Saturday 31st of July 2021

the miracle of nothingness...

















In its response to Covid, the Morrison government has achieved an almost perfect result in maintaining the Coalition’s record since 2013 of doing nothing, achieving nothing, solving nothing. No big projects, no great initiatives or memorable policies. Failure to tackle key issues such as fire, climate change and Covid.

When we need peak performance from the federal government, we get panic, paralysis and politics. The way things are going, Australia won’t reach herd immunity. Restrictions on international travel and CBD hotel quarantining will continue well into 2022 if not beyond, and we will have to live with intermittent state lockdowns and border closures.

Any criticism about the Covid fiasco, particularly from Labor politicians, is shouted down as treasonous, undermining the vaccine rollout and putting the health of Australians at risk. Yet we are told little by our decision makers. We have no roadmap. Journalists and health specialists around the country decry the lack of data on Covid in regard to vaccine availability and rollout.

Is the government playing politics? Is it too frightened to make any decision in case they get it wrong and have to take the blame? Or are they just plain incompetent?

What would be unconscionable would be for the government to manipulate its Covid plans to engineer a win at the next federal election, disregarding the long term health and best interests of Australian citizens along the way.

If you wanted to build an infectious diseases facility, would you build a tourist hotel?

Well Scott Morrison doesn’t see the need for specialist infectious diseases facilities. And he doesn’t need to build a hotel, as there are plenty of empty tourist hotels at his disposal. No foreign tourists but plenty of spare beds and empty rooms for a constant stream of returning international travellers and quarantining locals.

It is the PM’s view that the hotel quarantine system is “99.99 per cent” effective.

P&I was at the forefront in highlighting the problems of hotel quarantining. As long ago as September we wrote about the need for better quarantine management of international arrivals.


There are various immigration detention facilities around the country, in addition to disused quarantine sites, existing defence facilities, mining camps and other suitable remote possibilities that could have been brought online.

Eventually, the issue was taken up by the mainstream media and now the need for specialist facilities has been well argued and well-promoted. Apart from quarantine workers taking the virus into the community from their workplace, what is also highlighted now is the aerosol transmission of the virus throughout unsuitable buildings combined with aggressive mutant strains.

The federal government is responsible for quarantine under the Constitution, yet has handballed it to the states who have to cope with unsuitable facilities. Hotels are not built for health purposes and are not easily modified.

Hence, the unconscionable is being allowed to happen. The federal government is knowingly supporting a system in which citizens are placed in positions of danger, where they can catch an infection that can be life-threatening or have long term health consequences. Too many international arrivals and frontline workers who are perfectly healthy catch the disease after being housed or working with infected people.

An article in the SMH by two respected health experts, entitled “Clear leadership and purpose-built quarantine crucial to beating COVID”, reported:


“Some suggest that the quarantine failure rate of roughly one in 108 cases of infected returned travellers leaking into the community is not of concern and that we should be able to cope with that rate of leakage.
… The truth is that the vast majority – if not all – of these leaks are avoidable.”


The government hasn’t seen or accepted that, for the immediate crisis and for pandemics well into the future, we need purpose built quarantine facilities around the country. Facilities that meet best practice for mitigating disease transmission, including avoiding the intermingling of infected and non-infected people.

In also noting that hotel quarantine has failed 17 times in the last six months Peter Hartcher provides the daunting estimate that, “At this rate, we should expect another one every nine or 10 days on average. And we should expect that some of those will shut down major cities.”

The current Victorian lockdown is estimated by some to cost the economy $1 billion per week. Estimates of similar magnitude were made about the other 16 lockdowns around the country since October.


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tim and Q...


It has been two years since the public first learned of the prime minister, Scott Morrison’s, connection to a prominent Australian proponent of the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory.

Last week, the story made an unexpected comeback, courtesy of the ABC’s crack investigative team at Four Corners and a controversial decision to delay a program about it.



So far, it is unclear what more Four Corners has uncovered since Guardian Australia first broke the story in 2019.

A lot of detail is already in the public domain, thanks largely to the initial stories by Guardian Australia and later reporting by Crikey.

What do we know so far?

Let’s start with the basics. What on earth is this story all about?

The story, at its core, is simple.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has a family friend named Tim Stewart, who also happens to a prominent figure in the Australian QAnon scene.

For the uninitiated, QAnon is a bizarre and convoluted conspiracy theory that posits that Donald Trump is waging war against a secret deep state, which is intent on covering up satanic paedophile rings.


The theory’s protagonist, an anonymous internet forum user named “Q”, leaves clues on internet message boards like 8Chan for his followers to decipher.

It would be easy to dismiss QAnon as harmless idiocy. But that would be a dangerous misstep.

The FBI has previously warned that QAnon could act as a potential motivator for “domestic extremists”.

Experts say it can risk leaving followers polarised and shut off from the outside world, making them unpredictable and struggling to separate reality from fiction.

QAnon proponents were a visible presence during the storming of Capitol Hill in January.

One of those proponents, Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon Shaman, is currently before court, where his lawyer has likened his immersion in QAnon to brainwashing or becoming trapped in a cult. His lawyer argued repeated exposure to falsehood and incendiary rhetoric had made it hard for his client to discern reality.

Who is Tim Stewart?

Before Twitter deleted the account last year, Stewart tweeted under the handle of @BurnedSpy34, amassing 21,000 Twitter followers in his first active year.


He was regularly praised by QAnon followers and achieved some fame among local adherents.

BurnedSpy34’s tweets contained bizarre and disturbing content, sometimes targeted at Morrison’s colleagues or former colleagues.

At one point, BurnedSpy attempted to connect Julie Bishop to the conspiracy due to her wearing of red shoes, which he believed were a “shout out” to paedophiles.

Needless to say, such theories are baseless and wrong.

Guardian Australia revealed last year that Twitter had deleted the @BurnedSpy34 account for “engaging in coordinated harmful activity”. It had also taken action against other linked accounts.

What is Stewart’s connection to Scott Morrison?

The connection between Stewart and Morrison is driven by the close friendship between Stewart’s wife and the prime minister’s wife, Jenny Morrison.


Stewart’s wife works at Kirribilli House, but Guardian Australia understands this is not in any policy or advisory capacity. There is no evidence she shares her husband’s views.


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