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Hello Tim

How are things back in Australia? A monumental shit show would be putting it mildly. The train wreck of our federal so-called ‘government’ continues unabated albeit unravelling at a pace of knots as Morrison watches his approval ratings plummet flaying about in hi-viz market testing 3-word slogans in the hope that one might resonate with voters. The latest was how he was going to “shake and bake” the economy, which was lost on pretty much everyone save for a few meth dealers. It’s too depressing to recount anything else. All we can hope for is that he and his mob of self-serving dullards will be ousted at the next election tout suite!

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They really were the worst people to have in charge during all this, weren't they? Let's hope they pay the price and we never have to deal with them again.

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Dec 22, 2021·edited Dec 22, 2021Liked by TJ Dunlop

And another thing: when Omicron started two weeks ago, there was a tide of QR pings amongst people I know. But then last week the Dept of Health stopped using the QR checking to alert people, so now we live in ignorant bliss. I can see that they can’t possibly ping 10,000 people a day or it would just lead to paralysis. Perhaps we are in the transitional state from ‘control’ to ‘living with Covid in a vaccinated state’. And maybe that’s necessary. There are no easy answers and Covid has many tricks up its sleeve.

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Dec 22, 2021Liked by TJ Dunlop

I’m in Sydney. Things are certainly escalating here. (Though perhaps I speak as someone not in the LGAs of concern during the lockdown.) Anyway, I’m in a small workforce (20 staff) and in the past week 2 colleagues’ households have had Covid cases. My partner who has a service business with around 25 clients has also had 2 clients with Covid cases this week. People are cancelling social events all over the place. The major shopping centres aren’t crowded. I see around 90-95% of shoppers wearing masks. Sometimes 100% (the Apple Store mandates masks as do chemists.)

During previous waves there was a strong sense that we were being led and looked after. Berejiklian and Chant were very visible. That has gone. It all feels amorphous now.

It’s clear that there is quite a way still to run in this pandemic. I’ve felt down about it this week. We had started to spend time in the office again, now it’s going to be working from home for the foreseeable future. Although there is always the beach (and I went to the theatre last night - vaccine passport!) it feels like a semi self-imposed lockdown is called for and life will continue in a very small orbit.

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So interesting, Sue, and that is how it looks from here. You've also touched on the point I made to Margaret, above: that in the absence of safety measures, people will just opt out. Just in the last few days here, we've also felt like we have to close down a bit too. It was never a choice between locking down and staying open: it was always about making things as safe as possible, and these dills have failed miserably.

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Dec 21, 2021Liked by TJ Dunlop

Hi Tim! Lovely to get a long post from you.

Here in Sydney it's hot and stupidly humid and the days alternate between the stultifying glare of the sun and furious storms (La Niña is here with a passion). Humidity, heat and masks are an unhappy combination, so I guess some are content with Perrottet's determination not to mandate them again. I am less than content. His mad libertarian tendencies are risking everything. It seems that having laid out his schedule for opening everything up, the minor issue of the most infective flavor of COVID sweeping the globe isn't going to dissuade him. Personal responsibility amirite.

We're off on Christmas day to spend time with friends in the Central West. We've got hold of some of the increasingly scarce rapid antigen tests (many chemists and supermarkets are running out of stock within hours of getting new kits in) and will test ourselves before we go. Since we're pretty much in seclusion we think it's pretty safe. Daughter Maxine has taken time off from her retail job. With her health issues, it's just too dangerous. And as I noted elsewhere, you can be pretty much guaranteed that the people who aren't wearing masks and breathing all over you are ill-informed (so risky) or COVID-denialists (so risky) or anti-vaxxers (so risky) or your basic selfish gobshites (so risky).

I know the sample of folks I talk about this with are not representative, but I don't know anyone (even Liberal-voting black-sheep-of-the-family-brother) who thinks that the health advice is being followed by the NSW govt. So lots of incredulity, frustration and anger that all our hard work locking down and taking precautions over the last two years is being pissed away by politicians who really do seem to want to experiment with herd immunity.

It's interesting seeing how this is going to play out with the forthcoming election. I imagine Morrison had hoped that we'd have a carefree summer and then he'd drop by the GG and he'd be reelected by a grateful nation. That scenario seems increasingly unlikely... but as you French would say, "on voir".

All the best to you and your family, Tim. Take care!

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So interesting, Margaret, thanks. The failure to mandate safety measures (changed now, I know) just seems so counterproductive from THEIR pov: if the idea is to 'keep things' open, but you don't make that as safe as possible, then people will stay away, which seems to be happening. I really find it hard to believe people will vote for these people again, but who knows...?

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Dec 22, 2021·edited Dec 22, 2021Liked by TJ Dunlop

Hi Tim, another great post, thank you. I completely agree with your view on the anti-vaxers, and what you say about the libertarian bullshit which seems to be Perrotett's modus operandi. From outside NSW it looks like an approach bordering on lunacy. Yesterday Domicron (as he is referred to on Twitter now) asked all other Premiers to not require COVID testing for NSW residents visiting their states/territories because the NSW testing system is overwhelmed. 3,700 new cases there yesterday.

We usually spend our time in regional Tasmania and St Kilda East but my partner and I are visiting her family in Perth for Xmas. Here it seems very lax compared to even Tasmania. Most people don't bother to check-in although every retail/commercial site has a QR code. They aren't as obvious as they would be in Tasmania or Melbourne but they are everywhere. WA has been so COVID free for 2 years (1 case, 1 death) I don't think people here understand what its like in the rest of Australia. We were able to get our booster shots (Moderna but Pfizer was also available) at a chemist in Fremantle with no appointment and no queue. WA is opening its borders on 5 February and the low rate of vaccination here is almost certainly going to result in a huge number of cases.

We're returning to Tasmania (14 cases yesterday) on boxing day so I might post a follow up comment when I see how things are there.

Hope you and your family have a wonderful Xmas together! Take care.

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Thanks, Andrew. so interesting to hear about Tassy and WA, which tend to be ignored in most reporting I see. Look forward to hearing more.

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Thank you for these great posts, Tim. I will be sharing this one to Twitter because I think you make some excellent thoughts. And, having recently dipped my own big toe into the world of Substack newslettering, I am also impressed with it as a platform. Merry Christmas to you and yours and I look forward to reading more of your stuff next year.

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In terms of what I am experiencing and witnessing re. this 'personal responsibility' malarkey? It's so hard to sum up what my community is doing because the responses are so varied - I guess that our fragmented response to the threat of Omicron is a consequence of an inadequate leadership response from the feds and the NSW government. I can only report in from my own small echo chambers: We are all disgusted by this talk of 'personal responsibility' and see it as code for the Neolibs to slither out of their leadership responsibility. I resent them for trying to co-opt us all into some kind of experiment that has been shown to fail when it has been tried elsewhere in the world. I also am disgusted that the same mistakes in thinking, planning, and implementation seem to be getting a rehash. Do the LNP never learn? Most folks I know in real life or on Twitter see a sense of collective responsibility as being the key to dealing with Covid (and climate change too). Isn't that what Covid has proven to us in so many ways over the last 2 years? Infection rates tend to be higher amongst those who find themselves on the margins of the collective. We here in Melbourne have probably saved 1000s of lives and 1000s of people from getting long Covid because of collective effort and also because of strong leadership from our state government that, on a daily basis, has appealed to people's sense of collective responsibility. So the people I mix with are wearing masks even when we are not required to (I live in one), are booking appointments for boosters when we're eligible, and choosing quiet Christmases at home. It will be 'interesting' to see how many of us do this and whether it makes a difference or not.

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It is a cop-out, isn't it? It always was. A privileged cop out.

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Thanks, Meredith. Yeah, it's a good platform, I think. Not sure what do once I return home, but I think I should keep it going in some form.

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Dec 21, 2021Liked by TJ Dunlop

In Murray Bridge, pretty much everyone is still checking in with the QR codes and wearing masks, which encourages me.

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Good to hear, Dave. Hope you had a safe and enjoyable Christmas.

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Dec 26, 2021·edited Dec 26, 2021

Yes, it was fairly quiet, but good. Christmas dinner with the Lady Friend, then a few hours at the Wellington pub with one son and DIL yesterday.

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