We face a global pandemic. Excess mortality was 3 million last year and will be much greater this year. The attack rate is still growing.
Given that Observation we must first Orient, then Decide and Act. This “OODA loop” has to be repeated continuously. Events are moving too rapidly for our decisions and actions to keep up.
But first comes basic Orientation. Are we going to join together to fight this common enemy of all humanity?
One way a community binds together is by singing.
We have a suitable global anthem, from Paul Robeson’s “Hymn to Nations” sung to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, the anthem of the European Union:
Build the road of peace before us
Build it wide & deep & long
Speed the slow & check the eager
Help the weak & curb the strong
None shall push aside another
None shall let another fall
March beside me, o my brothers
All for one & one for all.
Superficially, the final amendment to Australia’s “National Plan” has been made more consistent with that. Instead of promoting a competition between the Australian States as to who can open up fastest, it specifies vaccination thresholds that must be reached by all States before any one of the States that have reached that threshold can move to a lower level of restrictions.
The point is to speed the slow and check the eager – with none letting another fall.
But that same “National Plan” pretends that Australia can be safe while a global pandemic rages through the rest of the world. It rests on seeking to push aside other nations that more desperately need vaccines, in a mad scramble to get to “the head of the queue”. Every available dose of AstraZeneca must be shoved into Australian arms, whether willing or not, lest it be “wasted” by donation to other countries.
The plan to stop worrying about infections after phase A is simply ludicrous and would contribute to more deadly variants emerging more rapidly. It isn’t even a thought bubble without a thought like the “Labor” party plan. It is just a Trumpian expression of utterly childish self-absorbed thoughtlessness.
Supposedly we can let India and Indonesia fall while Qantas resumes tourist trips to Bali! Even from the most narrow viewpoint Australia is within swimming distance of New Guinea which has a border with Indonesia.
I will leave a detailed analysis of this “plan” to a later article. There is a more urgent problem. The situation in New South Wales means Australia is on the brink of abandoning its existing “phase A” achievements. We must act fast to not let NSW fall.
Because this “National Plan” does promote vaccination and that does save lives, many public health people have remained silent about the global situation so as to focus on getting “more jabs in arms”. They have not sounded the alarm at the absurdity of NSW proposing to rely on vaccinations rather than tighter Public Health and Social Measures (PHSMs) to deal with the slow exponential growth in cases not contained by Test, Trace, Treat, Isolate and Quarantine (TTTIQ). Also they can take comfort from the fact that the plan advocates whatever level of PHSMs are needed to avoid collapse of the hospital system, rather than simply announcing a “Freedom Day” like the UK.
By now public health experts should not just be critical of the fact that the New South Wales government is still promoting delivery in September of “freedoms” that could only result in collapse. If they did their duty they should have already stepped in to fix the “national disaster” already announced from NSW. The NSW Premier told the National Cabinet meeting last Friday that NSW would not take the necessary action. But the other States did nothing at all about this direct threat to the whole country
Australia is currently in the same position as New Zealand and China. Proposing that the aim of vaccination is to ABANDON that hard won achievement so that we can enjoy MORE infections and MORE deaths is so utterly bizarre that the media has to breathlessly report “the conversation” among politicians and pundits advocating it non-stop and simply pretends there is no other view.
But what goes around, comes around. New South Wales was held up as the “gold standard” for opening up faster than other States. It rushed ahead eagerly and nobody checked it. Now it is on the edge of falling and the other States are letting it fall. That will come back around to those who let another fall.
If New South Wales falls then Victoria and Queensland will be subject to almost continuous lockdowns to suppress repeated incursions of infection across the border. Perhaps Tasmania and Western Australia could maintain the same level of covid elmination as New Zealand but it would be very hard for South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT.
But its worse than that.
The media death cultists are actively campaigning for New South Wales to fail, precisely because they actually WANT to bring down Victoria and Queensland and thus restore “calm and reason” to Australia as a whole . Here’s Chris Kenny, Associate Editor of “The Australian” in the weekend’s edition (p16-17 August 7-8):
Some readers were dismayed when I wrote last month that it might be a good thing if the NSW lockdown failed because it would force the nation to learn to live with the disease. That seems to be what is playing out – incrementally and reluctantly perhaps – but it is happening.
The lockdown fetishists portray this as welcoming sickneses and deaths, as though there is another option. The day the virus arrived on our shores from Wuhan we were going to have to deal with these morbid realities, it is all about picking a sustainable, least worst path. As I have argued in this column for more than a year, there is no option but to find a way to live with Covid.
He is right, that is playing out “incrementally and reluctantly perhaps – but it is happening.” Most processes require incremental responses so decision makers are naturally slow to respond “disproportionately” and “suddenly”. Public health officials with the same outlook are dangerous. Any incremental growth of an epidemic has to be dealt with disproportionately and suddenly. That is the hardest concept to get across even when people claim to understand exponential growth. There simply is no such thing as holding steady. It is either fizzling, exploding or teetering between the two. Two out of three of those possibilities require immediate and disproportionate action to avoid disaster.
Actually of course most of the virus arrived here from the USA and UK where governments followed the policies promoted by the Wall Street Journal and its local affiliates, the Daily Telegraph and The Australian (now joined by Channel 9 Entertainment’s newspapers and the ABC). The US and UK responded incrementally and reluctantly so they are now “living with” with the highest global death rates from covid-19 while the fascist regime in Wuhan, like the New Zealand government, stamped it out and are again stamping it out after Delta arrived from Europe.
We are very lucky not to have been defeated long ago by the incremental and proportionate responses favoured by Commonwealth Chief Medical Officers. Fortunately they do not actually run any of the public health systems in Australia and all State Chief Health Officers that actually do had a better understanding, except for NSW which was repeatedly praised by the Commonwealth for taking risks that eventually resulted in a “national disaster”.
Australian States did stamp out each outbreak until now, despite the Commonwealth’s and NSW’s ineptness. Like New Zealand and China we can keep doing that provided we don’t let NSW fall. There is another option instead of “welcoming sicknesses and deaths”. If it requires stamping on death cultists like Chris Kenny, so be it.
I’m not a lawyer but I do have sufficient knowledge of the law relating to incitement to have been able to “remain at large” despite numerous trials for incitement to riot or to assault police during the Vietnam war.
The people who breached public health orders by protests recently suppressed by NSW police would certainly take comfort from the ideas promoted in The Australian and it’s fleet of tabloids. But I am sure there is no case that these newspapers “incited, urged, aided or encouraged” them.
But what about “misconduct in public office”?
According to wikipedia that is:
“… a criminal offence at common law which dates back to the 13th century.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It is confined to those who are public office holders, and is committed when the office holder acts (or neglects to act) in a way that constitutes a breach of the duties of that office.
The (UK) Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on this offence say that the elements of the offence are when:
A public officer acting as such.
Wilfully neglects to perform one’s duty and/or wilfully misconducts oneself.
To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder.
Without reasonable excuse or justification.”
Isn’t that precisely what Chris Kenny and his publisher are urging, aiding and encouraging?
It is the duty of the public health officers in every State to protect the public from infectious disease. It is the duty of the Ministers to see to it that they do so. Wilfully neglecting to perform those duties “because it would force the nation to live with the disease” is clearly criminal.
The victim of that crime is “the nation” against whom deadly force is being advocated. We have the legal means to deal with such attacks – forcefully by imprisonment.
The Earl of Strafford was beheaded for proposing to “reduce this Kingdom”. After signing his death warrant, Charles I himself waged war against the people and was duly tried for treason by the High Court of Parliament. His head was removed from his shoulders with the Crown still on it, but without the Royal assent.
Lawyers are not usually as relevant to policy issues as some might think.
For stamping out the virus world wide, virologists developing a sterilizing vaccine will be central. They need to be publicly funded like basic research since private research by Big Pharma is naturally more attracted to ongoing sales to “live with” an ongoing disease than to actually ending the disease.
After all, what contribution does smallpox make to anybody’s “bottom line”, now that it has been stamped out?
Also very relevant in the meantime are pharmaceutical and other engineers to rapidly accelerate vaccine manufacturing capacity to reduce deaths and infections and prevent emergence of more deadly variants. I will write about that too in a later article.
But right now there is locally an urgent need for lawyers.
New South Wales is on the brink of falling because its government does not intend to actually carry out the agreed phase A of aggressive suppression to eliminate community transmission.
It would be difficult to prove the conduct is “wilful” rather than merely incompetent. As Chris Kenny slyly points out, what they are doing is being done “incrementally and reluctantly perhaps”. The level of incompetence is so extreme that a jury might be convinced by expert evidence that they were not merely reluctant and slow to do their duty. But as Chris Kenny hints with the coy ‘perhaps’ there must be a reasonable doubt. How could any Australian jury unanimously have no reasonable doubt that some Australian politicians were not “perhaps” simply incompetent shambolic clots?
Fortunately it might not be necessary to prove that the responsible Ministers are committing a crime in order to prosecute Chris Kenny and his newspaper for urging and encouraging that crime.
Nor need it be necessary to accuse the Ministers of crime in order to remove them from office. The simple fact that they are failing to aggressively suppress the virus is sufficient. Necessity trumps everything else when people recognize in time that something has to be done. Removal of obstacles to what HAS to be done is only “impossible” afterwards when the necessity was not understood at the time.
My understanding is that legally the duty of removing the incompetent NSW Minister’s from office falls on the Governor of NSW whoever that might be (I have no idea and do not believe it matters). In practical political terms the initiative must come from elsewhere (and it should not come from the Commonwealth government).
Perhaps a formal request from the Chief Health Officers of the other States, backed by declaration of various regions of NSW as biosecurity threats and appointment of regional biosecurity commanders by the Commonwealth? The Commonwealth does have constitutional responsibility for “Quarantine” and TTTIQ which includes Quarantine is breaking down in NSW. It would be better if the initiative was led by States with Coalition governments – South Australia and Tasmania.
Already the degree of damage done will require much more intense restrictions on essential work and other movement and for much longer than has been needed elsewhere. Curfews and rostered hours for exercise and collection of essential supplies may be necessary. Neigbourhood committees will be needed to help support people in isolation, organize supplies and tactfully encourage compliance with extremely onerous public health orders in their districts. Other States will need to provide both essential supplies and competent leadership staff for the NSW health service.
Of necessity this process of extending support to prevent failure will have to grow into replacing the functions of the current NSW government. Early involvement of lawyers is merely to make the transition as smooth as feasible.
Anyway, the processes will take some time, so lawyers should get to work on it right now. The virus moves fast. Exponential growth starts gradually and then explodes suddenly.
Unless we can first prevent New South Wales falling we cannot contribute to the world wide fight to prevent other countries falling.
There is a worldwide fight and it does have a global leadership – the World Health Organization. W.H.O.’s “International Health Regulations” are binding international law agreed to by all 194 member States.
That isn’t much, but it’s what we’ve got, and what we have to build from in dealing with a global pandemic. Its strength resides in the respect that people everywhere have for public health officials as opposed to politicians and pundits.
W.H.O. and the various agencies coordinating global vaccination have put out a clear warning and call to action:
“No one is safe until everyone is safe”
Everybody can and should follow what they say unfiltered by the local media by going directly to the W.H.O. web site for guidance on all aspects of fighting the pandemic. Here’s the regular media briefings regularly ignored in Australian media:
Here is the most recent transcript:
It spells out that the developed countries are following an exactly opposite policy to W.H.O. They will use all available manufacturing capacity to give additional “booster” shots to their “fully vaccinated” people as new variants become increasing virulent in a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” raging throughout the rest of the world where not even the front line health workers and the 10% most vulnerable have been vaccinated.
Here is the WHO Director-General with the very minimal request to just postpone booster shots for another two months so that some supplies can reach the 10% that need vaccines most desperately. His message is “None shall push aside another”.
Here is the replacement for Donald Trump rejecting that polite request, but with more “inspiring” verbiage than the previous “leader of the Free world”:
Whereas Trump prohibited all exports of vaccines and raw materials from the USA, Biden will condescendingly “donate” a few hundred million NEXT YEAR to a world that needs billions of doses RIGHT NOW.
In direct opposition to the warning promoted by WHO, Australia’s Government is running a vaccination campaign with the slogan:
“We’re not safe until we’re all safe”
Find out when it’s your turn and where you can be vaccinated at australia.gov.au
KEEPING AUSTRALIA COVIDSAFE
This explicitly replaces “everyone” with “we” and explicitly defines “we” as “Australia”.
Here’s an “Explainer” from Australia’s national broadcaster:
“If you’re vaccinated against COVID-19, how protected are you from catching the virus?”
After a cheery introduction pretending that the whole world is being vaccinated, “our ABC” explains that “we” will be “safe” because “we” will join the US, Israel and UK by simply no longer worrying about the number of infections (that lead to more deadly variants) and only focus on the number of Australians in hospital (reduced by vaccines):
It enthusiastically “explains” that:
“In the US the CDC has so little concern about these (rapidly increasing) cases that they aren’t even counting them any more…” [at 5’18”]
“Driven by the Delta virus, cases in the UK have actually been increasing, and they’ve been increasing sharply. However authorities there are not that worried. Contact tracing has been done away with and reports of daily case numbers are a thing of the past.” [at 7’0″]
Here’s a warning about what happens if we follow the ABC and other media’s siren song and just allow NSW to fall: