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May 15, 2021

Editorial – Superspreading the good news

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While Australia is doing very well in reducing COVID-19 transmissions, it’s worth considering that we are still likely to be nowhere near any end point with the virus.

Hans Lovejoy, editor

Terrific news! Australia is beating this global virus back and lockdowns will soon be eased.

The economically crushing border closures are about to be lifted, and this week venues will be allowed more patrons.

It’s the school holidays too, and local shops and markets will no doubt soon be packed with visitors.

The road into Byron Bay is back to being clogged, holiday rentals are up, and carpark spaces in Mullum, Bruns and Bangalow are again hard to find.

While Australia is doing very well in reducing COVID-19 transmissions, it’s worth considering that we are still likely to be nowhere near any end point with the virus.

Being complacent and hygienically relaxed has led to France, Spain and the UK being hit hard again.

ABC reports that India is close to overtaking the US. Cases are steadily climbing in Iran, Iraq, Indonesia.  Brazil and Mexico are also copping it.

Global deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, are now around one million.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, JobKeeper payments are winding back. And Byron Shire, like all other regions highly dependent on JobKeeper, could soon face a bumpy ride.

Academic website, theconversation.com, reports, ‘Australian National University calculations suggest JobKeeper and the boosted JobSeeker payment have saved about 2.2 million people from poverty’.

‘JobKeeper will now fall to $1,200 per fortnight for those who previously worked 20 or more hours per week and to just $750 for those who previously worked less than 20 hours per week.

‘The payment to people on JobSeeker and related benefits will fall to $815.

‘Beyond December, JobKeeper will fall to $1,000 and $650 per fortnight and the Coronavirus Supplement will end, returning JobSeeker to $565.70 per fortnight’.

The ANU researchers who authored the story (Ben Phillips, Matthew Gray and Nicholas Biddle) say this ‘will push an extra 740,000 Australians into poverty, lifting the total number in poverty from 1.1 million to 1.84 million’.

Poverty, defined in this case, is ‘an equivalised household income of less than half the median household income’.

Surely the government, who work, ahem, for the common good, don’t want this?

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  1. Hans, I’ve got my fingers crossed on this one. I would really prefer to believe
    we are on the up. Maybe I’m somewhat unsure because of my connection to
    an Indian publisher who just happened to get copies of my ‘selected poems’
    to me. Since then, the news is dreadful. India’s poorer sections have been
    badly hit by the pandemic & now the virus has reached the well off too. The
    whole happening is a hell on wheels. The countries suffering the most are
    paying a price unimaginable to us here.


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