muster cattle; you can’t work the combine harvester, you can’t run the generators that irrigate the fields or fuel the trucks to move those commodities.”

Australia now imports 90 per cent of its liquid fuel. Big fuel firms have decreased our domestic refinery and storage capacity as it costs less to ship oil in. In 10 years, Australia has gone from seven to just four refineries. Sydney now has no refineries at all.

“Your petrol in Sydney may have originated in Saudi Arabia, been refined in Singapore and shipped from there. It’s an incredibly long supply chain which works because it’s cheaper and less complex than storing large quantities of crude oil,” said Mr Coyne.

But the pandemic has shown how supply chains can be shaken. And this is just a virus, not a deliberate effort to disrupt supply.

This week, the Prime Minister announced a multi billion dollar boost to the Defence budget, part of which will be to ensure vital shipping routes to Australia remain open.

“If there was a war in the Middle East then fuel would be all over the ocean and Australia would be competing for it and that would have a risk to the availability of supply,” said Mr Coyne.

“The US keeps a strategic reserve so they can hold out for 90 days. We don’t so we’re highly vulnerable to sudden changes in demand and supply.

“Oil supply is a critical Achilles heel for Australia because you only have to constrain the supply of liquid fuel to Australia for 30 or 40 days and the whole economy comes to a halt.”

Speaking in April, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the SPR was one of the world’s cheapest and best places to store fuel long term. “The Government is taking action to improve Australia’s fuel security and enhance our ability to withstand global shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, when they reach our shores,” he said.

But, asked Labor’s Mr Albanese, how will the fuel – that would take a month to travel from Texas to the Tasman at the best of times – even get here in a crisis?

“The US isn't New Zealand. It’s not next door. If there’s the sort of international conflict or issues that provide disruption to sea lanes, that may well occur at some stage in the future, then that is why nation states need to have this fuel capacity.”

A crisis of such magnitude that all shipping would seize up is unlikely. Nevertheless, Mr Taylor said the US-based stockpile was only a “down payment” on “a stronger and more secure fuel supply” for Australia.

Earlier this month, he called for proposals from the fuel industry to boost domestic reserves from 7 to 15 million barrels.

ASPI’s Mr Coyne was sceptical about whether the industry would fully deliver on Mr Taylor’s wish. “It was the industry that said it wasn’t viable to have storage in Australia, so it’s asking the people responsible for the problem to find the solution,” he said.

In the end the costs will be likely paid for by the taxpayer, either at the pump or because the government will have to directly intervene and fund some of the storage costs.

But even then, said Mr Coyne, Australia would be vulnerable. “It only buys us time, maybe an extra 30 days. It doesn’t fix the issue of national resilience. We need a review of the whole oil supply chain,” he said.

Some experts have called for more support for home grown oil production or innovative industries that will keep the wheels moving, such as electric vehicles.

However, there was another, perhaps unexpected, benefit to Australia’s offshore oil reserve. The nation bought the fuel at rock bottom prices just as COVID-19 hit. Oil companies were desperate for anyone to buy their wares. If we don’t ever need to use the fuel in the reserve, we can sell down the line for a hefty profit, Mr Coyne said.

“It’s like an insurance policy that will have economic dividends regardless.”


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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