COVID-19 DIARY – ISSUES IN THIS SPACE

Scott Morrison told by Queanbeyan local to get off lawn

June 04

In a week when the US leader was clearly protestors from their public city with the full might of police force so he could stand around doing an unplanned photo op where he couldn’t even find some words to say of merit.

My national leader was taking it in all his stride when yelled at by a disgruntled home owner.

Talking up a reno scheme he was assembled in front of a property with press journalists lined up on someone’s lawn to film him.

That wasn’t bloody good enough for the guy inside his house, waltzing out in thongs and tracksuit jumper he asked the journos to move. The Prime Minister didn’t waste a second to apologise and encourage getting off the man’s lawn.

Both the lawn enthusiast and the Prime Minister Scott Morrison exchanged apologies gave each other the thumbs up.

After all the man had just re-seeded!

The disparity between the two images was incredible.

A lone man telling his Prime Minister to move his press conference with a quick apology and thumbs up.

Contrast that with hundreds protesting the injustice of racial inequality of their country only to be forcibly moved so their President could try and save face for his failings.

I’ve often commented on the bulldoggish nature of Morrison as a virtue and a flaw. There was none of that on display here. He couldn’t have risen higher in my estimations.

 

 

On the horizon though was another issue for the Prime Minister which would prove more testing. Black Lives Matter protests were starting to take place here in Australia with a march already on Tuesday in Sydney having taken place when public gatherings were limited to 20 people.

On Wednesday there was a candlelight vigil in Brisbane.

Speaking to Ray Hadley on 2GB radio Thursday morning the PM warned against “importing the things that are happening overseas to Australia.” while acknowledging that Australia had problems “in this space” that it needed to address.

He was not wrong, there had been over 432 deaths of Aboriginals in police custody since a Royal Commission was held in 1991.

As the week went on it became clear our political masters were choosing to let mass protests go ahead rather than risk further unrest. This would lay bare either the danger had passed or that the protestors had initiated a new break out. Either way it would undermine their ability to enforce rules going forward as most of them were in a rush to lower restrictions anyway.

We stood at a precipice.

Once again the Prime Minister called on our better natures “We don’t need the divisions that we’re seeing in other countries – we need to stick together and look after each other.”

 

 

I was back at work in the office on Thursday too having been away for two and half weeks. I took the chance to pay the money that had been raised on the GoFundMePage to Stellarossa Toowong.

The manager told me the money raised would pay for roughly 112 coffee vouchers but they had gotten 200 and would chip in the rest themselves.

You have to marvel at the kindness of people sometimes.

I started making arrangements with the Media Team at the Wesley hospital to make delivery.

On the 4th of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,229 confirmed cases in Australian with a daily increase of eight. The number of dead 102 with a daily decrease of one. That would be Blackwater Miner Nathan Turner.

 

 

In the rest of Europe there were plenty of protests too and in London they were turning ugly with reporters assaulted by protestors or just plain crazy people.

As I watched Nine News Europe Correspondent Ben Avery and camera operator Cade Thompson needing to make a run for it as the crowd attacked them even with a security guard.

Europe Correspondent Sophie Walsh was accosted by a random man who was chased away by her cameraman Jason Conduit.

I urged my sister to stay inside in the coming days.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE CLEARING OF LAFAYETTE PARK

A Walk Meant to Convey Grit Evokes Trump's Dark Side Instead - The ...

June 1

Over the weekend protests and riots had spread across America at one point Trump was taken to an underground bunker at the White House.

As chaos reigned on the streets the American President sought to reclaim them by force if necessary.

America has a long standing history of riots followed by the National Guard being called out. The National Guard is also called out in times of great crisis to search for missing persons, clear towns devastated by natural disasters and provide security when the Emergency Services are no longer enough to quell unrest.

For Trump the call out of 5,000 National Guard troops across 15 states on the 31st of May was not nearly enough. He started talking about the use of full time military.

On Monday before the curfew set in Washington it was announced that Trump was going to hold a press conference.

Police on site started pushing back protestors to increase the perimeter around the White House. Channel 9 Australian reporter Amelia Adams was on site braving rubber bullets, chemical irritants and fired up protesters.

Ms Adams was there and reported at different times that the more peaceful elements of the protest had gone home in lieu of the curfew and then at other times that bad elements were there and at other times the better elements were still present. The footage showed emotions were high but also that the protestors for the most part were urging calm.

The footage nonetheless shows on the ground shepherding of the crowd away from the White House in a show of force. It was later clarified that tear gas was not used but more pepper spray. For protestors suffering the effects the distinction held no relevance. The canisters were also shown to be thrown back by some protestors and it appears to me that firecrackers may have been dispersed by them as well along the ground.

 

Channel 7 U.S. correspondent Amelia Brace was there too with her cameraman Tim Myers who were assaulted by police clearing the area and struck by rubber bullets.

“A police officer’s face came around that corner and just really went for us and I was screaming ‘Media! Media! Media!’ because, obviously, the media is not meant to be getting caught up in this — we’re not meant to be getting targeted,” the Sunshine Coast local told the ABC.

“And despite that as I ran away, clearly stating that we were media, with my cameraman with a camera on his shoulders, I was hit across the back with the baton.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker cited 100 incidents involving journalists including 20 arrests and 60 assaults over recent days covering the protests across the country.

 

 

Once the crowd was cleared Trump strutted out with his Secret Service and held The Bible up in front of St John’s Church.

The rioting and protesting is distressing for many, myself included. It is natural to want to protest for social justice, to get off your ass and to actually stand for something.

When the protests turn into riots it is also natural for people to want to see law and order restored.

As reporters are assaulted, police and protestors are killed, businesses are torched there are no clear answers. Trump’s call to put down rioters and make the streets safe to walk again appeal to some. A show of force is part of that.

Yet for many – leaders don’t divide, they pull us together, they acknowledge wounds that need to be healed and they don’t make it about them.

 

Lieutenant Gen. James N. Mattis, Commanding General, U.S. Marine ...

 

June 3

On the second of June, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sporting a COVID beard was asked to comment about the scenes in Washington he took a 21 second pause before answering “We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States. It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech at Philadelphia’s City Hall on the 3rd of June about Trump holding up The Good Book  “if he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something.

“The President of the United States should be part of the solution – not part of the problem.”

Gathering far more press coverage and proving far more damning were comments made by General Mattis in a statement that was published in the Atlantic magazine.

General Mattis had served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 2013. His last command was U.S. Central Command. He joined the U.S. Marine Reserves during the Vietnam War and earned his commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps while completing a Bachelor of Arts at Central Washington University. He went to war for the first time as a full bird Colonel in the Persian Gulf. He was a General during operational service in Afghanistan and Iraq which included the Battle of Fallujah. Persistently apolitical, he was known for being well read and a blunt talker.

Trump hired him as Secretary of Defense upon winning the election in 2016 and unlike most of those hires General Mattis was still around two years later. As disagreements between the two grew General Mattis eventually resigned and in response Trump sped up the end of his tenure. Mattis never discussed their disagreements and never publicly criticised President Trump.

Until the 3rd of June 2020.

In the Atlantic he wrote, “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander in chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.

David Lauter on the 5th of June wrote in the L.A. Times that Trump’s act “appears to have been a fateful miscalculation.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 3rd of June that in the United States of America there had been 1,798,330 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,692.

The number of dead Americans due to COVID-19, 105,008 with a daily increase of 761.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – STEP 2 IN RE-OPENING

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans who don't wear masks may ...

1 June

In America on Monday the 1st of June when Dr Fauci was asked by a reporter if he was still meeting regularly with Trump.

No … As you probably noticed, the taskforce meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased.” he answered.

He admitted the last time he was with Trump was during a teleconference with Governors on May 18.

Previously there had been calls for Trump to fire Dr Fauci and he even retweeted such a call seemingly as a threat. He also previously talked the need for the Taskforce to continue as thousands of Americans were dying due to the virus.

As Trump pushed to re-open the country Dr Fauci advised on 13MAY2020 in testimony before the U.S. Senate, “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control. Not only leading to some suffering and death, but it could even set you back on the road to get economic recovery.

My concern it that we will start to see little spikes that will turn into outbreaks,” said the 79 year old who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

News that Trump may not be listening to Dr Fauci certainly did not sound like good news for many people but then again Trump has been keen to dial back press conferences when such helpful musings from the 23rd of April were taken out of context by the fake news outlets.

 

In Australia as my symptoms subsided I worked from home Monday through to Wednesday and was due to return to the office on Thursday and Friday which I was very excited about.

More exciting was the Queensland’s government decision to move to Step 2 of the National Three Step Program ahead of schedule from June 12 to 12pm June 1.

You could now have a gathering of 20 people or more in your home or a public space.

The number of guests at a wedding could be 20 and the number of people attending a funeral could now be 50.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants could also seat up to 20 patrons.

Sports clubs, gyms and yoga studios could also open up to 20 people.

As could museums, cinemas, art galleries, amusement parks, theatres, zoos, tanning salons and tattoo parlous.

You could go on holidays anywhere in the state except for restricted area due to biosecurity or remote indigenous communities at risk. With accommodation able to be booked for all travel.

This was a huge life line for struggling businesses and their workers. It was a hopeful return to more of life as we had once enjoyed it.

It now remained to be seen if this would lead to further outbreaks and whether we could maintain social distancing discipline.

On the horizon were events that would suggest otherwise.

On the 1st of June the Queensland Government reported 5 active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

In Australia the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,195 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10. 103 Australians had died.

Globally the number of cases broke past 6 million. There had been 6,080,963 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 124,080. The number of dead were 370,160 with a daily increase 3,751.

Canada: military reveals “horrific” conditions in aged care homes ...

In Canada there had been 90,516 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 775. The here been 7,092 deaths with a daily increase of 96.

In India there had been 190,535 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,392. The number of dead were 5,394 with a daily increase of 230.

In Italy there had been 233,019 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 355. The number of dead were 33,415 with a daily increase of 75.

In Spain there had been 239,429 with a daily increase of 201. The number of dead were 27,127 with a daily increase of 2.

In the United Kingdom there had been 274,766 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,936. There were 38,489 dead with a daily increase of 113.

One of the deaths was a man named Brian Cushion. I never met Brian but he was a lifelong friend of a man named Pete Johnson. Again someone I never met but I’ve been blogging with BeetleyPete as I know him as part of my blogging community for 4 years.

A former ambo Pete has always struck me as a good man and one who has weathered the ups and downs of life with a stoic attitude. Thrpugh his eyes i saw that Brian was a good man, a loving father, a blues performer, a keen golfer and a loyal friend.

Brian’s passing made COVID-19 personal for Pete and in a way that made it just a little bit more personal for me.

As the number of cases continue to lower in Australia I often think of Pete and John and Paul and Alex and Vinnie and my sister in London. About her in-laws in Canada good people that I have met and consider family,  along with Jay and Sean in Toronto. Cindy in Arizona, Don in Minnesota and GP in Florida, John and Le0pard in L.A., Jet in San Diego and even Paol in Victoria or Eric in …say Eric where you from?

And I just want to say you’ve given me a great deal of joy and confidence over the years and this might sound selfish but I’m going to have to insist that you continue to do that in the years to come okay.

In Russia there had 414,878 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,035. The number of dead were 4,855 with a daily increase of 162.

In Brazil there had been 498,440 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 33,274. The number of dead were 28,834 with a daily increase of 956.

In the United States of America there had been 1,757,522 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,482. The number of dead 103,554 with a daily increase of 914.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – AROUND THE GROUNDS

Hospital del Mar is taking recovering COVID-19 patients from the ICU to the seaside as part of their recovering process aiming to humanize its Intensive Care Units in Spain.

May 31

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised two millions deemed clinically extremely valuable that they could now leave their homes once a day for a little exercise and could even meet with a person from another household if there was only one of them. The advice was not to go to shops or crowded places and that services providing delivery of food or medicine would continue.

“I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last 10 weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

With the announcement of the easing of restrictions members of Britain’s Scientific Advisory Group (SAGE) urged that the track and trace system had only launched last Thursday and was not fully operational.

SAGE’s John Edmunds told Sky News, “Track and trace was only launched the day before yesterday, so we can’t be sure that that is working effectively yet and yet we’re going ahead and making these changes anyway. I think that that is rather dangerous.

Plans for the English Premier League to start up again on 17JUN2020 to empty stadiums receive government approval. This follows on from teams resuming training for the past two weeks.

On the 31st of May, the World Health Organisation reported 272,830 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom with a daily increase of 1,604. The number of dead were 38,376 with a daily increase of 215.

Mass protests have broken out across Spain over the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the worst hit countries from the pandemic, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was able to strike a deal to extend the state of Emergency Lockdown for a final two week period expiring June 21.

The lockdown in place since March 14 allowed people to only leave their home to buy food or seek medical attention or jobs where you could not work from home.

The last extension had met with demonstrations in the streets and parliamentary opposition. Thankfully Pedro Sanchez had prevailed probably ensuring many lives saved.

On the 31st of May the WHO reported in Spain there were 239,228 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 664. The number of number 27,125 with a daily increase of four.

In Italy there were 232,644 with a daily increase of 416. The number of dead 33,340 with a daily increase of 111.

Rwanda reports its first fatality due to COVID-19, a 65 year old driver who had returned home from a neighbouring country when he fell ill.

He passed away from severe respiratory complications while being treated at a specialised COVID-19 centre.

In Rwanda the WHO reported there were 359 confirmed cases with a daily increase of four. There had been that one death.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19: Rwanda Confirms 2 New Cases As Region Goes On Alert – KT ...

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WHEN THE MAN COMES AROUND

May 29

It was Friday.

That was the day.

The World Health Organisation reported in America there were 1,694,864 with a daily increase of 19,606.

There 100,304 DEATHS with a daily increase of 1,415.

Former Vice President Joe Biden who has experienced real loss in his life posted a message of consolation on Twitter.

 

In Minneapolis protests were escalating. on the 28th of May Australian journalist Tim Arvier for Channel Nine News was reporting from the scene. The footage was surreal and riveting, a black man had been stabbed by a white man in a crowd of protestors.

The police had taken all morning to come down in force, the white man was arrested and the black man was picked up and retreated down the street.

A fellow blogger who lives there later advised me that there were white supremacists in the area to incite violence. This situation could possibly have been an example of this, then again maybe not.

During the incident bricks and water bottles were thrown at police and police fired tear gas at the crowd. Tim Arvier’s courage under pressure along with his cameraman was something to behold.

 

 

I watched with sadness and despair, knowing that night the city would burn.

And burn it did.

 

 

I hadn’t watched the footage of George Floyd yet, I just felt very sad. The country had sufferred so much from COVID-19 and now it was going to tear itself apart and I just felt so disappointed.

There’s a part of me that believes protesting just isn’t possible during a pandemic certainly given the number of cases currently but for many Americans enough was enough.

It almost felt like the murder of George Floyd may have been the trigger but there was something sadly inevitable about all of this.

That if there were so many people out of work, struggling to get food, without welfare, unable to get health care that sooner or later they would take to the streets to have their voices heard.

Or maybe people were fed up with being on the wrong side of a racial divide. As an outsider it is not for me to say but as person who loves America and Americans.

I shook my head. I was so sad.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART II

Queensland border restrictions in Darling Downs - Darling Downs

There was another great Four Corners episode this week from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that covered what had happened on the last cruises of the Diamond Princess in February in the North Pacific and the Ruby Princess in March in the Trans-Tasman Sea.

What was pretty concerning wasn’t just the disembarkation of passengers in Sydney on the 19th of March.

What was more concerning that the cruise had ever been allowed to leave Sydney given how COVID-19 had spread through her sister ship in Asia in February. Or the lack of precautions that were made during the cruise when an outbreak was clearly occurring.

For many of us the initial news reports coming out of that part of the world were perceived as something happening over there like previous diseases SARS and MERS.

As the situation escalated at some point the actions of Carnival Corporation become troubling. And people died.

It’s quite a heartbreaking tale.

 

May 27

In Blackwater a town of less than 5,000 in Central Queensland the late miner aged 30 returned a positive postmortem test for COVID-19. In the days ahead with the set-up of fever clinics and contract tracing in the town a second test came back negative.

Nathan Turner had underlying medical conditions that had meant he had been unable to work in recent months due to illness. At age 30 he came the youngest fatality in Australia of COVID-19. The second test was good news for the town in terms of COVID fears but his death remained a tragic loss of one so young.

 

 

There were 484 active cases in Australia on the 25th of May.

On the 17th of March there had been 410 cases which was on the eve of the Ruby Princess docking and ceasing international air travel.

Allowing that changes were in place that weren’t then and awareness from the general populace was different there was a growing push to re-open the economy.

However Epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws from the University of NSW advised the same day “Given that there is that, we should be waiting for 14 days … to get to zero and then add those two incubation periods before we start hopping on aeroplanes or coaches or cars to states and territories that have been exemplary in getting their numbers to zero“.

Two days later Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke on the Channel Nine Today show, “The National Cabinet has never agreed that there should be borders closed in Australia,” Mr Morrison said. That was never the medical expert advice that came at any time. Premiers and their governments in states, whether it is South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, have all made their own decisions and so they have got to justify those decisions.

The Federal and State governments have worked hard through their differences at all times during the crisis at unprecedented levels. NSW and Victoria pushed hard to shut down schools and now there were disagreements about the borders.

In the early days of the crisis as the state borders shut it was considered that it may be until September before they were opened again. Now the momentum was shifting.

There is no doubt that those sort of borders do harm the economy, they do harm jobs and it is important that we get those removed as soon as possible. I want to stress, the national medical advice that came from the expert panel that has driven all the other decisions never recommended closing borders.” said the PM.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk noted “These are really hard decisions everyone, I have sleepless nights, I understand people are hurting, I understand people have lost their jobs. I want to get people back into work as quickly as possible. But if I don’t do it safely it could cripple our industry for years to come.

Other states were holding firm too. The Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein advised “I won’t comment on the way the Queensland premier deals with her borders nor how the NSW premier deals with hers. It’s quite obvious the federal government has a view but my job is to protect the best interests of Tasmanians.

The Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said “The interstate border will stay. It’s a small inconvenience … it won’t be forever. Our hard borders with the east and our isolation have worked to our advantage and we must keep it that way for now.

This was on the 28th of May, history was about to push the trajectory of these plans in another direction.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE ECONOMIC ROAD AHEAD

View from The Hill: Can Scott Morrison achieve industrial ...

May 26

Tuesday.

The Prime Minister did an address at the National Press Club in Canberra talking about the tough road ahead economically with a plan to stick with the National Cabinet meetings over the previous COAG meetings.

Reform to vocational education was on his mind and bringing unions to the table for industrial reform.

The Prime Minister outlined the road to recovery would be a long one taking between three to five years. The unprecedented actions of Jobkeeper and Jobseeker set in place for a financial quarter would not continue indefinitely with the PM warning “At some point you’ve got to get your economy out of ICU.”

The ABC article also editorialised “The blunt comments are expected to further dash hopes that the Government will bow to pressure and extend the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to more workers who missed out on the $1,500 fortnightly payments.

He also announced a new JobMaker scheme.

There was no push to have Australia turn more inward, while the Prime Minister defined us as a sovereign trading economy he sought to create an educated workforce that would mean competitive and modern manufacturing, agricultural industries while still trade of natural resources would play a big role.

Firstly, we will remain in Australia an outward-looking, open and sovereign trading economy.

We will not retreat into the downward spiral of protectionism. To the contrary, we will continue to be part of global supply chains that can deliver the prosperity we rely on to create jobs, support incomes and build businesses.

Our economic sovereignty will be achieved by ensuring our industries are highly competitive, resilient and able to succeed in a global market. Not by protectionism.

While a trading nation, we will never trade away our values or our future for short-term gain.

These remarks were not without context, Australia did call for an independent enquiry into the source of COVID-19 in Wuhan and in the weeks since China has placed tariffs and seen a reduction in importing Australian barley and wheat.

As China has grown into the a economic powerhouse it has started flexing abroad in trade and in military excursions. No different than other superpowers before it but surely any calls that could help in combating this global pandemic should not lead to bullying tactics.

As the ABC reported the country faced a record deficit, debt exceeding 30% of Gross Domestic Product, unemployment hovering around 10 per cent and a fall in foreign investment by up to 40 per cent.

 

The national leader relayed all the work that had been done to build up medical stockpiles, hospital capacity and testing numbers and contract tracing abilities.

The virus was not going anywhere and on our comparative good fortune the PM stressed, “We should not downplay this, this achievement and pretend like the risk never existed, or that our preparations or our precautions were unwarranted. Let me assure you, Australia, the risk was great and uncertain and it still is.

The fact our worst case scenarios have not been realised is cause for great relief, not apathy.

In his speech the Prime Minister outlined more than 5 million Australians were directly benefiting from his government’s welfare measures.

At a now anticipated direct cost of more than $150 billion in just six months, all borrowed, all of it, against future tax revenue. These supports can only be temporary.

It was William Green, the leader of the American Federation of Labour who said during the Great Depression in 1934: “we cannot indefinitely support one sixth of our population on money borrowed against future taxes”.

That was a Labour leader in the Great Depression.

Now here was a mainstream conservative leader steering through a once in a century health crisis, a budding trade war and a looming recession who had outspent all previous Prime Ministers.

The expense the welfare packages running long term came with a hefty price tag. Long term it was just not feasible even for the biggest bleeding hearts amongst us.

Which drove home the gravity of the situation, if Jobkeeper and Jobseeker continued for only the next quarter and the economy didn’t re-open to a certain extent by then…

Then what?

On the 2nd of June, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told us what we already knew, Australia was in a recession.

On the 26th of May however the Prime Minister was focussed on the positives. Citing that with a hopeful completion of the 3 Step Plan by mid-July for re-opening the economy across the country there would hopefully be 850,000 jobs ultimately restored.

He did acknowledge the idea of flicking a switch and turning the economy back on was simply not plausible.

Success in this current phase will certainly not be easy. It cannot be assumed as we go through this process. It will not be business as usual. Opening up will be harder than closing down.

We will all have to have to retrain, to live and work in a way that creates a sustainable COVIDSafe economy and society as you are indeed doing here today.

All of us are in uncharted territory. There will be inconsistencies, there will be frustrations. There will be trial, there will be error.

During this time we can also sadly expect unemployment and underemployment to rise before it falls. Debt and deficits to rise sharply, as costs rise and revenues fall.

This will test our confidence and our resolve.

That is why the reopening of our economy must be followed by a concerted effort to create momentum and to rebuild confidence.

If there was hope to be found in the speech it was when he said “We should be encouraged that we have restored jobs and rebalanced our Budget before. So Australia, we have done this before and we can do it again, together.

 

One could get cynical about these things, there is after all a political purpose behind them. A number of highly paid staff curating and writing the brief and deciding what goes in and what doesn’t make it.
I would remind you that in these words the Prime Minister is talking about real people and in these few individuals he is seeking to talk about all of us and not just Australians but all people.
About people who have lost a lot and the grace and courage they display in these moments that came from within them and lies within each and every one of us.
We will need this courage and grace and so we need these words to be said by our leaders now more than ever and we need to believe in them.

Almost 100,000 Australians have written to me in the past couple of months.

So many have suffered and they continue to hurt, right here and right now – lost jobs, reduced hours, seeing their family businesses shut, having to close those doors, or retirement incomes shrink. Loved ones kept apart.

It has been a time of great uncertainty as Australians have had to come to terms with the sudden and profound changes happening to their lives.

Greg is a chef with six kids in Sydney, he wrote to me about his business suffering from the restrictions, saying that everything he has worked for is at risk.

Sue from Jimbooma, told me that other than a first home owners grant, she had never received a cent from the government. JobKeeper has saved her business, she said, and she just wanted to say thank you.

Anthony, not the one you’re thinking of, but quite genuinely Anthony from Western Australia, he sent me his wedding photo. His wife of 50 years had just passed away. He said his wife “was the most caring person you could ever meet” and he was absolutely heartbroken that he couldn’t give her the send-off she deserved. Of all the things, of all the decisions we have taken, that was undoubtedly the hardest.

And I received an email from three children in Western Australia that completely floored me, their father is terminally ill. They told me they understood their Dad’s funeral would have to be small. They wanted me to know they were ok with that – because it will help keep the hospitals available for other patients with cancers and diseases.

That’s incredible, our people are amazing.

And there was Rebhecca, a young woman, who is also terminally ill and sent me a handwritten letter, just wanting to let me know she was praying for me every day.

And I am praying for you every day too.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – I GOT A FEVER AND THE ONLY PRESCRIPTION IS A FEVER CLINIC!

20200525_133306
At the entrance to the Fever Clinic at the Education Centre of the Prince Charles Hospital. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

25 May

From the 25th to the 29th of May I worked from home as a precaution.

I also went into a Fever Clinic at the Prince Charles Hospital to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to work.

Because I was confident I just had the cold attending the clinic took on the form of a matter of curiosity.

The reality for many is it is a very anxious time where isolating before the test results means less paid work at best and at worst real concern that they have the virus and they have passed it on to others. I felt very fortunate that I was getting tested out of an abundance of caution for flu like symptoms.

But of course many people have felt this way and received some bad news.

It took 90 minutes all up. I was taken into one room and filled out a form and had my temperature taken.

I noticed a wardie came in and wiped everything down once somebody had left a seat to wait in. There were masks on each seat to put on.

I was then taken to another room to wait.

 

 

 

Then a swab went down my throat on the left and right hand side then down a nostril.

I coughed at the last bit and apologised. The nurse assured me that’s why she had on the full face mask and gown.

Out of curiosity beforehand I asked her the length of the swab and I think she took it easy it with me thinking I was worried about the swab. I was really just interested for you gentle reader.

All throughout Queensland school students of all ages returned to school.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 25th of May there were 7,109 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of three. There were 102 deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – I CAN’T BREATHE

George Floyd honoured at first memorial service in Minneapolis ...

 

25 May

On the 25th of May a 46 year old in Minneapolis paid for goods at a local convenience store with a counterfeit 20 dollar bill.

Parked in a car, the local store staff came and confronted him about it.

They then left and called the police.

A squad car arrived and the two police pulled the man from his car and handcuffed him.

The man was tall and big, strong and heavy but he was compliant for the most part if anxious and unsteady on his feet.

When taken to be placed in the squad car the man fell to the ground and cited claustrophobia.

Another squad car arrived.

Two further police officers came to aid in the arrest.

One of them knelt on the handcuffed man’s neck as a group of people observed and started to protest what was happening.

The man called out for his mother and said he could not breathe. He passed out.

The people nearby urged the police officer on his neck to take his knee off the man’s neck.

When they moved towards him he pulled out his mace to scare them back.

This was the only real action and vocal engagement the officer with his knee on the man’s neck did with the group.

He sat with his knee on the neck for the most part with his hands in his pockets.

Aware he was being filmed he appeared calm, like he had done this before, like this was no big deal.

Paramedics arrived and as the EMT went to work checking the man’s pulse his knee remained on the neck for another two minutes.

When the man was finally loaded on a stretcher he lifted his knee.

That knee had been on that neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. 

The man George Floyd died.

He was a father. He was a husband. He was a truck driver and bouncer by trade.

He was also a convicted criminal who had in 2007 invaded a home and held a gun to a pregnant’ woman’s belly to steal.

He served five years in prison and became reformed upon release.

This murder in Minneapolis involving a small group of people kicked off by a counterfeit $20 dollar bill would have far ranging impacts in the days ahead around the world.

Particularly in the United States of America at a time when the nation was suffering greatly already.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – I THINK I’LL GET A SPOT OF GOLF IN BEFORE WE REACH 100,000 DEAD

May 24

In the United States of America Trump went and played golf on Saturday the 23rd, on the weekend that America neared 100,000 deaths.

Trump was quick to point out he hadn’t played golf since thousands of Americans had started dying.

Of course it rang a little hollow because he had criticized former President Barack Obama for playing golf in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak of that year in the States.

It also rang hollow because the number of dead of Americans was such a catastrophic number.

It also rang hollow because Trump had played a lot more golf than President Obama had this far into his first term.

It probably also rang hollow because Trump is a liar, a hypocrite, a narcist, adulterer, swindler, spoilt brat, self-involved fat fuck who has presided over the greatest loss of American lives during a crisis since the second world war.

Did he apologise, own up to his hypocrisy, talk about how he weeped for those Americans lost? Not on your fucking life or more specifically their lives.

No apparently it was all about turning the corner, the Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kick-off the American summer and re-starting the economy.

Why did the liberal media have to be so negative over such a significant milestone?

Couldn’t they see what a great job he had done and all those democrats calling him racist for the travel ban from Wuhan in February? Thank God he hadn’t listened.

Thank God, we could have had 300,000 dead at this point if not for such a fearless and whipsmart leader.

You know lots of people were telling him to just ride it out, I mean not any of his health experts or chief advisors but still he was thinking it – worried about the potential economic impact and how it would affect him.

Hell we’re only talking 94,011 / 334,534 of all the deaths reported in the entire world had occurred in America.

On the 24th of May the New York Times ran a front page full of death notices from across the country of close to 1,000 people.

Most could not remember a front page from The Times that did not feature a photo.

Assistant graphics editor Simon Landon stated the intent was to personalise “the tradegy as readers and staff developed data fatigue from the constant reporting of the pandemic.

Still Trump was arguing it could’ve been a lot worse….

I mean he could have ignored Dr Fauci from day one.

Wasn’t it time to get back on with getting the economy back to normal?

After all cases and deaths were down in the coastal elite states, so what if the numbers were trending upwards in the majority of states?

You could say that Trump was showing Americans how to get back to living their lives.

That it was for morale purposes.

You could say he’s worked hard during a crisis and at some point everybody deserves a break.

While I’m sitting here bemoaning stats, how much have I sat on a couch and watched Netflix? What have I done besides buying a jumper off a celebrity for the American people? You could say what have I done that allows me to be a critic of a world leader?

You could say that and you’d be making a good point.

There’s 100,000 Americans who can’t and that’s my point.

-Lloyd Marken