Oz for Dummies: Week 40, 2021

(October 4–10) Perrottet says it as it is / Andrews still doesn’t get it / Marki Mark and Stacia still in denial, St Jacinda not so much / Morrison remains the master of deception / Everything Shortage — Keep them wine orders coming

/ Perrottet says it as it is

Challenged in his first presser on the absence of Dr Chant, the NSW Chief Health Officer, NSW’s new premier Dominic Perrottet said what should have been said a long time ago: “It’s an economic crisis, too.” He also made clear that forward going the elected politicians will make the call and not hide behind “health advice”. To signify the change he renamed former premier Gladys Berejikilan’s “crisis cabinet” the “COVID and Economic Recovery Committee”.

Much has been made of the changes in the Berejiklian — Chant roadmap but the changes seem indeed minor: doubling the number of people allowed at weddings, funerals and in homes. Most school students will also return to the classroom a week earlier than scheduled. You have to be one of the hysterical academics or social media nitwits to have serious concerns. As Soutphommasane & Stears observed astutely, “It’s a sign of Australia’s COVID parochialism that we seem to think allowing 10 people into the homes of the double-vaccinated, instead of five, is a measure of radical risk-taking.” Chant herself attended the Perrottet presser yesterday and made clear that she thought the changes were “very low risk” and stressed that she had not been side-lined in the decision-making. There is no doubt that there are risks in opening up but there are also risks in continued lockdowns. The balance seems right in NSW, particularly given it’s a three-step process and some restrictions will remain.

The numbers support the state government’s narrative: Vaccination rates are tremendous: Having reached 70% a couple of days ago, NSW is likely to reach 80% fully vaxxed of those above 15 before the coming weekend, and my prediction is that we reach 90% fully vaxxed well before the end of the month. (Now, where do I get my Moderna (third) shot?)

Cases numbers continue to fall, hospitalizations and ICU referrals do so likewise.

The interesting question is this: Will we have a fat tail, or will we see another upswing in cases and how much of an upswing are we willing to accept? Perrottet — Chant clearly expect some uptick but also, based on vaccination rates, expect it to be acceptable.

Even the international opening is around the corner … as it should.

The current settings are a disgrace indeed and I do not expect them to last much longer (including the seven-day self-quarantine for those that return).

Qantas — having replaced Perth with Darwin as the transit point for Qantas’s direct Sydney-London and Melbourne-London routes — is already taking bookings for international flights starting in mid-November and other carriers will follow as surely as day follows night. In fact, the opening of borders might come as early as early November. I take bets. Because of its lead in vaccination rates expect NSW/Sydney to lead the way. Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth will follow suit — months after things will have returned to normal in Sydney. Credit Berejiklian with having changed the narrative and having paved the way.

The panic merchants would do well to watch what is currently transpiring in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden where all restrictions have been phased out and infections are actually down significantly.

/ Andrews still does not get it

Meanwhile, in Victoria, its premier and his Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton are in serious denial. Being asked about the world record of being the most locked-down city in the world (245 days and counting), the latter opined it has been an “awful sacrifice” for Melbourne but a necessity to avoid potentially catastrophic numbers of deaths and coronavirus cases. And Andrews echoed the sentiment by opining that he was proud of all Victorians “for giving so much and for working so hard to save lives”. Thank God there are no costs to locking millions away for months at a time. I guess the rest of the world got it wrong; stupid folks, why did they not listen to Andrews and Sutton?!

Yesterday Victoria hit a new record of 1,965 new cases, which translates into NSW-equivalent case numbers of almost 2,400. And there is no end in sight. The O-multiplier (the ratio of cases at same stage of the Delta outbreaks in VIC and NSW) has kept steady for a week now at above 2.60.

I would be very surprised if the curve would suddenly peak abruptly. Highly unlikely. It’s just not how the virus works. More likely it will move way beyond 2,000 before it will peak. Hopefully the rapidly increasing vaccination rates will counteract this trend if not in cases at least in hospitalizations and ICU referrals. Already now the Victorian health system seems severely stressed and it was not coincidence that that last week there was talk about bringing thousands of nurses and doctors from abroad into ‘Fortress Australia’. They seem needed.

/ Marki Mark and Stacia still in denial, St Jacinda not so much

Meanwhile it seems that McGowan and Palaszczuk continue to pursue the zero-covid strategy with all the consequences that entails, see above. Western Australia and Queensland remain laggard in the vaccination sweepstakes, with both states being about 20 percent behind NSW both in 1st jabs and 2nd jabs. Pathetic.

That a zero-covid strategy is not sustainable seems finally to have dawned on NZ prime minister Ardern. Her latest game-plan resembles NSW’s. Only problem is that NZ’s vaccination status resembles more that of Western Australia and Queensland, so it will take months for NZ to escape from its current fortress status. It will be a major challenge for Ardern to change the narrative given how successfully she instilled irrational fears in major parts of her nation.

/ Morrison remains the master of deception

Nothing new about that really. Morrison and deception are practically synonymous, not just in the case of Aussies stranded abroad. Federal ICAC anyone? Car park rorts? Sports rorts? Implementation of Royal Commission recommendations? And so on …

The fact is that Morrison knows quite well that any truly independent anti-corruption commission on the federal level would represent a major problem for him and the LNP, especially if it were to be modelled after ICAC or IBAC.

As Michelle Grattan notes, “the government doesn’t really want an integrity commission. It has been dragged to it by political necessity.

/ Everything Shortage — Keep them wine orders coming

Almost two years of disruptions brought about by covid-19, and political re-allignments such as BrExit, have successfully de-stabilized supply chains. Derek Thompson, a staff writer at The Atlantic, documents that the United States is running out of many things. The long predicted supply-chain disruptions are now also playing out in BrExitland and also here in Australia. My latest wine delivery was postponed the third time and will be about two weeks late. Fortunately, I have made it a habit to always have at least three months of wine stored away. So I am good. Thanks for your concerns.

And that’s the wrap for week 40 of 2021. All facts, no spin. Five falsifiable predictions. Feel free to share and consider following me here,

on twitter [@aortmannphd], or

on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/ImpartialSpectator/]

EconProf: I post occasionally on whatever tickles my fancy: Science, evidence production, the Econ tribe, Oz politics, etc. Y’all r entitled to my opinions …