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Defund the NSW Police Force Movement gains traction

<p>The recent <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/a-united-nsw-demands-an-end-to-first-nations-custody-deaths-and-police-brutality/">Stop All Black Deaths in Custody rally</a> brought central Sydney to a standstill, as citizens from all backgrounds came together to call for an end to the systemic racism and violence in the NSW policing and criminal justice systems.</p> <p>Law enforcement in this state developed out the British colonising project, at a time when its focus was on dispossessing First Nations peoples from their lands, whether that be via fatal force or paternalistic policy.</p> <p>The colonial legacy in the modern Australian system is all-pervasive. A stark reminder of it was the sight of NSW police <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliawilling/21-tweets-which-perfectly-capture-the-senseless-hypocrisy">surrounding the Captain Cook statue</a> in Sydney’s Hyde Park last Friday night, as Black Lives Matter protesters were <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/nsw-police-state-moves-to-silence-protest-voices/">overwhelmingly outnumbered</a> by the presence of officers.</p> <p>NSW Coalition governments of the last decade have had a tough on crime focus. And in late 2018, state premier Gladys Berejiklian <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/berejiklians-answer-to-falling-crime-intensify-policing-and-fill-prisons/">upped the numbers</a> of police by 1,500 officers, which was the largest increase in NSW policing in 30 years.</p> <p>Yet, with the NSW population being just over 7.5 million people, there are questions to be asked about why such a comparatively small population would warrant NSW police being one of the largest forces in the English-speaking world.</p> <p>And with the brute force of policing systems under the microscope right now, it may be high time to contemplate defunding the NSW police.</p> <p>The global campaign</p> <p>Calls to defund police aren’t new. But, the campaign has gained recent attention sparked by the graphic footage that showed African American man George Floyd <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/uniting-against-police-brutality-officer-murders-civilian-on-busy-street/">being killed</a> in public by a group of Minneapolis police officers, who were acting as if they were simply doing their duty.</p> <p>Defunding the police entails divesting funds from police forces and reallocating the finances towards investment in community-based forms of ensuring public safety and community support.</p> <p>Following the killing of Floyd, the Minneapolis City Council voted to dismantle its police department as it was deemed nonreformable. And council president Lisa Bender <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/minneapolis-city-council-votes-to-dismantle-police-after-anger-over-george-floyd-s-death-in-custody">told CNN</a>, that councillors are looking towards “a new model of public safety” that actually serves its purpose.</p> <p>The Australian context</p> <p>UTS Jumbunna Institute professor Chris Cunneen <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/some-us-cities-are-moving-to-defund-the-police-could-a-different-system-work-in-australia-too">explained in a recent article</a> that defunding would work differently in Australia, as this country doesn’t have separate police departments funded by councils, but rather reimagining the system would involve federal, state and territory governments.</p> <p>The professor of criminology points out that the defund the police campaign poses questions as to whether the current investment in policing and prisons is the way to go, or if alternatives, such social housing and domestic violence services, could lead to a reduction in crime.</p> <p>An example of how it would work, Cunneen outlines, is that instead of sending police out to deal with people suffering a mental health crisis – which often ends in violence – funds could be diverted towards establishing a mental health emergency response unit that could be deployed.</p> <p>And the professor <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/some-us-cities-are-moving-to-defund-the-police-could-a-different-system-work-in-australia-too">has further explained</a> that community-based models are already operating in many Aboriginal communities, whereby locals take part in night patrols that ensure public safety, prevent harm and also provide assistance to those in need.</p> <p>The overpolicing of First Nations</p> <p>The fact that the <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/what-powers-do-nsw-police-special-constables-have/">NSW Police Force</a> continues to operate with racial bias towards First Nations people is readily apparent when considering the statistics.</p> <p>The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) <a href="https://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Publications/custody/NSW_Custody_Statistics_Mar2020.pdf">custody report</a> for the end of March this year reveals that 43 percent of those in NSW juvenile detention facilities were First Nations youths, yet they only account for <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/preventing-aboriginal-child-removals-an-interview-with-nellys-healing-centres-helen-eason/">around 5 percent</a> of the state population under 18 years old.</p> <p>Then there’s the NSW adult prisoner population. Of the 13,525 inmates at the end of March, 3,437 were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, meaning 25 percent of that population was First Nations, while Indigenous people only account for <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/2071.0~2016~Main%20Features~Aboriginal%20and%20Torres%20Strait%20Islander%20Population%20Data%20Summary~10">around 3 percent</a> of the overall populace.</p> <p>The Guardian has revealed that despite a cannabis cautioning scheme operating in NSW, between 2013 and 2017, police took <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/10/nsw-police-pursue-80-of-indigenous-people-caught-with-cannabis-through-courts">80 percent of Aboriginal people</a> found with small amounts of cannabis to court, which compared with just 52 percent of non-Indigenous people found with the drug.</p> <p>Last year’s UNSW report <a href="https://rlc.org.au/sites/default/files/attachments/Rethinking-strip-searches-by-NSW-Police-web.pdf">Rethinking Strip Searches by NSW Police</a> outlines that despite only making up 3 percent of the state population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for 10 percent of those police strip search in the field, and 22 percent of those strip searched in custody.</p> <p>And it’s an advantageous moment to reflect on the fact that NSW police has increased its use of strip searches by twentyfold since 2006.</p> <p>This has particularly been <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/nsw-police-treat-strip-searches-as-routine-procedure/">the case</a> over the last five years, to the point where peak hour commuters at Central Station are now <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/increased-intrusion-police-conducting-strip-searches-at-railway-stations/">greeted with screens</a> used to conduct these searches.</p> <p>A colonial legacy</p> <p>But, considering the NSW Police Force is so weighed down by historical prejudice, it might be asked if the Minneapolis model of dismantling the institution and building a new community-based body that doesn’t harbour prejudicial attitudes towards certain sectors of society is needed.</p> <p>As Melbourne Law School senior fellow Amanda Porter <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-inherent-racism-of-australian-police-an-interview-with-policing-academic-amanda-porter/">told Sydney Criminal Lawyers last week</a>, the policing bodies charged with dealing with the Aboriginal resistance to colonisation were all incorporated into the current NSW police system.</p> <p>The policing academic added that the early NSW Mounted Police has been described as “the most violent organisation in Australian history” by local historian Henry Reynolds.</p> <p>Inherent prejudice</p> <p>A recent incident in a Surry Hills park and its aftermath reveal that the prejudice in the current policing system just might be too deeply ingrained.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/family-of-first-nations-teen-subjected-to-brutal-police-assault-demands-justice/">Footage shows</a> a NSW police constable kick the legs out from under a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy and throw him face first onto the ground.</p> <p>And while the teenager did make a verbal threat towards the officer, it was part of an exchange they were both partaking in.</p> <p>Indeed, the boy posed no actual physical threat to the constable whatsoever and yet the officer resorted to violence.</p> <p>The constable felt emboldened enough to do this just a week after the Floyd killing, when the entire globe was focused on police violence towards people of colour. And two days later, NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller simply put the incident down to one of his officers having “a bad day”.</p> <p>So, when you have the top cop casually dismissing an assault upon a First Nations teenager by one of his officers, it’s quite obvious that there’s something rotten in the state of the NSW Police Force.</p> <p><em>Written by Paul Gregoire. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/defund-the-nsw-police-force-movement-gains-traction/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers. </a> </em></p>

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The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average

<p>Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.</p> <p><a href="http://www.canberra.edu.au/research/faculty-research-centres/nmrc/digital-news-report-australia-2020">The Digital News Report: Australia 2020</a> was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during January 17 and February 8, 2020.</p> <p>It also found the level of climate change concern varies considerably depending on age, gender, education, place of residence, political orientation and the type of news consumed.</p> <p>Young people are much more concerned than older generations, women are more concerned than men, and city-dwellers think it’s more serious than news consumers in regional and rural Australia.</p> <p><strong>15% don’t pay attention to climate change news</strong></p> <p>More than half (58%) of respondents say they consider climate change to be a very or extremely serious problem, 21% consider it somewhat serious, 10% consider it to be not very and 8% not at all serious.</p> <p>Out of the 40 countries in the survey, Australia’s 8% of “deniers” is more than double the global average of 3%. We’re beaten only by the US (12%) and Sweden (9%).</p> <p>While most Australian news consumers think climate change is an extremely or very serious problem (58%), this is still lower than the global average of 69%. Only ten countries in the survey are less concerned than we are.</p> <p><strong>Strident critics in commercial media</strong></p> <p>There’s a strong connection between the brands people use and whether they think climate change is serious.</p> <p>More than one-third (35%) of people who listen to commercial AM radio (such as 2GB, 2UE, 3AW) or watch Sky News consider climate change to be “not at all” or “not very” serious, followed by Fox News consumers (32%).</p> <p>This is perhaps not surprising when some of the most strident critics of climate change science can be found on commercial AM radio, Sky and Fox News.</p> <p>Among online brands, those who have the highest concern about climate change are readers of The Conversation (94%) and The Guardian Australia (93%), which reflects that their audiences are more likely left-leaning and younger.</p> <p>More than half of Australians get their information about climate change from traditional news sources (TV 28%, online 17%, radio 5%, newspapers 4%).</p> <p>However, 15% of Australians say they don’t pay any attention to news about climate change. This lack of interest is double the global average of 7%. Given climate change impacts everyone, this lack of engagement is troubling and reflects the difficulty in Australia to gain political momentum for action.</p> <p><strong>The polarised nature of the debate</strong></p> <p>The data show older generations are much less interested in news about climate change than news in general, and younger people are much more interested in news about climate change than other news.</p> <p>News consumers in regional Australia are also less likely to pay attention to news about climate change. One fifth (21%) of regional news consumers say they aren’t interested in climate change information compared to only 11% of their city counterparts.</p> <p>Given this survey was conducted during the bushfire season that hit regional and rural Australia hardest, these findings appear surprising at first glance.</p> <p>But it’s possible the results <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3235.0Main+Features12018?OpenDocument">simply reflect</a> the ageing nature of regional and rural communities and a tendency toward more conservative politics. The report shows 27% of regional and rural news consumers identify as right-wing compared to 23% of city news consumers.</p> <p>And the data clearly reflect the polarised nature of the debate around climate change and the connection between political orientation, news brands and concern about the issue. It found right-wing news consumers are more likely to ignore news about climate change than left-wing, and they’re less likely to think reporting of the issue is accurate.</p> <p>Regardless of political orientation, only 36% of news consumers think climate change reporting is accurate. This indicates low levels of trust in climate change reporting and is in stark contrast with <a href="https://www.canberra.edu.au/research/faculty-research-centres/nmrc/publications/documents/COVID-19-Australian-news-and-misinformation.pdf">trust in COVID-19 reporting</a>, which was much higher at 53%.</p> <p>The findings also point to a significant section of the community that simply don’t pay attention to the issue, despite the calamitous bushfires.</p> <p>This presents a real challenge to news organisations. They must find ways of telling the climate change story to engage the 15% of people who aren’t interested, but are still feeling its effects.</p> <p><strong>19% want news confirming their worldview</strong></p> <p>Other key findings in the <a href="http://www.canberra.edu.au/research/faculty-research-centres/nmrc/digital-news-report-australia-2020">Digital News Report: Australia 2020</a> include:</p> <ul> <li>the majority of Australian news consumers will miss their local news services if they shut down: 76% would miss their local newspaper, 79% local TV news, 81% local radio news service and 74% would miss local online news offerings</li> <li>more than half (54%) of news consumers say they prefer impartial news, but 19% want news that confirms their worldview</li> <li>two-thirds (62%) of news consumers say independent journalism is important for society to function properly</li> <li>around half (54%) think journalists should report false statements from politicians and about one-quarter don’t</li> <li>news consumption and news sharing have increased since 2019, but interest in news has declined</li> <li>only 14% continue to pay for online news, but more are subscribing rather than making one-off donations</li> <li>TV is still the main source of news for Australians but continues to fall.</li> </ul> <p><strong>The ‘COVID-trust-bump’</strong></p> <p>In many ways these findings, including those on climate change reporting, reflect wider trends. Our interest in general news has been falling, along with our trust.</p> <p>This changed suddenly with COVID-19 when we saw a big rise in coverage specifically about the pandemic. Suddenly, the news was relevant to everyone, not just a few.</p> <p>We suspect that key to the “COVID-trust-bump” was the news media adopting a more <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/about/backstory/2020-06-11/abc-news-constructive-solutions-journalism/12335272">constructive approach</a> to reporting on this issue. Much of the sensationalism, conflict and partisanship that drives news – particularly climate change news – was muted and instead important health information from authoritative sources guided the coverage.</p> <p>This desire for impartial and independent news is reflected in the new <a href="http://www.canberra.edu.au/research/faculty-research-centres/nmrc/digital-news-report-australia-2020">report</a>. The challenge is getting people to pay for it.</p> <p><em>Written by Caroline Fisher and Sora Park. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-number-of-climate-deniers-in-australia-is-more-than-double-the-global-average-new-survey-finds-140450">The Conversation</a>. </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Takeaway containers shape what (and how) we eat

<p>Home cooks have been trying out their skills during isolation. But the way food tastes depends on more than your ability to follow a recipe.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25713964/">surroundings</a>, <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/485781">the people</a> <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jpepsy/article/25/7/471/952605">we share food with</a> and the design of our tableware – our cups, bowls and plates, cutlery and containers – affect the way we experience food.</p> <p>For example, eating from a heavier bowl can make you feel food is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0950329311000966?via%3Dihub">more filling and tastes better</a> than eating from a lighter one.</p> <p>Contrast this with fast food, which is most commonly served in lightweight disposable containers, which encourages <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666312001754">fast eating</a>, <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f2907">underestimating</a> how much food you’re eating, and has even been linked to becoming <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23773044/">impatient</a>.</p> <p>These are just some examples of the vital, but largely unconscious, relationship between the design of our tableware – including size, shape, weight and colour – and how we eat.</p> <p>In design, this relationship is referred to as an object’s “<a href="https://jnd.org/affordances_and_design/">affordances</a>”. Affordances guide interactions between objects and people.</p> <p>As Australian sociologist <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-artifacts-afford">Jenny Davis writes</a>, affordances:</p> <p><em>…push, pull, enable, and constrain. Affordances are how objects shape behaviour for socially situated subjects.</em></p> <p>Designed objects don’t <em>make</em> us do things.</p> <p><strong>The colour of your crockery</strong></p> <p>When you visit a restaurant, the chances are your dinner will be served on a plain white plate.</p> <p>But French chef Sebastien Lepinoy has staff <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=-5gCBAAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PT118&amp;lpg=PT118&amp;dq=Sebastien+Lepinoy+paint+plates&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=8jc3yBavYd&amp;sig=ACfU3U0jRwMOQtM_NmOspLXcyXp9SiVTuQ&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjqzNzj3MPpAhUOxjgGHQnvDlEQ6AEwCnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=Sebastien%20Lepinoy%20paint%20plates&amp;f=false">paint the plates</a> to match the daily menu and “entice the appetite”.</p> <p>Research seems to back him up. Coloured plates can enhance flavours to actually change the dining experience.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22128561">one study</a>, salted popcorn eaten from a coloured bowl tasted sweeter than popcorn eaten from a white bowl. In <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Does-the-colour-of-the-mug-influence-the-taste-of-Doorn-Wuillemin/476e322e1de2c705e8691e14c72c814fd79e5e09">another</a>, a café latte served in a coloured mug tasted sweeter than one in a white mug.</p> <p>This association between colour and taste seems to apply to people from Germany to China.</p> <p>A review of <a href="https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13411-015-0033-1">multiple studies</a> conducted in many countries over 30 years finds people consistently associated particular colours with specific tastes.</p> <p>Red, orange or pink is most often associated with sweetness, black with bitterness, yellow or green with sourness, and white and blue with saltiness.</p> <p><strong>The size of your plate</strong></p> <p>The influence of plate size on meal portions depends on the dining experience and whether you are <a href="https://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/897365/DUBELAAR-JACR-Plate-Size-Meta-Analysis-Paper-2016.pdf">serving yourself</a>. In a buffet, for example, people armed with a small plate may eat more because they can go back for multiple helpings.</p> <p>Nonetheless, average plate and portion sizes have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/25/problem-portions-eating-too-much-food-control-cutting-down">increased</a> over the years. Back in her day, grandma used to serve meals on plates 25cm in diameter. Now, the average dinner plate is 28cm, and many restaurant dinner plates have expanded to <a href="https://www.nisbets.com.au/size-of-plates">30cm</a>.</p> <p>Our waistlines have also expanded. Research confirms we tend to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666311006064">eat more calories</a> when our plates are larger, because a larger capacity plate affords a greater portion size.</p> <p><strong>Plastic is too often ignored</strong></p> <p>The pace of our busy lives has led many people to rely on those handy takeaways in disposable plastic food containers just ready to pop into the microwave. And it’s tempting to use plastic cutlery and cups at barbecues, picnics and kids’ birthday parties.</p> <p>In contrast to heavy, fragile ceramic tableware, plastic tableware is <a href="https://discardstudies.com/2019/05/21/disposability/">designed to be ignored</a>. It is so lightweight, ubiquitous and cheap we don’t notice it and pay little mind to its disposal.</p> <p>Plastics have also changed how we eat and drink. An aversion to the strong smell of plastic containers that once might have caused people to <a href="https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/0747936042312066?journalCode=desi">wrap their sandwiches before placing them in Tupperware</a> seems to have disappeared. We drink hot coffee though plastic lids.</p> <p>Australian economic sociologist Gay Hawkins and her colleagues argue lightweight, plastic water bottles have created entirely new habits, such as “<a href="https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/ics/news/news_archive/2015/history_of_bottled_water_focus_of_new_book">constant sipping</a>” on the go. New products are then designed to fit and reinforce this habit.</p> <p><strong>Aesthetics matter</strong></p> <p>Healthy eating is not only characterised by what we eat but how we eat.</p> <p>For instance, eating mindfully – more thoughtfully and slowly by focusing on the experience of eating – can help you feel <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605">full faster</a> and make a <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/351A3D01E43F49CC9794756BC950EFFC/S0954422417000154a.pdf/structured_literature_review_on_the_role_of_mindfulness_mindful_eating_and_intuitive_eating_in_changing_eating_behaviours_effectiveness_and_associated_potential_mechanisms.pdf">difference</a> to how we eat.</p> <p>And the Japanese cuisine <a href="https://guide.michelin.com/en/article/dining-out/kaiseki-cheatsheet-sg">Kaiseki</a> values this mindful, slower approach to eating. It consists of small portions of beautifully arranged food presented in a grouping of small, attractive, individual plates and bowls.</p> <p>This encourages the diner to eat more slowly and mindfully while appreciating not only the food but the variety and setting of the tableware.</p> <p>Japanese people’s slower eating practices even apply to “fast food”.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00346651211277654/full/html">study</a> found Japanese people were more likely to eat in groups, to stay at fast food restaurants for longer and to share fast food, compared with their North American counterparts.</p> <p>Affordance theory is only now starting to account for <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0270467617714944">cultural diversity</a> in the ways in which designed objects shape practices and experiences.</p> <p>The studies we have reviewed show tableware influences how we eat. Size, shape, weight, colour and aesthetics all play a part in our experience of eating.</p> <p>This has wide implications for how we design for healthier eating – whether that’s to encourage eating well when we are out and about, or so we can better appreciate a tastier, healthier and more convivial meal at home.</p> <p><em>Written by Abby Mellick Lopes and Karen Weiss. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/plates-cups-and-takeaway-containers-shape-what-and-how-we-eat-137059">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Rebuilding Australia: what we can learn from the successes of post-war reconstruction

<p>As Australia begins to plot a recovery strategy from the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-12/australia-100-days-out-from-economic-cliff-coronavirus-supports/12345710">first recession in the country in decades</a>, the Morrison government needs to examine what has worked well in the past.</p> <p>Crises require strong leadership, national cohesion and a framework for carrying out recovery efforts on a grand scale.</p> <p>As such, there is a case to be made for a new Commonwealth agency to lead the recovery effort, built on the model of the <a href="http://guides.naa.gov.au/land-of-opportunity/chapter2/">Department of Post-War Reconstruction</a> that helped Australia emerge from the turmoil of the second world war.</p> <p><strong>The Department of Post-War Reconstruction</strong></p> <p>In December 1942, Prime Minister John Curtin established the Department of Post-War Reconstruction. Even though the war was still raging, its task was to begin planning and coordinating Australia’s transition to a peacetime economy.</p> <p>The department brought together a talented group of officials, many of them from the new discipline of economics, to advise the government. Its establishment reflected the efforts to which the Commonwealth government went after the war to professionalise the Australian public service.</p> <p>The department did not have a large staff. It was devised as a policy department that would coordinate the work of other agencies. The treasurer, <a href="http://primeministers.naa.gov.au/primeministers/chifley/">Ben Chifley</a>, was appointed the first minister for post-war reconstruction. <a href="http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/coombs-herbert-cole-nugget-246">H. C. “Nugget” Coombs</a>, one of <a href="https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/series/anu-lives-series-biography/seven-dwarfs-and-age-mandarins">Australia’s “seven dwarfs”</a>, named for their diminutive stature, was <a href="https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/series/anu-lives-series-biography/seven-dwarfs-and-age-mandarins">his first departmental secretary</a>.</p> <p>One of the major successes of the department was its contribution to the <a href="http://www.billmitchell.org/White_Paper_1945/index.html">full-employment policy</a>, a goal set by post-war governments to achieve a higher standard of living and regular employment for all Australians after the war.</p> <p>To that end, the department helped establish a new employment agency, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_Employment_Service">Commonwealth Employment Service</a>, to match workers with jobs. It also helped overhaul the social welfare system and create the <a href="http://www.pbs.gov.au/pbs/home;jsessionid=rjwrtlmhk03g1jj37lpmf4ge3">pharmaceutical benefits scheme</a>.</p> <p>Full employment became a bipartisan policy goal throughout the economic “golden age” from the end of the war to the 1970s. The policy was so popular that even the smallest deviation from it, such as during the “credit squeeze” of 1960-61, <a href="https://theconversation.com/issues-that-swung-elections-the-credit-squeeze-that-nearly-swept-menzies-from-power-in-1961-115140">almost cost the Menzies government re-election</a>.</p> <p>The Department of Post-War Reconstruction didn’t succeed in pushing through sweeping new federal powers for reconstruction in a 1944 referendum. Nonetheless, it found ingenious ways to foster Commonwealth-state cooperation, for instance, through <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/RP0708/08rp17">section 96 grants</a> (which provided federal funding to the states on terms and conditions set by the Commonwealth), and the federal funding of housing, hospitals and later universities in the states.</p> <p>New Commonwealth-state bodies were also devised to support the coal and aluminium industries. The Commonwealth and NSW state <a href="https://www.coalservices.com.au/mining/about-us/history/">Joint Coal Board</a>, for example, completely revamped the almost moribund NSW black coal industry. A revived and mechanised NSW coal industry became internationally competitive and a <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/featurearticlesbytitle/09E60850418239F6CA2570A80011A395">significant export earner for Australia by the 1970s</a>.</p> <p>On the international front, Chifley and Coombs supported Australia’s participation in the <a href="https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/wwii/98681.htm">1944 Bretton Woods Conference</a>, which reinvented the global financial system based on fixed exchange rates with the US dollar as a reserve currency. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were also established at the time.</p> <p>Chifley and Coombs supported the new international arrangements because they understood the revival of the global economy was essential for Australia’s own prosperity. As they hoped, the Bretton Woods system, the <a href="https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/gatt47.pdf">General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade</a> (GATT) and the <a href="https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/marshall-plan">Marshall Plan</a> for western Europe all <a href="https://www.mup.com.au/books/jb-chifley-hardback">laid the global foundations for Australia’s domestic recovery</a>.</p> <p><strong>How a post-pandemic agency might work</strong></p> <p>The federal government has already trialled a new policy-making agency during the COVID-19 pandemic with its “wartime” National Cabinet, which featured federal and state governments and their agencies working as one.</p> <p>There are many ways a new economic recovery agency could build on the cohesion demonstrated by the National Cabinet and advise the Commonwealth government on rebuilding the economy.</p> <p>Specifically, it could <a href="https://taxpolicy.crawford.anu.edu.au/files/uploads/taxstudies_crawford_anu_edu_au/2015-06/julie_smith_paper_final_27-28_april_2015.pdf">help replicate Curtin’s achievement</a> in 1942 by advising on comprehensive reform of the Commonwealth-state taxation system. This process is already under way with several states calling for the <a href="https://mckellinstitute.org.au/app/uploads/McKell_Stamp_Duty_Land_tax.pdf">substitution of land taxes for stamp duties</a>.</p> <p>A post-COVID-19 agency could also be involved in the revamping of the welfare system (post-JobKeeper/JobSeeker) to cope with the higher levels of unemployment and under-employment.</p> <p>The agency could advise or coordinate a strategy for new infrastructure to create jobs, such as the building of hospitals, public housing and a transition to cleaner energy. Another possibility would be a return to independent petroleum refining, similar to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_Oil_Refineries">Billy Hughes’s Commonwealth Oil Refineries</a> that operated from 1919-52.</p> <p>And a new agency could advise on reviving other major industries, such as tourism, the airlines, the higher education sector and even the banking system. During the Global Financial Crisis, the Rudd government had to <a href="https://kevinrudd.com/2008/10/14/financial-crisis-kevin-rudd-address-to-the-nation/">underwrite loans to the banks and guarantee bank deposits</a>. A major intervention may again be required.</p> <p>Creating a Department of Post-War Reconstruction was considered by some to be the “<a href="https://www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/australias-boldest-experiment/">boldest experiment</a>” the country took after the war. And as a result, Australia’s post-war recovery was a remarkable success. This is what we need now – another bold experiment, in the spirit of bipartisanship.</p> <p><em>Written by David Lee. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/rebuilding-australia-what-we-can-learn-from-the-successes-of-post-war-reconstruction-137899">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Supreme Court says grace ain’t groceries: Reopening churches in a pandemic

<p>The highest court in the land has given states some leeway in determining when and how to safely reopen places of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The move lends support to state officials making science-informed decisions that may inhibit church congregants from fully engaging in their faith.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/19a1044_pok0.pdf">5-4 ruling</a> issued close to midnight on Friday, May 29, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to disturb the <a href="https://www.kpbs.org/news/2020/may/25/california-governor-issues-guidelines-churches-ope/">California governor’s order restricting religious service</a> gatherings as part of its emergency pandemic response effort.</p> <p>The decision is the latest turn in the debate over what places of worship may do during the lockdown and as the U.S. comes out of it. During the pandemic there have been <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/05/churches-reopen-coronavirus/612304/">frequent clashes</a> as federal, state and local officials try to balance protecting the public’s health with the rights of individuals and groups to gather and practice their faith.</p> <p>This is nothing new. I study public health law, ethics and policy, and I have seen how issues from <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/03/19/god-country-chickenpox-how-an-outbreak-entangled-one-school-vaccine-showdown/">vaccination exemptions</a> to <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2470438">responding to the opioid crisis</a> are steeped in such concerns.</p> <p><strong>Clashing over churches</strong></p> <p>The debate over church attendance began as soon the current crisis took hold and communities began to lockdown.</p> <p>One of the earliest high-profile clashes involved the <a href="https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2020/03/30/tampa-church-holds-packed-service-draws-warning-from-sheriffs-office/">arrest and jailing of a Tampa Bay, Florida-area pastor</a>. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, a controversial figure who has <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bible-belt-us-coronavirus-pandemic-pastors-church-a9481226.html">dismissed coroanvirus as a “phantom plague</a>” held two large services in defiance of the county’s stay-at-home order and at a time when local COVID-19 cases were soaring. He was detained on May 30. But just two days after the arrest, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis <a href="https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-91-compressed.pdf">issued an executive order</a> declaring that “attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship” were to be protected as “essential activities.” He added that the state order would override any contradictory local restrictions.</p> <p>By that time, President Trump had already declared that Easter would be a “beautiful time” for the U.S. economy <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-easter.html">to be reopened</a> – a goal that put him <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/25/trump-needs-governors-reopen-economy-even-republican-ones-arent-onboard/">at odds with the science and some state governors</a>. That plan was <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=trump+abandons+easter&amp;rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS855US855&amp;oq=trump+abandons+easter&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57.2986j1j4&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">later abandoned</a>.</p> <p>More recently, Trump described houses of worship as “<a href="https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/may/trump-church-reopening-essential-religious-freedom.html">essential places that provide essential services</a>.”</p> <p>But this characterization of live, in-person church services as “essential” blurs the distinct way that term was originally applied to businesses, services and employees in the crisis. “Essential” in this context referred to <a href="https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Version_3.1_CISA_Guidance_on_Essential_Critical_Infrastructure_Workers.pdf">critical contributors to our nation’s infrastructure and workforce</a>. They are the people involved with keeping our hospitals, food supplies, transport and utilities running, as well as law enforcement and our national defense.</p> <p>But the president and many states are applying the term “essential” more broadly, <a href="https://www.voanews.com/usa/are-person-religious-services-essential-during-pandemic">as a way to signal certain values</a>.</p> <p>This is especially true when examining the mix of states’ approaches to in-person church gatherings.</p> <p><strong>States and SCOTUS</strong></p> <p>By late May, <a href="https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/ny-nj-loosen-restrictions-on-gatherings-in-time-for-memorial-day-weekend/2430000/">even the states hit hardest by the virus</a> had begun to loosen their restrictions on gatherings. But when the first “stay-at-home” orders were issued, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/27/most-states-have-religious-exemptions-to-covid-19-social-distancing-rules/">California was just one of nine states</a> to ban live religious gatherings altogether. Meanwhile, around 20 other states initially limited live gatherings to 10 people or less. Doing so placed restrictions on church services akin to those on concerts, movie theaters or sporting events.</p> <p>But other states followed a similar approach to Florida, labeling religious gatherings as “essential,” or at least declaring that they <a href="https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/dd504af3-ae2c-4d2e-b2bd-02c1a3beed89/Director%27s+Order-+Amended+Mass+Gathering+3.17.20+%281%29.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&amp;CONVERT_TO=url&amp;CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_M1HGGIK0N0JO00QO9DDDDM3000-dd504af3-ae2c-4d2e-b2bd-02c1a3beed89-n3FI0mY">should be exempt</a> from restrictions in place for other types of gatherings.</p> <p>Indiana and Kansas both initially tried a political and scientific middle ground: characterizing church gatherings as “essential,” but still requiring that religious organizations follow the rules set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/faith-based.html">for in-person social gatherings</a>, minimizing and discouraging live meetings until the public health threat was reduced.</p> <p>From a public health perspective, restricting in-person religious gatherings makes sense. COVID-19 is most <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-drifts-through-the-air-in-microscopic-droplets-heres-the-science-of-infectious-aerosols-136663">easily spread as an aerosol</a>, such as when people are talking or singing. The risk of spread is also higher in closed spaces when in close proximity to someone infected and increases the longer you are near them.</p> <p>Church-related gatherings often have all these features, and have been the <a href="https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article241715346.html">nexus</a> <a href="https://nypost.com/2020/04/13/virginia-pastor-who-held-packed-church-service-dies-of-coronavirus/">for</a> <a href="https://www.times-news.com/coronavirus/covid-19-outbreak-reported-in-hampshire-county-church/article_07e1d928-a119-11ea-8d6f-87aca62d04e4.html">many</a> <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6920e2.htm">cases</a> where COVID-19 has spread <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e6.htm">across a community</a>.</p> <p>Interestingly, the Trump administration <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/white-house-and-cdc-remove-coronavirus-warnings-about-choirs-in-faith-guidance/2020/05/28/5d9c526e-a117-11ea-9590-1858a893bd59_story.html">eliminated warnings about church choir activities from the CDC’s latest guidance</a> on safely reopening places of worship.</p> <p>Defiant churches tried different tactics to remain open. Some simply ignored the restrictions and continued to hold services. And California isn’t the only state to see state rules challenged in court. Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia have all seen similar legal action.</p> <p>In many cases, the organizations fighting restrictions have <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/05/13/churches-have-been-astonishingly-hypocritical-during-pandemic/">cited the First Amendment</a> and argued that it is unconstitutional to restrict church gatherings, especially when other secular so-called “essential” or “life-sustaining” entities – such as grocery stores, liquor stores and laundromats – are allowed to stay open. This line of argument was echoed in the Supreme Court decision’s dissenting opinion written by Justice Brent Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court case.</p> <p>The Supreme Court, looking at the latest version of California’s restrictions – which limits churches to 25% capacity, or a maximum of 100 attendees – declined to second guess the state’s elected officials in their assessment of the best way to protect the public’s health. In his concurring opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts, the <a href="https://www.foxnews.com/politics/roberts-embraces-role-as-supreme-court-swing-justice-with-latest-church-ruling">pivotal vote in the church case</a>, seemed swayed by how officials endeavored to follow the science during a time “fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties.” He noted that religious services were more like social gatherings than “grocery stores, banks, and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.”</p> <p><strong>Good-faith efforts</strong></p> <p>The loosening of formal in-person gathering restrictions is beginning to take place across the country. This will likely make monitoring the rules more difficult and could result in greater reliance upon the vigilance of religious leaders, their congregants and perhaps <a href="https://religionnews.com/2020/05/07/as-pandemic-persists-churches-and-insurance-companies-grapple-with-risk/">guidance from the churches’ risk-averse liability insurance companies</a>. For now, most churches and other religious entities appear to <a href="https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2020/05/faith-leaders-protecting-human-life-is-priority-in-reopening-churches/">be remaining careful</a> amid <a href="https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/2020/05/08/coronavirus-indiana-places-worship-plan-stay-closed/3096391001/">concern over the still present risks</a>. <a href="https://www.wishtv.com/news/local-news/2-avon-churches-a-mile-apart-from-each-other-reopen-under-different-guidelines/">Some are not</a>.</p> <p>But should infection numbers spike in the near future, state officials have the knowledge that a majority on the Supreme Court – for now at least – appear willing to follow the science and support their good-faith efforts to manage public health emergencies.</p> <p><em>Written by Ross D. Silverman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/when-it-comes-to-reopening-churches-in-the-pandemic-supreme-court-says-grace-aint-groceries-135287">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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We’ll need more JobKeeper: Why even the best case for jobs isn’t good

<p>When it comes to the outlook for employment, there’s good news and bad news.</p> <p>To begin with the good news: with a bit of luck, the next few months will see the fastest expansion of employment in Australia’s history.</p> <p>The bad news? Well, there’s virtually no chance it will be enough to get employment to where it was in March, before the COVID-19 shutdown.</p> <p>In fact, even on a best-case scenario it’s likely by the end of September we will only be back to the worst points of the 1980s and 1990s recessions.</p> <p><strong>The best-case scenario</strong></p> <p>Other Bureau of Statistics data suggests that between mid-March and mid-April employment fell <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EEze6-rwkdcKgJ0iLWD7PfmWoMz8ob6Q/view">1.3 to 1.6 million</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/prime-minister-scott-morrison-hopes-850-000-back-at-work-by-july-20200508-p54r12">Treasury</a> estimates that the planned reopening of the economy will result in a bounceback of 850,000 jobs.</p> <p>Suppose that a decrease of 1.3 million turns out to be the trough and recovery is uninterrupted.</p> <p>Employment at the end of September would then be 440,000 below where it was in March, 3.4% lower.</p> <p>The turnaround would be a considerable achievement.</p> <p>But even if it happens, we will have only recovered to around the worst points of the 1980s and 1990s recessions, where employment decreased by about 4 per cent.</p> <p>Employment won’t recover fully in this best-case scenario because some parts of the economy will still be shut down (including international travel) and COVID-19 will continue to cause many consumers to spend less than usual.</p> <p><strong>That best case is unlikely</strong></p> <p>There are several reasons to worry about whether the best-case can be achieved.</p> <p>First, job gains from reopening businesses are likely to be offset by losses in employment in other industries suffering from reduced consumer demand and business investment.</p> <p>While cafes and restaurants may start up again, Bureau of Statistics data shows that employment has <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/6160.0.55.001Main%20Features5Week%20ending%202%20May%202020?opendocument&amp;tabname=Summary&amp;prodno=6160.0.55.001&amp;issue=Week%20ending%202%20May%202020&amp;num=&amp;">begun to decline</a> in large industries such as construction and professional service.</p> <p>Second, the effects of reopening may not be all we expect. Labour hoarding – where businesses retain more workers than needed during an economic downturn - might mean that reopening doesn’t translate into as many new jobs as expected.</p> <p>This is likely to be particularly acute given that JobKeeper has effectively paid employers to subsidise labour.</p> <p>Third, impacts from longer-run structural changes in the economy might begin to cause employment losses, especially as JobKeeper is partially unwound.</p> <p><strong>So what are we to do?</strong></p> <p>Even under the best-case scenario employment will be substantially lower than before COVID-19 well into the future. And we can’t presume the best-case will happen. A compelling case exists for substantial ongoing economic stimulus post-September 2020.</p> <p>The labour market will not have fully recovered by then. To remove stimulus would only set back recovery. The question therefore should not be: is stimulus needed, but rather, what size and type of stimulus is needed.</p> <p>Continuing JobKeeper beyond September 2020 could have an important role in providing income security to affected workers and macroeconomic stimulus.</p> <p>It is a known policy, it operates effectively, and it appears to have community support. Replacing it with an alternative type of stimulus could risk harming confidence and the recovery.</p> <p><strong>We can’t simply end JobKeeper</strong></p> <p>An extra (and considerable) advantage of continuing JobKeeper is allowing time for a staged transition away from it. Stopping it will inevitably push up unemployment.</p> <p>A staged transition would spread out that adjustment rather than creating a shock in September.</p> <p>A transition from JobKeeper could be done via stepped decreases in the size of payment or progressively restricting eligibility as industries or businesses recover. The transition could begin at the end of September, or earlier if it is judged that employment is likely to have already recovered substantially before then.</p> <p>An objection to retaining JobKeeper is that it is preventing adjustment in the labour market, and disrupting the normal process of businesses starting up and failing.</p> <p>There are two responses.</p> <p>First, the question is not about whether JobKeeper should be permanent, but about the timing of its removal.</p> <p>Whenever it is (or starts to be) removed, labour mobility will return and any firms on life support will disappear. Having this happen via a staged transition is better than having it happen all at once.</p> <p>Second, the potential economic losses from unemployment in a depressed economy swamp the potential losses from having inefficient firms operating for longer.</p> <p>Our number one priority has to be maintaining and restoring employment.</p> <p><em>Written by Jeff Borland. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-even-the-best-case-for-jobs-isnt-good-well-need-more-jobkeeper-139648">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Here is how you can navigate public transport as safely as possible as coronavirus restrictions ease

<p>As coronavirus restrictions continue to ease, one of the key challenges we face is how to deal with people moving around a lot more.</p> <p>In particular, as more of us start to head back to school and the office in the coming weeks and months, more of us will be getting on buses, trains and trams.</p> <p>So what is public transport going to look like as we relax restrictions, and how can we navigate this safely?</p> <p><strong>Workplaces can help</strong></p> <p>Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has emphasised <a href="https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/victoria-coronavirus-update-daniel-andrews-says-working-from-home-will-stay-c-1042934">working from home</a> will be one of the last measures the state will ease.</p> <p>But even when restrictions are relaxed, do we all need to go into the office as much as we used to?</p> <p>Working from home has become the “new normal” for many of us, and we’ve learnt a lot about how to do this successfully. Employers have adjusted too, with some indicating <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52765165">they will encourage</a> increased remote working moving forward.</p> <p>So one of the obvious things we can do to reduce the numbers of people using public transport is to continue to work from home where possible.</p> <p>Another option is for workplaces to implement flexible start times. If we can reduce the numbers of people using public transport during peak times, this will make a significant difference in reducing crowding.</p> <p><strong>Public transport providers and governments</strong></p> <p>State governments have introduced <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/nsw-public-transport-changes-marshals-security-to-enforce-coronavirus-social-distancing/4a6c3554-547d-4c76-b562-d071343eb06f">additional cleaning practices</a> on public transport networks. These will continue, and may even be increased, as more people return to public transport.</p> <p>Although increased cleaning is important, physical distancing remains the key to safely moving large numbers of people again. Governments will need to consider some changes to ensure people can keep a safe distance from others on their commute.</p> <p>As we’ve seen with the easing of restrictions, different states will take different approaches.</p> <p>For example, New South Wales has imposed limits on how many people can board a bus or train. A maximum of <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-nsw-public-transport-rules-how-many-people-can-go-on-bus-train/77bf87a6-288a-4015-86b5-87786fb6729c">32 people</a> are allowed in a train carriage (normally one carriage holds 123 passengers), while buses are limited to 12 passengers (capacity is normally 63).</p> <p>Further, markings on the seats and floors of buses and trains indicate where people can sit and stand.</p> <p>Marshals are also <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/nsw-public-transport-changes-marshals-security-to-enforce-coronavirus-social-distancing/4a6c3554-547d-4c76-b562-d071343eb06f">being stationed</a> around the public transport network to ensure commuters are following the rules.</p> <p>In a similar move, the South Australian government revealed they <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-29/coronavirus-plan-for-adelaide-trains-buses-and-trams/12301252">will remove seats</a> from Adelaide trains.</p> <p>In contrast, Queensland is not imposing any passenger limits, instead asking commuters to use their common sense. The government <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-22/coronavirus-queensland-commuters-distancing-public-transport/12263506">says</a> there is plenty of room on public transport in Queensland at present, and the risk of virus transmission is low given the small number of active cases.</p> <p>Similarly, Victoria has not imposed passenger limits. But the <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/shift-work-and-days-at-home-on-the-cards-to-avoid-public-transport-overcrowding-20200530-p54xz6.html">government has indicated</a> commuters will be able to access information about which public transport services are the least crowded to assist travel planning.</p> <p>Some states have flagged <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/shift-work-and-days-at-home-on-the-cards-to-avoid-public-transport-overcrowding-20200530-p54xz6.html">extra services</a> may be needed to avoid overcrowding, though the extent to which this will be possible is dependent on resources.</p> <p>In addition to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/extra-services-added-to-sydney-s-straining-transport-network-20200523-p54vrs.html">extra services</a>, NSW has <a href="https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/news-and-events/media-releases/physical-distancing-on-transport-key-to-a-safe-pathway-back-to-work">indicated</a> it will boost car parking and enhance access for cyclists and pedestrians.</p> <p><strong>What can you do?</strong></p> <p>The main responsibility around keeping virus transmission suppressed as we relax restrictions rests with us as individuals to behave sensibly and responsibly.</p> <p>The same principles apply when we use public transport as when we navigate all public spaces.</p> <p>Maintaining physical distance from others and washing our hands regularly are possibly even more important when we’re using public transport, given we potentially come into contact with a lot of people in an enclosed space.</p> <p>We know SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au/coronavirus-risk-higher-tight-indoor-spaces-with-little-air-flow-2020-5?r=US&amp;IR=T">more likely</a> to spread indoors than outdoors. We also know prolonged contact with someone infected with the virus increases the risk of transmission, as compared to a passing encounter.</p> <p>So public transport commutes have the potential to pose a significant risk of virus transmission, especially if you’re sitting next to an infected person on a long journey.</p> <p>Taking hand sanitiser when you use public transport is a good idea so you can clean your hands while travelling. You may be touching contaminated surfaces, for example the bars and handles for balance.</p> <p>In addition, washing your hands thoroughly with soap as soon as you arrive at your destination should become a part of your routine.</p> <p>Importantly, if you’re sick you should not be leaving the house, let alone taking public transport or going to work.</p> <p><strong>What about masks?</strong></p> <p>Wearing a mask on public transport is an issue of <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/chief-medical-officer-backs-voluntary-use-of-face-masks-on-public-transport-20200529-p54xrd.html">personal preference</a>.</p> <p>But if you choose to wear a mask, it’s important to understand a couple of things.</p> <p>First, masks need to be <a href="https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks">put on and taken off correctly</a> so you don’t inadvertently infect yourself in the process.</p> <p>And while masks potentially offer <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-mask/art-20485449">some additional protection</a> to you and others, it’s still critical to follow physical distancing and other hygiene measures.</p> <p><em>Written by Hassan Vally. </em><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/as-coronavirus-restrictions-ease-heres-how-you-can-navigate-public-transport-as-safely-as-possible-138845"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Money for social housing over home buyers’ grants is the key to construction stimulus

<p>There’s no doubt Australia’s construction industry is facing tough times. COVID-19 has caused migration to slow to a trickle. Some 2.6 million Australians have either <a href="https://blog.grattan.edu.au/2020/05/the-modest-rise-in-unemployment-hides-a-much-grimmer-picture/">lost their jobs</a> or had their hours cut in the past two months. Many economists <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/banks-warn-house-prices-could-fall-up-to-30-per-cent-as-rental-vacancies-surge-20200513-p54sgy.html">expect</a> property prices to fall.</p> <p>It all adds up to fewer homes being built in the coming months. That means fewer jobs in the construction industry, which employs nearly one in 10 Australians. The sector has already lost <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/6160.0.55.001Main%20Features5Week%20ending%202%20May%202020?opendocument&amp;tabname=Summary&amp;prodno=6160.0.55.001&amp;issue=Week%20ending%202%20May%202020&amp;num=&amp;view=">nearly 7%</a> of its workforce since March.</p> <p>The Morrison Government is <a href="https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/new-home-buyers-to-get-cash-grants-20200531-p54y3g">set to anounce</a> a stimulus package for the construction sector as soon as this week. But what should it include?</p> <p><strong>More home-buyer grants on the way</strong></p> <p>The federal government has signalled it will offer cash grants of at least A$20,000 to buyers of newly built homes. Unlike <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/rudd-unveils-104b-stimulus-plan-20081014-50a6.html">past</a> schemes that have targeted first home buyers, it seems these new grants will be available to everyone including upsizers and investors. Grants may also be <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/coronavirus-renovation-rescue-for-tradies-jobs/news-story/bece00028670b6e7b7281f3bacc84ce7">extended</a> to renovations.</p> <p>Large handouts would prompt some more residential construction by encouraging some people to bring forward their home purchases. It’s why in 2008 the Rudd government <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/rudd-unveils-104b-stimulus-plan-20081014-50a6.html">tripled</a> the first home buyer grant to A$21,000 for new homes in response to the Global Financial Crisis.</p> <p>But under such schemes, governments also end up giving grants to people who would have bought a home anyway. Even the more pessimistic industry forecasts <a href="https://www.businessnewsaus.com.au/articles/hia-forecasts-new-home-building-to-fall-in-half.html">expect</a> 110,000 homes to be built in Australia next year. Giving A$20,000 to all of these home buyers would cost A$2.2 billion without adding a single construction job. Grants of A$40,000 would double the bill.</p> <p>That’s a lot of spending for little economic gain.</p> <p>Nor do grants to home buyers actually make housing more affordable. They are typically passed through <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/901-Housing-affordability.pdf">into higher house prices</a>, which benefits sellers more than buyers. In this case, that is likely to include developers eager to clear their existing stock of both newly and nearly built homes.</p> <p>Cash grants for renovations would likely hit the economy quicker since they don’t necessarily require building approvals. But they bring their own problems. Grants will likely see in-demand tradies raise their prices, especially if the government is effectively paying for most of the work done. It will be also be harder for officials administering the scheme to determine if the work has been done before paying out the money.</p> <p>Nor is it clear the renovation sector needs further stimulus: reports suggest COVID-19 is driving a <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/we-ve-never-had-it-this-busy-home-isolation-drives-renovation-boom-20200416-p54khh.html">renovation boom</a> across many parts of Australia. Research by credit bureau Illion and economic consultancy AlphaBeta shows spending on home improvements is <a href="https://www.alphabeta.com/illiontracking/">already 33% higher</a> than pre-COVID levels.</p> <p><strong>There’s a better option</strong></p> <p>There’s a better way to support residential construction without providing such big windfalls to developers: fund the building of more social housing.</p> <p>Social housing – where rents are <a href="https://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/report-on-government-services/2018/housing-and-homelessness/housing/rogs-2018-partg-chapter18.pdf">typically capped</a> at no more than 30% of household income – provides a safety net to vulnerable Australians.</p> <p>In particular, the Morrison government should repeat another GFC-era policy, the <a href="http://www.nwhn.net.au/admin/file/content101/c6/social_housing_initiative_review.pdf">Social Housing Initiative</a>, under which 19,500 social housing units were built and another 80,000 refurbished over two years, at a cost of A$5.2 billion.</p> <p>Under the initiative the federal government funded the states to build social housing units directly or <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/2772/AHURI_Positioning_Paper_No155_Design-innovations-delivered-under-the-Nation-Building-Economic-Stimulus-Plan-Social-Housing-Initiative.pdf">contract</a> community housing providers to act as housing developers</p> <p>Public residential construction approvals <a href="https://blog.grattan.edu.au/2019/09/learning-from-past-mistakes-lessons-from-the-national-rental-affordability-scheme/">spiked</a> within months of the announcement.</p> <p>Building 30,000 new social housing units today would cost between <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/enemies-unite-in-call-for-10b-housing-fund-20200429-p54oej">A$10 billion an A$15 billion</a>. Because state governments and community housing providers won’t have to worry about finance, marketing and sales, they’ll be able to get to work building homes much quicker than the private sector.</p> <p><strong>The boost to the economy would be pretty immediate.</strong></p> <p>Just as important, building social housing would also help tackle the growing scourge of homelessness. At the most recent Census (2016), <a href="https://blog.grattan.edu.au/2019/06/who-is-homeless-in-australia/">more than 116,000 people</a> were homeless, up from 90,000 a decade earlier. COVID-19 has shown us that if we let people live in unhealthy conditions it can help spread disease – affecting everybody’s health.</p> <p>The drivers of homelessness are complex. Nonetheless the best Australian <a href="https://theconversation.com/social-housing-protects-against-homelessness-but-other-benefits-are-less-clear-97446">evidence</a> and international <a href="https://insidestory.org.au/you-dont-see-people-sleeping-on-the-streets/">experience</a> shows social housing substantially reduces tenants’ risk of homelessness. But Australia’s stagnating social housing stock means there is little “flow” of social housing available for people whose lives take a big turn for the worse.</p> <p>Funding social housing won’t boost house prices or provide windfalls for developers. It will do more to keep construction workers on the job, while also helping some of our most vulnerable Australians.</p> <p><em>Written by Brendan Coates. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/money-for-social-housing-not-home-buyers-grants-is-the-key-to-construction-stimulus-139743">The Conversation. </a></p>

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The Leadbeater’s possum finally had its day in court. It may change the future of logging in Australia

<p>The Federal Court <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-27/leadbeaters-possum-federal-court-rules-vicforests-logging-breach/12292046">last week ruled</a> that VicForests – a timber company owned by the Victorian government – breached environmental laws when they razed the habitat of the critically endangered <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=273">Leadbeater’s possum</a> and the vulnerable <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=254">greater glider</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/27/vicforests-breached-forestry-agreement-with-central-highlands-logging-court-rules">Environmentalists</a> welcomed the judge’s decision, which sets an important legal precedent.</p> <p>Under so-called “regional forest agreements”, a number of logging operations around Australia are exempt from federal environment laws. This effectively puts logging interests above those of <a href="https://npansw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/npa_regional-forest-agreements-have-failed-to-protect-the-environment.pdf">threatened species</a>. The court ruling narrows these exemptions and provides an opportunity to create stronger forestry laws.</p> <p><strong>A legal loophole</strong></p> <p>Since 1971, the Leadbeater’s possum has been the faunal emblem of Victoria. But only about 1,200 adults are left in the wild, almost exclusively in the Central Highlands region.</p> <p>Official <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/273-conservation-advice-22062019.pdf">conservation advice</a> identifies the greatest threat to the species as habitat loss and fragmentation caused by the collapse of hollow-bearing trees, wildfire, logging and climate change.</p> <p>Australia’s federal environmental laws require environmental impact assessment of any action likely to significantly impact a matter of national environmental significance, <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/epabca1999588/s18.html">such as a listed threatened species</a>.</p> <p>But thanks to exemptions under regional forest agreements, logging has continued in the Central Highlands – <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/while-victoria-s-forests-burnt-logging-continued-20200115-p53rm3.html">even in the aftermath of this summer’s devastating bushfires</a>.</p> <p><strong>So what are regional forest agreements?</strong></p> <p>Regional forest agreements were designed as a response to the so-called “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/20/regional-forest-agreement-renewals-spark-fresh-forest-wars">forest wars</a>” of the 1980s and 1990s.</p> <p>In 1995, after logging trucks blockaded parliament, then Prime Minister Paul Keating offered a deal to the states: the federal government would accredit state forest management systems, and in return federal law would no longer apply to logging operations. Drawing up regional forest agreements between state and federal governments achieved this.</p> <p>Between 1997 and 2001, <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/policies/rfa">ten different agreements</a> were signed, covering logging regions in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia. These agreements were for 20 years, which means many have now either expired and been renewed or extended, or are about to expire.</p> <p>The agreements are <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/rfaa2002268/s4.html">supposed to satisfy a number of conditions</a>. This includes that they’re based on an assessment of environmental and social values of forest areas. They should also provide for the ecologically sustainable management and use of forested areas, and the long-term stability of forest and forest industries.</p> <p>But <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/PC/PC15042">conservation experts argue</a> the agreements have failed both to deliver certainty to forestry operations or to protect environmental values and ensure the conservation of biodiversity.</p> <p><strong>History of the court case</strong></p> <p>The legal proceedings against VicForests were initiated in 2017 by <a href="https://www.leadbeaters.org.au/">Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum</a>, a small community group which relied on crowd funding to cover legal costs.</p> <p>Initially, the group argued Victoria’s failure to undertake a required review of the <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/policies/rfa/regions/vic-centralhighlands">Central Highlands regional forest agreements</a> every five years meant the usual exemption to federal environment laws should not apply.</p> <p>But in early 2018, Justice Mortimer <a href="https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2018/2018fca0178">ruled</a> against this. But she also rejected VicForests’ arguments that any operation in an area covered by a regional forest agreement is automatically exempt from federal law.</p> <p>She ruled that the logging operations will only be exempt from federal law if they comply with Victoria’s accredited system of forest management. This includes the requirements for threatened species, as specified in official action and management plans.</p> <p>The Federal Court has handed down a scathing ruling in Leadbeater's Possum vs <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/VicForests?src=hash">#VicForests</a> today, saying VicForests has shirked responsibility for surveying forests and uses a flawed habitat mapping system, putting the threatened Greater Glider and Leadbeater's Possum at risk.</p> <p>In response to this ruling, Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum reformulated their claim.</p> <p>They argued logging operations in 66 coupes (small areas of forest harvested in one operation) didn’t meet these requirements for threatened species, and so the exemption from federal laws didn’t apply.</p> <p><strong>The court ruling</strong></p> <p>In her ruling last week, the judge found VicForests unlawfully logged 26 coupes home to the Leadbeater’s possum and greater glider, and that logging a scheduled 41 other sections would put them at risk.</p> <p>The court found the company breached a number of aspects of the <a href="https://www.forestsandreserves.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/29311/Code-of-Practice-for-Timber-Production-2014.pdf">Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014</a>. This code is part of the Victorian regulatory system accredited by the regional forest agreement.</p> <p>In particular, VicForests had not, as required, applied the “precautionary principle” in planning and conducting logging operations in coupes containing the greater glider.</p> <p>Nor had VicForests developed a comprehensive forest survey system, or engaged in a careful evaluation of management options to avoid dangers to these threatened species.</p> <p>These failures meant the logging operations were not covered by the exemption from federal laws. As such, the court found VicForests had breached federal environmental law, as the logging operation had, or were likely to have, a significant impact on the two threatened species.</p> <p><strong>What now?</strong></p> <p>This case will have clear implications for logging operations governed by regional forest agreements.</p> <p>In fact, the <a href="https://ausfpa.com.au/media-releases/state-and-federal-governments-must-resolve-rfa-uncertainty-following-federal-court-decision/">timber industry</a> has called for state and federal governments to urgently respond to the case, and clarify the future of regional forest agreements.</p> <p>Arguably, logging operations conducted under a regional forest agreement can no longer rely on the exemption from federal environmental laws if those operations don’t comply with the state regulatory frameworks accredited under the regional forest agreements, especially provisions that protect threatened species.</p> <p>And while making logging operations subject to federal environmental laws is a good thing, it’s not enough. Federal environmental laws are weak and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/31/australias-national-environment-laws-actually-allow-extinction-to-happen?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Gmail">don’t prevent species extinctions</a>.</p> <p>In any case, the result is the perfect opportunity for state and federal governments to rethink forest management. That means properly taking into account the ongoing threats to threatened species from climate change, wildfires and habitat loss.</p> <p><em>Written by Julie Dehm. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-leadbeaters-possum-finally-had-its-day-in-court-it-may-change-the-future-of-logging-in-australia-139652"><em>The Conversation</em></a><span><em>.</em></span></p>

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How captive animals are coping with the sudden emptiness of the world’s zoos and aquariums

<p>More than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums each year <a href="https://www.waza.org/">worldwide</a>, so human visitors are usually a constant presence for the animals that live there. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced these places to close to the public, plunging resident animals into an empty silence.</p> <p>Instead, zoos have been opening virtually during the lockdown, allowing people to see behind the closed doors from the comfort of their living rooms. Chester Zoo in the UK hosted an online tour so popular that it “<a href="https://www.cheshire-live.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/relive-chester-zoos-first-ever-18006186">broke the internet when it went viral</a>” according to one zookeeper, with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide flocking to the zoo’s Facebook page.</p> <p>Zoo workers have described how animals are greeting the isolation during COVID-19 closures. One zoo in India reported that animals were “<a href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/call-of-the-wild-quiet-brings-out-animal-instincts-at-zoo/articleshow/75665638.cms">loving the quiet spell</a>” – foxes were “frolicking around”, the hippopotamus was happily splashing in its pool and even the tigers were enjoying a dip. In other zoos, animals seem to be <a href="https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/local-news/animals-twycross-zoo-are-missing-4119435">missing people</a>. Twycross Zoo’s curator reported primates looking for zoo visitors, for instance.</p> <p>Some zoo animals are forgetting all about their previous lives, with garden eels at one Japanese aquarium hiding when staff members approached their enclosure. Workers have asked the public to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/01/japanese-aquarium-urges-public-to-video-chat-eels-who-are-forgetting-humans-exist">make video calls to their eels</a>, to try and prevent them from seeing visitors as a threat when the aquarium reopens. Meanwhile, some animals are enjoying the freedom of daily zoo walks, like the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVfTGFBJ8a8">penguins at the Shedd Aquarium</a> in Chicago, which were let out to wander the empty halls and look into the other enclosures.</p> <p>Is this reprieve from regular visitors healthy for zoo animals? And how will they respond to people suddenly flooding back once zoos reopen? Researchers and animal charities are worried that our pets will develop <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/dogs-trust-separation-anxiety-pets-coronavirus-lockdown-a9477541.html">separation anxiety once their owners return to work</a>. The opposite might happen among zoo animals. Will captive creatures be desperate for the public to return or have they adapted to a slower, quieter life?</p> <p><strong>When zoos reopen</strong></p> <p>As zoos that have closed for months <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/coronavirus-lockdown-europe-austria-pools-zoos-opened-a4426021.html">reopen their doors</a>, we have an opportunity to study how visitors influence the lives of zoo animals. While we can’t predict the future, previous research on how zoo animals have responded to changes in visitor schedules might give us some idea of what to expect.</p> <p>During the night, zoo animals are used to relative peace and quiet. For many, beyond the odd security warden, there are no visitors. But before COVID-19, some zoos did open their doors outside of normal opening hours, for <a href="https://www.colchester-zoo.com/event/starlight-safari-night-2/">late-night tours</a> and <a href="https://twycrosszoo.org/events/twycross-zoo-safari-sleepover-camping-experience/">overnight camps</a>.</p> <p>Typically, we study animal behaviours to understand how they may be feeling and try to make judgements about their experiences. From that, we can say that zoo animals have tended to show mixed responses to evening events. A <a href="http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/pdf_files/142/1422582743.pdf">study</a> at a zoo in Germany found that elephants sought comfort from others in their herd during an evening firework display, but they didn’t retreat into their indoor enclosures. <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/vmi/2017/6585380/">Researchers</a> at London Zoo noticed no changes in the behaviour of lions during sunset safaris, on evenings when the zoo was open for visitors until 10pm, compared to their behaviour during normal opening hours.</p> <p>Across the board, changes in the usual routines of zoo animals affect different species in different ways. The quiet caused by vanished visitors might mean more animals performing attention-seeking behaviours to try and interact with visitors more than normal, as keepers have reported chimpanzees doing <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/US/life-covid-19-animals-zookeepers-maryland-zoo/story?id=70422788">during lockdown</a>, as they reach out towards workers who would usually feed them by hand. It may also cause them to be overly skittish to human visitors when they return, like the garden eels in Japan.</p> <p>This is the longest time many zoo animals will have gone without the public, and zoo staff will have to help them transition back to normal life. Most zoos are planning <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52493750">phased reopenings</a> of animal houses to prevent the sudden changes in noise disturbing the animals.</p> <p>Some animals, especially those born during the COVID-19 lockdown, will never have experienced life in the public eye. Many up-close animal encounters <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-zoos-must-change-to-keep-great-apes-safe-from-coronavirus-134692">will have to change</a>, particularly as <a href="https://theconversation.com/transmission-of-diseases-from-humans-to-apes-why-extra-vigilance-is-now-needed-134083">humans can transmit coronaviruses to great apes</a> in captivity.</p> <p>On your next visit, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-behave-at-a-zoo-according-to-science-73873">be cool, calm and collected</a>. Keepers and other zoo staff will be on hand to guide you, helping enforce social distancing and supporting you on how best to behave around the animals. Your local zoo will need visitors more than ever when they reopen. But remember, zoo animals will be experiencing their own post lockdown fuzz, and, just like you, they may need time to adjust.</p> <p><em>Written by Ellen Williams and Jessica Rendle. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-captive-animals-are-coping-with-the-sudden-emptiness-of-the-worlds-zoos-and-aquariums-138668">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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A trans-Tasman bubble is an opportunity for Australia and NZ to reduce dependence on China

<p>When it comes to our economic over-reliance on China, New Zealand consumers need look no further than their most popular big box chain, The Warehouse. The familiar “big red shed” sourced about 60% of its home brand stock from China in 2017 – and a further NZ$62 million in products directly through offices in China, India and Bangladesh in 2019.</p> <p>In Australia, many major chain stores as well as online retail giant <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/kogan-com-braces-for-coronavirus-threat-after-mixed-first-half-20200217-p541fu">kogan.com</a> are in a similar position. Reliant on China for much of what they sell, including exclusive home-brand items, they are part of what has been described as the world’s <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-26/coronavirus-impact-hits-australia-most-china-reliant-economy">most China-reliant economy</a>.</p> <p>The COVID-19 crisis has thrown Australian and New Zealand businesses’ dependence on China into stark relief. With countries reportedly competing with and undercutting each other to secure desperately needed medical supplies from China, many are now waking up to their economic exposure to a single manufacturing giant.</p> <p>Understandably, discussions about creating a <a href="https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/prime-ministers-jacinda-ardern-and-scott-morrison-announce-plans-trans-tasman-covid-safe">“trans-Tasman bubble”</a> between Australia and New Zealand have focused on kick-starting economic activity in the short term, particularly through tourism. But both countries also need to take a longer-term view of boosting economic activity – including through increased manufacturing and trade integration.</p> <p>The statistics support this. In 2018, 20% of global trade in the manufacturing of “intermediate” products (which need further processing before sale) <a href="https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcinf2020d1.pdf">came from China</a>. Chinese manufacturing (including goods made from components made in China) also <a href="https://blog.euromonitor.com/coronavirus-impact-on-global-supply-chains/">accounted for</a>:</p> <ul> <li>35% of household goods</li> <li>46% of hi-tech goods</li> <li>54% of textiles and apparel</li> <li>38% of machinery, rubber and plastic</li> <li>20% of pharmaceuticals and medical goods</li> <li>42% of chemical products.</li> </ul> <p>Australia and New Zealand are no exception, with China the number one trading partner of both. Australia <a href="https://www.dfat.gov.au/">earned</a> 32.6% of its export income from China in 2019, mostly from natural resource products such as iron ores, coal and natural gas, as well as education and tourism.</p> <p>From New Zealand, 23% of <a href="https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/china-top-trade-partner-for-2019">exports</a> (worth NZ$20 billion) went to China in 2019, and much of the country’s manufacturing has moved to China over the past 20 years. The China factor in New Zealand supply chains is also <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/119598635/coronavirus-delivery-delays-from-chinese-are-hurting-kiwi-businesses">crucial</a>, with a fifth of exports containing Chinese components.</p> <p><strong>Supply shortages from China</strong></p> <p>The world is now paying a price for this dependence on China. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 there has been volatility in the supply of products ranging from cars and Apple phones to food ingredients and hand sanitiser packaging.</p> <p>More worryingly, availability of popular over-the-counter painkiller paracetamol was <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/411131/coronavirus-pharmac-to-limit-paracetamol-due-to-chinese-factory-closures">restricted</a> due to Chinese factory closures. This is part of a <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/australia-dangerously-dependent-on-medical-imports-20200217-p541ej">bigger picture</a> that shows Australia now importing over 90% of medicines and New Zealand <a href="https://tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/imports/pharmaceutical-products">importing</a> close to NZ$1.59 billion in pharmaceutical products in 2019. Overall, both countries are <a href="https://sldinfo.com/2020/03/australias-medicine-supply-chain-is-vulnerable/">extremely vulnerable</a> to major supply chain disruptions of medical products.</p> <p>For all these reasons, a cooperative trans-Tasman manufacturing strategy should be on the table right now and in any future bilateral trade policy conversations.</p> <p><strong>Opportunities for Australia and NZ</strong></p> <p>Rather than each country focusing on product specialisation or setting industrial priorities in isolation, the two economies need to discuss how best to pool resources, add value and enhance the competitive advantage of strategic industries in the region as a whole.</p> <p>Currently, trans-Tasman trade primarily involves natural resources and foodstuffs flowing from New Zealand to Australia, with motor vehicles, machinery and mechanical equipment flowing the other way. Manufacturing is skewed towards Australia, but closer regional integration would mean increased flows of capital, components and finished products between the countries. We have seen this already in the primary and service sectors but not much in the manufacturing sector, especially from New Zealand to Australia.</p> <p>Medical technologies and telecommunications equipment manufacturing (both critical during the pandemic) stand out as potential new areas of economic integration. In that sense, it was heartening to see major medical tech companies such as <a href="https://www.resmed.com.au/about-us/the-resmed-story">Res-Med Australia</a> and <a href="https://www.fphcare.com/nz/our-company/">Fisher &amp; Paykel Healthcare</a> in New Zealand rapidly <a href="https://www.fairfieldchampion.com.au/story/6705551/private-hospitals-join-coronavirus-fight/?cs=9397">scale up</a> their production capacities to build respiratory devices, ventilators, and other personal protective equipment products.</p> <p>These brands enjoy a global technology edge, smart niche positioning and reputations for innovation. We need more of these inside a trans-Tasman trade and manufacturing bubble.</p> <p><strong>China still vital but balance is crucial</strong></p> <p>Key to successful regional integration will be the pooling of research and development (R&amp;D) resources, mutual direct investment, subsidising R&amp;D and manufacturing in emerging markets with profits from another (such as China), and value-adding specialisation in the supply chain. For example, Tait Communication in New Zealand recently <a href="https://www.taitradio.com/about-us/news/2011/tait-strengthens-customer-support-in-australia-with-new-facility">invested</a> in a new facility based in one of Australia’s largest science, technology and research centres.</p> <p>Together, we can make a bigger pie.</p> <p>None of this means cutting ties with China, which will remain the main importer of primary produce and food products from Australasia for the foreseeable future. And Chinese exports will still be vital. Fisher &amp; Paykel Healthcare sells its products in about 120 countries, for example, but some of its key raw materials suppliers are Chinese.</p> <p>Getting this dynamic balancing right will be key to Australia and New Zealand prospering in the inevitably uncertain – even divided – post-pandemic global business environment. And you never know, maybe one day we’ll see a “made in Australia and New Zealand” label in the aisles of The Warehouse and Bunnings.</p> <p><em>Written by Hongzhi Gao and Monica Ren. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/beyond-travel-a-trans-tasman-bubble-is-an-opportunity-for-australia-and-nz-to-reduce-dependence-on-china-137062">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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6 countries with 6 curves: How nations that moved fast against COVID-19 avoided disaster

<p>To understand the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic is more usefully viewed as a series of distinct local epidemics. The way the virus has spread in different countries, and even in particular states or regions within them, has been quite varied.</p> <p>A New Zealand <a href="https://www.tepunahamatatini.ac.nz/2020/04/22/effect-of-alert-level-4-measures-on-covid-19-transmission/">study</a> has mapped the coronavirus epidemic curve for 25 countries and modelled how the spread of the virus has changed in response to the various lockdown measures.</p> <p>The research, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, classifies each country’s public health response using New Zealand’s <a href="https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/covid-19-alert-system/">four-level alert system</a>. Levels 1 and 2 represent relatively relaxed controls, whereas levels 3 and 4 are stricter.</p> <p>By mapping the change in the <strong>effective reproduction number</strong> (R<sub>eff</sub>, an indicator of the actual spread of the virus in the community) against response measures, the research shows countries that implemented level 3 and 4 restrictions sooner had greater success in pushing R<sub>eff</sub> to below 1.</p> <p>An R<sub>eff</sub> of less than 1 means each infected person spreads the virus to less than one other person, on average. By keeping R<sub>eff</sub> below 1, the number of new infections will fall and the virus will ultimately disappear from the community.</p> <p><strong>Italy</strong></p> <p>Italy was relatively slow to respond to the epidemic, and experienced a high R<sub>eff</sub> for many weeks. This led to an explosion of cases which overwhelmed the health system, particularly in the country’s north. This was followed by some of the strictest public health control measures in Europe, which has finally seen the R<sub>eff</sub> fall to below 1.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the time lag has cost many lives. Italy’s death toll of over 27,000 serves as a warning of what can happen if the virus is allowed to spread unchecked, even if strict measures are brought in later.</p> <p><strong>United Kingdom</strong></p> <p>The UK’s initial response to COVID-19 was characterised by a series of missteps. The government prevaricated while it considered pursuing a controversial “herd immunity” strategy, before finally ordering an Italy-style lockdown to regain control over the virus’s transmission.</p> <p>As in Italy, the result was an initial surge in case numbers, a belatedly successful effort to bring R<sub>eff</sub> below 1, and a huge death toll of over 20,000 to date.</p> <p><strong>New York, USA</strong></p> <p>New York City, with its field hospital in Central Park resembling a scene from a disaster movie, is another testament to the power of uncontrolled virus spread to overwhelm the health system.</p> <p>Its R<sub>eff</sub> peaked at a staggeringly high value of 8, before the city slammed on the brakes and went into complete lockdown. It took a protracted battle to finally bring the R<sub>eff</sub> below 1. Perhaps more than any other city, New York will feel the economic shock of this epidemic for many years to come.</p> <p><strong>Sweden</strong></p> <p>Sweden has taken a markedly relaxed approach to its public health response. Barring a few minor restrictions, the country remains more or less open as usual, and the focus has been on individuals to take personal responsibility for controlling the virus through social distancing.</p> <p>This is understandably contentious, and the number of cases and deaths in Sweden are far higher than its neighbouring countries. But R<sub>eff</sub> indicates that the curve is flattening.</p> <p><strong>Singapore</strong></p> <p>Singapore is a lesson on why you can’t ever relax when it comes to coronavirus. It was hailed as an early success story in bringing the virus to heel, through extensive testing, effective contact tracing and strict quarantining, with no need for a full lockdown.</p> <p>But the virus has bounced back. Infection clusters originating among migrant workers has prompted tighter restrictions. The R<sub>eff</sub> currently sits at around 2, and Singapore still has a lot of work to do to bring it down.</p> <p>Individually, these graphs each tell their own story. Together, they have one clear message: places that moved quickly to implement strict interventions brought the coronavirus under control much more effectively, with less death and disease.</p> <p>And our final example, Singapore, adds an important coda: the situation can change rapidly, and there is no room for complacency.</p> <p><em>Written by Hassan Vally. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/6-countries-6-curves-how-nations-that-moved-fast-against-covid-19-avoided-disaster-137333">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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We just spent two weeks surveying the Great Barrier Reef – What we saw was an utter tragedy

<p>The Australian summer just gone will be remembered as the moment when human-caused climate change struck hard. First came drought, then deadly bushfires, and now a bout of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef – the third in just five years. Tragically, the 2020 bleaching is severe and the most widespread we have ever recorded.</p> <p>Coral bleaching at regional scales is caused by spikes in sea temperatures during unusually hot summers. The first recorded mass bleaching event along Great Barrier Reef occurred in 1998, then the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/archive/media99.shtml">hottest year on record</a>.</p> <p>Since then we’ve seen four more mass bleaching events – and more temperature records broken – in 2002, 2016, 2017, and again in 2020.</p> <p>This year, February had the<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-15/cyclone-great-barrier-reef-bleaching-record-seas-temperatures/12050102"> highest monthly sea surface temperatures</a> ever recorded on the Great Barrier Reef since the Bureau of Meteorology’s records began in 1900.</p> <p><strong>Not a pretty picture</strong></p> <p>We surveyed 1,036 reefs from the air during the last two weeks in March, to measure the extent and severity of coral bleaching throughout the Great Barrier Reef region. Two observers, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, scored each reef visually, repeating the same procedures developed during early bleaching events.</p> <p>The accuracy of the aerial scores <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature21707?dom=icopyright&amp;src=">is verified</a> by underwater surveys on reefs that are lightly and heavily bleached. While underwater, we also measure how bleaching changes between shallow and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05741-0">deeper reefs</a>.</p> <p>Of the reefs we surveyed from the air, 39.8% had little or no bleaching (the green reefs in the map). However, 25.1% of reefs were severely affected (red reefs) – that is, on each reef more than 60% of corals were bleached. A further 35% had more modest levels of bleaching.</p> <p>Bleaching isn’t necessarily fatal for coral, and it affects <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-coral-has-died-in-the-great-barrier-reefs-worst-bleaching-event-69494">some species more than others</a>. A pale or lightly bleached coral typically regains its colour within a few weeks or months and survives.</p> <p>But when bleaching is severe, many corals die. In 2016, half of the shallow water corals died on the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0041-2">between March and November</a>. Later this year, we’ll go underwater to assess the losses of corals during this most recent event.</p> <p>Compared to the four previous bleaching events, there are fewer unbleached or lightly bleached reefs in 2020 than in 1998, 2002 and 2017, but more than in 2016. Similarly, the proportion of severely bleached reefs in 2020 is exceeded only by 2016. By both of these metrics, 2020 is the second-worst mass bleaching event of the five experienced by the Great Barrier Reef since 1998.</p> <p>The unbleached and lightly bleached (green) reefs in 2020 are predominantly offshore, mostly close to the edge of the continental shelf in the northern and southern Great Barrier Reef. However, offshore reefs in the central region were severely bleached again. Coastal reefs are also badly bleached at almost all locations, stretching from the Torres Strait in the north to the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.</p> <p>For the first time, severe bleaching has struck all three regions of the Great Barrier Reef – the northern, central and now large parts of the southern sectors. The north was the worst affected region in 2016, followed by the centre in 2017.</p> <p>In 2020, the cumulative footprint of bleaching has expanded further, to include the south. The distinctive footprint of each bleaching event closely matches the location of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature21707?dom=icopyright&amp;src=">hotter and cooler conditions in different years</a>.</p> <p><strong>Poor prognosis</strong></p> <p>Of the five mass bleaching events we’ve seen so far, only 1998 and 2016 occurred during <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a008-el-nino-and-australia.shtml">an El Niño</a> – a weather pattern that spurs warmer air temperatures in Australia.</p> <p>But as summers grow hotter under climate change, we no longer need an El Niño to trigger mass bleaching at the scale of the Great Barrier Reef. We’ve already seen the first example of back-to-back bleaching, in the consecutive summers of 2016 and 2017. The gap between recurrent bleaching events is shrinking, hindering a full recovery.</p> <p>After five bleaching events, the number of reefs that have escaped severe bleaching continues to dwindle. Those reefs are located offshore, in the far north and in remote parts of the south.</p> <p>The Great Barrier Reef will continue to lose corals from heat stress, until global emissions of greenhouse gasses are reduced to net zero, and sea temperatures stabilise. Without urgent action to achieve this outcome, it’s clear our coral reefs will not survive business-as-usual emissions.</p> <p><em>Written by Terry Hughes and Morgan Pratchett. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-just-spent-two-weeks-surveying-the-great-barrier-reef-what-we-saw-was-an-utter-tragedy-135197">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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If nonviolent inmates aren’t released for COVID, the nation will pay

<p>Right before the Berejiklian government closed down parliament until mid-September due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it <a href="https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/bills/Pages/bill-details.aspx?pk=3741">passed a law</a> that allows for the early release of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/a-new-trial-in-lithgow-jail-to-cut-prison-crime/">prison inmates</a> on parole based on a number of factors including offence, age, health and vulnerability.</p> <p>Although, <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-nsw-governments-new-injustice-laws-more-power-to-police-and-prosecutors/">there are questions</a> as to whether these provisions apply to prisoners on remand, who make up a third of NSW’s over <a href="https://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Pages/bocsar_custody_stats/bocsar_custody_stats.aspx">13,000 inmates</a>. Indeed, some of these remandees will go on to be found innocent.</p> <p>As he was introducing the <a href="https://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Pages/bocsar_custody_stats/bocsar_custody_stats.aspx">emergency powers bill</a>, attorney general Mark Speakman made clear that this law was one that the state government hopes it “will never have to use” – which hardly screams early release.</p> <p>At 3 pm on 29 March, there were <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers">3,966 confirmed cases</a> of the coronavirus in this country, and 16 people had died as a result of the disease. However, the number of cases is set to dramatically increase in the coming weeks due to the way viruses <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-26/coronavirus-covid19-global-spread-data-explained/12089028">exponentially spread</a>.</p> <p>So, if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs at one of Australia’s numerous correctional centres, it’s likely to pass dramatically throughout the facility. And as prison staff will be leaving gaols after every shift, there’s the potential for detention-related infections to spread into the community.</p> <p>New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison turned up <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/22/coronavirus-outbreak-new-york-city-jails-rikers-island">38 cases of COVID</a> over the week ending on 23 March. And twelve of those affected were staff. While, as of Sunday, Iran – one of the hardest hit countries on the planet – had released <a href="https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/iran-temporarily-frees-100-000-prisoners-to-limit-spread-of-coronavirus-120032901200_1.html">100,000 inmates</a> to prevent greater disease outbreaks.</p> <p><strong>Inside distancing is impossible</strong></p> <p>“In gaols, the COVID-19 virus will likely multiply like rampant bacteria in a Petri jar,” said <a href="https://www.cla.asn.au/News/#gsc.tab=0">Civil Liberties Australia (CLA)</a> CEO Bill Rowlings. “If the virus gets into a gaol, the closeness of prisoners will mean it’s impossible to contain the spread.”</p> <p>The Health Department has advised practising the key prevention measure known as <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-information-on-social-distancing_4.pdf">social distancing</a>. It includes staying more than 1.5 metres away from other people to ensure that the virus is not passed on. But, as Rowlings points out, this is simply not possible behind bars.</p> <p>“At mealtimes, and in line-ups for the daily counts or for medicine dispensing, there’s no way people could be 1.5 metres apart. There just isn’t room,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “Prisoners are among the Australians most vulnerable to a virus.”</p> <p>Queensland Corrective Services acting deputy commissioner Peter Shaddock <a href="https://corrections.qld.gov.au/improving-prison-safety-through-better-health/">recently said pre-COVID</a> that “prisoner health is a matter of public health”. And he went on to explain that “prisoners are some of the most disadvantaged and sickest members of our communities”.</p> <p>“Another consideration,” Mr Rowlings added, “is that about a third of people in gaol are on remand. That is, they’re not even guilty, but have been charged and are awaiting their day in court. Many of them could, and some should, be out on bail.”</p> <p><strong>An innocent elderly inmate</strong></p> <p>Susan Neill-Fraser is a wheelchair-bound elderly inmate locked up for a crime she didn’t commit. The mother-of-two has been incarcerated in a Tasmanian prison since 2009, when she was remanded over the murder of her partner. And she’s now serving a 23 year sentence.</p> <p>Ms Neill-Fraser’s conviction has always been disputed. And <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/free-susan-neill-fraser-an-innocent-woman-behind-bars/">in March last year</a>, 60 minutes presented a report involving an eyewitness recollecting that her male companion brutally murdered Bob Chappell. The young woman had been too scared to reveal this in the past.</p> <p>Rowlings explained that then Tasmanian DPP Tim Ellis told the jury Neill-Fraser’s DNA was found on a rubber glove presumably used to clean up the crime scene. However, he later apologised, admitting it had been someone else’s DNA.</p> <p>“No-one believes she would ‘re’-offend, even people who still think she’s guilty,” said CLA president Dr Kristine Klugman. “It’s time for some common sense compassion from the Tasmanian government in the case of this woman who has been sorely tried over the past decade.”</p> <p><strong>Prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody</strong></p> <p>The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) <a href="http://www.natsils.org.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=NBF0S7YQGcc%3d&amp;portalid=8">released a statement</a> on 23 March, calling on Scott Morrison to release First Nations prisoners from correctional facilities, “as people in prison are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19”.</p> <p>According to the ABS, there were <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4512.0">42,799 adults</a> being incarcerated in Australian facilities last December, and of these, 11,776 were Indigenous. This means that while First Nations people make up less than 3 percent of the general populace, they account for 29 percent of those inside.</p> <p>NATSILS is calling for the immediate release of remandees, “women who are victims of family violence and sentenced for lesser offences like fines and public order offences”, young people and those most at risk from COVID-19, like the elderly and people with health conditions.</p> <p>The national peak body further stated that lockdowns and solitary confinement should be avoided, especially in the case of young people. And they raised concerns about First Nations inmates being completely cut off from friends and family.</p> <p><strong>Risking overall prevention</strong></p> <p>Queensland Corrective Services moved to stage two pandemic restrictions <a href="https://corrections.qld.gov.au/pandemic-visits-to-queensland-prisons-cease/">on 23 March</a>, meaning all personal visits are prohibited. But, as Rowlings points out, if it decides to impose stage four restrictions it will mean complete lockdown, with no time out of cells.</p> <p>The long-term civil liberties advocate described these extreme restrictions as “basically locking up prisoners and letting any virus foment”. While the QCS further set out that the stage four scenario is an option of last resort, however it is “prepared for the eventuality”.</p> <p>Meanwhile the World Health Organisation <a href="http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-determinants/prisons-and-health/news/news/2020/3/preventing-covid-19-outbreak-in-prisons-a-challenging-but-essential-task-for-authorities">released a guidance</a> last week on dealing with the coronavirus in prisons, which explains that those detained within these closed environments are particularly vulnerable to the disease and it amplifies the risks for those on the outside.</p> <p>“The global effort to tackle the spread of disease may fail without proper attention to infection control measures within prisons,” the WHO <a href="http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-determinants/prisons-and-health/news/news/2020/3/preventing-covid-19-outbreak-in-prisons-a-challenging-but-essential-task-for-authorities">ominously warned</a>.</p> <p><em>Written by Paul Gregoire. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/if-nonviolent-inmates-arent-released-for-covid-the-nation-will-pay/">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Coronavirus has seriously tested our border security: Have we learned from our mistakes?

<p>There are now nearly <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/28/interstate-coronavirus-cases-from-ruby-princess-jump-as-32-queenslanders-test-positive">300 cases of COVID-19</a> linked to passengers who disembarked from the Ruby Princess cruise ship without any health checks from authorities.</p> <p>Amid public condemnation, video of travellers squashed together in the immigration queue at Sydney airport <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-26/coronavirus-fears-at-sydney-airport-after-video-shows-long-lines/12092796">made the rounds last week on social media</a>.</p> <p>Border security at both airports and cruise terminals primarily falls under the purview of the Australian Border Force (ABF). Both episodes have raised critical questions about the management of our border security and who exactly is responsible for what during the coronavirus crisis.</p> <p><strong>Overlapping responsibilities at the border</strong></p> <p>The first thing to talk about here is Australia’s federal system and the “national cabinet” of Commonwealth, state and territory leaders that has been set up to respond to coronavirus.</p> <p>One of the reasons for this approach is that certain roles were ceded to the national government at federation, including border control. But it’s not that simple – there are actually various agencies in charge of different facets of border control.</p> <p>The ABF, which sits within Home Affairs, is the lead agency responsible for overseeing the movement of people and goods across Australia’s international borders.</p> <p><a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity">Biosecurity Australia</a>, in the Department of Agriculture, works with ABF to protect Australia from any form of disease, including those brought in by humans. And the states are responsible for health delivery, which means anyone identified at the border with health concerns is transferred to the local health authority.</p> <p>This partly explains why there was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/26/finger-pointing-over-the-ruby-princess-debacle-wont-help-solve-coronavirus-crisis">confusion</a> over who was responsible for the Ruby Princess passengers. The inability of these three agencies to coordinate effectively at the time showed a gap in existing arrangements.</p> <p><strong>A risk-managed approach</strong></p> <p>Australia has had to adopt a risk-management approach to border security, given the range of threats the country faces (narcotics, biosecurity, organised crime), as well as the <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/121480-the-state-of-home-affairs-michael-outrams-address-to-the-home-affairs-industry-summit/">large volume of movements across the border</a> (more than 44.7 million people per year and 53 million air cargo consignments).</p> <p>And the numbers of travellers and imports crossing the border are increasing at double-figure rates. As Michael Outram, ABF commissioner, <a href="https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/estimate/9cba4477-60ef-40db-a537-241108688a6c/toc_pdf/Legal%20and%20Constitutional%20Affairs%20Legislation%20Committee_2020_03_02_7589.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22committees/estimate/9cba4477-60ef-40db-a537-241108688a6c/0000%22">said at Senate Estimates</a> recently,</p> <p><em>Such enduring increases in volume necessitate a range of responses that improve efficiency and optimise the impact of our finite resources.</em></p> <p>The ABF uses a framework of pre-arrival, arrival and post-arrival assessments and controls to identify, prevent and respond to threats.</p> <p>On the front end, this means working closely with other countries and organisations to identify areas of risk – narcotics-producing countries, for example – and trying to prevent these threats from getting to Australia in the first place. As such, only a small number of specialised border officials are required at the “primary line” of airport terminals.</p> <p>Health threats are also risk-managed. As such, global pandemics have been part of the normal forecasting and response mechanisms used by ABF and its partners in the past. They developed <a href="https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-bio-index.htm">action plans</a>, for instance, after the SARS, MERS and Ebola epidemics.</p> <p>This system relies on early identification and effective containment of a disease, along with other factors, such as how early symptoms appear, how contagious and lethal a disease is and whether vaccines are available.</p> <p>In the case of SARS and MERS, for example, the diseases had limited spread, early onset of symptoms and relatively low transmission rates, even though initial information was limited and problematic.</p> <p>However, the enormity and spread of COVID-19 is unparalleled in the modern era, requiring a rapid rethink of our strategies.</p> <p>It was only two months ago that Chinese and WHO officials <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/china-confirms-human-human-transmission-coronavirus-200120162507948.html">declared the virus could be transmitted between humans</a>. Only 218 cases were officially confirmed in China at the time.</p> <p>Research suggests that actual cases were already in the thousands. And international travel was continuing as usual, with around 2,000 people flying from Wuhan (the epicentre of the virus) to Sydney in the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/22/world/coronavirus-spread.html">previous month</a>.</p> <p><strong>Why cruise ships are usually so low risk</strong></p> <p>Where do cruise ships fit into this? Like airlines, cruise liners are required to check the health of passengers and inform the ABF of any illnesses before arriving in Australia.</p> <p>They are then given permission to dock and for passengers to disembark with minimal physical checks at the terminal. This permission is known as “pratique”. It essentially means that risks are managed before arrival.</p> <p>These arrangements, together with the profile of passengers from countries without major health issues and the medical resources available onboard ships, mean that cruises previously presented an extremely low health risk.</p> <p>And like border authorities, cruise lines have had a limited understanding of coronavirus until very recently.</p> <p>While all this activity is happening behind the scenes, Australia has also been streamlining the immigration process for travellers. The <a href="https://www.abf.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/smartgates">SmartGates</a>, for instance, whisk more than <a href="https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/reports-and-pubs/Annualreports/home-affairs-annual-report-2018-19.pdf">27.5 million air travellers</a> through immigration in a matter of seconds annually.</p> <p>All of this means a better passenger experience and use of taxpayer resources. But COVID-19 has challenged the systems we have in place and shown there’s still a need to be able to adapt quickly and reimpose physical barriers and other controls when necessary.</p> <p><strong>What lessons can ABF learn?</strong></p> <p>After the mistakes and creative responses of recent days, the ABF and its parent organisation, Home Affairs, should now be poring over these lessons and others to see how they can improve their operations.</p> <p>In the case of the Ruby Princess, federal and state authorities identified the problem and adapted quickly, as seen by the revised arrangements for the reception of cruise ships in Western Australia. Border and health authorities are now working together to <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/coronavirus-wa-rules-tested-as-cruise-liner-vasco-da-gama-arrives/news-story/2ec5fd2e058c9bc01351443a48648b9c">ensure stringent health checks</a> for passengers and crew.</p> <p>And state health officials and the ABF have worked out new arrangements for air arrivals, including an order that nurses and biosecurity staff <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/26/all-sydney-airport-arrivals-to-be-temperature-checked-as-nsw-goes-it-alone-on-coronavirus-screening">give temperature checks</a> for all incoming passengers and <a href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/coronavirus-arrivals-to-australia-complain-about-quarantine-in-hotels/news-story/bff5101eba3cf0adc3c36df8dcd4048e">enforcing a 14-day quarantine</a> in hotels.</p> <p>The roles of varying agencies is also becoming clearer. In NSW, the <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/coronavirus-now-theres-no-escaping-hotel-isolation/news-story/0de171dda7c6d108f6953baceac47a69">state police have taken control</a> of the quarantining of returning overseas passengers. Managing social distancing and imposing other physical measures in the terminals, meanwhile, should now be an integral part of ongoing training of border officials and airport staff.</p> <p>Another key lesson: there is now a special place in the risk matrix for health issues like coronavirus that may be rare in frequency, but have extremely damaging consequences. From now on, health checks and mandatory quarantines should be put in place much more quickly.</p> <p>These are practical matters that agencies can learn from and adjust as required. But perhaps the greater challenge is one that’s less obvious.</p> <p>A modern border management system relies significantly on the international system of rules, regulations and data sharing. In a world of increasing competition between the major powers and the rise of misinformation, it is more difficult to vet the quality of information being shared and rely on international partners to collaborate.</p> <p>COVID-19 has presented a strategic shock to Australia’s border operations. The good news is we are now seeing better collaboration and extraordinary adaptation among the agencies in charge of border security. A willingness to engage, cooperate and learn quickly from mistakes is what is needed right now – and to be sure we are ready for the next challenge.</p> <p><em>Written by Jacinta Carroll. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-has-seriously-tested-our-border-security-have-we-learned-from-our-mistakes-134794"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p> <p> </p>

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Crossing state borders: A rundown of the rules

<p>This week, travelling around the country just became nearly impossible as all Australian states except New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT closed their borders. Many Families, friends and lovers are now officially separated, indefinitely.</p> <p>And, as with many of the <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/morrisons-mixed-messages-on-the-coronavirus/">rules relating to COVID-19</a>, confusion reigns about border closures, as all but three of the States and Territories take extraordinary measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus.</p> <p>To complicate matters even further, the rules and penalties for failure to comply are different in each jurisdiction.</p> <p>Last week, Tasmania put itself into lockdown, turning away any non-essential visitors. Earlier this week South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory followed suit. As of midnight tonight, Queensland too, will close it’s borders.</p> <p>Here’s what it means, state-by-state:</p> <p><strong>Queensland</strong></p> <p>Anyone entering by air or road will need to self-isolate for 14 days. But there are also restrictions regarding who can come in, and who can’t.  Exceptions have been made for emergency workers, emergency vehicles, people travelling across the border for work, freight, court orders including family court, anyone travelling for medical treatment or compassionate reasons. For failing to comply with the public health act, in Queensland you can be fined up to $13,345.</p> <p><strong>Western Australia</strong></p> <p>The 14-day self-isolation period is also in place for anyone who is not an essential worker. Tourist hotspot Rottnest Island is being considered as a quarantine zone to keep infected people isolated. Failure to comply with Western Australia border and quarantine rules could result in a $50,000 fine or even 12 months’ imprisonment.</p> <p><strong>South Australia</strong></p> <p>Twelve border crossings have been established in South Australia to check on people entering the state. In SA, travellers have to sign a declaration about their health, and pledge to under mandatory self-isolation for 14 days. People who live in communities bordering the state will be allowed to come and go, so long as their home towns remain free of coronavirus. In South Australia, the maximum penalty for failure to comply is $25,000,</p> <p><strong>Tasmania</strong></p> <p>Only Tasmanian residents and essential workers will be allowed aboard the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. In Tasmania, if you fail to adhere to strict border control measures you risk a $16,800 fine, or possible jail time.</p> <p><strong>Northern Territory</strong></p> <p>Arrivals to the Northern Territory will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, and must provide details of where they will be staying while in the Territory. Police officers will be placed on major highways to enforce the border closure and will use surveillance equipment to catch anyone trying to come in via back roads. A $62,000 fine is in place for anyone who breaks this quarantine.</p> <p><strong>NSW, Victoria and the ACT</strong></p> <p>Only NSW, Victoria and the ACT remain open to state-wide travellers, although like everywhere else in the country, travellers from overseas are required to self-isolate for 14 days, and not doing so could attract fine in NSW of up to $11,000 and even six months’ prison time. In Victoria, the fine is $20,000.</p> <p><strong>Who is in charge of monitoring people in self-isolation?</strong></p> <p>In many cases, state health authorities have taken the lead to ensure those in isolation abide by the rules, but the police can – and actually have, in Victoria – conducted spot checks to ensure people are where they agreed to be. Police also have the powers to lay charges if they believe an offence has been committed.</p> <p>While its understood that no one has been charged to date, as the virus continues to spread, and as governments and health authorities become increasingly concerned about how to stop it, warnings may not apply. To be clear, self-isolation means exactly that – you cannot come into contact with others during the mandated period.</p> <p><strong>Social distancing</strong></p> <p>Our leaders continually stress that it is up to each and every one of us to do our part to fight the spread of COVOID-19 by following the social distancing recommendations, thoroughly washing our hands, and aiming to stay at home, or as local to home as possible.</p> <p>Other directions at this time include avoiding public gatherings. At home gatherings are also prohibited. This crackdown on inter-personal social interaction has led to many people to be inventive about how they stay in touch with others, organising online events and FaceTime hook-ups. Workplaces are even introducing ‘virtual’ coffee get-togethers and Friday night drinks for employees now working remotely.</p> <p>We’re human after all, even the introverted amongst us need contact with other humans from time to time, and right now, it’s important that we keep in touch with friends, family and loved ones to keep our spirits high.</p> <p>With more community services and businesses now in lock down, and more people being encouraged to stay home there are fears for declining states of mental health over the coming months, as people try to cope with confinement, exacerbated by the fact that we don’t actually know how long these unprecedented restrictions will apply.</p> <p>Of course, anxiety levels are already high, not just in terms of fear of actually contracting the virus, but of the very real prospect of job loss, financial stress, and the great big unknown – what kind of Australia will emerge from the crisis. What will life be like when Coronavirus is over?</p> <p>For anyone needing to seek professional mental health advice for themselves or a loved one, <a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak">Beyond Blue has a range of resources</a> and offers counselling by telephone and webchat.</p> <p><em>Written by Sonia Hickey. Republished with permission <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/crossing-state-borders-a-rundown-of-the-rules/">of Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</a></em></p> <p> </p>

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COVID-19: what closing schools and childcare centres would mean for parents and casual staff

<p>Several schools in Australia <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/toorak-primary-school-closes-following-coronavirus-case-20200317-p54atp.html">have closed</a> after some students and teachers tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, some independent schools have <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/private-schools-begin-sending-students-home-for-remote-learning-20200316-p54agn.html">sent all students home pre-emptively</a>, without any infections being detected. Classes will now be done online.</p> <p>While the federal government has introduced a ban of public gatherings with more than 500 people, it is not, at this stage, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/why-australia-is-not-shutting-schools-to-help-control-the-spread-of-coronavirus">considering mass school closures</a>. Victoria’s Premier Dan Andrews has been more forthright, saying the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/coronavirus-mass-school-closures-and-industry-shutdown-on-the-cards-says-victorias-premier">time will come</a> for statewide closures of schools.</p> <p>Even with schools staying open, some <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/i-m-happy-to-be-a-small-drop-families-withdrawing-children-from-school-to-fight-coronavirus-20200314-p54a2p.html">families are keeping children home</a> to prevent them getting infected, or passing the virus on to more vulnerable family members.</p> <p>There have been no reports of childcare centres closing across Australia, but some parents may also be keeping their pre-school children at home. Childcare centres <a href="https://ca.news.yahoo.com/alberta-schools-childcare-centres-closing-203000995.html">have been closed</a> in some Canadian provinces, and it’s possible we’ll see something similar happening in Australia as the pandemic progresses.</p> <p>Even without closures, the fewer numbers of students across Australia will impact on casual staff in both the childcare and school sectors. But if both were to close their doors, this may mean a massive loss to Australia’s workforce and economy.</p> <p><strong>How many families would be affected?</strong></p> <p>Millions of parents would be affected if schools and childcare centres were to close. Across Australia there are close to <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3101.0Jun%202019?OpenDocument">six million children</a> living in around four million families.</p> <p>Around two thirds of these children are enrolled in Australian schools. In 2017, 2.2 million were <a href="https://www.acara.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/national-report-on-schooling-in-australia-20170de312404c94637ead88ff00003e0139.pdf?sfvrsn=0">primary school students</a> and 1.6 million were in secondary school.</p> <p>Capital Economics senior economist Marcel Thieliant <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/second-stimulus-morrison-government-considers-billions-in-spending-20200316-p54aoi.html">told The Age</a> up to 1.85 million parents, or 14% of the workforce, would be required to stay home to care for their children if schools were closed.</p> <p>He said a four-week school closure could knock off as much as an estimated 2% from quarterly GDP. And it is unclear how long schools would need to stay closed for to contain the outbreak.</p> <p>Nearly 1.6 million children are aged 0-4. More than half of them <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/cat/4402.0">attend early childhood education and care</a> or preschool.<br />Economic analysis estimates subsidised early childhood education provides <a href="https://www.thefrontproject.org.au/initiatives/economic-analysis">more than 32 million additional hours</a> to the labour force. This means an additional A$1.4 billion in earnings, which then filters back to the government through taxes.</p> <p><strong>How will closures affect staff?</strong></p> <p>Part and full time teachers are likely to remain employed during any school closure, supporting children remotely. But schools are less likely to need casual teachers, which make up <a href="https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/research-evidence/spotlight/spotlight---professional-learning-for-relief-teachers.pdf">at least 12% of the workforce according to survey data</a>.</p> <p>Casual staff in schools that have already closed may be feeling the pinch, and schools may also have less need for casual teachers if many students are staying home.</p> <p>An <a href="https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/research-evidence/spotlight/spotlight---attrition.pdf?sfvrsn=40d1ed3c_0">estimated 25-50%</a> of teachers are leaving the profession at five years. If casual teachers are not paid to be in class, they may be prompted to leave the profession sooner.</p> <p>But the situation is even worse for early childhood education.</p> <p>Government provides funding for schools based on their census enrolments. In private schools parents pay fees based on annual enrolments. But early childhood education funding is tied to both enrolment and attendance. It is <a href="http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Australian-Investment-in-Education-ECEC-report.pdf">estimated parents fund</a> around 40% of the cost of early learning, and the government around 60% through a subsidy tied to household income.</p> <p>Families in isolation, can use their child care subsidy to pay for a certain amount of absences, but only if centres remain open and operating. If a centre closes it cannot levy parents for fees nor collect subsidies from the government.</p> <p>Early childhood education services can spend up to <a href="https://childcarealliance.org.au/media-publications/aca-media-releases/112-occupancy-and-performance-report-early-childhood-education-and-care-sector-10-12-2018/file">80% of their revenue</a> on staff and rent. This means services may need to stand down their workforce of <a href="https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/2016_ecec_nwc_national_report_sep_2017_0.pdf">200,000 staff</a>, and potentially dismiss casual staff, if they are forced to close.</p> <p>We don’t have a clear indication of how many educators are casual, although certain types of care, such as holiday care, lend themselves to a casual workforce.</p> <p>In 2019, we estimated the childhood workforce would be short of <a href="https://www.futuretracks.org.au/upskilling/upskilling-research">29,000 teachers by 2023</a>. With <a href="https://theconversation.com/one-in-five-early-childhood-educators-plan-to-leave-the-profession-61279">one in five educators</a> reporting they wish to leave the profession in the next 12 months, the effects of workers stepping away from the early childhood workforce due to centre closures could be dramatic.</p> <p>In recent days, the federal government <a href="https://ministers.education.gov.au/tehan/minimising-impact-covid-19-child-care">announced an assistance package</a> of A$14 million to help minimise the impact of COVID-19 on childcare centres.</p> <p>But the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) <a href="https://docs.education.gov.au/node/53362">Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity</a> is too small, and only available to some services. It is particularly designed for disadvantaged or vulnerable communities and can be used to pay expenses such as wages where services have fewer children attending or are forced to close due to COVID-19.</p> <p>But staff would still be affected in more advantaged communities.</p> <p>My analysis finds that if a service was to close for just one day, based on an average of 90 places and with an average daily fee of A$113.30 per child, it would lose more than <a href="https://education.govcms.gov.au/child-care-australia-report-september-quarter-2019">$10,000 dollars</a> per day. Multiply this by the nearly <a href="https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-11/NQFSnapshot_Q32019.pdf">8,000 centres</a> and tens of millions of dollars would be foregone every day centres are closed – more if you consider other forms of care, such as out-of-school-hours care, would also close.</p> <p>Many services are small or not for profit, and will not have the cash reserves to withstand extended unpaid closures. An extended closure could see services close for good and educators leave the workforce.</p> <p><strong>So, what more can the government do?</strong></p> <p>The early childhood sector already faces uncertainty around the <a href="https://www.themandarin.com.au/122765-its-time-to-commit-to-universal-access-to-preschools-and-funding-certainty-children-families-business-and-government-all-benefit/">time limited nature</a> of pre-school funding, which expires at the end of this year. It is vital the government retain funding in the education system to support educators in the event of a shutdown.</p> <p>Educators can be actively engaged if services close. Remote education can be trialled, even for little learners, given the importance of early brain development. Governments should support schools to develop lessons and provide resources to help deliver education in new ways.</p> <p>With these measures, we can minimise the economic effects of closures, keep our skilled workforce, and ensure parents can return to work and children return to learning settings as soon as possible.</p> <p><em>Written by Megan O’Connell. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-19-what-closing-schools-and-childcare-centres-would-mean-for-parents-and-casual-staff-133768">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Winter is coming: Simple ways to keep energy costs down

<p><strong>It has been a sweltering Australian summer and for most retirees, this means that they are likely to endure one final summer blow: a high energy bill.</strong></p> <p>According to recent Mozo research, households were<a href="https://mozo.com.au/energy/articles/australians-set-to-waste-2-billion-on-bad-energy-habits-this-summer"> expected to waste a jaw dropping $774</a> on bad energy habits this summer, with the biggest culprit - leaving the air conditioner on overnight.</p> <p>So if you’ve been stung with a high summer energy bill, now is the time to get prepped in time for winter - below are some helpful tips.</p> <p><strong>Switch on smarter bulbs</strong></p> <p>Did you know that lighting accounts for seven per cent of a household’s annual energy usage?</p> <p>What’s even more surprising is that according to Red Energy, standard incandescent light bulbs use the majority of its energy to heat up a bulb and only 10% is then converted into light, making them highly inefficient. </p> <p>You can get smarter with your lighting by switching to more energy efficient light bulbs, like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).</p> <p>These bulbs use up to 80 per cent less electricity and last up to 20 times longer than regular light bulbs, which can come in handy if you spend most of your time at home.</p> <p><strong>Take advantage of rebates in your state</strong></p> <p>Whether you live in New South Wales or Tasmania, most Australians dread the day their energy bill arrives in the mail.</p> <p>New research has even shown that<a href="https://mozo.com.au/energy/savings-tips/is-your-energy-bill-your-household-s-biggest-financial-stressor"> electricity costs is one of the top two financial stressors</a> for Australian households.</p> <p>So to ease the pinch of high bill, it’s worth looking into various government energy rebates you may be eligible for.</p> <p>There are a range of rebates available from solar battery storage to owning energy efficient appliances, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one you can apply for. </p> <p>For instance,<a href="https://www.moneymag.com.au/state-energy-rebate"> the Seniors Energy Rebate</a>, which is available in NSW, provides independent retirees with a $200 rebate on their electricity bill every year, while pensioners or veterans may be eligible for a $285 low-income household rebate.</p> <p>Just keep in mind that you may need to supply relevant documentation to confirm your eligibility, like your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, so be sure to have these handy when you apply.</p> <p><strong>Get picky with your plan</strong></p> <p>From picking up a new toaster to locking down a good deal on your phone bill, there’s no denying<a href="https://www.downsizing.com.au/news/630/New-report-shows-how-retirement-village-consumers-can-save-thousands-by-shopping-around">the value of shopping around</a> for the best price.</p> <p>And as deregulated energy markets, like New South Wales and Victoria continue to grow, the result can only mean competitive pricing and more options for customers.</p> <p>Following a Mozo number crunch of 427 electricity plans from 37 retailers, our data revealed that households have the potential to save an average of $554 a year, just by shopping around.</p> <p>So once you’re ready to start shopping around on energy plans, be sure to have your most recent bill nearby to make the process smoother.</p> <p>It’s important to look beyond flashy discounts and incentives many retailers offer new customers and instead consider whether the plan provides long term benefits and savings.</p> <p>Making sure there are no lock-in contracts or exit fees is also important because it can give you the flexibility to move between plans if better offers become available.</p> <p><strong>Go heavy with your sheets</strong></p> <p>As the seasons change, many Australians use it as an opportunity to give their bedroom a facelift with some new decor.</p> <p>But during winter, it’s also the chance to give your space an energy efficient upgrade.</p> <p>There’s nothing worse than a bad nights sleep or waking up in a with frozen fingers and toes, so it might be best to start with switching out your thinner bedsheets for thicker and heavier fabrics, like fleece.</p> <p>This will keep you warm during colder nights, without having to resort to the switching on the heating or electric blanket.</p> <p>Aside from being somewhat inexpensive, fleece sheets are great at insulating heat, are more durable and can absorb water or moisture faster than regular sheets.</p> <p><em>This is a guest post from <a href="https://mozo.com.au/">Mozo</a>, a trailblazer in energy comparison, providing Australians with practical energy saving tips and expert analysis.</em></p> <p><em>Mozo believes that getting a better deal on energy doesn’t have to be complicated and that no Australian should be paying more than they have for the same service.</em></p> <p><em>Written by Ceyda Erem. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.downsizing.com.au/news/662/Winter-is-coming-Simple-ways-to-keep-energy-costs-down">Downsizing.com.au.</a></em></p>

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The use of drones: What does the law say?

<p>The rise of the digital age has been marked by an expansion in the types of technologies available to consumers.</p> <p>Perhaps one of the more controversial technologies to hit shelves in recent years is the drone.</p> <p>Consumer drones, also known as ‘unmanned aerial vehicles,’ allow users to photograph, record and transmit information using remotely controlled, airborne craft.</p> <p>They offer many advantages; enabling users to obtain aerial footage without the need for manned aircraft such as helicopters, which can be expensive to operate.</p> <p>They also allow users to take photos and videos in situations which would otherwise be inaccessible, dangerous or illegal to reach.</p> <p>For these reasons, they have become popular with real estate photographers, police, and even the media.</p> <p>However, <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-impact-of-drones-on-privacy/">the use of drones has raised questions about the extent to which they may impinge on privacy rights</a> – and, perhaps even more importantly, the ways in which they may pose a threat to public safety.</p> <p>Last week a man was fined $850 <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-18/drone-fine-man-hit-with-24850-penalty-for-interfering-with/5977594">after he attempted to use his drone to obtain footage of a siege in Melbourne’s western suburbs</a>.</p> <p>Authorities believe he was trying to take pictures of a police operation – but his efforts didn’t go to plan.</p> <p>His drone lost control after it hit a power pole and it was confiscated by police.</p> <p>Aviation authorities say the incident highlights the dangers of using drones in situations involving emergency personnel.</p> <p>There are also concerns about the use of drones near large crowds or gatherings as there is the potential to cause injury to members of the public if used inappropriately.</p> <p>It is believed that the drone’s operator was attempting to capture footage of the race when he lost control.</p> <p><strong>Current Laws Regarding Drone Use</strong></p> <p><strong>So, what does the law say about the use of drones?</strong></p> <p>The use of drones in Australia is regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which has developed specific regulations regulating their operation.</p> <p>There are two different sets of regulations which apply to drones – commercial regulations for those who use their drones for business operations, and civil regulations which apply to hobby users.</p> <p>If you’re wanting to use your drone for business operations, the law requires you to obtain an ‘Operator’s Certificate’ – similar to a driver’s licence, but for drones.</p> <p>You also need to have all commercial flights approved by CASA, which involves lodging paperwork and a flight plan.</p> <p>If these requirements are not complied with, you may have your Operator’s Certificate revoked, be issued with an infringement notice or even face criminal charges.</p> <p>For hobbyists, the rules are slightly more relaxed, however you will be expected to comply with certain requirements in the interests of public safety.</p> <p>Users must ensure that they only fly their drones during the day, at least 30 metres away from other people and below 400 feet in the air.</p> <p>Drones must also not be flown over crowds or large gatherings, or within 5 kilometres of an airport.</p> <p>If you fail to adhere to these regulations, you could cop a fine of up to $8,500.</p> <p>You could also face criminal prosecution if your actions injure another person or their property.</p> <p><strong>A need for better regulation?</strong></p> <p>A spate of safety incidents, coupled with concerns that drone use may impinge upon privacy rights, led the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs to conduct <a href="http://www.cnet.com/au/news/parliament-committee-warns-about-drone-privacy/">an inquiry in July into the laws governing drone use in Australia.</a></p> <p>It found that as drones becomes more commonplace, tougher laws are required to deal with privacy and safety concerns, as there are a number of gaps in the current laws.</p> <p>The Committee made six recommendations – including for CASA to include information about Australia’s privacy laws on safety pamphlets distributed to vendors of drones, and for the pamphlets to ‘highlight remotely piloted aircraft users’ responsibility not to monitor, record or disclose individuals’ private activities without their consent.’</p> <p>The Committee also recommended that the government introduce specific new laws providing protection against ‘privacy-invasive technologies’ such as drones.</p> <p>It is hoped that these laws will be introduced by July 2015, however it is not yet certain what form the new laws will take.</p> <p><em>Written by Ugur Nedim. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-use-of-drones-what-does-the-law-say/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers. </a></em></p>

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Some infant formula milks contain more sugar than soda drinks new research reveals

<p>Some formula milks have double the sugar per serving than a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35831125">glass of soda</a>. That was the key finding of our <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-020-1252-0">global investigation</a> into the sugar content of infant formula and follow-on milks. But perhaps more shocking is the fact that there are so few regulations in place to control sugar content and to make sure consumers are well informed.</p> <p>We all love sugar. But too much of the sweet stuff can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133084/">dental disease</a>. Our preference for sugary foods stems from our primitive ancestors, who were scavengers and sought out sweet foods for energy. But if we are hardwired to like sweet foods, being fed lots of sugar as babies can increase our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738223/">desire for sweet things</a> and increase the risk of developing disease in later life.</p> <p>Breast milk is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882692/">the recommended</a> source of nutrition for infants, especially during the first six months of life. Although it is sweet and high in energy, the sugar is mainly lactose and the content is specific to the needs of the growing infant. Conversely, infant formula milks have a standardised make-up and contain added sugars such as corn syrup which are added during production and are not found in breast milk. This is bad for babies because high consumption of added sugars <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267219313401?via%3Dihub">may contribute</a> to tooth decay, poor diet and lead to obesity in children.</p> <p>We investigated the sugar content of 212 commercially available infant formula milk products targeted at infants under three. The products were being sold in supermarkets in 11 countries. We collected data on sugar content from nutrition labels and compared it to average breast milk compositions and sugar content guidelines. We also noted the clarity of the labels and the marketing strategies used on the packaging.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-020-1252-0">Our findings</a> revealed that over half of the products contained more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. In many cases, the sugar content was over 7.5g per 100ml, which exceeds <a href="http://www.babymilkaction.org/archives/8274">European parliament</a> recommended levels for infants. For example, we found that a powdered product for infants under six months sold in France contained 8.2g of sugar per 100ml, or nearly two teaspoons, while a ready-to-drink milk formula for infants under 12 months sold in the UK contained 8.1g of sugar per 100ml.</p> <p>This comes at a time when sugar-sweetened beverages have been subject to widespread taxation to reduce their sugar content due to <a href="https://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/PPA-Building-Momentum-Report-WEB.pdf">negative impacts on health</a>. As a result, many formula products included in our study contained almost double the sugar of well known drinks such as <a href="https://www.coca-cola.co.uk/drinks/fanta/fanta-orange">Fanta Orange</a>.</p> <p><strong>Nutritional information</strong></p> <p>Obtaining information from the labels of these formula products was difficult as the fonts used were small and the facts provided varied between countries. For example, some products listed sugar content per 100g while others listed it per 100kcal. This is despite <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/3521/regulation/18/made">guidelines</a>, such as those in the UK, which state that values should be expressed as kJ/kcal per 100ml.</p> <p>There are also <a href="https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/international-code-marketing-breastmilk-substitutes-resources/the-code/">codes</a> in place to limit the marketing of infant formula products because they are not the best way to feed a growing baby. But most of these are voluntary codes of practice which manufacturers do not have to abide by.</p> <p>Even guidelines which are enforced by law can be side-stepped by manufacturers, since they are <a href="https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/content/dam/gb/reports/health/dont-push-it.pdf">not strictly monitored</a> and have loopholes. In some cases, manufacturers themselves have even influenced their development.</p> <p><a href="https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/content/dam/gb/reports/health/dont-push-it.pdf">For example</a>it was revealed that the industry has funded research into infant health and has given doctors free formula products. This almost certainly helps ensure that their sale is affected as little as possible by such guidelines. It is possible that the sale of infant formula products has increased worldwide as a result.</p> <p>The World Health Organization’s <a href="https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/international-code-marketing-breastmilk-substitutes-resources/the-code/">International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes</a> stipulates that infant formula products should not be promoted over breastfeeding. <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/3521/regulation/17/made">In the UK</a> the guidelines state that the labels on products targeted at infants under six months should not include images of infants or any other pictures that idealise their use.</p> <p>But we found that many of the formulas had labels that included images of infants or cute toys of animals, presumably designed to entice caregivers into buying. Such findings are not unsurprising as there is evidence that <a href="http://www.babymilkaction.org/monitoring-global">harmful marketing strategies</a> have been used extensively by infant formula and follow-on milk manufacturers.</p> <p><strong>Recommendations</strong></p> <p>Our findings are alarming, as is the potential negative impact of the high sugar content on the health of babies. We urge parents and caregivers to opt for breast milk whenever possible. However, to help those families unable to breastfeed their babies, we also have two key recommendations for policymakers:</p> <p>1) Regulate the amount and type of sugar in infant formula products as a matter of urgency. Encourage manufacturers to aim for formulations as close to breast milk as possible. Such regulations could be conducted in a similar way to the taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages which have been <a href="https://www.worldobesity.org/resources/policy-dossiers/pd-1/case-studies">implemented across the world</a>.</p> <p>2) We are also calling for the mandatory disclosure of added sugar by manufacturers and suggest that this could be implemented alongside the introduction of a clear front-of-pack labelling system. Such disclosures and clear labelling could aid consumers to make informed choices about what products they purchase.</p> <p><em>Written by Gemma Bridge. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/some-infant-formula-milks-contain-more-sugar-than-soda-drinks-new-research-129655"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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