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Byron Shire
December 1, 2022

The Left strikes back

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Keith Duncan, Pimlico

As Australia continues to successfully deal with the pandemic, the Labor States, Qld, Vic and WA have shown the way in successfully containing infection outbreaks with their decisive policies of border closures and lockdowns.

It was so disconcerting to see appalling political grandstanding and opportunism by right-wing politicians, lead by ‘shifty’ Morrison, and his cheer squad (Gladys Berejiklian) and their apparatchik in the talk-back radio industry, and especially the Murdoch press, and the right-wing nutters on Sky News.

On the night of 13 March history was made when WA voters delivered the mother of all back-handers to these right-wing clowns, when Mark McGowan’s Labor government was overwhelmingly re-elected with the mother of all victories that virtually obliterated the WA Liberal Party.

The mad right suffered another recent humiliating defeat when Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Qld Labor government was swept back into office with an increased majority, also wreaking havoc on a demoralised Liberal/National Party; even after being subjected to a horrendous political smear campaign by the conservatives.

These humiliating defeats are a serious wake-up call to these right-wing opportunists; that Australian voters have had enough of Trumpian spin and outright lies, and are prepared to severely punish repeat offenders accordingly. Take heed Morrison – the voters are on to you.

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  1. Pseudo debate of agreed narratives provides passion for voters to believe in the narrative.
    Left Right beliefs still pulling them strings. Cute.

  2. Happy if you move to Queensland or Victoria until you get your way.
    ATM you don’t have your way, so just get over it and move.

  3. The Andrews Labor governments incompetence with hotel quarantine killed 800 people. His “gold standard” contact tracing incompetence led to 5 million Melbourne people being locked in their homes for 4 months in 2020. His still hopeless “gold standard” contact tracing led to 6.5 million people [the whole state)
    being locked down in Feb this year . And you pat him on the back. Unbelievable.

  4. Well, it looks like Scotty’s cheer squad has returned and once-again firing on all cylinders, there has been some concern for heir welfare, because of recent political events; although it’s disappointing to see their political ineptitude hasn’t improved along with their bad manners.

  5. Yes David !! Expect no less from Keith ..
    His emperor Albo was turned away
    At the Border for the WA state election .
    Apparently Mr McGowan was not in the Mood to be lectured upon regarding Global warming.. lets face it WA labor are really
    Conservative. Try preaching WA labor on
    A carbonless society by 2050 .. labor
    Are just a bigger version of the Greens ..

  6. Keith.
    In our last discussion you were backed into a corner, so wouldn’t or couldn’t answer my questions, you reverted to personal attacks, and shut the discussion down. Pathetic.
    This time you wouldn’t or couldn’t deal with my Dan Andrews comments, so you revert to personal attacks and the stupid assumption that I am part of Scotty’s cheer squad. For the record, I have not voted LNP for 40 years.
    Thankfully your not indicative of the bulk of Labor supporters or we are all in the s4!7.

  7. David, I couldn’t care less who you vote for, (or anyone else) and if you want to assume you have backed someone into a corner, be my guest, and when there is something serious to debate I may consider it.

  8. alan veacock March 30, 2021 At 11:20 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation
    Great letter, Keith. It never ceases to amaze me the ignorance of some. I will endeavor to enlighten the ignorant. Quarantine and Aged Care are both responsibilities of the Commonwealth. The Treasurer, the conservative press, by hammering away at Dana Andrews continued to show their ignorance as well as the recent correspondents to this paper. It’s amazing how suddenly the ignorant chatter stopped when Victoria showed how its done. I suggest a read of the Australian Constitution would held.

    As for an example in incompetence the Morris Government is the obvious “Gold Standard”. Now we have a shuffling around of the deck chairs.

    And for one of your correspondents can I suggest a move to WA?

  9. Alan need for the Reminder that the
    Andrews Government has blood on its hands
    Over 800 deaths in mostly nursing homes
    all due to the mishandling of hotel quarantine security.. then a inquiry hands
    Down not one person held responsible
    Not one department..yes Alan obviously
    Was none of your relatives that passed .
    If you are so convinced of Mr Andrews
    Worth ..move to Victoria i will pay for your
    Ticket .. !! And lastly Alan 96 % of deaths in Victoria has been attributed to the hotel quarantine debacle.. and thats a Fact …

  10. Barrow You don’t seem to get it. How many times do you have to be told that Quarantine and Aged Care are both the responsibility of the Commonwealth? If anybody has blood on his hands it was the Minister for the Age at the time who stumbled at every question on Aged Care that was put to him.

    In case your obviously faulty memory has once again let you down may I remind you of one MV Ruby Princess. Again the Commonwealth is responsible for Quarantining vessels from overseas which on this occasion it failed to do. ScoMo your hero, more than happily to once again flick the blame to the States. Anybody else but himself . Nothing to see here.

    In conclusion you have a Happy Easter and stay safe.

    Alan Veacock

  11. Great Letter Keith
    Interesting replies you seem to attract when you submit letters regarding our current political environment. I agree that VIC made a mistake with the quarantine situation but how often does a pandemic come along, everybody was learning on the job. That situation really exposed the dire predicament that the nursing home institutions are in regarding privatisation when profits and shareholders are more important than the well being of the residents, who incidentally pay their wages.
    What a superb job the government is doing handling the roll out of the vaccine, once again hollow promises.

  12. Anything this slap-happy government has an attached baby’s bib on is bound to sink below
    the high water line. The Ruby Princess is still coming to mind plus the run-around pick-up
    idea that ‘more women in the confines of the party’ will fix the [for too long] sexual abuse
    fandango. What a muddied mad man mob!

  13. Good on you, Alan – I couldn’t be bothered rising to the tired old catch cries of the coordinated and concerted beat-up against the Andrews Government. I wouldn’t suggest they were blameless but I wouldn’t, if I were an LNP fan, be too ready to crow about any of the federal governments’s responses to the pandemic. Nor am I ready to be satisfied with a conveniently simplistic and reductionist political narrative.

    Hotel quarantine was Daniel Andrews’ idea. It had its obvious downfalls but the federal idea was to send travellers home to self isolate and Victoria got sick of the numbers flouting the rules when monitored. Brendan Murphy identified supervised quarantine as THE big turning point in Australia’s success in flattening the curve. We’d be in a much worse position today without it. We’ve seen now that city hotel quarantine risks are too great but “we’re not doing it” was Scotty’s response to suggestions that the feds step up to their biosecurity responsibilities and provide alternatives.

    The Coates inquiry found lots of shortfalls but if the same microscope was applied to the other states how much commonality would there be. There are a number of eminent epidemiologists who maintain that the Victorian hotel quarantine leaks – which all states experienced- coincided with a perfect storm of circumstances:

    The country had just come out of a three-month lockdown and were happy to believe that the problem was over. I think we can remember that many went a bit bunta. A grinning Cheshire Cat – more interested in announcements and political opportunism than sound judgement – told the country they’d earned an early mark and had no initiatives ready to raise awareness that the medicos were advising that this was the time for greater vigilance not less.

    The much criticised security guards were trained on the basis of current national infection control guidelines that still lag in their acceptance of the importance of aerosol spread. Maybe influenced at the time by a national shortage of PPE.

    Postcode lockdown – in the face of resistance to reimposed restrictions- was much less successful in the affected suburbs with their major arterial roads and inter connectivity.

    The outbreaks spread via large family gatherings and, though contact tracing may have been overwhelmed, there was much less knowledge of the epidemiological behaviour of the virus than now. The outbreaks also occurred in the middle of winter with the seasonal and latitudinal impacts on transmission now largely accepted.

    Yes the virus got into the community and then into aged care facilities where the vast majority of deaths tragically occurred. The situation was not helped by a complete lack of a national plan for aged care protection despite the lessons of Newmarch It got into a system underresourced with PPE and staff adequately trained in infection control, ie RNs and staffed with a highly casualised and mobile workforce The state government diverted its nursing staff to avoid even further tragedy.

    It is also undeniable that Victoria eventually achieved a suppression of numbers that the naysayers said was unachievable and was held up as an international model. Did the federal government show any support for the effort that ensured the whole of Australia dodged a bullet? They undermined and sank the boots in for political gain at every opportunity. Ich bin ein Victoria indeed!

    All that said I think every ome of the premiers has shown far greater judgement and leadership than our floundering PM

  14. Hi Allan and Michael, I see you are trying to talk some common sense to “Scotty’s cheer squad”, however you are both going to be in for the long haul with that one, sadly they’re not good listeners. They have been fairly quiet of late, I think I may have upset them somewhat with the last letter I wrote (although I can’t imagine why), about the arse-kicking the LNP. received in the recent Qld. and WA. State elections, and how well Dan Andrew’s Govt. has handled the Pandemic in Victoria, and what about the Qld. Govt’s latest gold-standard handling of the latest outbreak so Queenslanders can enjoy their Easter. Instead of constantly hurling abuse at the Qld. Govt. hopeless Gladys should instead be learning from Qld., here we can’t even have Blues Fest. Happy Easter to All.

  15. Mmm – to be fair I don’t think it was Gladys’ fault that some infected Queenslanders came to Byron Bay. Simply a matter of rotten timing for Bluesfest which meant there was no other decision to be made. I reckon, compared to her performance over Dec/Jan it was courageous and wise.

    “Nah nah na nah” hubris proves little. It’s what the conservatives indulged in over the Victorian situation in a most unedifying manner.

  16. Mmm- Liz, the problem when one replies to something someone has said or written, and in doing so deviates from what was originally said or written, is that they invariably get it wrong. The claim that Gladys was somehow responsible for some infected Queenslanders coming to Byron Bay was never made. However, the inference was, that after spending the last 18 months weaselling her way out of multiple claims of pork-barrelling, rorting, Govt. corruption, poor judgement calls regarding her personal life and making erratic decisions with pandemic policy, Gladys (and Morrison) should stop playing politics with the pandemic and instead of constantly attacking the Qld. Premier, instead start taking some advice from Annastacia Palaszczuk. The claim that the sudden cancellation of Bluesfest, that financially wrecked the poor organizers was warranted when there was so little community transmission from the Byron party, is very tenuous indeed. Politics can be a very nasty occupation, so when the Conservatives act in such an appalling manner, as they did with Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dan Andrews, sadly they set the standard, and we have to respond, yes at times even with hubris.

  17. Keith, I think we agree about many things. No you didn’t say Gladys was somehow responsible for some infected Queenslanders coming to Byron Bay – I don’t think I claimed you did. I simply said she wasn’t – an observation I see as pertinent because, whether it was warranted or not, Bluesfest being cancelled seems pretty much related to the infection coming from Queensland to Byron Bay. I was sheeting the explanation back to rotten timing rather than “Gladys should instead be learning from Qld”

    Yes, the NSW government response has been inconsistent and at times infuriating. The pile-on that Andrews received over closing the Vic border on New Years Eve was basically about a lack of choice given the absence of will from NSW to take even the most basic measures to contain their outbreak.

    Given the time lapse involved with testing, it was a bit early to make conclusions about how much community spread existed. Contact tracing from the original group was still taking place with more venues being identified. There were also some 1,300 people contacted from the Beach Hotel I believe so how confident could there be that all had been tested or that later tests wouldn’t show up positives. I haven’t read the festivals covid plan but I’d suggest there are unique difficulties in maintaining infection control with people together for such long periods and staying on-site. Then there’s the problem of this shire being a centre of conspiracy theories with one recent contributor suggesting that masks were the equivalent of 1930s arm bands.

    I prefer the more progressive approach, largely adopted by all the premiers but certainly Labor ones, that places strong, decisive science-based action over political popularity and opportunism so I can’t put the boots into Gladys over this one, just note how much it contrasts with how reluctant she has been to “inconvenience” her Sydney constituency.

    The conservatives, particularly the federal government, have set the standard (or lack of) for playing politics with what should be seen as a common crisis. I’d rather not play limbo rock with political debate. Unfortunately my response, as indicated above, means looking at the detail that no-one will probably read.

  18. The state and territory leaders agreed to establish and manage quarantine facilities . They accepted the responsibility. The Andrews govt. stuffed it up and 800 people died. The Coates inquiry found that. Andrews apologized to all Victorians for his governments failures . To his credit, he didn’t blame any one or any thing else like some of the writers here. Most Victorians know where the blame lies, but 800 deaths wont be enough to change the Government.

  19. There national cabinet discussions are not made public – very convenient. To reiterate:

    Yes they agreed but given the federal government’s reluctance (which they are still displaying) to take any responsibility they had little alternative if they didn’t want their hospitals overrun

    It’s a damned good job they did because we’ve seen how well self isolation was likely to work.

    Yes Daniel Andrews took responsibility from the outset. Morrison needs to learn that that’s what leadership means , not finding someone – anyone – else to blame. Unless the outcome is good then it was all his idea.

    Neither did I suggest the Vic government was blameless – just that there are complexities to the situation and a balanced appraisal looks beyond simplistic partisan mud-slinging. Care to individually refute the “excuses” mentioned or is it more in line with the chosen narrative to summarily dismiss it all as a croc?

    The states had less than three weeks to set up hotel quarantine. The federal government has had how long to get a vaccination strategy organised?

  20. Liz L. I wouldn’t normally respond to an anonymous commenter , but I will this time. Refute the “excuses”. Read Alan Veacock. I don’t have a “chosen narrative” and have no interest in “partisan mud-slinging” but i will call out left and or right BS when I smell it. In this case Keith Duncan patting the Andrews Govt on the back for their handling of Covid.

  21. I would really like YOU to address them David, if you’re the one making the sweeping claims. We can each cite commentary at each other that suits a particular (yes) narrative.

    Without wishing to whitewash the Victorian government’s mistakes I simply don’t accept the simplistic, one dimensional hyperbole adopted by the coalition and Murdoch press and I simply provided some relevant context – what I assumed you were referring to as “excuses”. The one dimensional story conveniently served a political purpose but didn’t much serve the national interest. There are sound reasons why politicking is put aside in a national emergency when the immediate imperative was community cooperation and suppression.

    Regardless of anyone’s view of the factors, the way the second wave was brought under control to zero community transmission was recognised internationally as a remarkable feat. It was a combination of community sacrifice and steadfast, courageous leadership (political and medical) – an effort not aided in the least by the disgraceful opportunism of the federal coalition. Yes there was a second brief lockdown in January but this also occurred in Qld, WA and SA, sensible strategies given a new more contagious variant.

    I recall Frydenberg’s manic rant that included confected outrage that the proper comparison for Victoria wasn’t with OS but with NSW 😇, SA, Qld etc. How so – when the R rate so successfully brought down was very comparable with overseas rates that weren’t? How unscientific when, in this vast country, there are many foreign zones more geographically and socially comparable with Victoria than the other end of the continent. But then Josh isn’t an epidemiologist and science wasn’t the name of the game.

    How ironic that the same federal government is so happy to crow about Australia’s success in comparison with the rest of the world – never more so than right now. Every strangled presser these days, prefaces responses to the spectacular failure of leadership that is our vaccination strategy, with how brilliantly well as a country we are doing on the containment front. A containment that was achieved despite the counterproductive efforts of the feds.

    Thanks for making an exception to me but I’ve never had any desire for anonymity nor am I the slightest bit worried who knows my views. Cheers, Liz Levy

  22. Liz. I’m not making sweeping claims. No simplistic , one dimensional hyperbole. Nothing to do with the Morrison govt, or the Murdoch press. I will reiterate the facts.
    The Coats inquiry said the Andrews govt. botched hotel quarantine and 800 people died. Andrews accepts that.
    The Andrews govt. inquiry into Victoria’s contract tracing said, quote, “this failure cost lives and was unable to be rectified without strict lock down measures throughout the state” Andrews accepts that. Do you think the Andrews govt. deserves a pat on the back for their handling of covid? I don’t.

  23. What I think is:
    1. that the findings of the Coates enquiry could probably be applied to all the states’ management if they were put under the same spotlight. They were dealing under immense time pressure with a new situation with ever emerging knowledge of the enemy, in facilities hopelessly unsuited to the purpose.
    2. The rhetoric of the media and feds was never meant as a forensic nuanced analysis of Victoria’s situation but became a convenient catch cry to bring down a political communicator and operator whose successes were embarrassing for the conservatives. Many have felt encouraged to join in.
    3. A great deal of responsibility for the death rate (mainly in aged care but not the state run aged care) needs to be shared with the all spin no responsibility federal government who are responsible for both this area and quarantine for which they should even now be providing alternatives.
    4. The towers lockdown, the masks (a first) and curfews – though necessitated by an overwhelmed CT. System – were strong decisive action that ignored spin and popularity and achieved results all the mud slingers were naysaying. They also had to bring the population with them because no jack boot will achieve the levels of cooperation needed. So yes they deserve acknowledgment of this.

    What of this specifically do you disagree with?

  24. Liz. I’m not here for a discussion on your 4 points. I’m here to make one point and one point only. I will say it again. The Andrews govt botched hotel quarantine and 800 people died. His contract tracing was a failure. 2 inquiries found that. I say his govt. doesn’t deserve Keith Duncan’s pat on the back for their handling of covid. Again, do you think the Andrews govt. deserves a pat on the back for their handling of covid. Its a simple question, a yes or no will suffice.

  25. Gosh I feel like I’m in the stand! I don’t see things that simply but I gather you are not into nuanced debate, Keith. Straight black and white eh? Funny but I thought the four points I mentioned are very pertinent to the question of merit/blame.

    The answer I thought I had made quite clear. Yes for some aspects and no for others.

    Yes for stepping in when the federal government had no plan for bio security and quarantine – our external borders are their responsibility – and introducing to federal cabinet the imperative of supervised isolation.

    Yes for, like NSW, taking on the bulk of returnees and setting up the system in less than three weeks (our numbers of infections were escalating on a trajectory with Italy) and putting the overwhelming majority of them through successfully.

    Yes for doing what was necessary dealing with an infection rate that had got to 700+ a day, getting the population on board and introducing the measures necessary to bring then to zero.

    No for a partially disfunction health department that didn’t have the CHO at the head of operations and some under resourcing of contact tracing.

    That’s the best I can do. Now, having stated you are not into sweeping statements or hyperbole, can you do me the courtesy of answering mine. Otherwise I’m afraid you are into sweeping statements.

    But I’ll make it simpler and some straight yes/no’s will do.

    1.Do the Vic government deserve credit for any aspects of their pandemic management?

    2. Did the other states have similar arrangements (eg security guards) in place?

    3. Did they all have quarantine breaches?

    4. Is the federal government responsible for quarantine?

    5. Does the federal government share any responsibility for the deaths in aged care facilities in both NSW and Victoria?

    6. Might there be a complexity of factors that limit the veracity of comparisons between states?

  26. Liz. 30 responses to one letter must be a record.
    1. Yes. But 800 deaths and locking millions of people in their houses for months because of incompetent hotel quarantine management and incompetent contracting tracing means no pat on the back for the Andrews govt. The bad far outweighs the good.
    2. Yes. But no other states arrangements led to 800 deaths and months of lock down for millions of people because of incompetence.
    3. Yes. But it was only the Andrews govt incompetence in hotel quarantine and contact tracing that led to 800 deaths and millions of people locked down for months . The other state govts were competent enough to manage their quarantine breaches.
    4. Yes. But in these circumstances all the states agreed to take quarantine responsibility for overseas arrivals into their states.. All states handled their quarantine well except for the Andrews govt where incompetence led to 800 deaths and millions of people being locked down for months.
    5. Should they, possibly. Do they, probably not. I will look into this over the weekend and give you a yes or no. It will take time to sort the left and right BS from the facts.
    6. Yes. There is a complexity of factors. But lets make the comparisons. One state oversaw the death of 800 people and locked up millions of people for months due to incompetence, [as 2 inquiries determined ] the other states all handled their responsibilities well.
    No pat on the back for the Andrews govt.

  27. Far from a record, Keith – the purple house is approaching 60 comments. Just mention vaccines, rail trails or any type of curb on individual liberties and the expressions of passion and outrage reign down.

    I’ll wait for the completion of your homework and get back to you!

  28. Liz. Should the federal Govt share any responsibility for deaths in aged care facilities? Yes. With the information available to the public, I would say the state and federal govts should share responsibility equally. I’m not going to write an essay justifying that position but will answer specific questions. I don’t think at any time Dan Andrews blamed the federal govt. [to his credit] and I don’t think the Morrison govt, blamed the Andrews govt,. It appears both govts, accepted responsibility. There would have been no disaster in Victoria’s aged care facilities without the massive community transmission resulting from the Andrews govts, failure in hotel quarantine and contract tracing. No pat on the back for the Andrews govt.


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