Christian Porter tries to spin his withdrawal of his case against the ABC. Not very convincingly.

The AGE: Christian Porter has discontinued his high-stakes defamation claim against the ABC just days after the parties agreed to attend mediation behind closed doors.

Porter has tried to portray his discontinuation of the case as a humiliating back down for the ABC. It would have been, had the ABC decided to discontinue the case. But it didn’t.

Christian Porter in Parliament on May 27.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

The ABC said “it did not contend that the serious accusations could be substantiated to the applicable legal standard – criminal or civil”.

Mr Porter said outside the Federal Court in Sydney on Monday that the outcome was “a humiliating backdown by the ABC.

“I never thought that they would concede that the accusations that were put in the article could never be proven … to the criminal standard or the civil standard.”

Hold on: that’s not what the ABC said.

They said they did “not content” accusations could be substantiated. That is quite different from the ABC saying they “could never be proven

There are now calls for the Inquiry, which was held over until Porter’s lawsuit was decided, to be reinstated.

The Inquiry should find whether the allegations are proven.

The meltdown of Victoria’s vaccination booking system was avoidable.

From THE AGE: The state government was unable to deploy a high-tech management system it bought three months ago to support mass inoculation.

The short-notice expansion of the vaccination schedule to include anyone in their 40s pushed the state’s capacity to take new bookings beyond breaking point.

Microsoft Australia’s chief executive, Steven Worrall, promised in February that its technology needed only to be “fine-tuned” to adapt to the Victorian rolloutAll

Senior government sources conceded that bedding down the platform had not been given priority owing to the shortage of vaccines and tepid demand before this week’s outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, which forced the state into its fourth lockdown.

So it is quite clear what went wrong.

  • Microsoft didn’t deliver on its promises
    • Bureaucrats didn’t get the platform up and running.

Apparently, there were frantic phone calls to get more people to man the phones.

Does anyone do scenario planning in DHS? Scenario planning is when you ask the “What-if” questions.

Like: What if everybody suddenly wants to be vaccinated and demand goes through the roof?

When that question is asked, someone will be able to provide an answer. it will include how many people be needed, what infrastructure will be required, what the supply chain requirements will be. It’s not rocket science, is just planning.

And it’s not hard.

Nearly 20 years ago, I built a model for the ANZ for a call centre. They were launching a new credit card and wanted to know how many staff they would need after a media blitz.

There were a couple of constraints. They knew that people would ring up during tea breaks and lunchtime. They also had to employ their call centre staff for a minimum of six hours.

It’s a very simple model. It could be applied to the vaccination call centre.

And I would be much cheaper than Microsoft.

Can things get worse with the vaccine rollout? We have our best people working on it.

Australia’s vaccination strategy appears to be descending into a disorganised shambles.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly is open to giving adults the first dose of Pfizer if it will help vaccinate the nation faster. CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

What was, up until now, a disastrously slow rollout to emergency workers, people over 70 and age care homes has now changed focus. Well, perhaps the word “focus” is something of a misnomer.

Health authorities are now considering Pfizer vaccines being made more widely available to those under 50 or changing the advice on who can be given AstraZeneca.

So why is the advice changing? Was it not good advice in the first place?

Victoria is now going to administer the first shot of Pfizer to the 40 to 49 age group.

So how has sufficient Pfizer vaccine magically appeared to cover this group? Or has it been sitting in deep freeze somewhere.

But Associate Professor Chris Blyth, co-chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said “as of today, clearly, we don’t have sufficient supply to vaccinate the whole adult population,” 

So this is what the situation looks like:

1 We need to get first shot inoculations into a much wider group of the population i.e. not just the 60s.

2 Pfizer is going to be used for everybody under 60.

3 There is enough vaccine in Australia to cover the population.

4 The first shot coverage of a large group of the population is a more desirable outcome than providing second shots for group of older folk.

The conclusion

The scandalously inept performance of the Federal government now means that Australia is going to be receiving a far worse vaccination program than any other major developed countries

Leigh Sales was at the top of her game in 7.30 interview with Health Minister Greg Hunt.

This extract is taken from News.com.au

Interviewing the minister on ABC-TV’s 7.30, Sales was scathing when Mr Hunt revealed “for the first time” that just 500,000 people out of Australia’s 26 million population have been fully vaccinated.

Leigh Sales interviews Health Minister Greg Hunt

“The US announced they have got 50 per cent of their population completely done. Australia’s performance is underwhelming,” Sales said to Mr Hunt.

When he replied that vaccinations on Thursday had been “a record day of 111,000 Australians who stepped forward to be vaccinated” Sales interjected: “Come on minister.

“Five hundred thousand in total? That’s nowhere near the population like the US has.”

Mr Hunt protested that even without full vaccination an initial jab of AstraZeneca had been administered to more than 3 million Australians.

Not happy, Greg. Six months into the vaccination roll out, 79 aged care facilities have not received vaccinations.

Six months into the vaccination roll out, all aged care facilities have not received vaccinations.

Sales moved on to immunisation in aged care facilities after it had been revealed during preparations for the Victorian lockdown that 29 facilities in that state were still unvaccinated.

It was during this exchange that Mr Hunt dropped another bombshell.

Sales: “Minister, can you please address what I was talking to you about. How many facilities does that mean, aged care facilities, have not had vaccination yet?

Hunt: “In Victoria, we have nine to complete tomorrow.”

Sales: “What about nationally?”

Hunt: “Around Australia, prior to today, because we haven’t had today’s figures come in. We had 74 still to go.”

Sales: “74 still to go? You said on 16th February that it would take six weeks.

Later, on the ABC’s QandA program, the federal government’s vaccine rollout was slammed as “a bungle” and “complacent”.

You would feel sorry for Greg Hunt but he deserves this type of interrogation.

He is the Minister responsible and, in Victoria, we are now seeing the effects of the totally inadequate rollout of the vaccination program.

Businesses will close for a week without the support of Jobkeeper. For many, surviving this week may be a bridge too far.

Joel Fitzgibbon should go and go quickly.

That loss of the state seat of Upper Hunter prompted Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon, who holds the neighbouring seat of Hunter, to threaten he could quit the party after it struggled to claim 20 per cent of the primary vote in the byelection.

Don’t let the world think you’re all mouth and no trousers, Joel.

Not many of his colleagues would mourn his departure.

Leave the Labor Party, sit on the cross bench and stand as an independent in the next election.

All the self-centred egotists who threaten to quit their party imagine they were elected because of some charm, talent, superior intellect or immense local popularity.

This is not true. The vast majority of parliamentarians are elected because they belong to one of the major parties. It’s very rarely anything to do with them as individuals and everything to do with the brand of the party that they belong to

There’s nothing like standing in the cold, on your own, handing out how-to-vote cards to an uncaring public at the local railway station at 6 o’clock in the morning to bring this particular aspect of political life that can focus.

Risk of Victorian lockdown exposes failure of Morrison and Hunt to achieve effective national vaccination.

Melbourne is now under the first stage of Covid restriction: masks, restrictions on household gatherings. It is clear that the health authorities are not yet on top of this outbreak as the numbers continue to grow.

Morrison’s failure to meet his goal 3 million vaccinations by March is now being thrown into sharp relief.

Victorian and National vaccine progress

The sudden jump in vaccine doses in early April (the area of the graph indicated with a circle) is due to improved reporting of vaccine totals, not a sudden surge in vaccine doses carried out.

The across all states the numbers are similar: approximately 12% first dose vaccination.

The worrying aspects of the two graphs is that, while there has been a surge in the first vaccinations in early April, it is not followed by a similar surge of second vaccinations beginning in May.

The positive aspect is that first vaccinations are surging, albeit to abysmally low levels.

This is a result of a variety of mixed messages coming from the Federal government in relation to vaccination targets and a failure to be able to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine to GPs. Messages about the availability of Pfizer have also not helped the situation.

The Federal government would have difficulty announcing a chook raffle, let alone running one.

Widespread vaccine hesitancy has not been helped by the bad press that the AstraZeneca vaccine has received.

It has three strikes against it in the public mind.

  • It is less effective than the Pfizer.
    • It causes blood clots.
      • Scott Morrison did not have AstraZeneca as he should have. He jumped the queue and had Pfizer.

All of these could have been managed If the information from the Federal Government have been effectively disseminated..

The difference between the comparative efficacy of Pfizer and AstraZeneca is not significant.

The risk of getting blood clots is about 4 in 1,000,000. That’s 0.000004 of 1%. The risk of dying is 1 in 1,000,000. Risks that are not significant compared with the economic and social impact of another extended lockdown.

Morrison should have done what the German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, that she would wait her turn to be vaccinated. Jumping the queue in Germany is a serious business, with threats of prosecution for those who don’t wait in line. She has now been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Australia now has the crazy situation where Health Minister Greg has announced that there will be suppliers of Pfizer available in October. This will have further encourage people to wait until Pfizer is available.

What received less attention is that Pfizer will need to be imported so Australia is dependent upon what has been already inconsistent supply.

According to the WHO 60% vaccination is required for herd immunity. Australia’s current progress toward this total is not encouraging.

With 12% in the five months since the beginning of the year, we could achieve 25% by the end of 2021 and herd immunity sometime in 2023.

During this time, Australia remains exposed to the risks demonstrated by the development of the current clusters. Someone from the cluster who was asymptomatic went to a football match with 70,000 other people.Air

Source Yahoo Sport

What Republicans could be doing to remove Trump’s influence from their party

In an article in The Washington Post, “As Arizona Republicans erupt over Trump’s lies, a big truth is exposed” Greg Sargenr writes;

Still campaigning on ““Presidential Election Fraud,”
  • Republicans could have held Trump accountable for subverting the nation’s foreign policy to strong-arm a vulnerable ally into helping him corrupt the 2020 election. Virtually all voted against impeachment and conviction.
  • Republicans could have acknowledged Biden’s victory and defused Trump’s lies about the outcome at the outset. Many waited weeks before doing so grudgingly, and the elevation of Stefanik to House leadership — and removal of Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — shows their devotion to continuing to seed doubts about it.
  • Republicans could have voted en masse to confirm Biden’s electors in Congress as an endorsement of the integrity of the election. One hundred and forty-seven House Republicans did not.
  • Republicans could be forcefully declaring that Trump’s lies incited the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that democracy depends on a willingness to accept election losses. Though McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) initially made such noises, they’ve gone quiet on that front, and many Republicans are hurtling in the opposite direction, claiming Trump didn’t inspire the violence, that the insurrectionists weren’t Trump supporters, and that the attack was no biggie.

A recount of ballots as being ordered in Maricopa County.

Sargent writes “This recount has been outsourced to a firm whose founder has promoted nonsense about the election being fraudulent, demonstrating that it’s only about further casting doubt on the outcome.”

By the time the 2024 Presidential election comes around, Trump will have become a political irrelevance bypassed by a world and a new president which has moved on.

Victorian Prisons: Capacity is an ongoing problem for the next decade

THE AGE 15 May Confidential government documents from late 2019 and early 2020 seen by The Age forecast that under existing policies the jail system would be over-capacity by 2024 despite record spending on prison infrastructure in the 2019 budget.

According to the documents, if the growing demand for space was not dramatically reduced, the government would be forced to start a multibillion-dollar prison building program including a new $1.8 billion men’s jail. 

The interesting aspect of this report is that closely mirrors the findings of my modelling which showed capacity shortfall by the end of 2024.

I sent a copy of the findings to the Attorney General before lockdown. I have not received a reply.

The problem began in the last decade decade ago when prison numbers continued rising.

If this trend continues, this is what prison capacity will look like in the next decade.

If this trend continues, this is what prison capacity will need to do.

This is the additional capacity will be required. T

To start, In 2022, 3500 beds will cope with the increase until 2025. That’s equivalent of three Ravenhalls, Victoria’s largest prison.

Victoria will then need five new 1200-bed prisons like the one planned for Geelong in 2022. At current costs, this would involve capital expenditure of $9b. Then there will be the additional and increasing cost of running the system.

The report and my modelling point to the need to reduce the number of minor offenders going to jail.

What the report does not mention, but my modelling shows, is that these minor offenders have a 65% recidivism rate after five years.

The ongoing recidivism rate across all categories of prisoners is normally reported as 43.7% after two years. But this translates to 60% after five years.

This would indicate that the Victorian prison system is moving towards being partially self-sustaining.

Addressing recidivism and its causes, particularly amongst those convicted of relatively minor offences, is the most effective policy lever for containing prison numbers.