2020: Voices

Is this the worst year the world has experienced since the Spanish Flu epidemic? Or since the combined years of WW1? Or since the combined years of WW2? Korea? Vietnam? Eritrea? Sudan? Zimbabwe? The 1990s Balkan wars? ISIS? And I could go on and on reciting devastating appalling “local” conflicts for hours.

Is this the worst year since HIV-AIDS manifested itself? Or SARS? Or Ebola?

Singly each of those wars/epidemics, has been appalling.

However (taking a deep breath), 2020 is, possibly in the modern era, the worst single year since all those catastrophes.

Not to mention mere asides like political corruption …

Can we reflect on what’s happened? Can we learn lessons? Can we move forward? Can we still have hope?

My answer:

YES WE CAN!

We are grandparents, parents, children, spouses, siblings. We care for our friends. We have non-human animals for whom we care deeply. We care for our fauna, our flora, our environment, for everything that allows to exist on this extremely thin skin of the ecosphere.

We care for truth, for honesty, for trust, and for mutual respect – not just for our cultures, or our own species – but for everything that lives on and enables life on Earth.

Yesterday afternoon I listened to the first global broadcast of Max Richter’s decade-in-the-making composition Voices – essentially a musical representation of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. I found it incredibly moving.

If you don’t have time for/want to listen to it, may I recommend its precursor: Mercy.

Because I think that’s what we all need now.

Unto us a child is born.

Please let that be a child of, and with, hope.


381 thoughts on “2020: Voices

  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. There are several meaty contributions here today that are worthy reads.

    This article from Waleed Aly is well worth reading. He looks at 2020 and how it has focussed – or should have – attention on what we are doing to the environment.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/this-year-wasn-t-unprecedented-if-anything-it-set-the-precedent-20201224-p56pzt.html
    Elizabeth Farrelly confines her concerns to the importance of our soil to our future.
    https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/green-eggs-and-good-soil-the-critical-systems-for-health-and-happiness-20201224-p56pyk.html
    Julia Baird delights in the glimpses of ho0e that she has seen.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/signs-of-hope-and-wonder-in-a-year-of-plague-and-fires-20201224-p56q0e.html
    Now more than ever we should be strengthening democracy but we’re not, argues Ben Oquist who makes many good points.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7067032/now-more-than-ever-we-should-be-strengthening-democracy-were-not/?cs=14350
    This was the year Australia restored trust in its politics – and that really is a miracle, declares Katherine Murphy who says a large measure of collaboration and competence in dealing with the pandemic gave Australians reason to believe in their democracy again
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/commentisfree/2020/dec/26/this-was-the-year-australia-restored-trust-in-its-politics-and-that-really-is-a-miracle
    Tom Switzer writes that although we are experiencing truly troubling times, we should keep a sense of perspective and remind ourselves we have every reason to be grateful we live in Australia.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/a-happier-new-year-borne-of-renewed-perspective-20201224-p56q0a.html
    The AFR’s Andrew Clark describes the horror and courage of Australia in 2020, a year like no other.
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/a-year-like-no-other-the-horror-and-courage-of-australia-in-2020-20201221-p56p6h
    Tony Abbott (remember him?) says, “With the pandemic still inhibiting daily life and generating almost unimaginable public spending, even from governments of the centre-right, this is a dispiriting time for those wanting government that’s smaller, tax that’s lower and freedom that’s greater.”
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/lessons-from-a-lost-year-of-covid19-will-stand-us-well/news-story/1315915f4c68ff9527c032da3a84981e
    Bruce Haigh declares that Australia’s lack of independent foreign policy is a hangover from a racist history.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7063586/foreign-policy-is-a-hangover-of-our-racist-history/?cs=14258
    Peter van Onselen writes that Josh Frydenberg this year has emerged as the clear front runner to take over the Liberal leadership from Scott Morrison when the time comes. But he says that he may be too nice for top job, and that’s just tough.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/frydenberg-may-be-too-nice-for-top-job-and-thats-just-tough/news-story/8305c1c55ab04430b468ecc6faa6ea24
    Katina Curtis reflects on the trust that governments enjoyed over the travails of 2020, referring to the remarks of former federal cabinet historian, Paul Strangio, who concluded that, “. . . there will come a point where they ask what this government is about. That’s an open question, what the Prime Minister is about, and maybe there will come some impatience.”
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/year-from-hell-nation-needs-time-to-heal-before-hustings-begin-20201221-p56p8r.html
    There are few better places in the world to be now than in Australia. But we need to put time and effort into mitigating the risk of COVID-19 and continue the return to our new normal, urges the SMH editorial.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/desire-for-summer-fun-is-not-the-time-to-drop-our-guard-against-covid-20201223-p56puh.html
    Richard Glover has come up with 25 whimsical predictions for 2021.
    https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/25-wildly-accurate-predictions-for-12-dazzling-months-ahead-20201222-p56pjn.html
    ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said Australia was in danger of losing market share in the lucrative sector to other countries.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/scott-morrison-should-act-as-international-students-stay-away-says-anu-chief-20201223-p56ppp.html
    It might be surprising to hear that it was insolvency practitioners who pushed new laws to save businesses from going under in the pandemic. Mark Korda was one of those people, writes Sarah Danckert.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/cut-the-korda-push-to-reshape-insolvency-laws-post-pandemic-20201222-p56pk1.html
    Dr Binoy Kampmark looks at the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney and points out that for all its self-praise, the federal government has done much to stifle discussion on flaws in its own quarantine policy, not least its approach to handling the isolation of flight crews.
    https://theaimn.com/the-gold-comes-off-a-covid-19-outbreak-in-sydney/
    British scientists are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop the disease Covid-19, which experts say could save many lives.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/25/uk-scientists-trial-drug-to-prevent-coronavirus-infection-leading-to-disease
    How did scientists tackle Covid so quickly? It’s because they pulled together, explain Charlotte Summers.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/25/scientists-covid-studies-vaccine-2020
    Ross Gittins thinks that more working from home might transport us back to the future.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/more-working-from-home-will-transport-us-back-to-the-future-20201224-p56pyu.html
    Have Australia’s wealthiest old families bought off the political process? Despite myriad attempts over the years to repeal the cosy “grandfathering” exemption, the billionaires are still permitted – like no other Australians – to keep their companies “dark”. Today Michael West Media unveils the first in a series of investigations by Luke Stacy and Stephanie Tran involving more than 5,000 corporate searches to find the people and the labyrinthine structures behind the Secret Rich List. Luke Stacey and Michael West report.
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/inside-australias-secret-rich-list/
    The AFR tells us that plaintiff law firm Slater & Gordon is taking action in the Federal Court against ANZ Bank and its former superannuation business now owned by IOOF.
    https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/anz-ioof-hit-with-class-action-over-super-gouging-20201224-p56q0d
    The New York Times’ Mark Sandler writes that it took 11 gruelling months for negotiators from Britain and the European Union to hammer out the terms of a post-Brexit trade deal. But in many respects, the deal is already 4 1/2 years out of date, he says.
    https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/for-all-the-fanfare-brexit-is-a-victory-from-a-bygone-era-20201225-p56q5c.html
    If EU elites don’t yet realise that this is going to mushroom into one of the biggest failures in the history of the European Project, they will find out soon enough. In a dire warning, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes that the EU’s politicisation of COVID-19 vaccines is turning into an economic and political black swan event.
    https://www.afr.com/world/europe/vaccine-fiasco-may-be-the-biggest-failure-in-eu-history-20201224-p56pyw
    Matthew Knott lists Joe Biden’s five top goals for his first 100 days as President. Joe’s got his work cut out!
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/the-five-big-goals-of-joe-biden-s-first-100-days-20201222-p56pj3.html
    The well-off are offering tens of thousands of dollars in cash, making their personal assistants pester doctors every day, and asking whether a five-figure donation to a hospital would help them jump the line.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/wealthy-patients-scramble-for-covid-19-vaccine-if-i-donate-25000-would-that-help-me-20201219-p56oxz.html
    Donald Trump has spent Christmas golfing at his Florida club while millions of Americans face losing jobless benefits if he doesn’t sign a $US2.3 trillion coronavirus aid and spending package. What a prick!
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7068440/us-govt-shutdown-nears-thanks-to-trump/?cs=14232

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  2. Richard Glover’s predictions for 2021 include this –

    23. Sydney’s craze for toll-road tunnels will continue up the point that there’s no sandstone left under the city, and the whole city will suddenly subside by 20 metres

    The same idea has been a running joke in my family for years. We have all seen the old movie version of “Paint Your Wagon” where the town’s greed for gold leads to tunnels designed to collect gold dust falling through cracks in floors. It’s very lucrative until one day ………

    This is the only video I can find.

    There are plans to build a rail tunnel under the Sydney heads, connecting the Bondi Junction station with Brookvale and on to Gosford. Sheer lunacy, but somewhere in the future Sydney’s obsession with digging tunnels through soft sandstone will see it built.

    A SYDNEY HEADS RAIL TUNNEL
    https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/event/2018/11/sydney-heads-rail-tunnel

  3. Worth opening this tweet and reading the whole thread

  4. Covidiots.

    Why would you risk going near shops today when you can get the bargains online? My in-box was deluged with emails on Thursday advertising “early” Boxing Day specials.

    I’ve never understood the appeal of these sales. If you didn’t need whatever last week why would you suddenly need it today?

    More Covidiots –

    Looks like all the backpackers are busy partying in Sydney. Shouldn’t they have gone home months ago? The government insists there are no backpackers available to pick fruit. Surely they wouldn’t lie to us.

  5. Leone, I absolutely do NOT want NSW to go through the grinding lockdown Victoria experienced.

    However, IF that has to happen, all I can say is be sensible, careful, and brave – and know that you can do it.

  6. I’ve let the team down the couple of days but we all need a bit of time off just ask scomo, also I know it’s late over t’other side but meh!

    friendlyjordies –

    This is a couple of days old but worth it

    Chris Cuomo –

    Chris Hayes –

  7. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. What a miserably small collection I have for you today!

    Mike Foley tells us that an AUSTRADE survey has found that Australia’s reputation took a significant hit with its main trading partners after the Black Summer fires owing in part to perceptions of climate policy.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australia-s-image-takes-hit-after-bushfires-over-lack-of-climate-action-20201226-p56q7q.html
    Michael Koziol reports that NSW voters would decide whether to legalise voluntary euthanasia at a plebiscite alongside the next election under a plan being hatched behind the scenes by members on both sides of politics. They must be the ones that actually try to represent their electors!
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/if-it-s-the-only-way-support-builds-for-nsw-plebiscite-on-assisted-dying-20201225-p56q56.html
    According to the rather strange Parnell Palme McGuinness, Gladys Berejiklian should beat Jacinda Ardern in the 2020 popularity stakes.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/top-of-the-pops-gladys-berejiklian-should-beat-jacinda-ardern-in-the-2020-popularity-stakes-20201224-p56pzu.html
    The Andrews government’s $1.8 billion Western Roads Upgrade has stalled after a key subcontractor walked off the job with just $920 remaining in its accounts, leaving other subcontractors millions of dollars out of pocket. Some lessons to be learned (again!) here?
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/state-government-road-debacle-leaves-project-stalled-contractors-owed-millions-20201225-p56q5v.html
    Mark Humphries deservedly takes the piss out of Trump awarding Morrison a Legion of Merit military award.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/champion-of-merit-donald-trump-s-early-christmas-gift-to-scott-morrison-hit-the-spot-20201224-p56q11.html
    As unemployment benefits were due to expire for millions of Americans yesterday Donald Trump, who spent Christmas playing golf in Florida, continued to block a $900bn pandemic relief bill that would extend them.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/26/tump-us-coronavirus-relief-package-shutdown
    Steve Holland writes about how Trump’s refusal to sign the bill means millions of Americans will face destitution.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/us-news/trump-news/2020/12/26/trump-veto-means-destitution/

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  8. Michael Koziol reports that NSW voters would decide whether to legalise voluntary euthanasia at a plebiscite alongside the next election under a plan being hatched behind the scenes by members on both sides of politics. They must be the ones that actually try to represent their electors!

    Fun times ahead for Gladdie. The god botherer zealot wing of her party/government have recently made some “woe unto Gladys” should this go ahead.

  9. BK

    According to the rather strange Parnell Palme McGuinness, Gladys Berejiklian should beat Jacinda Ardern in the 2020 popularity stakes.

    The SMH showing its ‘quality’ with that article. Remember that LOL Lib website ?
    Parnell Palme McGuinness, edited the Liberal party’s Fair Go website.
    Who does she work for

    Agenda C, a Sydney-based consultancy……………. Agenda C is led by former Liberal party advisers and candidates.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/07/small-business-ombudsman-awards-contracts-to-liberal-linked-firm-without-tender

  10. I’d just like to point out – because you won’t see this in the biased media – NSW, under the supposed “leadership” of St GladBag, is the only state with community transmission of The Plague. Even worse, the sources of some transmissions remain a mystery. The so-called “gold standard” contact tracing seems to have developed a bad case of rust now the fake gilt has fallen off.

  11. Worth repeating an old tweet, because the government is still banging on about this and the MSM are still repeating the lies.

    I remember how hard we had to fight to win JobKeeper. The Government ruled it out and we had to change their mind. I have to say it is weird to listening to the Government now repeat over and over how great JobKeeper is and how it has saved jobs & the economy.— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) September 2, 2020

  12. “Political donations buy access to parliamentarians, they buy policy outcomes, and they buy a post-parliament career with the revolving door between politics and business”. Stephanie Tran and Michael West investigate the dark money which flows from Australia’s family business empires to the major political parties and identify a raft of failures in the donations system.

    Australia’s “cardboard king” and the country’s third-richest person, Anthony Pratt has donated more than $9.1 million to the major political parties over the past two decades. Some 65% ($6 million) went to the Coalition and its associates and 34% ($3 million) went to Labor.

    Analysis by Michael West Media found that this breakdown – one-third to Labor, two-thirds to the Coalition – is typical of political party payments from billionaires over a 20-year period.

    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/investigation-how-political-donations-protect-a-cosy-loophole-for-australias-plutocrats/

    • Vikki showing exactly why abandoning journalism to be a Parliament House staffer was a wise move and why returning to journalism was not.

  13. This has to be said because there are far too many confused people out there today. –

    Fairfax no longer exists. It was bought by Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd The deal was months in the making and was finalised in December 2018.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fairfax-media-m-a-nine-entmt-idUSKBN1KF342#:~:text=SYDNEY%20(Reuters)%20%2D%20Newspaper%20publisher,in%20Australian%20media%20for%20decades.

    https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/what-does-the-nine-fairfax-merger-mean-20181204-p50k1o.html

    Fairfax was never part of the Murdoch empire.

    I really wish people would make an effort to keep up, especially as it’s now two freaking years since Fairfax disappeared.

    I’m getting really, really sick of explaining this takeover to people I thought were well-informed – until today, and sick of telling the same people that Fairfax was hopelessly biased towards the right long before that takeover.

    Why do so many people still believe (a) Fairfax still exists and (b) was never biased?

  14. This little black duck,

    I read that Vikki Campion piece a few days ago. Well, half of it anyway. I couldn’t stomach any more than that.

    If she believes any of that absolute rot that she posted, then she is as thick as a brick.

    If she doesn’t and she writes such fabrications and distortions of the factual events believing that it will endear her to her employer, Murdoch for life ever-after, then she might be mistaken.

    Surely even the dark lord of News Ltd would be embarrassed at such a wild fanciful tome that even radical R Wingers couldn’t swallow without difficulty, especially,that it should grace the pages of his National Budgie Cage publications.

  15. leonetwo,

    [ This has to be said because there are far too many confused people out there today. –
    Fairfax no longer exists. It was bought by Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd

    I really wish people would make an effort to keep up, especially as it’s now two freaking years since Fairfax disappeared.
    Why do so many people still believe (a) Fairfax still exists and (b) was never biased? ]

    Leone, I don’t think you are reading it quite like it is. Most of us are well read, especially in online media and are well aware that Fairfax was subsumed by Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd.

    A number of commenters ( myself included) submitted comments well aware that we credited the comment as being influenced by an article in a previously Fairfax owned publication but were also aware that in the lifetime of absolutely everybody that is alive in Australia today, the Fairfax family in one guise or another owned that group of publications for probably a century.

    It was just easier to have people reading comments to relate immediately to the article coming from a “previously owned Fairfax Publication”. It was expected to result in instant recognition of the origin of the piece.

    Hey, I might be wrong and definitely have no intention to cause any offence as your comment on my piece didn’t cause me any offence But this basically what MY intention was when I posted that comment referring it as originating from a ” Fairfax ” publication.

    ps. I don’t think that anyone like myself that reads a huge amount of media every day could have ever believed that Fairfax was even balanced or, heaven for bid, lean towards the left!

    pps. I love all your comments. They help to make this blog one of th most wonderful pieces of media and commentary on the net.

    • Dear Scorps –

      No offence taken and I was not referring to any comments here.

      I just got fed up with a lot of social media comments during the day, some from people I assumed knew what happened to Fairfax but obviously had no idea at all.

      Imagine my shock when a woman I know personally and really, really like, after seeing the McGuinness article today, asked if the SMH was “Fairfax or Murdoch”. This from someone who used to subscribe to that rag! Then there was the bloke on Facebook who said “What will happen if Fairfax ever goes away?” He was completely unaware Fairfax went two years ago.

      My post was just expressing my disgust with these people, and in some cases my total disillusionment.

      I’ve also has a seriously lovely time today replying to people who thought the SMH was unbiased until it was bought by Nine. How can anyone think that after living through the incredible media bias against Julia Gillard and their idolisation of Tony Abbott, in which Fairfax was a cheerleader?

      Thank you for your lovely words about my comments, I really appreciate that.

  16. Coming soon – Robodebt Version 2.

    Thought Robodebt was dead? Think again. It’s back and it’s worse than ever with more debt collectors employed and pitted against one another to see which ones can collect the most. Commissions will be paid according to how much is collected.

    Australian government hires private debt collectors to hound welfare recipients

    Cases will initially be divided equally among a panel of three companies. Their performance will supposedly be assessed according to a “balanced scorecard” comprising “debt recovery performance, customer satisfaction levels, adherence to agreed service levels and contractual arrangements; and quality operational outcomes.”

    In fact, the tender documents make clear that financial performance—the percentage of debts recovered—will be the primary determinant of how many cases are referred to each company after the first quarterly review.

    The documents state: “Financial performance is critical in terms of achieving a level of performance that will ensure a [company’s] share of the referral volumes is maintained or increased.”

    While other government agencies, such as the Australian Tax Office, pay a flat fee to private debt collectors, Services Australia (formerly the Department of Human Services) will pay a commission rate, creating a strong incentive for the companies to bully clients into paying their alleged debts in full, rather than challenging the claims or negotiating partial payments

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/23/robo-d23.html?fbclid=IwAR2Xfr79qtUsrTgA0D1zG1mJPAJY5nfZWrQaqQ02Y7TuvYFCdLAFODNIr4A

  17. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    In lamenting the recent absence of soaring oratory, former political speechwriter, Martin McKenzie-Murray says,” today, Labor is bested not by a modern Pericles, but Scotty From Marketing — a shrewd and shameless ad man. How good is Australia?”
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/there-s-no-more-wizardry-in-our-leaders-words-and-australia-s-poorer-for-it-20201226-p56q88.html
    Ross Gittins writes that one lesson we’ve learnt this year is that, with recessions, what matters most is not depth, but duration. Sometime next year, however, the stimulus will stop stimulating demand, and he says only then will we know whether the rebound has turned into a normal recovery. With wage growth still so weak, he’s not confident it will.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/evil-lord-keynes-flies-to-rescue-of-disbelieving-liberals-20201225-p56q5q.html
    The end of the pandemic is in view, but recovery from the most traumatic global economic catastrophe since the Great Depression will be far from equal, warns the New York Times’ Peter S Goodman.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/a-pitiful-response-global-economic-inequality-a-side-effect-of-vaccines-development-20201226-p56q99.html
    George Williams explains how the power to order Covid-19 vaccinations already exists.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/the-power-to-order-covid19-vaccinations-already-exists/news-story/6c125b500b92e6f212d3bb8ed7daf8ac
    Stephen Duckett argues that we need to rebuild the aged care system in Australia rather than renovate it.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7063604/we-need-to-rebuild-aged-care-in-australia-not-renovate/?cs=14264&utm_source=website&utm_medium=home&utm_campaign=latestnews
    Josh Butler gives us the first of two contributions on the A to Z of Australian politics in 2020.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/politics/2020/12/27/politics-australia-2020-alphabet/
    “Political donations buy access to parliamentarians, they buy policy outcomes, and they buy a post-parliament career with the revolving door between politics and business”. Stephanie Tran and Michael West investigate the dark money which flows from Australia’s family business empires to the major political parties and identify a raft of failures in the donations system.
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/investigation-how-political-donations-protect-a-cosy-loophole-for-australias-plutocrats/
    Australia’s $10bn Clean Energy Finance Corporation has never met its government-mandated benchmarks for investment returns and has no strategy to do so within the next decade, the national audit office has found.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/australias-clean-energy-finance-corporation-fails-to-meet-investment-targets/news-story/d091ec4f3a8fa7d9e9d0e24ffeeac9f4
    This is a particularly charming contribution from Niki Savva on the subject of journalistic style.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/mind-your-language-journalists-politicians-need-a-style-counsel/news-story/ea577215926a63624701bb965e4fca8e
    The editorial in the SMH hopes that the Brexit deal between the European Union and Britain on Christmas Eve is another hopeful sign that the tide has turned against the destructive nationalism of the past five years.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/brexit-deal-may-be-a-portent-of-less-jingoistic-times-20201227-p56qbg.html
    While one of the biggest euroskeptic grievances against Brussels was its red tape, Britain had better get used to quite a lot of extra rules and regulations, warns Bloomberg’s Therese Raphael who says this is the most regressive trade settlement seen between modern democratic nations, and instead of enhancing cooperation and lowering barriers, it gums up most areas where business and consumers transact.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/brexit-deal-a-long-way-from-boris-johnson-s-promised-friends-with-benefits-vision-20201227-p56qaf.html
    Boris Johnson has conceded that the Brexit trade deal “perhaps does not go as far as we would like” over access to EU markets for financial services, while insisting he had achieved an accord his critics said would be impossible.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/27/boris-johnson-admits-brexit-deal-falls-short-for-financial-services
    An editorial in the UK Guardian says that Brexit will see good returns for rentiers and spivs.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/27/the-guardian-view-on-britain-out-of-the-eu-a-treasure-island-for-rentiers
    Jacqui Maley looks at what comforted us in this cursed year.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/what-comforted-us-in-this-cursed-year-spoiler-this-list-does-not-include-trolls-2-20201224-p56q1y.html
    Robert Reich says that Americans’ acceptance of Trump’s behaviour will be his vilest legacy.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/26/americans-acceptance-of-trumps-behavior-will-be-his-vilest-legacy
    On the face of it, California is getting set for a terrible covid explosion that might break its health system.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/los-angeles-hospitals-short-on-beds-and-oxygen-fear-post-christmas-covid-surge-20201227-p56qc8.html
    The epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic has shifted from Wuhan, China, to Italy and now to the USA, writes Alan Austin.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/10-top-ia-story-of-2020-the-new-coronavirus-threat-to-the-world-is-the-usa,14651
    Investigators are reportedly examining whether a suicide bomber with a fear of 5G technology could be behind a Christmas morning explosion in Nashville’s historic downtown that injured three people.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/27/nashville-blast-investigators-examine-5g-paranoia
    Today’s nomination for “Arsehole of the Week” comes from Perth.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/western-australia/frantic-search-for-alleged-perth-hotel-quarantine-breacher-over-20201226-p56q9d.html

    Cartoon Corner

    Simon Bosch

    Mark Knight

    Johannes Leak

    From the US



  18. Another failure from the NSW government – this time the plans to gut TAFE to obtain “savings” have not worked, despite campus closures, deleted courses and mass staff sackings.

    Here’s the report if you prefer to read actual documents rather than some journalist’s take on what was said.

    One TAFE NSW modernisation program
    https://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/our-work/reports/one-tafe-nsw-modernisation-program

  19. Some might disagree with me, but you all know my feelings about fireworks – useless, polluting, pointless and a total waste of money.

    How condescending and insulting is this dumb insistence that everyone wants to see the Sydney fireworks so giving them special areas to view the flashing lights is a good way to thank frontline workers?

    NSW dumps fireworks plan for virus workers

    Ms Berejiklian promised the government would find another opportunity during 2021 to recognise “what you have done” for the community during the pandemic

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7069228/nsw-dumps-fireworks-plan-for-virus-workers/?cs=14231

    If these frontline workers are from regional NSW they would be expected to pay the cost of travel to Sydney and their accommodation, all to watch a few minutes of fireworks. Who can afford to take two or three days (at least) off work for something so trivial? Who could afford the trip?

    If Gladys really wants to say thank you she can unfreeze their wages and send them a cheque for back pay.

  20. A “concerning” number of mystery Covid-19 cases in New South Wales is “akin to a smouldering forest fire” that could suddenly flare up, an epidemiologist has said.

    Prof Alexandra Martiniuk, from the University of Sydney School of Public Health, said in the absence of sources for these cases, group events on New Year’s Eve should be ticketed, controlled and seated, and it would be essential for venues to keep good records of who attended.

    In the past four weeks 10 cases with an unknown source have been recorded in NSW; six in the northern Sydney region, and four in other parts of the city.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/28/nsw-warned-mystery-covid-cases-could-be-a-smouldering-forest-fire

  21. Watching a fireworks display from the BBC from 2017 the other night was miraculous! I was in awe of the creativity shown by artists, designers and technicians who conceived and cooperated to send these brilliant images and talented performers into my home down here in Australia in 2020. Who knows what three years’ progress in this digital age will produce? Nothing trivial about the fireworks, what is trivial and typical is that someone in the media wants to make a story out of it.

    Maybe the Premier has already sent some ‘champers’ or a few cans of beer or ginger ale with apologies for not pulling them away from a family get together at home round the tele on New Year’s Eve!

    PS Happy new year to all fellow readers at the Pub! Does this being the year 2021 in the 21st century somehow signify that by western calculations we might finally come of age – grow up at last?

  22. Patricia,

    “The United Nations has declared 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust, the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, and the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021

    Worthy targets all. Sadly, I can’t see those who rule us in this little country will contribute anything of significance towards those goals.

  23. SNAFU from Gladys

    Two Sydney mayors have criticised the NSW government’s New Year’s Eve advice about gathering outdoors, saying people should stay at home.

    On Monday, Gladys Berejiklian announced the rules for Thursday, which include the cancellation of all fireworks viewing events in a new “green zone”, which covers the Sydney CBD and parts of north Sydney near the Harbour bridge.

    Berejiklian told Sydney residents: “My strong message to everyone is to watch the fireworks on TV.”

    But she also said it was “OK” for people to go to local ovals to watch the fireworks.

    “If there’s a local park or a local venue that some people go to look at the fireworks or to have a picnic, that is OK so long as everybody is Covid-safe,” she said.

    “Sometimes there’s ovals across Sydney which might have access to viewing, that is OK so long as you stick to groups of no more than five or 10 if you’re on the northern beaches, larger ones are allowed in greater Sydney, but please exercise common sense.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/28/premiers-sydney-new-years-eve-advice-an-open-invite-for-large-gatherings-mayor-says

  24. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. I may not be able to pull this together tomorrow morning as Mrs BK and I will be leaving very early to Yorketown for a day trip to see how our oldest son’s conversion of a large stone former RSL hall there into a holiday home.

    Shane Wright and Katina Curtis tell us that the biggest expenditure of public funds since World War II, lockdowns and state border closures have prompted calls for a post-pandemic royal commission.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/people-have-tried-to-minimise-the-errors-leaders-call-for-royal-commission-into-nation-s-covid-response-20201228-p56qel.html
    Jenna Price reckons Gladys Berejiklian should cancel the fireworks – forever!
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/why-gladys-berejiklian-should-cancel-the-fireworks-forever-20201228-p56qf6.html
    Two Sydney mayors have criticised the NSW government’s New Year’s Eve advice about gathering outdoors, saying people should stay at home.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/28/premiers-sydney-new-years-eve-advice-an-open-invite-for-large-gatherings-mayor-says
    Latika Bourke reports that WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan has told a virtual press conference that there was no evidence yet that people who had been vaccinated could enter countries such as Australia without the risk of spreading the disease.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/who-warns-vaccinated-travellers-could-still-need-to-be-quarantined-20201229-p56qk3.html
    Emergency physician Stephen Parnis writes that, while this country has done well by world standards, healthcare workers have been on constant alert and a deep fatigue has set in.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/29/as-an-australian-emergency-doctor-i-cant-wait-to-close-the-book-on-2020
    Josh Butler concludes his A to Z of Australian politics for 2020.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/politics/2020/12/28/australian-politics-2020-alphabet/
    Andrew Tillett looks at Albanese’s chances of winning the next election.
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/can-anthony-albanese-win-the-next-election-20201214-p56n83
    Australia’s relationship with China can survive – but it won’t be the same again, opines the Lowy Institute’s Natasha Kassam.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/28/australias-relationship-with-china-can-survive-but-it-wont-be-the-same-again
    According to Shane Wright, more than half of the nation’s businesses do not plan to use the Morrison government’s increased instant asset write-off scheme to buy capital equipment — a measure designed to help drag them out of the recession. They are probably the sensible ones.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/most-firms-not-planning-to-use-instant-asset-write-off-20201224-p56q1s.html
    The Australian’s Stephen Rice reports that the Australian Federal Police and AUSTRAC have failed for more than two years to investigate a suspected money-laundering operation run by the Russian mafia using Australian banks, despite being handed detailed evidence of the ­alleged crimes.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/australian-authorities-turn-a-blind-eye-to-russian-mafia-money-laundering/news-story/06799d0d0744ed9608eea48d0a2a4449
    Liberal true believers are worried about the economy floundering if the Morrison government fails to lay the groundwork to transition away from fossil fuels.
    https://www.afr.com/policy/energy-and-climate/the-inside-push-to-shift-the-coalition-s-climate-scepticism-20201216-p56o5w
    In this interview, Jacqui Lambie unloads on the government.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7069722/crossbenchers-relationship-with-the-government-on-tenterhooks-lambie-says/?cs=9676&utm_source=website&utm_medium=home&utm_campaign=latestnews
    The pandemic recession will end up delivering savings worth tens of thousands of dollars to the nation’s home buyers due to a collapse in mortgage interest rates, but will also cruel the savings plans of millions more.
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/interest-rate-collapse-saves-home-buyers-thousands-but-hits-savers-20201224-p56q0l.html
    Crown Sydney’s opening has been as low key as the casino operator’s management would have hoped for, with James Packer and the company’s CEO both absent.
    https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/no-fanfare-but-billions-at-stake-as-crown-sydney-opens-20201228-p56qfu.html
    Alan Austin writes that economists worldwide are watching the extraordinary collapse of what was until recently a seemingly indestructible economy. The United States still has the world’s largest economy measured by gross domestic product (GDP). But among developed nations, it is now at or close to the bottom on most rankings of economic health.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/9-top-story-of-2020-worlds-largest-economy-in-free-fall,14652
    In this interesting contribution, Andrew Leigh writes about the need for us to engage with statistical evidence rather than reject it as a sophisticated form of hocus-pocus.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7056595/how-to-make-sure-your-world-is-adding-up/?cs=14258
    Scientists fought coronavirus, and now they face the battle against disinformation explains Jim Al-Khalili.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/28/scientists-fought-coronavirus-now-they-face-the-battle-against-disinformation
    Sarah Danckert tells us how how Grocon and Daniel Grollo came down to earth.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/from-invincible-to-fallen-how-grocon-and-daniel-grollo-came-down-to-earth-20201223-p56prk.html
    The Big 4 banks – ANZ, Westpac, CommBank and NAB – continue to lend people money to gamble with. You can’t get a personal loan from a bank to use for gambling. So how is gambling a permitted purpose for a credit card? On what planet is this considered “responsible lending”? Elizabeth Minter asks when the Big 4 are going to emerge from moral bankruptcy?
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/high-profits-low-principles-betting-losses-balloon-as-big-4-keep-lending-to-gamblers/
    This Guardian editorial warns that in a world of superpower rivalry, the UK must urgently rebuild the strategic alliances that were sabotaged by its departure from the EU
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/28/the-guardian-view-on-britains-global-role-shrinking-around-brexit
    The Australian Navy’s ageing Collins class submarine fleet will undergo a $23.7 million upgrade of its sonar systems, including an Australian-developed mine avoidance system.
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/collins-class-subs-get-24m-aussie-system-overhaul-20201228-p56qia
    Julie Power logically calls for NSW, the odd state and territory out, to use point-to-point speeding cameras.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/this-technology-could-start-saving-lives-tomorrow-but-the-nationals-won-t-let-it-happen-20201228-p56qgr.html
    John Elder goes through some quirky scientific finds of 2020.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/life/science/2020/12/28/quirky-science-2020/
    Malcolm Knox writes about Steve Smith’s problems.
    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/overthinking-smith-facing-a-conundrum-only-he-can-nut-out-20201228-p56qjo.html
    The editorial in The Canberra Times refers to Trump as the White House’s dangerous denialist.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7069196/the-white-houses-dangerous-denialist/?cs=14258
    Former “Arsehole of the Week” nominee Richard Pusey has capped his year off with another clutch of charges being laid on him.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/eastern-freeway-driver-hospitalised-after-rooftop-standoff-with-police-20201228-p56qdl.html

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe has pointed to KAL’s top 20 cartoons for 2020.
    https://counterpoint.substack.com/p/kals-best-of-2020

    Peter Broelman


    Matt Golding



    Glen Le Lievre

    Mark Knight

    John Spooner

    Mark David

    Dionne Gain

    From the US










    • BK,

      Family takes precedence over everything. I hope you have a wonderful time in Yorketown.

      And, as always, many many thanks for sharing your Dawn Patrol with The Pub.

      My very best wishes to you and your family.

  25. Towards the end of the USSR a feature of its leadership, often highlighted, was its description of being a ‘gerontocracy’. It struck me a while ago the US seems to be turning into a gerontocracy. Cause,symptom or coincidence that ‘gerontocracy’ –> decline.

    A few of the names that came to mind and their ages.
    Dr Fauci 80
    Pelosi 80
    Feinstein 87
    Trump 74
    Biden 78
    Mitch McConnell 78
    Bernie Sanders 79
    Chuck Grassley-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee- 87

    • Yep! Seems you don’t get a gig if you are under 70. Old white men!

      It’s been my point all through the US election process for at least the past year – why can’t the US have someone younger for president? What happened to electing younger candidates?

  26. I was amazed at Dr Fauci’s age.He may be a ‘spritely’ octogenarian but there is no way he could sustain the hours and 24/7 pace handling a pandemic would require. Much the same could be said of many of the others when you consider the positions they hold. High positions not in some backwater but in the global ‘hegemon’ wannabe.

  27. From one of BK’s links

    How should we guard against the tendency to filter out inconvenient facts? By staying curious, Harford says. He quotes forecasting expert Philip Tetlock on the personality traits of “superforecasters,” those who are most accurate at predicting future events. For superforecasters, Tetlock argues, “beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded”.

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7056595/how-to-make-sure-your-world-is-adding-up/?cs=14258

  28. I suspect this satire is closer to the truth than Grunt’s announcement yesterday that all Australians will receive the vaccine by the end of October 2021.

    Marginal Seats Will Be Fully Vaccinated By Election, Greg Hunt Says

    Planned vaccination of all Liberal Party members, their mates, parents and progeny, along with all marginal seat voters, is running ahead of schedule.

    The Morrison Government’s ‘mates first’ Covid-19 vaccination rollout is expected to be complete just in time for the election, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has said, reiterating that vaccinations against the virus will be allocated on the same basis as Community Development Grants.

    Previously, Hunt said it would only be conservative Liberal Party men who played polo at private schools and are current members of gentleman’s clubs, so all Liberals then, who would receive the vaccine by the middle of 2021.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison privately reminded Hunt that a selective rollout of the vaccine, much like the selective rollout of all taxpayer funds under a Liberal Government, was not only a good way to protect the interests of their mates first, but also a real vote winner in marginal electorates. Hunt has since announced the Government would yet again be under-promising the whole nation and over-delivering self-interest

    http://situationtheatre.com/news-fuse/marginal-seats-fully-vaccinated-by-election

  29. I suppose when it comes to Fauci’s job it would not matter what age the person was and how many hours they put in or their expertise. The fuckwittery and the mountain of bullshit they faced in the US of A would have been insurmountable.

  30. Covidiot-watch – this time a former PM is caught.

  31. Will Tim Wilson be slapped with hefty fines or even time in the clink for giving out financial advice when he has no qualifications? Probably not, but we can hope.

    MP Tim Wilson accused of giving ‘unlicensed financial advice’

    Federal MP Tim Wilson has been slammed online over social media posts that have been described as “unlicensed financial advice”.

    The Liberal member for Melbourne electorate, Goldstein, on Monday morning issued an identical Tweet and Facebook post that appeared to suggest Australians should dip into their super to buy a house.
    …………………………………………………………….
    Those that encourage illegal early access of super may be prosecuted by the ATO, and may receive hefty fines and even jail time.

    “These activities may involve breaches of the following legislation: Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993; Corporations Act 2001; and Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001.”

    “Breaches may include misleading or deceptive conduct [or] giving financial product advice without an Australian financial services licence.”

    “We may impose civil and criminal penalties, including significant fines and terms of imprisonment.”

    https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/tim-wilson-financial-advice-012050451.html

  32. Australia has experienced the biggest expansion of casual employment in the country’s history, according to new analysis that suggests the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been “starkly unequal”.

    And the Australia Institute, which carried out the analysis, has argued the government’s planned industrial relations changes will only “reinforce the growing dominance of insecure work in the labour market”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/dec/30/casual-and-part-time-jobs-at-record-levels-after-australias-covid-recession-analysis-finds

  33. Despite fire, plague and the fog that perpetually shrouds Lake Burley Griffin, Josh Frydenberg’s agenda has become clear in 2020.

    Never one to miss the opportunity a crisis presents, the treasurer has used the coronavirus pandemic to ram through changes to the way the Australian economy is regulated that will significantly shift advantage away from ordinary people.

    But who benefits? With one significant and telling exception – the banks – the answer is not, as you might expect from the conservative side of politics, the forces of capital. Or at least, not so much.

    Instead, a lot of the Frydenberg program favours what you might call the managerial class – the executives who in normal times prowl the mahogany-lined corridors of CBD towers but this year have been confined to their luxury homes in Point Piper or Toorak.

    Frydenberg, aided or spurred on by a ginger group of backbenchers – it’s difficult to tell which is cart and which horse – is increasingly pursuing an agenda that will weaken the power of the owners of capital to hold the managers of their money accountable for bad decisions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/30/how-josh-frydenberg-is-backing-the-boss-class-amid-capital-on-capital-skirmishes

  34. Anthony Albanese is putting Labor on an election footing for 2021, with a new push to rally the party’s grassroots members for the forthcoming federal campaign.

    In an email to all Labor members on Wednesday, the opposition leader says he looks forward to campaigning with them around a central message of building “an Australia where no one is held back, and no one is left behind”.

    He defends the “constructive” approach he took in 2020 while acknowledging the political challenges for Labor were “immense”.

    This appears to be a nod to the frustrations of Labor party activists, who have been concerned about the federal opposition’s difficulty in gaining traction in a year dominated by the response to the Covid-19 pandemic by Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders.

    The opposition largely voted with the government on major legislation in 2020, even if it aired concerns or was unable to secure support for amendments.

    In the email Albanese tells Labor members the party had put the national interest first during the pandemic, including by proposing a wage subsidy, pandemic leave and a higher rate of jobseeker.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/30/anthony-albanese-tells-labor-members-his-pandemic-approach-had-to-be-constructive

    • And there’s the bleeding obvious – Labor keeps supporting flawed bills even though they know there is no hope of amending them.

      If only Labor would learn to actually oppose flawed legislation instead of waving it through both houses after wasting hours and hours on pretty speeches about amendments that always fail!

      Best advice to Labor? Start acting like an Opposition, stop cuddling up to this appalling government. Right now a majority of voters see little difference between Labor and the government.

  35. Callum Foote writing for Michael West Media about yet more government handouts to the oil and gas industry.

    The Pitts: Government gifts Woodside $130 million Christmas present

    While most Australians were settling into holiday mode last week, Resources Minister Keith Pitt gifted another $130 million Christmas present to Woodside to help the oil and gas titan clean up its own mess. Callum Foote reports the latest instalment of the Northern Endeavour debacle – a sneaky slug to taxpayers and a slap for the East Timorese. The big question now is, will taxpayers have to pay for all oil and gas clean ups?

    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/the-pitts-government-gifts-woodside-130-million-christmas-present/

  36. Out of control

    Here’s a breakdown of the new cases in NSW:

    Nine locally acquired cases are linked to the Avalon cluster. Eight of these cases were isolating for their full infectious period.

    Six locally acquired cases, three adults and three children, all members of the same extended family, are linked to a cluster in Sydney’s inner west whose source is still under investigation. One of these cases was first reported yesterday morning.

    Three further locally acquired cases are under investigation. Two cases, members of the same household, are from the Wollongong area and one is from northern Sydney. One of the cases from Wollongong and the northern Sydney case were first reported yesterday morning.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2020/dec/30/australia-news-live-nsw-alert-wollongong-corona-cases-covid-19-sydney-variant-police-queensland-victoria#comment-146329299

    And they are fudging the figures.

    • Does anyone seriously believe Gladys, Hazzard and Chant have no idea who “patient zero” for the Northern Beaches outbreak is?

      I believe they know, but have lied to protect whoever started this outbreak.

      As always with lies they have created a huge mess. They are facing increasing accusations of failure in contact tracing and testing from members of the public who are wondering why it is taking so long to find one person.

      They know damn well, they just won’t say.

      Remember how it was supposed to be a woman, then a woman who had returned from the US? Now the person is being referred to as “him”. A bit later it was said to have been a northern beaches resident who had been flight crew or a pilot who had not self-isolated. Two days ago it was supposed to be a worker at the Belrose Hotel.

      The more lies they tell, the longer this drags on the bigger fools they look.

      When even the Lib-loving Daily Smelly starts talking about this pretence you know something stinks.

      This story is a few days old – heaven knows what fantasy is being pushed by Gladys & Co today.
      https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/why-is-northern-beaches-covid-outbreak-patient-zero-a-secret/news-story/6b1a189571d5fc895396ba3fe6100c07

  37. RTE story from a few days ago, it shows that Ireland’s government are building the path towards reunification by stepping in and helping Northern Irish citizens avoid some of the downsides of Brexit.

    https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/how-apply-irish-passport-11519964

    If you are a young Northern Irish person, catholic or protestant, you will be able to travel and work anywhere in the EU thanks to an Irish Passport (available to anyone born on the whole Island, not just the Republic), be able to participate in University study programs in the EU thanks to the Irish govt, and receive healthcare in the EU thanks to the Irish govt. Fewer and fewer will care about being part of the UK.

  38. Too easy this spoof gig: so much material

    NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has made the call to pull the pin on COVID-19, saying she couldn’t risk the Sydney test match not going ahead next week.

    “Out of an abundance of caution we have decided to cancel the COVID-19 virus,” Berejiklian told media. “With the third test match against India just days away, and with sponsorship deals already locked in, tickets already sold, we simply cannot risk the financial losses spreading further and getting out of control”.

    She said it was a difficult decision and thanked the coronavirus for its understanding. “The virus no doubt had plans in place for next week, which have been now been upended. We thank you. The SCG members thank you”.

    The Premier said she expected restrictions to be lifted on the virus after the conclusion of the match.

    https://www.theshovel.com.au/2020/12/30/covid-19-cancelled-to-allow-sydney-test-to-go-ahead/

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