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Victoria's New Normal (General)

by dulan drift, Thursday, September 10, 2020, 10:02 (14 days ago)

This will be a 'serial posting' exploring the dark-side of Covid restrictions in Victoria, Australia. Feel free Dan, or anyone, to jump in and comment.

On September 3, (cue Dan throat clearing) a pregnant mother, Zoe Buhler, was arrested in her home in Ballarat, Victoria, in front of her partner and two children. She was handcuffed and taken off by the police, still in her pajamas. All electronic devices in the house were seized - regardless of who owned them. Below is an edited transcript of the arrest (video here - timestamp 1:03):

Police: Right - now you’re under arrest with relation to Incitement. (timestamp 1:03)
Zoe Buhler: Incitement?
P: Never... You’re not obliged to say or do anything but anything you say or do may be given in evidence.
ZB: Excuse me, incitement for what? What, what on earth?
(Big police officer moves into handcuff her)
Buhler’s Boyfriend: (takes phone continues filming): Yeah what’s this about?
P: Yeah just calm down and let me finish. It’s in relation to a Facebook post in relation to a lockdown protest put on for Saturday.
ZB: Yeah and i wasn’t breaking any laws by doing that.
P: You are actually. You are breaking the law - that’s why i am arresting you - in relation to Incitement.
BF: How can you arrest her? That’s…
ZB: In front of my two children
BF: Can’t you just say to her ‘Take the post down’? C’mon!
ZB: I’m happy to delete the post, this is ridiculous.
P: You’re not obliged (inaudible) cautioned you on your rights do you understand? You’re not obliged to say anything but …
ZB: Yeah that’s fine but..
P: Anything you do say or do may be given in evidence. Do you understand that?
ZB: Yeah that’s fine, but my two kids are here and i have an ultrasound in an hour. Like i’m happy to delete the post.
P: You also have the right to communicate with a legal practitioner. Do you understand those rights?
ZB: Yeah this is ridiculous
BF: Yeah this is a bit unfair, c’mon mate. How ‘bout she won’t do the event. It’s not like it’s already happened. She made a post - so that’s an offence?
P: Well she already committed the offence.
BF: So that’s an offence?
P: So, i’m not gonna argue. Now - search warrant - that entitles us, and we are required to seize any computers, any mobile devices you have…
ZB: What on earth?
BF: Yeah could i just get your badge for a second there mate?
ZB: (crying - inaudible)
P: (getting angry) Just let me finish! Any mobile you’ve got, ok, so what we want is any mobile you've got (big police officer is collecting phones)
ZB: That’s actually my sister’s phone
P: Well it doesn’t matter. Any device in this house we’re taking.
BF: Ahrr, you’re not taking my phone (police come to take his phone)
It’s my phone, it’s got nothing to do with her! (takes phone - recording finishes)

She has since been released from jail on bail pending her trial. She faces a big fine or up to 2 years jail. Following her arrest, there was an outpouring of abuse online, directed not at the police but at the woman, and another woman who was later arrested for protesting her arrest. “Stupid women!”, “Jail her!”, “Tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists!” were typical comments.

The next day the police smashed in the door of another person-of-interest, James Bartolo, and arrested him for the same ‘crime’. (The ‘progressive’ media described them as “conspiracy theorists”, without providing details - which made it ok apparently.)

So what is the crime of ‘Incitement’ exactly? Here’s the (edited) post she made (since taken down):

PEACEFUL PROTEST!!!
All social distancing measures are to be followed so we don’t get arrested please. Please wear a mask. Sep 5 is Freedom Day. END LOCKDOWNS. STAND FOR HUMAN RIGHTS. WE LIVE IN A *FREE* COUNTRY. (included protest time/location)
(It did go ahead - participants were arrested, handcuffed, and/or fined.)

Bloody Hell! So Posting about a peaceful protest is a crime. That’s Thought Police stuff, complete with Chilling Effect. How did we lurch into this ‘new normal’ so suddenly? Where is this going?

State of Disaster

by dulan drift, Thursday, September 10, 2020, 11:15 (14 days ago) @ dulan drift

The above arrest was made possible by the introduction of a new legal regime in Victoria. Having already declared a State of Emergency in March, Andrews then availed himself of the tool-set of powers entailed in that. Chief among these is the power to unilaterally declare a State of Disaster. Andrews did this on Aug 2. This declaration automatically invests him with dictatorial-like powers. That’s not hyperbole. According to the Parliament of Victoria website:

"Authorities have been empowered to impose restrictions ...that suspend constitutional norms (and) prevail over anything to the contrary in any state law.

Invoking these powers sets aside the normal workings of legislative and executive powers and concentrates broad regulation-making powers in an official within the executive government. ( i.e State Premier, Daniel Andrews)

Once these special powers are triggered, the executive government is typically authorised to make regulations with respect to anything deemed necessary."

In other words, Absolute Power. Because the powers are so extreme, they are limited to one month. However, on Aug 24, Andrews said he needed to extend for a year. With the help of The Greens and an anti-censorship rep(!), they got 6 months.

It’s only the second time in history that a State of Disaster has been declared in Victoria. (The first time was a few months ago, by the same trigger-happy premier, during the bushfire season (which resulted in 3 deaths in Vic).

On the same day the Covid State of Disaster was declared (Aug 2), Stage 4 Lockdown Restrictions were announced. (God help us if it’s like typhoons and there’s a Stage 5!):

A curfew will be in place from 8pm this evening (and) from 8pm to 5am every evening.
Outside these hours, you are only allowed to leave your house for 1 of the following four reasons:
Exercise once a day for up to 1 hour within a 5km radius of your home. Gatherings limited to 2.
Purchase food and necessary supplies. 1 person per household.
Health care.
Work. Study must be done remotely.

Police patrol the streets and have fined Victorians “more than $2.9 million for breaking curfew over the past month.”
The fine for breaching Stay at Home orders is $1652 on the spot, up to $10,000.
You can report breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s directives, by calling the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 (ominous number - has got 13 and 444 sounds like death death death in Chinese) or submitting an online report.

As we saw, protesting these restrictions is banned. As is discussing plans for protesting them. These decrees are backed by aggressive enforcement.

Police commissioner Shane Patton said, “On at least four occasions in the last week, we've had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out because...they weren't adhering to the Chief Health Officer's guidelines, they weren't providing their name and address."

Daniel Andrews said: “This is not going to be a pleasant experience... but I have a message: this is not about punishment but protection.”

WTF! Smashing car windows and dragging people out to show ID’s!!! And that’s for our protection!? In Taiwan, which heroically overcame the White Terror fascism, the police can’t randomly stop people and demand ID on the street, let alone smash their car windows in - it would be utterly bizarre. In Victoria, it’s the 'new normal'.

Dan Andrews riding high

by dulan drift, Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 20:00 (9 days ago) @ dulan drift

But hang on, maybe these totalitarian laws are necessary? Covid is an ‘unprecedented’ situation that calls for an ‘unprecedented’ response, right?

That sounds ok - until you take a look at how Victoria got itself into this mess in the first place. Covid didn’t impact Australia in the exponential graph way until mid March. It was lucky to that extent - governments were able to watch the tsunami roll around the world and fortify the barricades. Given that benefit of fore-knowledge, Australia did a pretty good job. By May-June, the last few dribs and drabs were being mopped up. Australia was within a hair's breadth of eradication.

Dan was in 7th-heaven - on TV every day giving Fidel Castro-length press conferences telling everyone what to do. No opposition voices because it was ‘not the right time to talk about that’ - basking in an approval-rating surge to 75%. That’s crazy-high in politics. Everyone got a bump but Dan was the most popular of all the premiers - and 7 points clear of the PM, Scott Morrison on 68%.

“We’re all in this together!” Dan kept saying, while urging everyone to 'listen to the experts.' And at every press conference he was flanked by his faithful Chief Medical Officer, Brett Sutton, who likewise crowed: “We've got some of the brightest minds in the world in our health services, laboratories, research sector and emergency management sector. I'm confident we're well placed to meet the challenges ahead, whatever they might be."

They say in politics ‘Never waste a good crisis’ - Dan Andrews was wasting so much as one airborne droplet of it. On the PR front, at least, things couldn’t have been going better. Until they weren’t....

Security Guard Sex Scandal

by dulan drift, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 18:04 (8 days ago) @ dulan drift

‘Enter’ the infamous case of the Security Guard bonking an infected patient at the quarantine hotel he/they was/were guarding. How much of that story is true is not clear, but it did escape from hotel quarantine through someone. A less exciting reportsays it was a hotel staff, possibly a cleaner. The same report says “several guards at the Rydges on Swanston were sacked for harassing female hotel staff.”
The net result was a ‘2nd Wave’ where cases went from zero to over 530+ per day by July 27.

The initial reaction, which i also had, was blame the idiot security guards for being Aussie dickhead male types - which some of them were - but whether it escaped through a security guard or a hotel cleaner - these are minimum wage workers. It’s not good enough to say to a minimum wage worker ‘Well i told you clearly several times to prevent Covid re-entering Australia and causing a health crisis and an economic meltdown with CALAMITOUS SOCIAL IMPACTS!!! That’s not the job of the person getting 18 bucks an hour. That’s the bosses job - to manage the response.
Following increased questioning, Dan Andrews announced an investigation and appointed former Children's Court of Victoria judge, Jennifer Coate to head it.
For several weeks thereafter, Andrews refused to answer questions ‘because the matter was under investigation’. This is a known ‘Yes Minister’ stunt. It usually works - an excuse to deflect until hopefully it’s out of the news cycle. Unfortunately for Dan, the head of the enquiry, announced, “unprompted, that there was no legal reason to suppress public discussion of matters before her investigation.”
“Coate’s comments blew away any last vestige of political cover for Andrews and his ministers to bat away questions about the quarantine failures that have led to most (if not all) of Melbourne’s deadly COVID-19 second wave.”

From that point on, it started to get sticky for our man Dan.

An Aside

by dulan drift, Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 17:52 (2 days ago) @ dulan drift

Two things stick out for me as battlefronts: Freedom of Speech, Right to Privacy.

What percentage of the population do you need to get herd immunity to that? To then institute an Orwellian model of governance? From which there's almost no coming back.

70%? Then lockdown the rest? That's doable - we know that coz it's doneable. (Russia, China)

70% popularity rating in a democracy is insanely good - if you can get that level of public support (even as you open a portal to dictatorship), you're all set. That’s what our man Dan Andrews has been persistently posting. Much to my 'horror'. (Was that Kurtz's final realization? The 70% equation?)

I'm sure Andrews won't go on to become Australia's Xi Jinping, but he's laying down a trail to that place, a 'precedent' for 'unprecedented times'.

So why is he so popular? Part of the trouble is that it's a buy-now-pay-later scheme in Australia. All businesses are getting paid to be closed or to make up the gap.

That's nice. Until we have to pay it back - with two of Australia's top three main earners (both non-essentials for the customers) - foreign students and tourism - smashed for the foreseeable future.

Right now, economic hardship is still an abstract concept in Australia - but it will be measured in human misery down the track. To those foisting this regime onto society: if you wanted to start a class war - you're going exactly the right way about it.

An Aside

by dan @, Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 18:50 (1 day, 23 hours, 22 min. ago) @ dulan drift

"So why is he so popular? Part of the trouble is that it's a buy-now-pay-later scheme in Australia. All businesses are getting paid to be closed or to make up the gap.

That's nice. Until we have to pay it back - with two of Australia's top three main earners (both non-essentials for the customers) - foreign students and tourism - smashed for the foreseeable future. "

This is going on in the US as well. Trump, in the same wisdom that led him to multiple bankruptcies before somehow becoming president in spite of losing the popular vote, has put a furlough on federal social security income tax, which equals something like 8.5% of income. So everyone is going to see their net income go up by 8.5% until the end of the year, at which time is all has to be paid back in addition to normal taxes, which means our net income will eventually be reduced by 8.5% or, put another way, that just our SS tax will be a whopping 17% after the election in November.

It's the most insane, manipulative, irresponsible, idiotic move imaginable. And yet, a significant percentage of Americans are just stupid enough, because the shitty US education system never bothered to teach them basic math let alone critical thinking, to be swayed by this horseshit.

I think we're reaching a point in history where technology is winning, meaning that the rich and powerful can use technology to manipulate the poor, weak, and stupid like never before. A democracy, especially now, needs not only an informed public, but a public capable of analyzing that information. What we're seeing is the information being manipulated beyond the ability of the public to critically evaluate it. As a result, democracy is indeed disintegrating, or, more precisely, being dismantled or perhaps made impotent.

An Aside

by dulan drift, Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 17:14 (1 day, 0 hours, 58 min. ago) @ dan

I think we're reaching a point in history where technology is winning, meaning that the rich and powerful can use technology to manipulate the poor, weak, and stupid like never before. A democracy, especially now, needs not only an informed public, but a public capable of analyzing that information. What we're seeing is the information being manipulated beyond the ability of the public to critically evaluate it. As a result, democracy is indeed disintegrating, or, more precisely, being dismantled or perhaps made impotent.

Man, later, like a thousand years maybe, in some cyber-revolutionary period, that quote will be plucked from the data cloud to explain what happened in 2020.

The Hotel Quarantine Investigation

by dulan drift, Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 17:31 (1 day, 0 hours, 41 min. ago) @ dulan drift

Apart from not being able to duck questions, witness testimony emerged from the investigation. Michael Tait, a nurse with 20 years experience, who was working at two of the quarantine hotels said:

"We didn't have medium gloves until day four. We did not get N95 masks until day eight. We never got hoods, face shields or shoe coverings even though we were told we would.”

He described the Department of Health and Human Services policies as "shambolic" - rules changed "every day, if not every hour".

As for the security guards, they "didn't understand the importance or even the use of PPE" leaving used masks and gloves on the ground, whilst mingling with guests without masks. "I saw security guards with their masks down underneath their chin, eating their lunch with gloves on."

The state of the hotels was also a disgrace. Reports/photos of rooms not being cleaned between patients, let alone ‘deep cleaned’, while evidence from an enquiry into a suicide said, “Safer Care Victoria found the detainee received a welfare check (that’s a medical check-up - not a cheque check) five days into his detention. It was the only welfare check made during the nine days before his death.”
The whole program from top to bottom was a mind-boggling shemozzle.
The only surprise is that the virus didn’t escape sooner.

[image]
Security guards on guard at a Melbourne quarantine hotel. Kinda like this one - reminds me of Taiwan in the old days after lunchtime.

[image]
Stains on sheets at a Melbourne quarantine hotel. Hope it wasn't from the suicide guy.

State of Disaster

by dan @, Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 18:37 (1 day, 23 hours, 36 min. ago) @ dulan drift

I don't understand this at all, but then I've never been to Australia. It just flies in the face of every image I had of Australia. I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance.

Victoria's New Normal

by dan @, Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 18:34 (1 day, 23 hours, 38 min. ago) @ dulan drift

I'm just getting around to this thread. I'm speechless. The NYT article has been taken down but the YouTube video is still up. Incredible. I'm not sure how to react. I thought Australia was sort of a, call me an idiot, freedom loving sort of place?

Victoria's New Normal

by dulan drift, Thursday, September 24, 2020, 17:36 (37 minutes ago) @ dan

I thought Australia was sort of a, call me an idiot, freedom loving sort of place?

The trouble with living overseas for a long time is that it gives you perspective on your home country.

For all America's bumbling dysfunction, at least it's dynamic - maybe that tracks back to you guys having had a democratic revolution. Like France, Spain, even Taiwan - the rare example of a peaceful one.

Australia's still got the Queen of England as the official head of state

Breaking News

by dulan drift, Thursday, September 24, 2020, 17:39 (33 minutes ago) @ dulan drift

The Investigation has cleared up at least one unsolved mystery: Who’s brainwave was it to use a lot of taxpayer money to keep Victoria (and Australia) Covid-Safe by paying private security guard firms big bucks - who in turn pay minimum wage to muscley guys who didn’t have and weren’t given any medical training - and like picking up chicks at the pubs they usually work at - to man the Covid-Frontline?

Turns out it was nobody. Phew! That was a close one for the Andrews’ Government. The security firms just materialized out of thin air and started doing it!

This new report clarifies it finally:

“(Vic Job’s Minister, Martin Pakula’s) evidence that they did not know who made the decision comes after seven senior Victorian government officials also told the inquiry they did not know who decided to use the private­ security guards linked to the virus escaping quarantine.”

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