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Victoria's New Normal (General)

by dulan drift, Thursday, September 10, 2020, 10:02 (77 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 (77 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 (71 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 (70 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 (64 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 (64 days 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 (63 days 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 (63 days 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 (64 days 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 (64 days 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 (62 days 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 (62 days 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.”

Refusal of ADF help

by dulan drift, Friday, September 25, 2020, 17:24 (61 days ago) @ dulan drift

All of the above could have been avoided, as it was in other states, if Dan Andrews hadn’t been too up himself to accept help from the Australian Defence Force.

Once the chief investigator said, ‘Yeah-no - go ahead mate - you’re free to comment - it’s an investigation not a court case': Andrews offered this:
“I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there was hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no. That‘s not, in my judgment, accurate.”

Technically, he was right there - it’s wasn’t hundreds, it was a thousand. He also swore:

“It has been consistently put to me, that me or others, have consistently said no to help. (truth) That‘s simply wrong. (lie) That is simply wrong. (lie) And the notion that that has occurred – that’s just not right.” (lie)

Meanwhile, a truckload of facts, a convoy of constructions-site trucks, were backing up to the enquiry, making loud reverse beeping noises, hydraulics whirring, as they dumped cold hard evidence.

Initially it was ‘he said/several high ranking ADF staff said’ but the evidence expanded to correspondence; a whopping 140 pages of people begging him to accept ADF help, including an email trail with the PM. The email “detail(s) the pressure Mr Morrison placed on the Premier to accept support from the Australian Defence Force” (and Dan’s refusal to accept it).

Geez Dan, how on earth did you ever think you were gonna get away with that crap? Is that the same narcissism coursing through your character that also emboldened you to declare dictatorial powers for yourself?

But what's fanning the flames of that narcissistic bushfire? Who's the weather in this, the 40+C - the big northerly - feeding in the flattery - governing the direction?

Cool Health Minister quote

by dulan drift, Friday, September 25, 2020, 17:42 (61 days ago) @ dulan drift

As Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos's department, DHHS, was designated "control agency" (designated by who?) for the hotel quarantine program. She responded at the Investigation:

"The terminology has a particular meaning under our emergency management framework and unfortunately it's been bandied about quite a lot and I think it is highly misunderstood as a term. It doesn't mean that DHHS had control as such. I think the best way to understand it is a coordination role."

She will end up being the sacrificial lamb - but it will be just that. This is one of those movies where it goes all the way to the top.

Edit: The next day after posting the above, Jenny Mikakos did resign. Yes, she was an overpaid incompetent 'expert', but it will be a travesty of justice if she's made the overall patsy for the hotel quarantine debacle.

CCP Cooperation - Belt and Road

by dulan drift, Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 18:29 (57 days ago) @ dulan drift

As Joni Mitchell put it: Funny how it always seems to go…

When something looked, “just not right” about the Proximal Origins paper, a scratch below the surface re Lipkin et al led to decades deep tendrils of CCP entanglement. So how about Victoria’s erstwhile Premier, Daniel Andrews?

Let’s google Daniel Andrews China - just see… Oh…

Daniel Andrews hits back on China deals…
Daniel Andrews Belt and Road rejected by …
Belt and Road Victoria China deal wasn’t seen by DFAT...

To put it politely, the first thing that jumps out at you is Dan’s raging boner for BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).

In 2018 Andrews announced he had signed the following contract with the CCP re BRI.
Here’s the title ‘writ large’:

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
BETWEEN
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF VICTORIA
OF AUSTRALIA
AND THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND REFORM COMMISSION OF
THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA
COOPERATION WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF
THE SILK ROAD ECONOMIC BELT AND THE 21ST CENTURY MARITIME SILK ROAD INITIATIVE
(their uppercase, my bold)

The document waffles on for three pages. The opposition claimed that it’s big on generalizations but there are no details of what the fuck the deal actually involves.

But that’s not correct. The details are there. In fact they’re emphasised to the hilt.

CCP Daniel Andrews Contract - what he signed Vic up for

by dulan drift, Thursday, October 01, 2020, 17:52 (55 days ago) @ dulan drift

The main points:

Cooperation (the word features 23 times in a three-page document - that’s over 7 a page - at least one per paragraph. Plus synonyms galore. So if you sign this contract, whatever you may want to quibble about later, don’t say you didn’t know you were meant to cooperate with the CCP.)

Working within the Framework (built by the CCP)

Mutual Benefits (so remember, this is not just us scratching your back)

Policy Development (now we’re getting to the pointy end)

Extensive Consultation (especially with policy development)

Common Future (in which we will) jointly combat global challenges. (Geez - so prophetic!)

Respect and Mutual Trust - provide each other with support (so don't 'hurt our feelings')

All the points are versions of each other - cooperation in the new era - so don't be criticizing us. Some praise would be nice. We provide the billions - all you gotta do is play along. If you break that compact of cooperation within the framework of policy development and a common future, then i’m sorry, you’ll be punished with the Economic Belt and lockdown until your thoughts are realigned with the 21st Century new era.


It concludes:
This MOU will remain in effect for five years and will be
automatically extended for subsequent five year periods and so forth.

BRI Contract - extract

by dulan drift, Saturday, October 03, 2020, 17:37 (53 days ago) @ dulan drift

Here's a sample. It goes on exactly like this for three pages:

"Based on the aspiration of promoting the silk road spirit centering on peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefits and aspiration to further enrich such spirit in keeping with the new era; welcoming and supporting China’s initiative to jointly promote the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21St Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (hereinafter referred to as the Belt and Road Initiative); willing to enhance practical cooperation within the framework of jointly building the Belt and Road, the Parties decide to work together to explore and form synergy in cooperation, enhance policy coordination, and further promote friendly cooperation."

BRI Contract - extract

by dan @, Saturday, October 03, 2020, 20:24 (53 days ago) @ dulan drift

I'm going to have to sit down at some point and commit to reading through this thread in detail. All I know about COVID is what I read. We're almost completely untouched by it here in rural northern Japan. I have to wear a mask at work, and that's it. We worked from home for a couple months last spring, but otherwise it's life as usual. The only thing we can't do is travel without quarantining for two weeks before we return. So, for example, if we want to leave Aomori Prefecture to go to Taiwan, we'd have to spend two weeks in quarantine in Tokyo on return before continuing on to Aomori. But once we're here, it's easy breezy.

I have been backing up this forum. Things are happening too fast to take in all at once. I'd like to make sure we can come back two, five, ten years down the road and see what happened.

BRI Contract - extract

by dulan drift, Monday, October 05, 2020, 17:12 (51 days ago) @ dan

We're almost completely untouched by it here in rural northern Japan. I have to wear a mask at work, and that's it. We worked from home for a couple months last spring, but otherwise it's life as usual. The only thing we can't do is travel without quarantining for two weeks before we return. So, for example, if we want to leave Aomori Prefecture to go to Taiwan, we'd have to spend two weeks in quarantine in Tokyo on return before continuing on to Aomori. But once we're here, it's easy breezy.

Same here - then there's all the creepy surveillance shit that's being justified in the name of Covid throughout the world. That then takes on a life of its own. It becomes the event. When was the last time you read an article that examined the origin of the virus? For me it's several months - and i'm scanning the news for it. If we have to accept the 'new normal' - let's at least know why.


I have been backing up this forum. Things are happening too fast to take in all at once. I'd like to make sure we can come back two, five, ten years down the road and see what happened.

Great. Formosahut is a good place for us to file referenced bits of info while they're fresh off the tree. Later we can see how things transpired from there. I like doing that with the Weather Diary already. The Miramar-wiki has come in handy too.

2019 Trip to China

by dulan drift, Monday, October 05, 2020, 17:28 (51 days ago) @ dulan drift

The following is from Andrews’ travel expense account (my bold). Politicians use long sentences so it’s broken down for clarity purposes:

Purpose of travel

From 25 to 29 April 2019, I travelled to China to visit Beijing and Nanjing. The purpose of this travel was to represent Victoria as the only Australian sub-national leader at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing,...
(only Australian leader who marched boldly into the CCP’s den? What does that tell you right there?)

...and to launch the 40th anniversary celebrations with our sister-state Jiangsu.
(hmm, what’s up with all this sister-state stuff? let’s have a look at that later...)

My travel aligns with Victorian Government priorities to cement Victoria’s reputation as China’s gateway to Australia,...
(Yeah-no - just before we pour the China gateway cement Dan, can we go through the details of this gateway deal you’ve single-handedly, literally, signed Australia up to?)

...and demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the mutually beneficial relationship with our largest trading partner.
(So, to be clear, showing support for humans having their rights trampled (e.g. Hong Kong-Xinjiang-Tibet) by a totalitarian regime that read 1984 and thought it was a ‘how to’ manual - would be mutually beneficial going forward - or not so much?)

This was also my first official visit to China since (last year) signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to cooperate on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),...
(heroically visited, we should add, against a Cat-5 head-wind of warnings to: Don’t do that.)

...providing opportunities to discuss (great politico-speak for ‘negotiating shady deals’)

...how this can be leveraged to the greatest benefit to Victoria.
(‘leverage’ - that’s an interesting choice of word - wonder if the CCP is thinking how Dan Andrews can be leveraged for the greatest benefit to the CCP?)


Great picture from Lisa Tucker - good composition
[image]

BRI Contract - extract

by dan @, Monday, October 05, 2020, 18:47 (51 days ago) @ dulan drift

Same here - then there's all the creepy surveillance shit that's being justified in the name of Covid throughout the world. That then takes on a life of its own. It becomes the event. When was the last time you read an article that examined the origin of the virus? For me it's several months - and i'm scanning the news for it. If we have to accept the 'new normal' - let's at least know why.

Good point. This is reminiscent, in some ways, of the claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq leading up to the first Iraq war. They were debunked then, even before the war as I recall, and nothing came of it. The main justification for the war was a lie, and look what that has led to. Lives are still being lost, what, nearly 30 years later? And nobody, ever, was prosecuted for the lie. What's worse is that the world doesn't remember, figuratively speaking, and it doesn't care. The same is going to happen here.

When in China - do what the CCP tell you to do...

by dulan drift, Thursday, October 08, 2020, 18:40 (48 days ago) @ dan

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

This Official visit, my fifth in five years, built on the significant relationship the Victorian Government has developed with China ...
(= developed with CCP)

...compounded through annual visits and cooperation across a range of sectors.
(compounded? Was that a Freudian slip? Don’t we usually use that like ‘he compounded his original error by making more to cover it up’?)

Victoria’s invitation to attend the second BRF, having attended the first in 2017, was confirmation of our reputation as the state leading Australian engagement in China.
(Is going out on a limb to do dark deals with a cyber-surveillance superpower one of those things you wanna be trumpeting you’re No. 1 at?)

Benefits of the trip to Victoria include:
positioning Victoria for future BRI opportunities, particularly under the BRI MoU
, (full nose-trough mode) and promoting our strengths and capabilities to key Chinese Government officials. (Key CCP dudes - all men.)
promoting Victoria as a trusted (suck-hole) partner for trade and investment, and for cooperation in priority areas, including infrastructure...

(Now we’re getting warm! Dan Andrews - Mr 70% - rode to fame as the ‘big infrastructure guy’. The man who ‘gets things done’. The mystery always was: Where the heck you getting all that money from?)

...further strengthening Victoria’s relationship with Jiangsu by launching the 40th anniversary celebrations of our sister-state relationship and meeting with senior Jiangsu Government leadership

(Hell! Sounds like this is veering a bit GoT-style incestuous. Victoria has two Sister States in China now - Dan announced a new sister in 2015 , so why not form a Big Brother State relationship as well? )

Motivation - Big Infrastructure guy

by dulan drift, Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 17:17 (36 days ago) @ dulan drift

Every good crime story needs ‘motivation’. Why did he/she do it?

The thing about motivation is: the person being motivated doesn’t feel it like it’s some dastardly thing. He/she wakes up - has their favourite breakfast, feels great.

If you’re waiting for them to keel over in shame forget about it.

They’re justified on a ‘higher level of truth’ that you wouldn’t understand. That inner-knowledge provides immunity to your ‘external noise’.

In Dan Andrews case the motivation was just the normal one - power (which can then be used to make the world a better place etc - if i’m not too busy - (which I was)).

The road to that power - in Andrews's case, is a road. It’s a BOT Transurban Tollway in fact. Otherwise known as ‘big infrastructure’ and 'getting things done'.

On Nov 24, 2018, Dan Andrews rode this bandwagon to a comfortable re-election victory. Four more years. Fair enough. Melbourne’s infrastructure was/is an international fucking disgrace. It still doesn't have a train from the airport. (kid you not). Susanne from Dulan used to say - 'I always judge a city by its transport from the airport to the city.' I think she'd like some things about Melbourne but she'd smell a governmental rat with that straight off the bat.

The Victorian government gouged on the torrent of money pouring in from immigrants (p29-31) and foreign students (2nd ref) for decades to drive the economy - but then blew that money on pay-rises to ‘the experts’, while churning out cyber-loads of self-justifying literature to entrench their fiefdom existences.

The building of infrastructure to cope with this population explosion that boomed the economy and got me elected? (remembering Labor Party has been in power for 17 of the last 21 years) Yeah-no - fuck that - why build a modern railway system which won’t even be completed in my term? Why let some other bastard get the glory?

Andrews at least had the brains to know that the public was crying out for a big picture guy. Just spend the fucking money and build a normal transport system for a city of 5 million people already!

Since his election, Andrews has embarked on, in his own words, “the biggest infrastructure agenda the nation's ever seen” Spending on infrastructure “has tripled since Labor came to power in 2014". Photos of Andrews wearing hardhats have quadrupled.

The result: record popularity.

Popularity = equals power.

According to ex-Pm Malcolm Turnbull, (a rare political outsider - cut down by his own party - now back in private life), that simple equation "power for power's sake", is motivation enough for "most politicians".

The next question is: What is Andrews prepared to do to get it - and hold onto it?

[image]

Transurban

by dulan drift, Monday, October 26, 2020, 16:47 (30 days ago) @ dulan drift

So the motivation is a narcissistic need for power - the question is:

What is Andrews prepared to do to get his fix of that drug...?

To understand that, we need to look at the players invited to sit at Andrews' high stakes table - what do they want? What motivates them?

The player with the best hand, way better/bigger than Dan’s, is Transurban.

When you’re thinking about what’s a scary now-future greedy big-data control company look like? - think Transurban. It makes and runs tollways - with all the data-gathering tech that entails - name, address, car, facial recognition, gps tracking… you name it. Australia is the world record holder for most expensive/profitable tollways - and growing. Transurban operates 17 tollroads. "Of the 99 kilometres of toll roads in Sydney, 95 kilometres are either majority or half-owned by Transurban."

According to:

Transurban Privacy Policy:

We collect your personal information in the following ways:
You give it to us. (Transurban’s bold) ...(T)his might happen when you’re setting up an account… (or)...when you use our roads.

(I love the way they use 'may' and 'might' all the time!)

This may include photographs (which we may use for facial recognition where you have consented to this use).
(which you did - see above)

...(and) ...information about your location while using one of our websites or apps.
(gps tracking - in addition to being recorded every time we beep you)

We may disclose your personal information: ….
(...then lists 35 sets of entities and/or umbrella situations where Transurban can share your data - who, no doubt, according to their privacy policies can pass it on and so on. One of these sets is:)

...to our consultants, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, service providers, professional advisers and agents .. engineers and surveyors. (my bold - keep that one in the memory bank - why do they need to disclose your personal info to those guys?)

Then there’s a whole new category titled:

12. When do we disclose information overseas?

We may disclose personal information to contractors outside of Australia and may use off-shore servers for the purposes of data storage. We have engaged contractors in the Philippines, the United States, Portugal, France, India, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and certain other countries. (my bold)

(Certain other countries - i wonder which certain one in particular they don't want to say out loud? But don’t worry because:)

We will take commercially reasonable steps to ensure that any overseas recipient does not breach the Australian Privacy Principles (other than Australian Privacy Principle 1) in relation to the personal information.
(Hmm, so what's this Australian Privacy Principle 1? The one they don’t abide by? Oh. At least it was easy to find - it is ‘Principle 1’. According to the Australian Government website:)

“The object of this principle is to ensure .... entities manage personal information in an open and transparent way.”

Hahaha! Sometimes research into dodgy stuff has genuinely funny moments. If you don’t abide by Principle 1, then who the fuck’s gonna know whether you abide by the rest of them…?

So how the hell did Transurban get the deal in the first place and who are these 'overseas recipients'...?

Transurban 2 - West Gate Tunnel

by dulan drift, Thursday, October 29, 2020, 20:42 (27 days ago) @ dulan drift

The other thing about Transurban is that it’s proactive. It doesn’t sit back waiting for governments to come up with projects it can bid on; it pitches fancy big-bucks ‘shovel-ready’ tollways at them that they didn’t even know they needed.

The West Gate tunnel was a classic example. Here’s how it went down:

1. Andrews ran for Premier in 2014 promising to cancel the $5.3 billion BOT East-West Link contract that was dodgily signed by the incumbent government just before the election. According to this article, Andrews argued it was a “waste of money and didn’t stack up” and said the contract would be "ripped up at no cost because it was not worth the paper it was written on.” Instead he promoted a shovel-ready Western Distributor project at a modest $500 mil that he said could do the job more efficiently.

2. After he won the election largely on that issue, he did indeed tear up the contract with East West Connect consortium, comprising Australia’s Lend Lease, French company Bouygues, Spain's Acciona Infrastructure and Lend Lease's financing arm Capella Capital. But instead of it costing zero taxpayers dollars, Andrews paid the consortium $1.1 billion - not to build the road.
On Dec 12, 2017, he announced a secret new BOT project out of nowhere - the West Gate Tunnel - at 5.5 billion (later increased to 6.7 billion - including a clause guaranteeing a massive payout to Transurban if the increase was blocked by parliament).

Bear in mind, none of these shady BOT toll-road deals have anything to do with building a half-decent public transport system to reduce carbon emissions.

This The Age article asks?

"How did we get here?
We have an inkling with the West Gate Tunnel: it began life as a secret deal between Transurban and Labor. In 2015, two months after Mr Andrews won office, two former Labor advisers began work with Transurban. One was Treasurer Tim Pallas' chief of staff; the other headed John Brumby's (former Labor Premier’s) media unit.

Ever since, it's been full steam ahead on a project the government's figures show will be in gridlock ... a decade after opening." (my bold)

The next question is: Having blown off the European and Australian companies, who owns the companies that Andrews blew them off for?

Transurban 3 - China influence?

by dulan drift, Sunday, November 01, 2020, 13:35 (25 days ago) @ dulan drift

My first instinct was to search who owns Transurban. I bet China is in there somewhere…

Turns out, no. Aussie owned. New on the block but one of Australia’s most successful homegrown companies. Unsurprisingly. Their share price has doubled since Andrews got in - even with Covid. Not many companies have done that - some have - big tech - goods suppliers - but not many in Australia anyway.

Transurban CEO Scott Charlton (@ 7 million a year), lamented a drop in traffic due to Covid lockdowns, but remains bullish going forward, pointing out:

"Public transport for a while might not be considered the best option … keep(ing) Transurban in a good position long term.”

(Great. So now Covid is being used to justify not investing in public transport. Guess CO2 emmissions and the environment will just have to wait - but wait - it can't wait...)

In another interview he extols a future of driverless cars as drivers of their economic vehicle. He's probably right.

For Transurban re the Covid K-curve? Considering they built and own the on-ramp for the up branch, we can assume the future looks bright.

So how about the construction companies that get the mega-contracts? Did Andrews unplug the Euro-Australian conglomerate so he could plug in the CCP?

Then read:
“The premier introduced tough new state laws last year to require 90 per cent of "local content" ” on all infrastructure projects

Hell! I didn’t expect that. Maybe Andrews is not the villain i was making out! On the contrary. Fuck. I gotta start recanting...

John Holland - WG Tunnel construction company

by dulan drift, Sunday, November 01, 2020, 14:27 (25 days ago) @ dulan drift

So i check the building company(ies)... : CPB (owned by CIMIC - which used to be Australian but it's not now coz it is owned by Hochtief (Germany)- which is owned by ACS group a Spanish construction giant).

Their partner in the project is John Holland.

John Holland is a famous Australian name. Started the company in 1949, built it into a major international player. That’s good going for one lifetime.

Coincidentally, one of his biggest breaks was winning the contract to build the West Gate Bridge in 1968. The West Gate tunnel, 50 years later, will be the company’s second crossing.

An Aside: The West Gate Bridge did famously collapse 50 years ago during construction. When it came to joining up the bridge in the middle, the engineers realized one side was 11 cm higher than the other. They thought the high side could be forced down by placing “10 massive concrete blocks” on it with a combined weight of 80 tonnes.

“The process caused a buckle in the bridge, which engineers tried to fix by removing a number of bolts.”

Around midday, worker Pat Preston “ heard what he thought was the crackling of gunfire, but was actually the sound of bolts pinging from the frame of the bridge.”

35 workers were killed in the ensuing, thunderous collapse.

Hopefully safety measures have been put in place since then. Didn’t seem to affect business too much because a decade later they won the new Parliament House gig. That hasn't fallen down yet.

As for the China connection ‘conspiracy theory?’ So far, on the face of it, the whole project looks Aussie through-and-through! (With some Spanish in there)

Good thing we know that things in the global corporate-politico-science world are often not what they seem. ..

John Holland - A Bright New Future

by dulan drift, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 18:33 (22 days ago) @ dulan drift

(with Chinese characteristics)

First a quick recap:

Dan Andrews gets elected vowing to cancel the contract of an Australian-Euro conglomerate for zero dollars.

He cancels but pays out over a billion

He announces a contract with a rival triumvirate comprising Transurban, (thrice-sold - overseas owned - to a Spanish company - who the fuck knew Spain was home to a mega-infrastructure group?) ……. and...

John Holland - the Aussie brand. Right?

According to John Holland’s website, on the History tab, in 1991 John sold the company to Janet (Holmes à Court)'s Heytesbury, who then sold it to Leighton Holdings 9 years later. (2000)

Then, in 2015:

A Bright New Future[/i]

In April 2015, John Holland was purchased by China Communications Construction Company International Holding Limited (CCCI). CCCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC), the largest listed company in the international infrastructure and engineering sector.

Hmm. The largest - in the history of earth. That’s pretty large.

The $6.5 billion dollar question is:

Who is China Communications Construction Company controlled by?

Disclaimer: You don’t get $6.5 bil if you guess right

Ans: The Chinese Communist Party.

CCCC is a majority-state-owned behemoth. Not surprisingly, it’s the largest Belt and Road Initiative constructor in the world.
With a long rap-sheet of corruption charges to prove it. For example:

“In 2009, China Communications Construction Co, one of the most active companies in BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) projects, was debarred by the WB (World Bank) for eight years for alleged fraudulent bidding on a highway contract in the Philippines.”

This Bloomberg article details a litany of corrupt dealings, including a 2013 U.S. asset-forfeiture case, where “CCCC allegedly paid US$19 million to a son of the president of Equatorial Guinea to win a highway contract.” (shades of Hunter Biden?)

As the John Holland website writer points out:

"This is an exciting time for the business, with new opportunities to be explored. John Holland and CCCI (owned by CCCC) have a shared vision for the future." (my bracket addition, bold)

What is that 'shared vision for the future' exactly?

"At most such companies, the Communist Party occupies a central place in the leadership structure, and it’s no different at CCCC."

In fact:

“(Chairman of CCCC) Liu Qitao, is party chief as well as head decision-maker. In one speech published on a government website, he speaks of turning CCCC into a reliable executor of the party’s vision.

Cool. Therefore, according to the boss, John Holland, is, or is being ‘turned-into’, a reliable executor of the party’s vision - in Australia.

This is Back-door Belt and Road Initiative. And all that entails ...

Hi! My name is Dan Andrews. I will be your compromised narcissist this evening who's ushering this vision into yourAustralia.gov.au. Please remain seated during the performance.

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