d e a n   f o r b e S                                                            w a l k i n g ,  n o t  r u n n i n g . . .

BLOG 2021                                                       scroll down to see more 2021 blogs    www.deanforbes.com.au/Site/HOME.html


My oldest memory of independent reading is sitting on a stool reading comics in my father’s Glenelg beachside kiosk. They explain why I loved reading and, perhaps, why I went on to love reading news papers and, later still, books and essays.

The 14th of July 1964 was a pivotal moment. I was 14 and rode my bike to Brighton High School from our home in Glenelg. I stopped to pick up my lunch made by my father in his Jetty Road lunch shop. With it he showed me a new newspaper The Australian, established by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch had made his reputation when he was managing the Adelaide News. I have been a reader of The Australian and The Weekend Australian ever since. I don’t always agree with the content, or of Murdoch’s politics, but I still buy The Weekend Australian every weekend.

By the time I was in second year in university I was coming to take seriously my university life and its books, readings and arguments. My focus became East and Southeast Asia, all of which centred on my academic interest in cities and east and southeast Asian region. (17/12/210

COVID-19 BLOG 2021 >>>>>>>>



The last day of 2021. New COVID-9 in NSW a record 25,151 new cases. South Australia  is a high of 2,093. Not a great way to end the year.


The number of people with the virus is growing especially in, of course, Victoria and NSW, and, surprisingly, South Australia. NSW’s recently  tripled to 11,291 in a day. Amazing. Today it was 12,760 new cases.

The Omicron is growing, but the impact on those affected is not as serious as some earlier variants. The determination of Queensland and WA to be less than helpful to people returning or travelling to their states worsens the situation. The attitudes of several of the Premiers is often juvenile. Not their best hours.

Reports from overseas indicate almost every other country is finding the situation not improving, notably the UK and USA.  


NSW has acquired 3,057 new affections, with Omicron playing a larger role and resulting in many more people in hospital. I can’t see how the NSW government doesn’t tighten critical hot spots, with my feeling insisting on more use of masks especially in inside and outside locations.


The worrying story from Europe is that Omicron is spreading rapidly and is causing great concern because winter is coming. Governments are closing down activities only recently opened. NSW has its largest number yet of 2,481 new infected people. The government is indicating it wants to stick with its newly open up strategy, but many voices are worried that large group activity such as parties and popular music are certain to spread the virus. The Australian government is strongly behind people who have had their two main jabs and should be preparing or having a booster. The current rule is five months after your second jab. That will set me for a booster in early January.


The new numbers of infections are 2,213 in NSW and 1,220 in Victoria. The further openings in the two big states is having an impact. Large crowds at music events or at parties. Omicron is having an impact, but the numbers of people in hospital care are stable or growing slowly. The effect of still rising numbers getting jabs, or increasing numbers getting boosters. I will be getting a booster as soon as I can. We are now allowed to not wear masks, except in particular locations, and the QR process has gone from most shops.


Omicron has become a big concern in Australia, though I’m uncertain how significant its’ impact will be. Certainly the number infected is growing quickly, but what is the short and long term impact likely to be?.



The suspicion a new variation from southern Africa - Omicron - has possibly appeared in Australia is a worry. Arrivals have to isolate for three days. Unusual persistent rain and win highlight shifts in the rain patterns across Australia. Flooding in NSW towns are a crushing blow for people trying to cope with COVID-19.


The rain continues, with my birthday forecast to have 100% rain. Gloom. It is affecting vast parts of the eastern side of Australia, with some major risks to the town of Forbes. A town that I have never visited or have any connections to, except by name.


Unexpected rain brings gloom. Or maybe that is me. But the universities are feeling relieved. The Federal Government has announced that students and other eligibles will be able to enter Australia from the 1st of December. And a bubble will allow people from Japan and South Korea to join with those from Singapore to come to Australia for studying, family connections, and migration, with a focus on Sydney and Melbourne. Around 130,000 international students with Visas are waiting to enter the country. Pilot programmes in NSW, the ACT, Victoria and SA are approved. Queensland has lodged a Pilat programme.  


Haven’t the last few weeks flown by! Or is that just me. Marches and punch-ups by those who say they want freedom. By which they mean let us not have jabs and let us walk or drive across busy roads without stopping at red lights. Tension between states. Worries about remote or at least distant aboriginal communities with low levels of vaccination. Politicians bringing on proposals for the national election next year. And a lot more.

World wide we still have much to do. The low levels of help in many Africa countries and other poorly nations. New out-breaks of COVID-19 in Europe and other wealthy countries. In Australia it will soon by time for top-up jabs and more jabs for children.

Our cultural life is slowly re-emerging led by sportsmen and women, the odd outspoken well known TV personality, and, to be fair, some well spoken community leaders, politicians and university staff. And Zoom, of course. While my energy level is low, I think we are on the right track.  


24 /10/21

A mild Sunday for a walk along the Harbour. Just me and eight others had on a masks. Nevertheless, NSW has another 296 cases. Victoria is, again, opening up. Barbers and women’s hair salons are inundated, as I was in the Central Coast a week ago.


Gladys Berejiklian has resined and a new NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet has taken control. He has jumped into the role, but will take some time to convince the community he has the skills of Berejiklian. The opening up of Greater Sydney is very welcome, but we now there is a down side and wait to see its inpact.  


After 100 days - almost 14 weeks - of lockdown, tomorrow is the first step of NSW opening up again. We have been assured that many new freedoms will return. Like being permitted to travel more than five kilometres from home. Some 73 percent of NSW adults are fully vaccinated, and 90 percent have either one or two vaccinations. There are rewards for those fully vaccinated.

In the last 24 hours New South Wales had 477 COVID cases. Victoria had 1,960 new cases and five deaths were reported. As we move towards 90 or 95% fully vaccinated, the real benefit is that it significantly reduces the number of people having to go into hospital. I heard that the Service NSW app will soon include evidence of the owner’s jabs, enabling those to acquire more benefits such as access to restaurants. It might cause a flurry from some.


NSW 587 new cases; Victoria 1,838 new cases.

With NSW starting to loosen up on Monday, how is this going to impact on cases? Big rises in cases. A flattening of the numbers. Or a slow decrease in case numbers.

My instinct says broadly speaking. # A short few weeks with spikes of outburst of case numbers. ## Following on to a flattening in three or four  weeks. ### Then a gradual but steady decline in numbers. It is the optimist in me.


NSW cases continue to drop. 594 cases in the last  day. But Victoria is struggling. Yesterday the 1,763 cases were the highest ever. Today the number is down to 1,420.

NSW is on track to reach the 70% double jabs mark. My fingers are crossed. That would commence on Monday and enable people to travel around Greater Sydney. What can go wrong?


NSW cases continue to fall. 608 new cases and seven deaths. I have been going throw the information on the path ti freedom as it is sometimes called. I noted the outline in a 28/9/21 blog. There is a simple structure, but numerous other documents which may or not be still in place.

An interesting ranking of countries and the portions vaccination. The top three are Portugal, Spain and Denmark. Australia is ranked 48th, with 61% partially vaccinated and 42% fully vaccinated. New Zealand is ranked 52. Taking a similar approach as Queensland and Western Australia.

Dominic Perrotte is the new Premier of NSW. I know very little about him. Some work to do.


It has been 100 days of lockdown in Greater Sydney. The weather is warming; the playgrounds and walks around Pyrmont are becoming busier. Victoria chalked up 1,220 new cases. New South Wales had 667, and 10 deaths due to the virus.

Daylight saving started this morning. Chinese university students are getting jabs and are expecting to come to Sydney in the next few months. South Australia had a similar intention a few months back but I believe they have not followed up on this. I heard on the ABC that Papua New Guinea is finding it hard to get people to take a jab. Weird incorrect stories about inoculation are spread through the country. 


The resignation of Gladys Berejiklian yesterday was not a surprise.  Everyone knew ICAC was chasing her as a followup to the activity of her male friend. We can only hope a qualified and skilled politician will take her place. I have little knowledge of those who see themselves as a chance but Dominic Perrottet is considered the front runner.

Qantas will be flying overseas from the 14th of November. It wont impact me at all, but it will be appreciated by those Australians abroad who have been desperate to get back to Australia.


Yesterday NSW had 864 new cases and there were 15 deaths. Victoria’s outbreak leading to 1,438 new cases was, according to the Premier, due to people parting on the days around the football Grand Final. And, yes, it was a battle between two Victorian teams, but the game was in Perth. There is not much more information on when and we open up but I’m looking forward to a day or so in the Central Coast.



This is my understanding of what’s next for New South Wales.

# Currently 86% of people over 16 have one jab and 60% have had two jabs and are fully vaccinated. But there are only a few extra things you can do, such as having a picnic.

# By the 11th of October 70% will have had double doses and they will benefit with some more smallish activities opening up.

# By the 25th of November 80% will have had two jabs. Travel for the vaccinated will be open to travel around NSW.

# On the 1st of December 90% will be fully vaccinated and many activities will open to them.

This is a rough outline which I will update when I fine a source. 

Yesterday NSW had 863 new cases and 7 COVID deaths.


I need to visit my doctor but he is in the Central Coast and way outside the five kilometres ring that I am required to be in. What do I do?


Yesterday I went to Woolworth’s and standing outside were about 20 mail and female police. They kindly allowed me to pass. They were expecting trouble makers protesting what they call freedom. The majority of us want us to be vaccinated, as it is the only way we can recover and move on.  Nothing much happened in Sydney, but it did in Melbourne. There were vicious riots. A turnout by the wackos of the radical right. Today the groups have again come out and headed for the offices of the CFMEU, one of the most hard core unions, though apparently not a favourite of the hard core protestors in the streets.

Melbourne experienced a serious earth, something that happens rarely in Victoria. And Sydney had 1,035 new cases in the last 24 hours.  


When we come out of lockdown sometime in (late) October, we can expect the number of people getting the virus will increase significantly. But the 70%-80% of the population that will be vaccinated will have only minor symptoms. This means they wont need much from hospital staffs, allowing them to deal only with those unvaccinated and those with underlining conditions that are vulnerable to COVID. Whatever, I’m planning to continue to avoid getting infected.  


Sunday was a small step towards opening up. People were allowed to have picnics in the outdoors, but with limited numbers in each picnic. The Point at Pyrmont was filled with groups sitting or lying on the grass and playing with balls. The weather was perfect. Unfortunately for me, the 5 kilometre radius remains. M couldn’t come.

As I had some spare time I went into the MyGov sight and opened the Immunisation History Statement. There is my record on Influenza jabs and the COVID-19 AstraZeneca Vaxevria (jabs). Are these prints off my computer going to be considered valid documents by, for example, the police? I think not. My preference would be the Service NSW ap, where I have my electronic driving licence. I wait and see.


Five weeks of lockdown. Five weeks in which I can only phone or send short messages to M. I bought The Weekend Australia and started working my way through it. Just about every article has a link to COVID-19, and many are just about COVID-19. The sport pages are different. Almost nothing in them about COVID.

I will be watching the AFL next Saturday. I’m hoping Melbourne wins. It is not something I would normally say about Victorian football teams. All my favourite teams - Adelaide, Sydney Swans, Port Adelaide - have failed, and Adelaide has managed a second to last position.

I drove my car around Pyrmont this morning. Around and around, hopefully to keep things moving. Now I’m back and reading the weekend Oz. I remember the first day it appeared. I was about to ride my bicycle to school. I stopped by my fathers shop to pick up a sandwich he made for me and he showed me the Oz. I have loved good newspapers all my life. These days there is only one paper I would bother to read. No surprise. The weekend Oz. 


The NSW stats: 1,284 new cases and 12 deaths, two of whom had underlying health problems. So the numbers are down but steady. There are 128 people in the ICU units. 155,000 tests of whether people had been taken around NSW to test if they have the virus. The people in the 12 Local Government Areas that have been the most affected populations, but now the number of people taken the jabs are growing rapidly.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian remains committed to provide openings across the state. They will be triggered when those with double doses reach 70% then 80% of the adult population. Adults without innoculation will not be eligible for many actions.


It is one month since I got in the car at Shelly Beach and drove back to Pyrmont arriving exactly at the time the lockdown was about to start. It was quiet on the roads back. I only saw one traffic police car about half the way back. A month later we are only possibly reaching the peak of daily new infections. Today’s number of 1,127 encourages  optimists to believe that we may have pasted the peak.

My jabs of AstriZeneca were on the 22nd of August and the 2nd of September. There was a very interesting article in The Saturday Australian titled ‘Our Best Shot’. It was a very formative piece by author Fiona Harari that helps to explain why many Australians jumped to the conclusion that it was riskier than one or two of its rivals. The point is that all vaccines have risks, but the risks of not taking vaccines are far greater. About 20-30 per cent of adult Australians will opt for the high risk option and chance they do not catch the virus. 


First up, new cases: NSW 1,262. Victoria 392.

Yesterday was 20 years since 9/11, the appalling attack on New York and Washington that killed almost 3,000 people. I remember it well. I was in Shanghai and after dinner went back to my room and switched on the TV. I looked at a few channels and stopped at one. I had a view of a large tall building with smoke pouring out of the top windows. I realised it was a real attack, not a film, and stayed glued to the TV until the morning. My eldest daughter often caught the train at the Pentagon, where one of the aeroplanes crashed. Many people died but my daughter was safe.   


Gladys Berejiklian is no longer going to front the media daily.  Some of the media are aggressive and bullying. I cringe as I hear some of them. They need to confront politicians but I wish they could be more nuanced. I am desperately hoping that Gladys is able to stick with the mid October start of the loosening up of current restrictions, and that we have high levels of people with double vaccinations. 80% at least. I am assuming that there will continue to be large numbers of those vaccinated and with a lighter version of the coronavirus.

Numbers for today. NSW1,599 new cases and 9 deaths; Victoria 334 new cases.


I’m in the process of upgrading my internet with iiNet. It has been close to eight years. The expansion of better infrastructure will, I hope, improve the quality of my internet, which M has always considered mediocre. With the lockdown I’m largely confined to reading, writing and listening to radio and television. My pretentious Project Artistica is stalled, with one piece on Indonesia and one on China still to come. 

And the new case numbers: NSW 1,542, Victoria 434. I hope the higher level of those with two vaccination jabs will reduce the numbers being seriously ill and enable the opening up that Gladys Berejiklian believes is possible. 


The pattern continues. Yesterday NSW had 1,220 new cases and eight deaths. Today it is 1,480 new infections and the death toll in NSW has risen to 148. Victoria’s cases are increasing, with 221 infections. New Zealand has now in full block down. The impact of the Delta is relentless. Gladys Berejiklian is predicting that NSW will meet its target of jabs in the middle of October.

I have periods when I feel flat. It is most common on cold or wet days. But we are in spring and the warmer days are steadily more frequent.  I have work commitments and the tough situation of the small higher education businesses are very difficult to handle. I write on my website blog and post tweets on my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook Business Suite.   


Fathers Day so it was good to hear from my daughters. The lockdown has a long time to go. NSW is still doing it tough. 1,041 new cases with 518 from the southern suburbs of Sydney and 479 from the western suburbs. Yesterday 115,495 tests were conducted. But the Premier thinks we will reach our 80% with at least one jab before later in the the year and 80% with two jabs not too much later.

Victoria had 183 new cases. The Premier recognises the importance of the push to get Victorians to have the two jabs to enable the opening of businesses and giving momentum to growing the economy. The Queensland Premier is increasingly playing her own game and frustrating NSW and other states with her single simplistic, and sometimes quite wrong, strategies.


New South Wales and now Victoria are both explaining the critical importance of vaccinations and have come to understanding that strategies focused primarily on trying to eliminate the COVID-19 virus are not enough. Queensland and Western Australia both seem to think otherwise. NSW has reached the mark where 70% have at least had one jab.

The emergence of the Delta variant is responsible for the increases in the bigger states. However, a new variant called Mu is causing concern overseas. It is something I don’t want to know about at the moment.



1,290 new cases in NSW in the last 24 hours. That COVID is a crushing number. But I must keep in mind that NSW people are getting jabs at a fast race and, as awful as it is, the death rate is low by world standards.

On my morning harbour walk I noticed that half the walkers wore face marks, around a quarter wore no face mask, and another quarter had a mask wrapped around their neck but not around their face. 


I’m starting to feel the effects of the current lockdown. But it is only two weeks since I drove back from Shelly Beach. We thought there might have been a program, such as the ‘Caring and Compassionate Visits’ or ‘Invite a Friend or Family Member Into Your Singles Bubble’ which only lasted a few weeks (see the 8/8/21 - August - blog). But there has been nothing about it other than that we were told the government was not keen on people going regularly to their beach houses. Nothing said in the documents about the matters that concern me.

To cheer me up I have decided to watch every round of the (Australian) football finals, starting this weekend. My preferred team is Adelaide, but it has performed poorly for the last two or three seasons. The Sydney Swans is my next favourite but they were knocked out yesterday. Therefore I’m supporting Port Adelaide and Melbourne.

NSW has another high of 1,218 new cases today. More surprising is that New Zealand revealed it had 82 new cases and were expecting more to come.  


The aim is to get out of the lockdown on the 25th of October. That is 8 weeks away. Todays new cases total is 882, very high but 147 fewer than the day before.


NSW cases increased by 1,029 in the last 24 hours. The emphasis is on increasing jabs but the continuing increase in cases is not helping hospitals or the confidence of the public.

In my daily harbour side walk I came across two police who were telling walkers without masks to get them. I was hoping they would be more aggressive than that. I didn’t see anyone getting a police fine. I will be interested to see what happens tomorrow.


I thought the NSW cases might be about to turn down. However it is the other round with 919 new cases today compared to 739 yesterday. At least the numbers with one jab have grown to 11,043,784 (it includes me) and 6,368,421 are fully vaccinated (I will be next week). 

The weather continues to be cold and wet. But there is good news. Yesterday Hu Van Le, Governor of South Australia, finished his term. A great person and a very successful Governor. I met him several times while I was at Flinders University. Well done, Hu. You were an outstanding asset and contributor for the people of South Australia!


Cold and wet. I feel flat. The Premier’s of Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia seem uninterested in the emphasis on getting as many people as possible vaccinated.

NSW’s numbers decreased from 818 to 753. Still a lot, but Gladys Berejiklian insists that the steady increase in vaccination is the key, enabling greater movement and business growth. In contrast, WA and Queensland, in particular, seem to think that keeping the borders closed from the other states is the way forward.


From today, we must wear face masks outside. On my morning walk about half the walkers did and half didn’t.  And there were many walkers with their mask around their neck in an almost cool way.

NSW had 818 new cases in the last 24 hours. Just when will that number start dropping? Other states are seeing increasing numbers due to the Delta strain.

The fall of Kabul to the Taliban is a shock. The situation that thousands of frightened people desperate to leave the country is scary and deeply sad. Combined with COVID-19, of which we hear little about in Kabul, makes the situation even worse.


The consequences of the Delta stream continue to affect not just New South Wales, but also Victoria and other states. COVID19 will not be eliminated in Australia. With sufficient vaccination - say 70-80% of the population - it will be reduced to something like the flu.

On my work this morning I passed 20 walking and wearing face masks and 48 with no masks. I was waring my mask and I keep a distance from the people I pass. That didn’t stop an aged women in lurid green walking towards me wagging her water bottle and telling me to give her more distance.

The number infections in NSW increased by 830 over the last 24 hours.


It is announced that the education sector has taken a huge hit. Revenue is down by $2.7 billion. This is not a surprise. It has not only caused problems for the universities, but also the smaller education businesses. Providers of English language training and educators providing courses to enable students to achieve entry into university.


The police now have a much stronger presence and are handing out significantly more fines. I can no longer get to see M in the Central Coast. I can only take advantage of the single person bubble if my partner is within the five kilometre bubble or my Local Government Area. That rules out just about all of Greater Sydney.


The NSW leaders, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerrie Chant have largely been a very competent team. They are under huge pressure in this third wave Delta driven situation. I have just heard that yesterday there were 633 new people infected by the virus. The PM says he wants ‘a ring of steel around Greater Sydney’.

I walk along Sydney Harbour each morning and often again in the afternoon. In between I read The Weekend Australian, books including Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu - Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture. 


The Corona virus is spreading across NSW to towns including Broken Hill, Walgett and Dubbo. Aboriginal communities are becoming increasingly affected. Across the country deaths have increased to 948 according to the Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Kelly.


A bright sunny morning. Must top up the food so it is off to Woolworths. The streets are quiet, but it doesn’t feel like a tough block down. Haven’t seen a single copper or even a cop car.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian thinks it is likely we may be in lockdown until November. M and I were hoping to spend a week in the Northern Territory in August but that is clearly not going to happen. No chance. We would have spent the whole time in a NT hotel room. NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant and the Premier are a strong combination. It is not easy to stand and present to a group of journalists and others whose primary aim is to find the faults in the NSW strategy.


I wake wondering where we go from here. The situation is tough and could continue for weeks or months. I understand I can travel no more than five kilometres from my apartment. Does that mean the ‘Invite a Friend or Family Member Into Your Singles Bubble’ has gone? I will have plenty of time to find out.


A sudden change of policy from the New South Wales government. A state wide lockdown commenced, driven by 466 new people with the virus. I was with M. I had to drive home, as under the new rules I will only be able to travel up to five kilometres from my apartment. Pyrmont to Long Jetty is exactly 100 kilometres. The traffic was busy in Gosford but very sparse on the drive back to Pyrmont. I arrived at my apartment a minute or two after the lockdown started. The information for what was happening was bits and peaces from different sources, mainly on line.

Researchers at Flinders university, led by Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, are well down the track of creating a vaccine that goes under the name of COVAX-19. It is starting the human clinical trials and process is looking positive, with hopes it may be available by the end of 2021.


The situation in greater Sydney remains serious. The government is urging people to get a jab. And stay at home.  262 acquired in the last 24 hours. There are several regions around the state have people with the virus. 454 infringements taken by NSW police for people infringing rules.

The NSW Government has two policies that are important for me as they address the situation where M lives in the Central Coast and me in Sydney.

The ‘Caring and Compassionate Visits’ allow us to visit each other to ‘provide care to vulnerable people and/or visiting a person you are in a relationship with but do not live wit.’ This may involve ‘provide care or assistance to vulnerable people and/or for compassionate reasons’.

A related policy is to ‘Invite a Friend or Family Member Into Your Singles Bubble’. This is ‘for people who live alone, with no other adults, in Greater Western Sydney. ‘You will be able to chose a family member or friend, colleagues, or partner to visit you at home. The person you choose needs to be the same person till lockdown ends’. ‘If you live anywhere else in the Greater Sydney area, you chosen visitor cannot be one of the 8 areas of concern’.

Last week I took up the offer and had four days in the Central Coast. It was a great boost to M and me.



Life in the lockdown is tough. Many in the key LGA’s believe they are being treated harshly. The problem is that these areas have large numbers of infected citizens. The tough actions are essential. 

There is an arrangement that if someone lives alone, it is permitted that another person could visit them. I come into this situation. But the problem for me is that the places should be no more than 10 kilometres apart.

On a happier note, I am watching the Olympics regularly through the day. Great to see the surfers in their first Olympics.


The situation in Greater Sydney is getting worse. New cases of the virus in the last 24 hours amount to 177. The key LGA’s of concern are Parramatta, Georges River, Blacktown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury Bankstown, and Campbelltown.

Lockdown has been extended to the 28th of August. A new arrangement has been added for those outside the LGA’s above. If someone lives alone they can nominate another individual to visit. The next month is going to be demanding.


Yesterday 3,000 people marched into Sydney’s centre saying they represent freedom. Most had no masks, many were aggressive, and the whole event was toxic. This puts all Sydney’s resident at a significantly higher risk. Thus far, 60 have been arrested, and more will follow.


A Quick update. Total COVID death’s per million and % with first vaccination: UK 1,904 > 69%; US 1,843 > 56%; Sweden 1,451 > 59%; Canada 704 > 71%; Japan 119 > 35%; South Korea 40 > 32%; Australia 36 > 29%; New Zealand 5 > 19%.


I received my jab of the AstraZeneca today from a very efficient surgery and nurse a five minute walk from my apartment. It went smoothly, although when the doctor talked about the possibilities of causing harm I sat more straightly than my normal slump. I was reminded that six people have died from the AstraZeneca out of a population of 6 million taking the jab. The problem now is, will these jabs defeat the rapidly growing Delta variance?


Updated COVID cases across countries that Australia should test across progress. Data is from The Weekend Australian.

I start with COVID selected country cases per million population. USA 102,639; UK 78,086; Canada 37,881; Sweden 108,317; Japan 6,575; South Korea 3,384; Australia 1,236; New Zealand 580.

Next up, total COVID death’s per million. UK 1,898; US 1,838; Sweden 1,450; Canada 700; Japan 118; South Korea 40; Australia 36; New Zealand 5.

The last measure is, as I already know, is the proportion of the total population fully vaccinated. UK 53%; US 48%; Canada 47%; Sweden 36%; Japan 20%; South Korea 12%; Australia 11%; New Zealand 10%.

To sum up, Australia has done exceptionally well in per capita cases and deaths. But it has lagged in acquiring and distributing the vaccinations.

My concern, as for many others, is our - meaning aged - need for a trusted vaccine. AstraZeneca is largely for older people. It is the only vaccination that I can have. My local pharmacy could do it with a few days notice. That is my next step. 


Sydney’s lockdown has been extended to Friday the 30th of July.  It has just been announced that Victoria will go into lockout, but perhaps not for very long. New South Wales and Victoria, and most other states are concerned as well. The rapid chain of transmission illustrate the more dangerous characteristics of the virus.

In Pyrmont people seem relaxed and take advantage when the sun is out. But there must be many who are finding it hard to cope with the vast range of demands on them. It is hard to comprehend how they cope.


The lockdown has been extended for one week and maybe longer. Concern is focused on the southwest of Sydney where families often continue to come together with the result that whole extended family members acquire the virus.

Over a couple of kilometres of working I counted the numbers of workers, walkers and runners wearing masks, as I do, and those without masks. The score was 11 with masks, 60 without them. I was not impressed. However we also know that aero sole spread is 20-1,000, generally speaking, time less in the open air than in confined situations as in homes and buildingh.

The situation is increasingly considered as similar to the long hold the virus had on Melbourne and Victoria. Let’s hope not.


We are halfway into the lockdown. A drop in daily infections is expected by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and at this point she may be right. I am not sure. I think we will remain in lockdown for this week, and possibly a week more. Call me a pessimist. I doggedly wear one of my masks every time I leave the apartment. Around Pyrmont, about one in five wear masks when they are walking by the harbour.  Most are women, and some are older men.

The vaccination issue remans unclear. We know that Pfizer will continue to provide for those under 60, and AstraZeneca will cater for the over 60s. A Moderna vaccine appears likely to be the third, but I don’t know when.

Peter Van Onselen’s piece in last Saturday’s Weekend Australian gave me the clearest explanation yet of why I should get on and have an AstraZeneca injection. His response to the Queensland Premier and the Chief Medical Officer’s criticism of AstraZeneca was to clarify the risks.

“Around one in three younger people in every 100,000 who take AstraZeneca get blood clotting. Only three percent of clotting cases result in death... That’s 3 percent of three out of every 100,000 cases, which works out to be around one in a million.”

If then the chance of a young person’s risk of dying is one in a million, for those of us 60 and older it is less than one in a million. Sounds good odds to me.   

One more thing. Media discussion - the ABC - is aggressive and critical. It is most critical of the PM and recently of the states. Even Queensland is being criticised. A Labor politician pops up on every news report with a  damming criticism comment on the federal or states politicians. Not a lot of nuance in the reporting.



Across Australia there is growing concern. Of the limited amount of jabs available, their distribution, and being dependant on AstraZeneca and Pfizer. But there is not enough Pfizer available to those who are wary of AstraZeneca. I am one of them.

Other issues are stoked in the criticisms between states and the federal government. The PM is making too many ad hoc comments and not enough explaining when, where and what kind of jabs we can expect, and what businesses or institutions will be delivering them. We know our low number of deaths due to COVID-19 is the envy of the world. But we need more jabs, now, and we want more options among them.

With most of the states in various levels of lockdown these problems need quick solutions.


Second day of the lockdown. 18 new COVID-19 cases, with many more to come over the next two weeks. I will continue to wear my one of two masks made by M a year or more ago. They are snug but comfortable. With my dark clothes and black masks I wonder what others strolling along the Pyrmont shores think of it. The days a still cold, and the winter has been wet, but there are still full days of sun and warmth.


Now the focus has increased to include the whole of Sydney, as well as the Central Coast north of Sydney, the Illawarra south of Sydney, and the Blue Mountains to the west. The lockdown will stay for two weeks. We must be indoors unless there is need related to health treatment, work or education, buying  food, or exercise, which includes in a group of 10 or more. I’m thinking about that. NSW recorded 30 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. This is the first significant spike NSW has seen for some time. There is a more calculated attitude by the customers and staff at my local food market.


Two large areas and central Sydney, which includes Pyrmont, have commenced quasi-lockdowns. It follows several days of an increasing active Delta spike. I drove back from the Central Coast and drove down Pyrmont’s main street was largely deserted.  


Sydney has nine COVID cases of which three are new. Some are Delta strain, some not. The focus areas include the City of Sydney and Pyrmont. My territory. Masks are now required on public transport and throughout the identified inside areas. The only exception are for people eating and drinking.

And on a weirder note, these two questions are on the government’s Frequently Asked Question’s List. Can COVID-19 vaccines connect me to the internet?  Do COVID-19 vaccines contain a microchip or any kind of tracking technology? The answers are no, but do give us a sense of the range of Australians with concerns about COVID-19.


A new Delta strain has arrived in parts of Australia causing concern. It appears it is able to infect people nearby, such as in shopping centres and on buses and trains. Compounding this is growing concerns  about AstraZeneca impact on blood clots. It is now for those 60 and over who, as we are told, are more resilient when it comes to AstraZeneca.


It is becoming increasingly clear that at least 1/4 to 1/3 residents in Australia will refuse to vaccinate. Some because they are anti vaccine. Full stop. Some because of the risk that of death from the AstraZenica vaccine. There have been two deaths out of three million or so vaccinating.


The pandemic continues to change and evolve. I had my flu vaccine in a car park at Mingara at 9.00 am on a cold morning. Next step will be a first jab of AstraZeneca, which will be followed by a second jab in a couple of month or so. 



The Pfizer vaccine is focused on the under 59 year olds.  The AstraZeneca is for the older generations but a death early on, and several people with a worrying result of the vaccine, have frightened some. The Moderna is expected to be available in Australia later in the year. It is also the time for those who each year are inoculated for the flu.


Traces of COVID-19 in inner Sydney water. Explains why there were customers with masks on in my local supermarket. Good thing I had my mask in my back pocket. 13,000 people in Sydney had tests yesterday and not one came up positive.


There have been over 149,920,900 cases of the Coronavirus and 3,161,500 deaths. Or probably more, given that not all cases have been documented. But the virus continues to increase and diversify.

India, which managed better than expected, is now in serious trouble. In the last week 2,445,500 new Coronavirus cases were identified and 20,171 deaths were recorded. The surge in the Coronavirus in India continues to created chaos.

Australian residents in India wishing to return to Australia have been temporarily blocked by the Australian government. It requires time to expand and improve facilities for incoming residents in a way that do not bring about a resurgence of the virus in its its various forms. It, not surprisingly, has drawn criticism from those expecting urgent travel to Australia. 

In Australia to date a little over 2.25 million have been fully vaccinated.



The overwhelming problems of India with its huge numbers of deaths each day has shocked the world. Countries are promising support, but the sheer size of the numbers of sick and dying is overwhelming. Many Australians living in India have been wanting to get back home for months. The chances are very small as the Government fears taking the risk of large numbers entering until there is sufficient special isolation in which they can be assessed.


The COVID-19 issue of the day is the perception that Australia is very slow in getting its number of vaccinations increased. Sources in Europe have been reluctant to deliver at the speed expected. The AstraZenica product should be arriving more quickly as stated in the agreements. Labor is blaming the governments. The PM is reminding us that a significant chunk of the vaccine will be going to PNG where the virus is spreading rapidly. East Timor has a similar problem, but Australia is not providing vaccines.



COVID-19  remains Australia’s biggest challenge. But it has been book-ended by disastrous bush fires along the east coast in late 1989 and early 2000. Now we are struggling with unprecedented rainfall over the last week or so along the east coast. And the impact may extend further along the south coast and in inland parts of South Australia and NSW. The impact of the currently weather has and will continue for a few more days, but dealing with the consequences of on houses, businesses and  from Queensland to NSW and parts of Victoria.   


National Cabinet has decided bringing back Australians from overseas will be the priority of the government. Universities can put together strategies to bring in international students, but at their own expense. International students totalled 952,000 in 2019, and dropped to 882,000 in 2020. While higher education students were down 24%, English language students (ELICOS) were down 44%. That’s not good for the language schools and nor is it good for the universities. So, which state government is going to provide some support?



The launch of the Pfizer vaccine today, with the PM and senior health people all taking their inoculations. They hope that they can convince the majority of Australians that having most of the people inoculated is the best way to deal with COVID-19. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be available soon.

There were marches opposing vaccinations in several cities. The same hoodoo arguments that vaccines are not effective/dangerous/make your hair grow curly/. 


The AstraZeneca vaccinations will start soon. The British-Swedish company is based in Cambridge. CSL, Australia’s biggest company, will be producing the vaccine in Parkville in Melbourne. Pfizer, which is based in New York, will have vaccine in Australia in the next few days. 


China stopped the World Health Organisation for a year before it let them visit Wuhan. When they were able to visit, China still made things difficult. 


The focus on inoculation is gearing up. Which is the better? What percentage of the adult population will refuse, and is it based on real concerns or rumour and the false words of the ignorant?

And some good news for me: South Australia has relaxed testing of people from Sydney and Western Australia from the 14th of February. However Victoria is still insisting on testing. 


Universities say 17,000 jobs have been lost. Other higher education institutions supporting English language and undergraduate and graduate higher education colleges are also in a difficult situation. The National Cabinet should step in, but most Premiers seem to be fixated on stopping just about everyone entering their states. Gladys Berejiklian is the exception. Which other state has the strength to confront this matter with the National Cabinet?



Education Minister Alan Tudge says no new international students, of scale, until it is considered safe. And that means something about inoculations. The states are keen on students coming now, but the federal government is not in the same hurry.


Victoria is easing up, albeit slowly. I could get to Victoria. I need online approval, then when I arrive I would need to get tested and isolate for three days. And if I have Corona I will be jailed... just kidding! I will instead wait until I can just drive there and back, and not have to wait for hours at the border.

Now the USA has an adult in the White House, and he understands that Corona is not going to suddenly flutter away, as his predecessor said it would. My daughter and grand daughter have been working and studying from home for much of the last 12 months. I hope this changes soon and they can get back to the office and school respectively. 


I still can’t get into Victoria, because I live in a hotspot - ie Sydney. It’s not just me. Victorians haven’t been allowed back into Victoria for weeks. Yet the cricketers and the tennis players seem to be allowed, as long as they are tested and isolated.

In the meantime, the US, UK and many others seem to be getting nowhere. Trump is not interested. It will be a huge problem for Joe Biden. His inauguration takes place on the 20th of January.


I didn’t expect to need to continue the COVID-19 Blog, but I have to. Starting with the post-COVID-19 economy. The NSW government have set new conditions for Greater Sydney, which includes the Central Coast, the south of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. We are required to wear face masks in shopping centres and stores, on public transport, in cinemas and theatres, and at the hairdressers. The Australia-India test cricket match will be on in Sydney, and about 30,000 will be there to watch it. The community is divided, with many saying cricket fans should follow the match on television.

Click on here for the 2020 COVID-19 Blog >>>>>>>>


The PM’s announcement dumping the submarine deal with France and instead working with Britain and the USA has made a big splash in Australia and around the world. Especially Northeast (China, of course, being particularly aware) and Southeast Asia. There are risks involved. But more importantly, it enables Australia to have a more constructive and nuanced role in the Asia Pacific region. 

There are several groups helping to build links to support active nations. These groups include the new UK, US and Australia group involved in the future submarines. Others include The Quad with the USA, India, Japan and Australia. And the Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (and possibly Malaysia, Brunei and Chile in the future.

Morrison has surprised all in Australia and many other countries with his intention to commission powerful new nuclear driven submarines. There are many critics in opposition to any nuclear arms or anything else nuclear. These matters will be a surprise to many in the region and beyond.

It is early days and new submarines would not be ready for decades. I hope, of course, that the Asian Pacific region will continue to focus on building relationships and negotiating problems, helping to maintain a wealthy and peaceful region.  (26/9/21)


I was given Barack Obama’s A Promised Land by my daughter Megan for Christmas 2020. Our family hold him in high regard.

My oldest daughter, Sarah, lives and works in Washington DC and gave me Obama’s 2007 book Dreams From My Father. She had worked on projects supported by Obama when President and had met him and been photographed next to him.

His first book after leaving The White was The Audacity of Hope. He is very concise with his titles! Before I even consider reading The Audacity of Hope I need to read and digest the 701 pages text of A Promised Land. I haven’t yet read it all, but I decided to make a few comments on the parts that have interested me.

I was interested in how many prominent Australians would be mentioned in this book which focuses on his time as President from 2008-2016. The Australian Prime Ministers between 2008 and 2016 included Kevin Rudd (2007-2010), Julia Gillard (2010-2013), Tony Abbott (2013-2015) and Malcolm Turnbull (2015-2018). None are mentioned, though Rupert Murdock got some attention. However David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, was a close friend.

Now that it has been announced that the NSW lockdown will be extended by an extra week it means I can read more of A Promised Land.  

Barack Obama 2020 A Promised Land  Viking/Penguin Random House UK. (7/7/21)


Professor Michael Taylor (1946-2021) was a colleague of mine in the Human Geography Department at the Australian National Universities in the 1980s. His work was on the economy and he was highly regarded in Australia and the UK. He was very helpful of colleagues and researchers and made a significant contribution to his students and colleagues. Although he returned to the UK after completing his time in Canberra and Perth, he came back and settled in Western Australia where he worked and later retired. Vale Mike Taylor. (3/6/21) 


An updated second edition of Understanding Contemporary Asia Pacific, edited by Katherine Palmer Kaup, has just been released. It is published by Lynne Reinner, Boulders and London.

Its’ predecessor was launched in 2007. The new book updates the situation across the Asia Pacific region. The cover design is stunning, representing the outstanding work of Rajinder Singh.


My chapter is titled Population and Urbanization. I updated population data and gave more significance to the emerging cities. I hope some might find interest in following up on population and urban issues in the Asia Pacific. (29/4/21) 


First Journey: Papua New Guinea 1972 to 1974 is my third piece on living and working in Port Moresby (click on ARTI STICA). It was a long time in the making. The earlier two pieces were completed in 2016 (Port Moresby: University Days) and 2017 (Place, Emotion, Memory: Papua New Guinea). I have continued with a format based on text and photos along with found paper. Creating these pieces can be very emotional as there is a close connection between travel, work and raw life.  (1/3/21)


Michael Somare (1936-2021) was Papua New Guinea’s first Prime Minister when the country was granted independence on the 16th of December 1975. I was working at the University of Papua New Guinea from 1972-1974 when Somare was Chief Minister. It was widely felt that Somare had the energy and enthusiasm to guide the country through the 1970s. He held office from 1975-1980, 1982-1985 and 2002 to 2011. He was very successful in leading PNG - RIP Sir Michael Somare. (1/3/21)


Donald Trump’s chronic lying and appalling behaviour was normalised by many people. Such is the deep gulch between the Republicans and the Democrats. Inciting demonstrators to break into the Capitol building has at last forced many Republicans to call out Trump’s crimes and ineptitude. Trump has treated the people of America with contempt. Western countries will be watching to see if American politicians will hold Trump responsible for his failures, or will they just move on and hope he goes away.  (9/1/21)  


Stay with me. This may take some time. COVID-19 was, of course, the standout. It dominated my blog. I am continuing it this year because I am not anticipating significant steps forward until the middle of the year.

I read three books in 2020. Tim Baker’s 2019 The Rip Curl Story (Ebury Press, Melbourne) was outstanding, perhaps because my brother Grant featured in it, and the importance of surfing in my teenage years.

Another was Angela Woollacott 2019 Don Dunstan. The Visionary Politician Who Changed Australia, Allen and Unwin, Sydney. I, like many South Australians, held Dunstan in high regard and tolerated his rather unusual lifestyle. The third was Matthew Flinders, Philippa Sandall and Gillian Dooley 2019 Trim The Cartographer’s Cat The Ship’s Cat Who Helped Flinders Map Australia Bloomsbury, London. An unusual book, no doubt, but beautifully put together.

What else! Throughout the year it has become much more important that Australia strengthen the economic links to the USA, Canada, the UK and New Zealand, India, and the ASEAN (especially Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore) plus Japan. Do I need to say why?  (1/1/21)


BLOGS 2021

Scroll down to read

  1. Bullet A quiet brush

  2. Bullet COVID-19 2021

  3. Bullet  Asian Pacific engagement

  4. Bullet Obama’s promised land

  5. Bullet Vale Michael Taylor

  6. Bullet Asia Pacific

  7. Bullet Art and memory

  8. Bullet Vale Michael Somare

  9. Bullet Which way USA?

  10. Bullet 2020 in hindsig

BLOGS Click to 2020 2021

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