Manchurian Dan takes global bronze medal for virus mismanagement

He should resign right now. Via Tim Colebatch at Inside Story:

If Victoria were a country, today’s data, on a per capita basis, would put it in the top twenty countries in the world for new cases of Covid-19 — and for new deaths from the virus.

That’s how bad these numbers are. The 723 new cases the state reported on Thursday equate to 110 new cases per million people (or 104 in net terms, after correcting for earlier mistaken diagnoses). The thirteen new deaths amount to two for every million people.

Among countries with more than a million people, the global figures published by Worldometers show Brazil is the country where coronavirus is most rampant. On Wednesday it reported 333 new cases per million people, implying that on Tuesday alone, one in every 3000 people in Brazil was diagnosed with the virus. Victoria is not as bad as that, but it has entered that ballpark.

Colombia just pipped Brazil as the country where the virus did most harm on Tuesday, with 7.5 deaths per million people. All these numbers jump around — over the past twelve days, on average, Bahrain has been the top global hotspot for new infections, and Panama for new deaths from the virus. But if Victoria were a country, Thursday’s figures would put it among the twenty worst in the world.

The worst infection and death rates reported around the world yesterday were:

The United States and Israel were the only developed countries with higher infection rates than Victoria reported today. The United States, with four deaths per million people, was the only developed country with a higher death rate.

Had all the local commentariat who berated Sweden for trying a different path focused on where Sweden’s deaths were occurring, they would have seen something more useful for us than point scoring. Sweden recorded very high death rates between April and June largely because it failed to protect its aged care homes. Since then, it has gradually done so, and got on top of the virus in other ways; its current infection and death rates have been well below Victoria’s.

Had we been more alert to the lessons from outbreaks in the rest of the world, we would have realised that our Covid-19 policies must give priority to:

• Protecting those most vulnerable to dying of coronavirus — the elderly — by all means possible. We should have taken immediate action to remove factors that put them at risk, such as casual work contracts that fail to provide sick leave to the workers who care for them.

• Protecting migrant workers, especially those living in cramped shared housing and those who aren’t fluent in the language in which information and warnings about the virus are being communicated. Failure in this area was why Singapore went from being a global model to a global hotspot in March and April. Victoria failed to heed the lesson.

• Test, trace and quarantine. Victoria did lots of the first, but initially failed to focus on those most at risk of getting the virus or dying from it. The state’s capacity to trace contacts and inform them quickly that they were at risk was inadequate even in the good days, as the Cedar Meats outbreak demonstrated in April. That under-resourced team then became completely overwhelmed when the virus escaped from the quarantine hotels.

The core lesson from the rest of the world is that we need to identify our weaknesses and fix them as the first order of priority. It is not only Victoria that failed that test. The federal government, which has handled the crisis so well in other ways, failed it in relation to aged care homes, which are its responsibility.

In some ways Victoria was unlucky, but in the end it has become a global coronavirus hotspot by following the wrong priorities. It put too much emphasis on locking down the economy, too little on identifying and rectifying its vulnerabilities. The inquiry into quarantine hotels under Justice Jennifer Coate has too narrow a scope to pursue all the mistakes that contributed to the situation the state is in now. One suspects a royal commission will be needed down the track.

Australia is now in a lopsided situation. Most of the country has virtually no coronavirus activity, Sydney has a little and Melbourne has a lot. But that seems to be the global experience. An excellent analysis by Sweden’s Clara Guibourg points out that across Europe, a small fraction of regions have accounted for the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths.

Even in Italy, most of the Mezzogiorno (south) and central Italy recorded no increase in the total death rate when the virus was running rampant in the north. In Spain, the death toll climbed sharply in Madrid, central Spain and the northeast, but was only mildly higher in southern Spain and the far west. Most of southwest France showed no trace of the virus raging in Paris. Even large areas of Sweden were unaffected; the epicentre of that country’s death toll was Stockholm.

The same is true in the United States. Over the past three weeks, the statewide death toll has been below the national average in forty-one of the fifty states and above it in only nine. More than half the coronavirus toll is coming in just four states: Texas (where the death rate was twice the national average), Florida (ditto), Arizona (four times the average) and California. An outsize share of the rest was in smaller states across the Deep South (all but one, as it happens, with Republican state governments).

It’s a similar story here. Australia’s first wave of coronavirus was concentrated in Sydney, mostly from overseas travellers, although the state government shares the blame for allowing the single biggest breakout from the Ruby Princess. Its second, very much bigger wave is concentrated in Melbourne but also originated with overseas travellers under inadequate quarantine control, for which the state government bears responsibility.

In Europe, coronavirus has largely been brought under control. New outbreaks continue to happen — elimination is not a realistic goal until we have a vaccine — but so far (touch wood) on a much smaller scale than the conflagration in March. The Middle East, for some reason, is reporting lots of new cases but very few deaths. Latin America, especially South America, is now the epicentre of virus activity — and especially of those dying from the disease.

Australia gained global attention only as one of the island states that had managed to lock the virus out. It’s to be hoped that Victoria will win the struggle with the virus and bring it under control, as Europe has, as New York and its neighbours have in the US northeast, and as Singapore has in recent weeks.

But to keep it that way, we must closely follow other countries’ experiences, learn their lessons as they arise, and quickly put them into practice.

David Llewellyn-Smith

Comments

    • You are right that it did not achieve anything, but given the info at the time i would have done the same thing,
      Thats not excusing anyone who has a responsibility in causing this outbreak but given that 1 in 4 confirmed cases in the state cant be located or are not self isolating there is obviously a segment of the population that cant be trusted to do the right thing.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        OK if not apologise at least acknowledge it achieved nothing. They had the army there and the virus didn’t stop – is the overhanded knee jerk nonsense over?

        • Well history is replete with events that once passed are regarded as overkill. The trouble is when you have X amount of information and you need to make a decision you make the best decision with the info available. I believe that everyone has the right to go about their business with out being impinged on by over reaching governments. Frankly government overreach into our business is already excessive, and they constantly run fear campaigns to justify further intrusion into our private lives. I want to go about my business without being told what i can or cant do.
          But im also aware that for society to function in a stable manner there is a social compact that says i can go about my business as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others to live a free and happy life. Is this not the purpose of laws. i accept for example that i should not drive while drunk. I expect others to not drive while drunk. But i understand and accept a police presence to police that activity because i dont want to die or get maimed at the hands of some cretin who has no regards for others.
          So in regards to the lockdown of the blocks i can only comment on the public available information. From what i know the buildings were regarded as a large cluster of infected peoples.
          In hindsight its obvious the virus was spreading in the community outside those blocks. But was that known at the time. I saw nothing in public media about it. If the Govt knew it was then yes i cant disagree it being an overreaction.
          But if was not known then i would have done what they did in the same manner.
          Because i dont trust my fellow citizens to necessarily do the right thing by me other others.
          I dont trust the other people on the road to not drink drive despite all the public info showing why they should not.
          So i accept an aggressive policing of drunk drivers.
          In the same way, again assuming they had the best information available at the time, i would not trust everyone in the apartment block to have done the right thing and self isolate.
          After the lockdown occurred several residents spoke to the media to complain. They complained that when they saw the lockdown announced on the news they headed for the exits to find the police blocking the exits hours ahead of the announced deadline time. they said they were going out to buy supplies and such. Maybe they were or maybe they were not. I dont know. But i too would have had the lockdown occur ahead of the advertised time for exactly the reason that i would expect residents to try and leave ahead of time.
          So where was these residents respect for the rights of other people given they could have been spreading the virus to the wider community. They didn’t give any consideration to that.
          Im sure there are a lot of people who will disagree with my take on the situation.
          None of this excuses the criminal incompetence and blatant mismanagement of the entire covid response by those that allowed it to escape quarantine.

  1. DouglasMEMBER

    Totally agree-Daniel Andrews is not a suitable person to be Premier of Victoria. His attempt to divert fault to aged care management and workers was and is outrageous. He released the virus from hotel quarantine when he was reassuring us with spin that he was in control. His budget is huge but he cannot run anything properly. Now the whinging starts that they are underfunded. What a joke.

    • kannigetMEMBER

      Weird, If I pay a mechanic to fix my breaks and he doesnt despite being paid to, and I get injured as a result doe this mean its my fault?

      Sure, he shouldnt have hired the company he did, but they chose to use untrained or untrustworthy staff who were obviously extremely attractive….

      Why are we politically point scoring against the premier when the guards dereliction of duty and the people under lockdown colluded to pass the virus on….

      There have been many mistakes made, but putting all the blame on the premier is rediculous.

      • DouglasMEMBER

        Kanniget

        I beg to disagree. This is very very serious just as if a worker dies on a proprietor’s site then the proprietor is liable for manslaughter with jail term and asset confiscation under Andrews’ own O H and S legislation . This must apply to the hotel quarantine and resultant aged care deaths. Genomic sequencing we need then class action by the offspring of the deceased.

        • kannigetMEMBER

          So what your saying is that in Victoria, if someone on the business premises is hurt, its the business owners fault no matter if the employee disregarded all OH & S rules….

          That would be like saying the Coffee shop owner is responsible for the death of the employee when a robbery goes wrong and the robber shoots them but the robber pulling the trigger is not responsible.

          I would be surprised if the law your talking about applied to anything other than workplace negligence as a result of the management cutting corners. Cant see it surviving a supreme court challenge. I am not a lawyer so I could be wrong but I do know some so could ask….

          Where is a link to the particular legislation?

          Also, I agree that the business owner is at fault of they refuse to make the environment safe and someone dies. So in the case of the Old Aged homes, How that becomes the premiers fault I think is a leap of logic of immense proportions. The government doesn’t own or run the homes. just like it doesn’t own or run the security company that cut corners….

          • kannigetMEMBER

            Seascape Constructions has been issued with five improvement notices relating to potential “fall-from-height” problems on its construction sites since Mr Mancini’s death.

            Not quite the same thing….. The company was not following the safety rules and had been warned. The company was employed by the owner of the building being worked on….if your assertion was correct the owner of the building would be the one fined not seascape constructions….

            Anyway, as it relates to the security guards… The individual guard was not paid by the government, it was the responsibility of the company doing the contract work to provide the safety under their contract.

          • He was a subcontractor, not even an employee of the building company. So under law he is responsible for his own safety, he did the wrong thing (according to the letter of the OHS laws) but the company is somehow still liable.

            So it is exactly like a government subcontracting someone to work independently, the subcontractor making a mistake and the party who commissioned the subcontractor being held responsible.

            I take your point about the owner of the building but would instead equate it to saying we the voters are directly responsible because we voted in Dan.

          • kannigetMEMBER

            Sure he was a subcontractor, But in this case the company failed to ensure adequate railings had been installed despite being warned multiple times. He Should have refused to work but didnt.

            Just like the Security company failed to ensure that their staff followed the rules.

            I do a lot of government contract work, I have to follow the rules or its a breach of contract and I dont get paid, Its always spelled out clearly in the contract and if I dont follow the rules I stop getting work. Its straight out contract law.
            When working onsite I have to follow all their OH and S rules because I signed the contract that states I will comply with their rules.

            The buck always stops with those who failed in their duty. If I didnt follow the rules its my arse on the line, if the company I subcontract to doesnt make me aware of all the site rules then they are responsible, if the organisation paying for the work doesnt have any OH&S in place its their fault.

            I will have to look at the Victorian legislation but I think there has been a misunderstanding of the legislation and its intent. There have been too many cases where the building companies absolved themselves of all safety responsibility and my understanding was this legislation was designed to shut that down.

            I take your point about the owner of the building but would instead equate it to saying we the voters are directly responsible because we voted in Dan. Only because your determined to blame Dan Andrews for the entire thing….

            Government hired company, company knows conditions due to contract and legislation, company subcontracts staff who ALSO should know conditions for the same reason although has less resources to self educate and is in a weaker negotiating position.

            Staff Didnt even bother to follow the contracted rules they were engaged under. If Dan Andrews called the company 4 times a day and asked for evidence the guards were doing their jobs do you think the outcome would have been any better? The company would have just said “of course”…

      • The security company the guards the residents all of them should be charged and jailed then deported.
        Why are they not apportioned the blame as well.

      • I read somewhere the hierarchy were well aware of the security issues a couple of weeks before it all blew up & decided to stick their head in the sand – if true, that’s enough for me. Even if not, where was the oversight?

        • kannigetMEMBER

          Government pays security company to deliver a service. Security company now responsible for the delivery, they are the ones who should have provided oversight.

          Again, the mistake Andrews made was to outsource it to this company and not use the police or ADF. I agree with that position, but not that he personally should have been supervising the guards and doing spot checks to make sure they were following the rules.

          • Right there is the Neo problem with farming everything out to mates or the lowest bidder, & shirking responsibility…… Although if his government hierarchy did know, he’s still heading them & either they’ve let him down, or he’s made a poor Captains call……. ADF, corrective services, it should have been.

      • I can just see your smiling face, as you sail off the side of a cliff, knowing that the fault lies not with you but with the guy your mechanic subcontracted to do the work, without proper training and without the right tools. Never mind that you would be cruising down the highway right now if you had instead gone to a reputable and qualified mechanic.

        • kannigetMEMBER

          Wow. let me see if I can make the position clearer.

          If the mechanic I paid to fix my breaks charged me and didnt fix them and I have an accident, that injures someone else, lets assume that I was killed. Third party insurance would kick in and the insurance company would go after the mechanic not me…

          I agree, he should not have used the company but the position he holds all of the responsibility is the same as saying its my fault for picking a dodgy mechanic.

          • The fundamental problem is neoliberalism; an unshakable belief, from the Kennett Governmemt onwards, that the private sector will always do everything better and cheaper than the public sector, and that, if you sign a contract for something to be done, you can keep your eyes shut and just blindly assume that the task will be done as specified in the contract.

          • Banana ManMEMBER

            Pretty simple mate. Breach of duty of care. A reasonable person with the resources the premier has, could/should/must have ensured the workers were trained and had the right equipment. This is negligence. The law is pretty clear on this (Tort of negligence). It’s almost identical to the Ardent Dreamworld case, they pleaded guilty. Same shi.

          • kannigetMEMBER

            So you think duty of care means that the ultimate responsibility only ever sits at the top of an organisation…. Doesn’t work that way.

            Those providing a the service had a duty of care to ensure the service was delivered.

            I worked in education for years and duty if care was clear, everyone Involved has duty of care. It doesn’t flow up with no care at the bottom. Your whole argument just proves what I said. The company providing the security was responsible, so where the guards who didn’t follow the rules of the job. They offered to look the other way in return for sex but somehow that’s only the premiers fault…

            Did DreamWorks outsource the maintenance of the equipment to someone else or was the organisation actually doing the work itself.

            If it works the way you Implying then Contract law is a wastw of time because every contract is meaningless and unenforceable.

            If you sign a contract to supply services then your responsible for the provision of services in this contract unless it can be shown that you were prevented from providing that service.

            There was dereliction of duty, the company providing the service failed to provide the service after providing assurance they would ( under the contract ). If the contract did not include making sure the integrity of the quarantine was maintained then what was the contract for.

            If you think you can sign a contract not deliver and it’s on someone else then I sure hope for you sake it doesn’t end up in court because you will lose

          • Banana ManMEMBER

            “So you think duty of care means that the ultimate responsibility only ever sits at the top of an organisation…. Doesn’t work that way. ” Yes. It does. Not my rules it’s legislation. Legislation that has obviously been overhalled since you were working in childcare. It’s to stop people passing the buck. Buck stops there. You can’t give someone a contract and absolve yourself of responsibility. Sorry mate, I’m not trying to start a fight.

          • kannigetMEMBER

            Thanks for that, interesting read and sorry, doesnt apply the way you think.

            1. Dan Andrews or the Government would have to be considered ‘conducting a business’ in the context of the ACT and that is definitely not clear by any of the definitions in the ACT. If this was the case then its the same as saying a home owner is carrying out a business when paying a company to install a pool.

            2. Section 30 is clear that Duty of care is shared, everyone involved is equally responsible. As I have said many times before Everyone in that Business has a duty of care. So the Guard who banged the skank is guilty. The Security company and all employees whose job it is to ensure care is undertaken has a Duty of care and would also be guilty under this act. For the government to be guilty in this case my comment 1 above would have to apply.

            3. Section 31 is clear, the person who has a duty of care is guilty of an offence…. ( note the ANDs )

            (a ) the person has a health and safety duty; and
            (b ) the person, without reasonable excuse, engages in conduct that exposes an individual to whom that duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness; and
            (c ) the person is reckless as to the risk to an individual of death or serious injury or illness.

            That would exclude almost everyone who wasnt shafting the scrags in exchange for furloe.

            4. EVERY section related to an offence is the same, you have to engage in conduct that directly causes the injury and be DEEMED reckless. There would be no way you could tie the negligence of the guards, those who recruited and employed them onto the government. The contract would have been clear about compliance with the act. No judge would accept that this would be considered an attempt to remove duty of care but the contract would create a separation of the business test.

            Nothing else I could see in the supplied ACT would change this Unless the government prohibited under contract the formation of committees, workplace health and safety officers or any other safety related activity in the ACT. And there is no way that any contract would have that in there, especially a government contract. If these things were not followed then it falls squarely on the owners of the security company.

            As I have said time and time again, the fault lies with the security company and those working in it and reading that legislation only serves to confirm this. You may feel there is a moral obligation to have ensured the job was done properly and I would agree with you on that but it still does not make the Premier responsible apart from the fact he should have used the ADF instead, but based on this legislation that would have actually made him legally liable if something went wrong….

            Having worked along side this company I can tell you they ignore this kind of legislation all the time.

  2. ChinajimMEMBER

    No, he shouldn’t resign in the middle of a crisis. A captain leaving a sinking ship is unacceptable now. He needs to do his job. The learning curve for a new-comer to that position is probably too steep and the established relationships with the federal government should not broken at this time.

    He could do an LBJ: say he shall not seek, nor will he accept re-election or some such words. But even that would probably be an unnecessary distraction at this time.

    You break it, you own it. Now back to work.

    • ignoratio elenchiMEMBER

      I agree. He has to stay to fix the mess. In the case where he were to resign, there’s no-one else who could readily backfill.

      I’ll give this to him, he mans up every day on that podium for an hour or more and answers every question. Even the ones he’s answered several times before.

  3. All this talk about protecting migrant workers. Aren’t their visas based on a job. So if their job has gone, well, we can pay QF to take them home. When the economy recovers, the jobs can go to the newly out-of-work citizens.

    Or am I being too sensible?

  4. Robert Johnson

    Just wait until winter when there are flareups all over Europe when people come home from holidays and resume work, and air pollution spikes again. And of course Sweden will get off since they have immunity.

    Europe should have spent this Summer urgently destroying or blocking all residential chimneys and replacing them with gas or city heating, plus getting rid of the very worst dirty old cars. Instead they are pursuing some boondoggle Hydrogen strategy and lame compliance car EVs.

  5. Aussies Can't Socially Distance

    Europeans, Americans, Australians, westerners in general don’t give a stuff about others, can’t be told what to do, and can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Not to mention the number of people who believe the virus is a hoax or danger is exaggerated, a Bill Gates conspiracy to take over the world by poisoning it, masks and distancing is for sissies, etc.

    Throw in world’s best usage of powerful psychoactive drugs to treat “mental illness” diagnosed via self reported symptoms, absurd number of people with ADHD, a crystal meth epidemic throughout the country, you have a significant proportion of people who are stoopid, drugged to the gills, impatient, undisciplined and plain mentally weak.

    Melbourne metro area must be one of the least dense major cities in the world yet still royally stuffed it up after quarantining returnees since March.

  6. Ajaydee73MEMBER

    We need to stop talking about protecting the vulnerable and lock down the healthy as hard as possible so the economy can be ruined and house prices can fall. House prices falling is the only thing that matters.

  7. TightwadMEMBER

    Repeating this from another thread but the UN have just published a report indicating that there will be 10k per month child deaths caused by these lockdowns. (Amongst other undesired affects) yet the myopic and selfish keep screaming for more lockdowns with total disregard for the young and vulnerable this is killing in order to give a few extra months to a few 80 year olds.

    • I am GrootMEMBER

      Does the report address the impact on children if the lockdowns didn’t happen? Perhaps at least some of those deaths would have occurred anyway, perhaps more. In all likelihood we’ll never know.

      It isn’t as though life would go on unaltered sans lockdowns.

      • TightwadMEMBER

        I’ve tried to post the link but the spambot deletes it. Basically the lockdowns are killing, and will kill, young people in great numbers as opposed to the virus where the average age of death is around 80.

        • I am GrootMEMBER

          I read about the UN report I believe you are referring to. It pertains to poorer countries with preexisting issues, exacerbated by some parents’ virus related fear of travel to health facilities irrespective of lockdown, and for some, a different cultural/religious influenced attitude to death.

          These problems are attributable to mismanagement rather than the lockdown per se. This is a tragedy in its own right, but has little to no relevance as to whether or not we use a lockdown strategy in Australia. There are probably other issues here, but this isn’t significant for us.

          • TightwadMEMBER

            That’s ok then. As long as the 10k deaths are mainly confined to 3rd world countries it’s all good. Incidentally, how do you justify the 10k deaths they refer to in the UK that are lockdown related, I don’t think the UK is a third world country.

  8. Nah. Dumb call. He needs to persevere. He needs to be open to different approaches. It’s not his fault that there’s a whole lot of dumb sh1ts in the community

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