Where are we in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out?

13 May 2021

I was very excited to see a box of AstraZeneca vaccines being walked in the front door of a local GP clinic a month or so ago. At last, a return to normality, I thought.

Not so fast. In their astonishingly inept fashion, the Coalition government has thrown spanners in the works and the roll-out is a mess, with what seems like daily attempts to rephrase what has been said in order to dodge responsibility for cock-ups.

Former Health Department secretary Stephen Duckett criticised the government as politely as he could in Monday’s Canberra Times,

[Duckett] blasted the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout,
calling it an “expensive shambles” & “train wreck” shrouded in
secrecy about the use of contractors & consultants.

By now, most Vintage Reds will have been able to get at least their first shot of AstraZeneca.

Here is a little GUIDE to VACCINES, while we wait for the next reword and wind-back of the government’s commitment to our health.

It’s important to keep in mind these things:

  • the benefit of these vaccines is to prevent people from getting a serious case of COVID.
  • vaccinated people are less likely to transmit the virus.
  • the side effects of any vaccine may be unpleasant enough to think about taking a panadol before you get your shot, prophylactically. And take a couple of days off if you can.
  • a flu shot is also a good idea, but talk to your doctor about spacing it with the vaccine.
  • and last, keep an eye on developments with new vaccines and news about the old ones. The state of what we know is constantly changing.

So, what are all these vaccines?

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Stop the US Blockade of Cuba

Several Vintage Reds members turned up in Garema Place, Canberra, on 24 April 2021, to join a protest against the unjust, criminal and unneighbourly US blockade of Cuba. Banners and flags were erected and photos taken for posting to social media. The demonstration was part of the world wide “Bridges of Love” movement to build pressure on the US to change its vote in the upcoming UN motion on 23 June. (#UnblockCuba. https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Cuba-To-Present-UN-Resolution-To-End-the-US-Blockade-on-June-23-20210423-0011.html)

Australia Cuba Friendship Society Vice-president Pam Dean gave a description of a Children’s hospital in Las Tunas for which the Society had raised $A6,840. A cheque for that amount was presented to the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos in April 2019.

ACFS President Rob Parnell made a short speech on the National Declaration emanating from the December 2020 ACFS National Consultation, and read an extract from the Declaration. ACFS member Marcos Cruz spoke on the blockade.

Pete West played Guantanamera on the harmonica and Christopher Lang led the singing of this well known Cuban song, with Rob Parnell harmonising.

Rob Parnell

International Workers’ Memorial Day

“Mourn the dead: Fight like hell for the living.”

Four Vintage Reds attended the 28 April 2021 International Day of Mourning ceremony at 9 a.m. at the National Workers Memorial in King’s Park near the Carillon.

The gathering of around one hundred included members of the CFMEU, CPSU and the ETU. 178 white crosses were laid out below the Memorial to commemorate the 178 workers killed in the course of their work across the nation in the past year. Mick Gentleman read his speech from his smart phone. Most of the speeches mentioned friends or family who had not returned home from work due to a workplace fatality. The theme this year was “Mourn the dead: Fight like hell for the living”.

The ceremony concluded with a minute’s silence.

Rob P.

Photo: Rob P & Glenda J

Palm Sunday refugee rally 2021

Australia is holding about a hundred Medevaced refugees in hotels, and there are hundreds more people offshore in PNG and Nauru, caught in unimaginable limbo. Earlier in the month a vigil was held in Garema Place for the Murugappan family from Biloela, who have now been in detention on Christmas Island for over three years. Their many supporters in Biloela continue to call for their release.

The theme of this year’s Palm Sunday rally organised by the Refugee Action Campaign of Canberra was “Resist Cruelty“.

Union groups, religious groups, political parties were all represented. Speakers including former Canberra Times Editor Jack Waterford and Anglican Rev. Roberta Hamilton spoke to the crowd, which then marched out of Garema Place and around the centre of town.

Vintage Reds marched with the banner to show support.

Canberra Union Voices raised again!

Director Chrissie Shaw, a legend in Canberra theatrical circles, is back leading the Canberra Union Voices, starting with the year’s first practice on Wednesday 3 March 2020.

Every town needs a good union choir, and here is ours, for all interested singers to join. A recent quote from an anonymous singer:

“I have found it to be an incredibly pleasurable experience.  Chrissie teaches us how to breathe properly, and there are warm up scales and many wonderful union songs.”

Practices are at 2 – 3.30 p.m. at the Dickson Tradies Club. The cost is $20.00 per week or $75.00 for the term.

Contact: Andrew Blankensee 0421 193 794.

 Photo: Canberra Union Voices, 2010, from the archive.

“Women of Steel” — BHP in Wollongong

Film director Robynne Murphy came to one of our meetings in 2019 (read about this below), with news about her film “Women of Steel”, at that time still in the making.

Since then the film has been completed and last year it was a documentary finalist in the Sydney Film Festival. “Women of Steel” also won the History Council of NSW’s 2020 Applied History Award; and was a finalist in the 2020 ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Best Documentary awards, in the two categories of History, and Social & Political Issues.

Recently a number of Vintage Reds found they had all had the same excellent idea and booked tickets to see the film at Smith’s in Alinga Street. It’s a wonderful story, beautifully told, and the audience went away uplifted and impressed by what can be achieved by people coming together with a common purpose. It was particularly moving that most of the women were migrants and took on a reluctant and powerful company (BHP) in a second language.

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Vintage letter writers

The fabulous Vintage Reds fired off a couple of good letters which topped the page today, as below:

Right-royal waste.
The expenses incurred in the Mountbattens’ proposed travel (carbon emissions!), their security entourage, ad-visers, general hangers-on & royalist political sycophants could be in the millions – & should, more appropriately, be devoted to bushfire victims’ wellbeing (“William & Kate to visit bushfire-hit regions”, Feb. 12, p3)
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

Picking up the cheque.
So a couple of British ‘royals” are to tour Australia. I’m OK with that as long as they’re paying their own way. They are paying their own way, aren’t they?
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Letters to the Editor, Canberra Times

Vintage Reds members are a prolific source of informed comment in the letters pages of our local paper. Here is a selection, carefully gleaned online…

Canberra Times, 18 December 2019: Hemlock anybody?
Those criticising Greta Thunberg should note that Socrates said when the debate is lost slander becomes the tool of the losers.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Canberra Times, 9 December 2019:
Scott Morrison says his just announced public sector changes will improve both services to the public and delivery efficiency. But he didn’t ask the public about what we need or the service about how they can improve delivery.

So who advised him? Was it political staffers, or perhaps business lobbyists? Or did a bunch of politicians just get together and make stuff up?

And would now be a good time to start feeling afraid? Or even very afraid?
Pauline Westwood, Dickson

Canberra Times, 27 November 2019: Why Westpac? Why?
Westpac has been accused of breaking anti-money laundering laws 23 million times and will ostensibly be fined for having done so.

That’s like accusing my lawn mower of cutting my grass too short and fining it some of the petrol in its petrol tank. Westpac is a legal entity composed of nothing but pieces of paper; it has no more capacity to break the law than my lawnmower has the capacity to choose the height of its blades.

While Westpac hasn’t broken any laws per se, the people running it who must take responsibility for what has occurred will walk away with little more than a reduction in their multi-million dollar bonuses.

It’s well past time we abolished the legal nonsense that corporations are “natural persons” which can be held responsible and punished for crimes resulting from the actions of executives and employees. Until the people who are actually responsible are held personally liable nothing will change.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Canberra Times, 27 November 2019: Firefighters on welfare
I wonder how many of our wonderful volunteer firefighters are subjected to the cashless welfare card?
Pauline Westwood, Dickson

Canberra Times, 18 November 2019: Humpty Dumpty moment
This is Frydenberg’s journey “Through the Looking-glass”, where, like Alice’s Humpty Dumpty, words can mean anything, even more so in translation(!) in a subjective legal environment.  Time may subliminally foil “Enforceable conditions” imposed on Bellamy’s sale contract “supporting jobs in Australian” (Takeover deal no real threat, CT, 16 November, p.6).
Albert White, Queanbeyan Continue reading