The uniform definition of "close contact" taken to the emergency national cabinet meeting on Thursday has many interesting features.
Under the proposed definition no "close contact" can now arise other than from domestic contact. My understanding is that no "close contact" can be declared as a result of work or consumer exposure.
This doesn't make sense. A very substantial amount of transmission has been as a result of exposure in work and consumer settings.
Deeming something not to be what it actually is always has a purpose. In this case it seems the intention is to keep the consumers out and about and the workers on the job; even when they shouldn't be according to all previous medical advice.
In the report "New era in COVID testing" (December 30, p1-2) Prime Minister Scott Morrison blames the states and territories for the shortage of rapid COVID-19 test kits. This is despite public health experts stressing that rapid antigen test kits are a vital part of the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
World Health Organisation epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws has said Australia lags behind much of the world in applying rapid COVID tests; and the Grattan Institute's health economist Stephen Duckett said the Commonwealth should be responsible for procuring rapid test kits because of its far greater purchasing power.
In stark contrast, a federal Health Department spokeswoman said people should buy their own rapid test kits. Is the Morrison government responsible for anything - except lying, rorts and smug complacency?
Regardless of the exact number of troops in the UK armed forces, as referred to by Bill Stefaniak (Letters, December 21 and December 30), his view that it is pathetic overlooks at least one important fact.
That is the extent to which Britain's exorbitantly expensive nuclear weapons program diverts funding from conventional areas of military spending.
Not only does the UK maintain its Trident program, for heaven knows what purpose except a perverse sense of national pride, but in March this year PM Boris Johnson announced a plan for even more British nuclear weapons, totally undermining current moves to reduce and eliminate these worst of all weapons. It's hard to overstate the irresponsibility of that plan.
Last year, UK Commander Robert Forsyth (ret'd) published his views suggesting the scrapping of the British Trident program.
His concerns were many, and included the fact that, if called on to do so, it is the submarine commander who would have to finally "press the button" without any opportunity to use their own legal or moral judgement on the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Every nation has the right to defend itself against genuine military threats, but Britain could start by getting rid of its own weapons of mass destruction, thereby saving a small fortune as well as promoting a safer world in the process.
It's hard to imagine a PM more different to Scott Morrison than Jacinda Ardern. "The ditch" has never looked wider. Unlike Morrison, Ardern can be trusted to deliver. She has real compassion and integrity and is determined that 2022 will be "heavily climate change-focused".
And unlike Australia, NZ sets "climate budgets the country must meet".
Should Anthony Albanese be elected it will be heartening to watch the two like-minded Labor leaders work together. Australia needs a fresh start after perhaps one of the most poorly-governed periods in our history.
The world needs effective climate action. Bring on 2022.
Dominic Perrottet has been reported as saying "tourism tests are putting substantial pressure on the [COVID testing] system".
A more accurate statement would have been that the "abysmal management of COVID-19 by the NSW government has put substantial pressure on the testing system".
Even before Omicron NSW's management of COVID-19 was abysmal. Its number of cases was hundreds of times worse than Queensland's. Instead of trying to fix the system, it simply gave up. Consequently when Omicron arrived it spread extremely quickly.
Because of the enormous disparity between Delta case numbers in NSW and Queensland the Queensland Premier should have closed the border between these two states. However, due to extreme pressure from NSW and the PM, and apparently not being aware of how contagious the Omicron variant was, she failed to do so. Because of her decision Omicron is now ravaging Queensland. Worse, NSW still hasn't learnt and NSW's cases are eight times as high as Queensland's (or 12 times as high on a per-capita basis). The NSW Premier's response, which should have been extremely apologetic, was to blame Queensland for clogging up the NSW testing system.
It seems Kym MacMillan (Letters, December 27) has given up on climate change mitigation because China, India and Russia are not leading the way.
He proposes we head straight for adaptation "strategies to cope with the inevitable result" of not meeting net zero targets.
This attitude to the climate crisis is negative and immoral. As a wealthy, developed, and historically high-emitting country Australia has a responsibility to be a global leader in climate solutions.
The world needs much less finger pointing and much more moral accountability and action. Optimism and collective commitment to the vast opportunities that decarbonisation offers will be most welcome as we move into 2022.
One of the saddest stories of 2021 was the inclusion of the Australian Bogong moth on the red list of threatened species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The ricocheting effects of the demise of the moth barely raised a murmur in the media, seemingly because humans incorrectly believe we can live independently of all other species.
No thought seems to have been given to the place of the moth in the food chain and the "hammer-on" effects to other species.
Our ignorance of the environment and our conflict with common sense is further highlighted by recent conversations on the "threat" of trees to houses and humans alike.
Following research which demonstrated that tree cover can reduce the heat stress in suburbs by as much as 15 degrees the ACT government has attempted to include tree cover in urban planning.
Sadly this is not reflected in the urban deserts currently under construction in new housing developments.
Thousands of poorly-designed charcoal-grey roofed homes, with no eaves, cover every compacted square metre of house blocks in an attempt to maximise the "value" of new residences.
Developers, with local government permission one assumes, totally destroy environments with utter disregard for the species already living there and no plan for future management. Unless we change where and how we live in cities, this stupidity points toward the ultimate demise of humanity.
The movie Don't Look Up with Leonardo DiCaprio is a satire on how scientists and officials cope with the potential apocalypse of an asteroid hitting the Earth.
When scientists warn of the approaching meteorite they are are ignored by officials and the US President.
This echoes what is happening with climate change, biodiversity loss, pandemics and so on. Governments don't always take the science seriously.
What is even more scary is that the chances of a mass extinction event, including humans, by a meteorite might be one in 1 million in the next 100 years (Ord, Tony. The Precipice. Bloomsbury. 2020).
But the chances of other existential threats within the next 100 years range from one in 1000 for global warming or nuclear war to one in 30 for engineered pandemics to one in 10 for unaligned artificial intelligence. (Ord).
As Andrew Leigh MP says in his latest book "What's the worst that could happen: existential risk and extreme politics" governments need to take these threats seriously and we have to have governance systems that avoid extremism and populism.
Humanity has to work together for the common good to avoid a planetary catastrophe of far more immediate concern than the possibility of an asteroid impact.
I'm saddened to read about how some families are suffering from cuts to the NDIS. But, hey, how good is spending half-a-billion dollars on an unnecessary expansion to the Australian War Memorial?
Famine has a devastating impact on human life and can destabilise governments. It looks like the US has settled on this barbaric device to bring down the Taliban by denying them the resources to adequately feed the people of Afghanistan. After 20 years of war we owe them so much more than mass starvation by weaponising food.
Alistair Bridges "second to none rating" of the Greek Exhibition (Letters, December 28) clashes with my great disappointment that it makes no mention of Greek science, mathematics and philosophy. Missing are Pericles, Archimedes, Euclid and Pythagoras, intellects of the highest order, and some details about their important their work. I had expected better.
A little note to Dallas Stow and Sue Wareham. (Letters, December 29). Get with "The Times" and get an online subscription to the paper. No wrapping, no delivery and you don't even have to leave your bed to read it.
Dominic Perrottet will doom NSW first and then all Australia very soon after.
The term for the latest variation of the virus causing the disease COVID has evolved from a Greek letter to a piece of Australian English (like "cobber"). I have now seen or heard it written and/or pronounced as "ommercron", "ohmicron", "omnicron", and "omnicrom". How long will it take to consolidate to a single uniform word?
It's my belief that your continued publication of articles suggesting Don Bradman played his last international match in February 1963 is incorrect. I'm pretty sure his last match was actually for the PM's XI against the 1965-1966 MCC team led by Mike Smith, a game I attended as a wide-eyed 12-year-old. I'm sure I recall him playing in the game I attended.
Just an observation; the English cricket team spent more time in quarantine than in losing the Ashes.
What is it with people who say 12pm? That makes no sense. PM stands for post meridiem, which means after midday. You mean 12 noon or 12 midday.
I have received a request from Zed to donate to his war chest. It sounded like a scammer: "Quick, send money before January 1." Why does any sitting member need a war chest? Doesn't his record already speak for itself? We should vote on the basis of performance.
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