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Incompetence and Malice from the NSW Tories

Image by Eric Lobbecke. This has been said: Gladys Berejiklian is a danger to the people of New South Wales, the rest of Australia, and even New Zealand. Every single case of coronavirus, the highly infectious Delta and Delta Plus variants, originates from New South Wales substantially aided by the policies lead by that state government. New Zealand previously had less than ten cases a day since April last year, using a 7-day rolling average; then, a case crossed the ditch [1] from New South Wales, and now they have 66 a day, and the total number of active infections has grown from 36 at the beginning of August to 651. Victoria, too, had a 5-cases a day at the beginning of August (again using the rolling average of the previous week), now it's up to 81, again with origins from New South Wales [2]. Whilst they have been largely spared, due to successful and rapid implementation of strong movement restrictions (popularly, but somewhat incorrectly, described as "lockdowns"), the few cases in South Australia and Queensland also owe their origins to New South Wales.

Public health policy has public health results. The outbreak in Victoria resulted from a policy that allowed some cross-border movement, and the same applied in New Zealand. Pity, however, New South Wales which is an absolute train-wreck and getting much worse. With a weekly rolling average of 24 cases at the end of June, a lackadaisical approach to suppressing the outbreak has led the state to experience a rolling average of over a thousand cases a day, with the worst yet to come. Extraordinarily, even as the state recorded the worst-case figures [3] for an Australian state since the pandemic began, the Premier announced "We are going to show the way in Australia as to how you can live with COVID", a remark that will leave a bitter taste for the friends and family of the six patients who died in the same daily reporting period. "Living with COVID" is, of course, a euphemism to mean "dying with COVID" as words have their opposite meaning when political marketing pitches are made against reality. A few days later, as NSW recorded another 1164 cases, the Premier said she didn't understand why some states and territories were unhappy with the national plan to end lockdowns once 80% of the eligible population had been vaccinated, referring to reaching the "magic 70 percent and 80 percent [4].

New South Wales is suffering because of a public health policy of Gladys Berejiklian and her government. They did not act quickly on the outbreak. They did not learn the lessons of the experience of other states. They did not go hard, they did not go fast, and now they're talking about "magic numbers". This is public health policy determined by numerology and rather than epidemiology, and with the inevitable consequences within NSW, within the rest of Australia, and even into New Zealand. Spurred on by the Prime Minister, Scotty from Marketing, who insisted that vaccination numbers is "not a race" [5], it very clearly is a race, with an uncertain finish line. Vaccination even at 80% rates, is really only 64% of the population, as the first figure excludes those aged under 16. With the reproduction rate of the Delta variant and current vaccine effectiveness, the herd immunity vaccination threshold is at least 66% of the total population as a minimum with a vaccine of 90% efficacy [6].

Whilst Morrison and Berejiklian are trumpeting the magic numbers, which they have picked from the report of the Doherty Institute's modelling, that body is a lot more circumspect, with their Director pointing out that without additional public health measures in addition to vaccination, some 25,000 people will die [7]. This is obviously contrary to the narrative that Morrison and Berejiklian want to sell, but it's what the very report [8] that they are calling upon states. Instead, it is very much with the caveats that a loosening of restrictions is only possible without significant consequences (read, R0>1) if a large percentage (70% and 80% of those aged 16+ are modelled values) and whether or not state health systems are able to test, trace, isolate, and quarantine (TTIQ) new infections quickly. If either of these remains untrue, then additional health measures such as movement restrictions will be necessary. In any case, there is real-world evidence; Israel, with 80% of its population above 12 having received two shots, and 60% of total residents [9], has just recorded a record 10,947 cases in a single day [10]. Notably, the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is also a critic of lockdowns as a preventative health measure. The reality is, the virus simply doesn't care if one finds lockdowns inconvenient.

Under the national leadership of Morrison and the state leadership of Berejiklian Australia and New South Wales are faced with a public health disaster and an economic disaster. Berejiklian's utterly ignorant and cavalier approach to health policy in this current outbreak has led to tens of thousands being infected and the deaths of over a hundred. Morrison's utterly ignorant and cavalier economic logic of printing money and handing it out to bosses who often promptly pocketed it instead of spending it on infrastructure has resulted in the worst recession on record in the post-WWII period and the worst government deficit [11]. Fascinating how the Horizon Church cult received such a generous Jobkeeper handout [12], but Universities - who are actually conducting the real research into this virus - were ruled ineligible, isn't it? It is increasingly difficult to determine whether Morrison and Berejiklian are actually just incompetent or whether their disdain for human health indicates their malice. In fact, at a certain point, it doesn't matter; a sufficiently high level of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. This is exactly what those in New South Wales in particular, and Australia, in general, are experiencing. Simply put, they both should be sacked as a hazard to public health.


1] NZ Delta case ‘originated in NSW’: Ardern, Sydney Morning Herald. 18 August, 2021

2] Fine for not wearing a mask, but Sydney removalists who brought Delta to Melbourne won’t be charged. The Age. 27 July, 2021

3] NSW records 1,218 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, six deaths. ABC News. 29 Aug, 2021

4] NSW records 1,164 COVID-19 cases as Premier makes plea for Christmas re-opening. ABC News. 31 August, 2021

5] View from The Hill: New ‘expert’ advice is in – don’t say 'it's not a race'. The Conversation. 1 June, 2021

6] Modelling of COVID-19 vaccination strategies and herd immunity, in scenarios of limited and full vaccine supply in NSW, Australia

7] Scott Morrison rejects warning of 25,000 deaths if Covid restrictions end with 80% vaccinated. The Guardian. 24 August, 2021

8] Doherty Modelling Report Revised 10th August 2021.

9] COVID cases are rising in highly vaccinated Israel. But it doesn’t mean Australia should give up and ‘live with’ the virus. 24 Aug, 2021

10] Israel posts record number of COVID-19 cases on day before schools reopen. SBS News. 31 August, 2021

11] Morrison Government sets records in economic mismanagement. Independent Australia. 30 August, 2021

12] Churches, religious groups received millions of dollars in JobKeeper while staying in the black, accounts show. 5 August, 2021

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