With 5000 Covid cases a day, where is Dan the Man with a Plan.

During the last Covid crisis, the Victorian public was treated, some would say to the point of boredom, to daily lectures by Premier Dan Andrews about the state of the play of the lockdown. Cases reached 800.

They have now reached 5000, a mixture of Delta and Omicron, with no sign that the exponential growth has peaked.

Health and epidemiological experts are reassuring us that the Omicron variant, while more infectious, is less severe than Delta.

The problem is that the health system, both infrastructure and human, has reached the point of collapse and will soon not be able to meet the normal demands of the population.

Testing stations are overwhelmed and closing shortly after opening, people are unable to get booster shots. Rapid antigen test may not be freely available until the end of January.

So where is Dan and what is the Plan.

In THE AGE Tony Blakely, an epidemiologist and public health medicine specialist, is a professor at the University of Melbourne wrote an article Passing 10,000 Omicron cases in a day is a warning to hit the brakes in which he explained what the public policy response to this situation should be.

It should be compulsory reading for Premier Andrews.

Karen Black’s portrait of Chandini Raina Macintyre

Karen Black has met the challenge of the Archibalds by submitting a portrait someone “distinguished in art, letters science or politics.”

Professor Raina Macintyre is the Professor of Global Biosecurity within the Kirby Institute at University of New South Wales and a regular expert on the ABC on matters epidemiological to the Covid crisis.

In contrast to Karen Black, Lucy Culliton painted a picture of a jumper her aunt knitted her hanging on a clothes hanger and then apparently superimposed hers face on the painting because she couldn’t find anyone famous to paint.

But back to Karen Black’s painting.

The work is interesting because Prof Raina Macintyre is immediately recognisable, by name, if perhaps not by this portrait. She is a national and trusted expert on Covid-19. She is also a marked contrast to her sombre-suited colleagues in the health and epidemiological area.

Prof Macintyre and her portrait in the NSW Gallery

It is easy to see is a fair amount of interpretation has gone into the portrait.

Because she has such a high profile, there are a number of photos of the Professor available.

Has Karen Black given us any insight In doing so? I don’t think so.

She’s got Macintyre’s eyes wrong to start with.

In the painting, they have a washed-out starling look, almost devoid of hope.

And then there’s the hair. It’s rounder and fuller and madder, slightly out of control, in the portrait. The head and face are slightly tapered. Overall picture is of someone more distracted.

Look at this photo, there is a critical appraisal of viewer that you see in Tsering Hannaford’s portrait of Margaret Beazley, the High Court Judge, also an Archibald finalist.

There is a better balance in the photograph (and in reality?) between the hair and the roundness of the face.

There is also a slightly wry sardonic smile in the photograph.

In fairness to Black, she wasn’t able to spend much time with her subject.

There is also an optimistic flamboyance to Raina Macintyre that must make her a delight to photograph and paint.

Is it fair an artist’s representation of a subject be judged by its representation in another medium, particularly a more realistic one, like photography?

Because this means posing the question: Is it fair to present a representation that may not bear any reasonable likeness to the subject. is there a right of reply and comparison?

I have often asked myself this question at the end of the the immensely popular ABC program “Anh’s Brush With Fame” when the paintings are finally revealed to the subjects.

In my opinion, many of them are often not very good and I’m sure the subjects are warned to be suitably enthusiastic and pleased despite what they may be feeling.

I’m sure the same is true for people who allow their portraits to be entered in the Archibalds.

In this case, I must admit myself to be somewhat puzzled.

Now is my summer of content made bleak winter by this strain of omicron.

Case numbers are spiking well above previews levels in New South Wales and Victoria as governments in both states continue to relax restrictions contrary to all logic.

Immense confidence appears to be being placed on double vaccination numbers. Yet little attention is being paid to the declining efficacy of vaccines. Even this is being paid to the availability of booster shots.

Worrying signs.

There appears to be some confusion in New South Wales about what is causing the spike in cases. THE AGE reports : In NSW, 226 of yesterday’s 2482 new cases were confirmed as Omicron, but a NSW Health statement advised it likely accounted for the majority of infections. 

They can’t both be right.

Reports from Europe indicate that the Omicron variant being taken at least as seriously as Delta.

Yet governments here appear unworried.

THE AGE reports Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid joined many infectious diseases experts now warning that failure to urgently take simple steps to reduce the spread of Omicron could result in the need for lockdowns or other drastic measures later.

One leading epidemiologist has also questioned whether it is safe to stage the Australian Open next month, while Cricket Australia on Saturday moved to ramp up its COVID-19 protocols for Test matches by banning players from signing autographs for fans.

THE AGE is getting it wrong when an article about the Hillcrest tragedy is all about Scott Morrison and nothing about the children or the families.

To be fair, it did run pictures of the dead kids but other than that it was all about Scotty. Who wants to hear about that?

Even the byline was about the Prime Minister and his wife.

The street in front of the school was crawling with local and federal politicians even the Prime Minister’s security detachment got a mention in THE AGE.

The Prime Minister: As I said yesterday, there are no words, only prayers, for our fellow Australians in Tasmania. ll

The ABC, by comparison, gave coverage of the running club that one of the boys ran with. The kids did a 5k run, wearing black armbands.

That’s the kind of human interest that we are interested in.

It also gave coverage of a young girl who set out to crowd fund support for the families aiming to raise $10,000. Within a few hours she had raised $1m. This is the kind of story that THE AGE should be running.

Not thoughts and prayers of politicians, the actions of kids who care

Not further photo opportunities of the Prime Minister.

Victoria Atkinson’s “Trent Zimmerman” and Matthew Clarke’s “Del Kathryn Barton” : two Archibald portraits to make you think about portraits and the Archibalds.

One of the many things that strikes you when you visit the Archibalds is the wide variations in the styles. This is no more evident than in the next two paintings. Similar to each other, different from the rest.

Matthew Clarke’s “Del Kathryn Barton”
Victoria Atkinson’s “Trent Zimmerman”

There may be many words to describe these styles in the lexicon of criticism.

Naïve art is recognized, and often imitated, for its childlike simplicity and frankness.

Do these two examples work? In the long-run, it depends on your definition of what constitutes a good portrait.

I have now presented a number that I think provides some indications of what provide viewers with some benchmarks.

The painters’ descriptions of these works, which can be found in handbook provided provided at the exhibition, provides no insight into why this particular style was used.

When compared to the other works, my view is that these simply constitute caricatures and ones that provide no insight into the subjects.

Will these works stand the test of time. Almost certainly not. In future years, some of the works in this exhibition, will be found on gallery walls. Probably not these two.

I am left with the sense of puzzlement about why these two particular works were included in the finalists.

Perhaps that was the judges’ intention

Restrictions are easing and case numbers are rising. Christmas and New Year could be bleak in Victoria and New South Wales.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out the use of lockdowns to curb the pandemic, saying it’s a balance between health and livelihoods. He didn’t outline a plan to deal with this little problem. Clearly, 93% of the adult population fully vaccinated isn’t quite working.

The case numbers yesterday in New South Wales give new meaning to exponential increase in Covid numbers. The unnerving aspect of this surge in numbers is that 80% of them are from the delta variant.

Omicron has not really taken hold in New South Wales yet but early indications are that it won’t be as virulent as Delta.

Numbers in Victoria are showing a worrying trend as well.

Case Numbers In Victoria

Victorian numbers had peaked at just under 2000, well above the previous peak of 500 and then declined to 1000 but are now rising sharply again.

But the delta variant is clearly resurgent and its impact on the health system will be evident over the Christmas break when Christmas work parties and family celebrations inevitably spread the virus.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is becoming apparent that the efficacy of the vaccines decline markedly after six months and that many of the people who have been double vaccinated may now need a booster to restore their vaccination status.

The government has responded to this by shortening the period between the second vaccination shot and booster from 6 to 5 months. People have rushed to get their booster shot only to be told that there is a shortage of vaccines and that they cannot make appointments with GPs.

A repeat of the debacle of the rollout of the original vaccinations.

A Christmas present from Health Minister Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the people of Australia.

Another clusterfuck from the Federal government.

If there was a Federal ICAC, it would be investigating these latest revelations of grants rorts and Scott Morrison would have resigned.

When ex-NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian found that the New South Wales ICAC was investigating her over the state grants made to her boyfriend, MP State Eddie Maguire, she resigned as Premier and as a member of Parliament. The determinations of the commission have not yet been made made public.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is unenthusiastic about a Federal ICAC. His proposed version would not be able to investigate politicians.

If it could, one of its first tasks would be to investigate sports rules and then to investigate the revelations made public in The AGE newspaper of rorting of the public purse by the current Federal Liberal party.

This is corruption on the scale that is absolutely staggering.

The Morrison government has continued its egregious rorting of the public purse throughout its entire term. It has learned nothing from the scandalous and fraudulent sports rorts affair.

Coalition seats win big in $2.8b grants plan 

The profound problem for public life and for good government is corrosive influence of such behaviour which spreads to all areas of government. It becomes an easy way of gaining popularity.

Simply, shower the electorate with money. Some of it is bound to do some good. That which doesn’t, will line pockets. Either way, the elected politician gained popularity.

The only loser in the long run is our democracy

The Morrison government has continued its egregious rorting of the public purse throughout its entire term. It has learned nothing from the scandalous and fraudulent sports rorts affair.

THE AGE reports “The multibillion-dollar grants system used by MPs and federal ministers has become so politicised that Coalition-held seats around the country received more than $1.9 billion over three years while Labor electorates got just under $530 million.

An analysis of more than 19,000 individual grants shows huge discrepancies among the nation’s 151 electorates, with a boundary line such as a road or a creek separating communities from potentially millions of dollars.

In the case of Labor leader Anthony Albanese, his Sydney electorate of Grayndler received $718,000 while the neighbouring, Liberal-held marginal seat of Reid received $14.8 million.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s home electorate of Cook received $8.2 million.

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten received $717,000 in assistance for his western Melbourne electorate of Maribyrnong, while Liberalheld but marginal seats in the city’s east received up to $20 million in handouts.”

Is it time to stop giving the anti-vaxx protesters oxygen? Do they continue to warrant coverage on National television vision and in the National press?

The Age Reports : Thousands of protesters again converged on Melbourne to oppose the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and new emergency laws introduced by the Andrews government – but crowd numbers continue to dwindle compared to previous “freedom” rallies.

Protesters gather at Carlton Gardens on Sunday.CREDIT:DARRIAN TRAYNOR

Does this clown represent a significant element of public opinion? Enough to warrant his is photo being in national newspaper? If simply to demonstrate that these demonstrations are made up of a group of mindlessly idiots, we know that already.

The numbers at the protests are declining. Sympathy for the issues, which are becoming increasingly blurred, is declining. The only thing that is keeping this particular movement alive is the coverage. All it has now is nuisance value.

It’s time for the editors at the ABC and AGE to consider whether it is really in the public interest to keep giving this particular movement media space.

Where does Scott Morrison stand on the male patriarchy? A picture is worth a thousand words.

Here is Scott, standing on the step ladder, surrounded by the women of his family: his mother, his wife and a daughter.

A Christmas message from Australia’s first family

Scotty has been doing the blokey-dad thing for the photo app at Kirribilli, so decided to do one with the family, who are lined up at roughly belly button height.

It’s such an informal shot, he hasn’t had time to get off the ladder. So there he is, Lord of all he surveys.

Don’t be deceived. This is a man who takes his own personal photographer everywhere he goes, for a photo opportunity. Every moment is posed, captured and published.

This picture is intended to send the subliminal message to the grandmothers, wives and daughters of Australia: This is the archetypal Australian family.

In the 1960s in New Zealand, I was friends with a brilliant young philosophy student, Susan Moller. Way back then, she was arguing that gender inequality began in the home particularly with the division of housework.

It was a radical idea. Most families were sole income, especially in our affluent middle class social circle. Women didn’t need work, so they stayed home, had, and looked, after the kids and did llthe house work. It seemed like the natural order. But not to Susan.

Feminism was only beginning to take off in the early 1960s. New Zealand was the intellectual and social equivalent of living the far side of the moon the 1950s and was beginning to be disturbed by some new and radical ideas in the early 60s.

It was natural that Sue would leave NZ. She got a scholarship and went to Oxford then on to Harvard to do a PhD and eventually to Professorial position at Stanford.

She came to be regarded as one of the best feminist political philosophers in the world.

Central to her work is the idea that children acquire their values and ideas in the family’s sexist setting.

Or you could say, handed down from on high.