Australian Politics 2020-10-17 15:24:00

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Peter Gleeson: It’s like we’re in a hostage situation

This column is deadly serious. It is not a parody.

Much has been said and written about the enormous emotional and psychological toll being exacted upon communities around Australia in the grip of this terrible pandemic.

People’s lives have been turned upside down and the mental health impact is just starting to hit home as people reel from months of being cooped up and losing their jobs.

But a strange and mystifying phenomenon is playing out before our very eyes, particularly in Victoria. but every state and territory, to varying degrees, has fallen under this spell.

The kindest psychological analysis is that Australia is in the grip of a real life Stockholm Syndrome scenario. The unkind analysis is that many people have fallen for the Svengali ways of governments that rule best through fear.

How can it otherwise be that in, for example, Victoria, you have a State Government that continues to enjoy strong public approval ratings, yet it has botched a global pandemic so badly that hundreds of deaths can be sheeted home to poor public policy?

In Victoria, you’ve got a government that has seen the demise of its Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and its most senior public servant, Chris Eccles, because of its poor handling of coronavirus, yet the person who is accountable above everyone else, Premier, Daniel Andrews, remains?

Is it brutal to suggest that anybody who still supports Daniel Andrews as premier of Victoria needs to take a look in the mirror?

Of all the KPIs we ask of our politicians, keeping us safe has got to be right up there. The hardened Trotyskites can’t be saved, but surely the average, well educated, free-thinking Victorians must have a slight question mark over this mob?

Stockholm Syndrome is defined as a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months or even years of captivity or abuse.

Psychologists say the victims start to develop positive feelings towards their captors, as they share common goals and causes.

In these most challenging of times, we as a nation have looked to our leaders for support, comfort, reassurance.

The real day of reckoning for our leaders will not come this week, or next month, or even in the first half of 2021.

It will come when the health narrative is replaced by the economic fallout, when JobKeeper ends and the insolvency rates skyrocket among small business. Only then will people start to realise that this was more than keeping us safe from the virus.

Sky News host Paul Murray says rising support for the Victorian government’s handling of the virus from Victorians shows Stockholm’s syndrome is clearly very powerful and is deeply felt “in the communist republic at the moment.”

Real leadership – and Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian are the standouts – is about protecting people’s health, keeping them employed and making sure they have the mental resilience to get on with life.

It’s about making the right call on borders and exemptions, showing compassion and empathy at a time when people are at their most vulnerable.

It’s not about favouring the rich and famous over the average Joe. It’s about releasing the medical advice, so that people can understand decisions.

It’s about showing dignity and compassion to those who have lost loved ones. It’s about doing the right thing by its people, not knee-jerk reactions based on polling.

My theory is that our daily diet of sombre statistics and mealy-mouthed spin has anaesthetised Australians to the real issue right now – how we recover and try to get life back to a semblance of normality. While people remain in their own homes, subjected to strict lockdowns and travel restrictions, their only true north is hope.

People desperately want a lifeline and light at the end of the tunnel. The jingoism and state parochialism must end.

Scott Morrison tried to unite us in the fight against this pandemic but the state and territory leaders gave him the middle finger.

People want to believe this thing will be over soon. Even if it means falling in love with the very people that put them there.

Aussie gamblers are betting millions on US President Donald Trump being re-elected

Aussie punters are staking millions in Hail-Mary bets on Donald Trump’s re-election, ignoring polling numbers in the hopes that election history “will repeat itself”.

Trump – the presidential dark horse – yesterday sat as a $2.80 underdog in Ladbrokes Australia’s election stakes after being outperformed by Joe Biden in all key swing seats in the latest polls.

Still, the betting agency is holding around $3.5 million in bets for the incumbent president and “can barely write a bet for Biden”, the $1.40 favourite.

“It has been one-way traffic since Biden was declared as the Democratic Party nominee, and in the past few weeks it has really intensified,” Ladbrokes Australia CEO Dean Shannon said.

“As it stands Trump is a far worse result for us than anything that will run in the Melbourne Cup the day before.

Figures show that in the head-to-head market alone, Ladbrokes is holding eight times more bets on Trump than Biden.

That includes a $100,000 bet from one ambitious punter for Trump’s re-election as well as a series of other bets between $2,000 and $20,000.

Mr Shannon said the Australia betting interest in the presidential election was “baffling”, with Ladbrokes recording 20 times the number of bets on the US election compared to what was held for the entire Queensland election.

It follows a similar trend four years ago from punters who collected huge payouts when Trump, the underdog, usurped rival Hillary Clinton.

“The money was right then and there are plenty of Ladbrokes punters who believe history is about to repeat.”

Minor Australian bank BANS customers from using credit cards on any gambling services including Sportsbet and pokies - sparking backlash as critics ask whether McDonald's will be next

A bank has banned its customers from using credit cards on any gaming or gambling services, sparking backlash from customers who claim McDonald's will be next for selling unhealthy food.

Bank Australia has informed its customers they will not be allowed to make any gaming transactions on their credit cards from December 1.

'Effective from 1 December 2020 we are blocking all gambling and gaming transactions on credit cards,' the 'responsible' bank wrote to customers.

Chief executive of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores, Jeff Rogut, told the Courier Mail the bank should not be controlling how customer's behave.

'I don't think the ­companies that are offering the service should decide where consumers are spending their money,' Mr Rogut said.

He said the bank could 'take it to another extreme' by not processing payments for alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.

Director at The Centre for Independent Studies, Peter Kurti, said it was 'odd' that a bank would dictate these 'moral decisions'.

'What's next? If you go to Dan Murphys or McDonalds and make four trips in a week is the bank going to say "no it's bad for you"?' Mr Kurti said.

Mr Kurti said if his bank 'did this to him' he would be frustrated and immediately cancel his credit card.

Bank Australia is customer-owned, meaning there are no external shareholders.

'We return our profits to our customers through pursuing our purpose of doing good for people and the planet as well as offering competitive and fair rates, fees and services,' the website reads.

A Bank Australia spokesperson said any money loaned from savings and deposits by customers needs to be used responsibly.

'As part of our commitment to responsible banking we want to make sure that the money we lend is used in ways that minimise potential harm to our customers and others,' he said.

The spokesperson said the bank does not think gambling with funds that are borrowed from other customers is responsible.

He said a 'majority' of the bank's' 165,000 customers supported the new changes.

Customers are still allowed to make gaming and gambling payments on their debit cards.

Australia claims some victories against fire ants

It's the fire ant's ability to move that makes it so hard to get rid of. Fire ants can fly up to 5 kilometres, hitchhike on human transport and float or 'raft' on water.

The dreaded fire ant has been in Australia since 2001, entering the country via a cargo ship at the Port of Brisbane in Queensland.

Since then, the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program, funded by all state and territory governments and the Federal Government, has been working on a strategy to eradicate the pest from the country.

Graeme Dudgeon, the program's general manager, said they had made inroads in getting rid of the ants from Australia.

"We have eradicated fire ants six times and we've eradicated fire ants in what is the largest eradication of any invasive ant species in the world," he said.

Ross Wylie, the eradication program's science leader, said the "super pest" ants could do large amounts of damage to the environment, crops and wildlife.

It is their propensity to ruin everything they come into contact with that makes fire ants such a threat to agriculture and Australia's way of life.

"Generally when you get pests, they affect one crop or another crop or they affect health or the environment," Dr Wylie said.

"This thing affects everything, so it attacks more than 52 different agricultural crops. It affects the environment, it affects human health, it affects lifestyle, so it's a super pest.

"The biggest problem they give us is that they've got three different ways of moving."

Mr Dudgeon said eradication was the only option for Australia.

"So the countries where they haven't eradicated, it's costing them many billions of dollars — it impacts people's lifestyles," he said.

"They can't have picnics; I've seen photos of people walking around their backyards with buckets on their feet.

"They cause problems with agriculture and they kill people."

Although there have been no reported deaths in Australia, the bites are severe and can cause hives, swelling of the face, eyes or throat, and nausea.

National program has six years to go

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program was reviewed in 2016, and embarked on a new strategy the following year.

Four years into the 10-year program, Mr Dudgeon said it was unclear how successful it had been.

"We've put eradication treatments on over 30 per cent of the area and we're currently doing surveillance to work out how effective that has been," he said.

The $400 million program includes helicopters that aerial spray and capture thermal wavelength images, dog detection, and genetic tracing.

"Every single fire ant specimen we've got since 2001 we do genetics on," Dr Wylie said. "We use that to tell us relationships, so we can tell which is the mother nest, which is the daughter nest."

Dr Wylie said the genetic testing could help them understand how far the ants had flown or travelled in a different manner. "If we think it's a movement of product, our compliance officers would use that sort of information, so it's very, very valuable," he said.

Regulations tough on industry

And while industry groups agree that eradication is the best policy, some question the regulations that have followed.

Ian Atkinson, chief executive of Nursery and Garden Industry Queensland, thinks the regulations need to be reassessed.

"We believe that the risks that we pose in terms of moving particularly pregnant queen ants is virtually non-existent," he said. "We have no evidence in Australia of the movement of pregnant queens by containerised nursery stock."

Queensland rural organisation AgForce also wants the program to succeed but is doubtful if an eradication strategy can work.

"A lot of our producers are concerned that this pest, which has never been eradicated from another country, might beat them," policy officer Marie Vitelli said.

Another issue for AgForce's members is education. "We have lots of landholders not connected to social media or not subscribing to the biosecurity updates," Ms Vitelli said. "I'm not sure how they are getting told that fire ants are in the areas."

South East Queensland Hay producer James Radke agrees. He lives outside the eradication zone.

When fire ants were discovered on his property, Mr Radke did not know that he should have had a chemical barrier around his shed, where up to 3,000 bales of barley were stored.

Mr Radke felt it was up to him to notify and educate his neighbours on compliance and regulations. "There's probably been about seven to eight farms that have been basically word of mouth from myself, so now they have implemented the chemical treatments as well," he said.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE TIED)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)

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