Saturday’s good reading and listening for the weekend

Aug 7, 2021
If we’re building so many apartments why is housing becoming less affordable?

What people in other forums are saying about public policy


The pandemic’s progress

Australia

Our Delta outbreak

A chart takes the place of many words.

A second chart shows the incidence of cases in New South Wales, compared with the experience in Victoria last year. The state populations are different, but in both cases the outbreaks have been in similarly-sized urban regions. The plots start with the first case, and the Victorian plot ends on Day 113, when new cases were down to single digits. We’re not making predictions: Victoria was dealing with a less contagious variant; contact tracing has improved; Victoria’s restrictions were harsher by some measures; and in Victoria no-one was vaccinated.

Those who want to follow the New South Wales outbreak can use a very informative site, provided by the state government, with geographical and time-lapse data. It is notable that the concentration of cases does not align with the concentration of population.

Vaccination

Below is the latest chart on vaccination (two doses) by age group and progress over the last month. Among Australians over 40 there has been a strong uptake of vaccination.

Not shown are first dose vaccinations, which have also risen strongly among people over 40. Assuming everyone with a first dose will go on to take a second dose we can expect to see full vaccination numbers among these age groups continue to grow quickly. But we should remember that there are more people under 40 than there are over 40, and most of them are waiting for their first dose.

Nationally, we now have 20 per cent of the 16+ population vaccinated, but 5.0 million of our national population of 25.4 million are under 16. Therefore nationally only 16 per cent of our population is fully vaccinated.

Regional vaccination data

As part of improved reporting on vaccination, the Commonwealth Health Department now produces geographical data on vaccination rates in Australia’s 107 “Level 4” statistical areas.  One can pore through that data in a hunt for the most virtuous or most irresponsible regions, but at this stage what is probably influencing the data most strongly is the age composition of regions, because older Australians were prioritised, while younger people are still waiting. When we looked through the regions as at August 1 we found that in the most vaccinated region 27.0 per cent of people 15 and over were vaccinated. At the other end of the scale the least vaccinated region had a rate of only 8.6 per cent. This was probably an outlier: in many regions the rate was around 14-15 per cent.

If such wide differences persist as national vaccination rates reach reasonable levels, national targets of 70 or 80 per cent will not meet the modelled outcomes of deaths, illness and the load on hospital resources. The virus’s effects aren’t linear: If half of Australia’s regions have 90 per cent vaccination and the other half only 70 percent, the result is far worse than the whole country having 80 per cent vaccination. We should realise that the Commonwealth’s grand plan is based on generally uniform vaccination rates across the country.

The grand plan

The Commonwealth has released its National plan to transition Australia’s national Covid response. (For a government headed by a marketing executive, they do badly on naming stuff.)

Of the six documents linked on that website, the most explanatory ones are the first-linked National plan, a one-page description of vaccination steps, and the August 3 Findings and implications of the Doherty Covid-19 modelling, which explains the model’s assumptions and basic outputs (cases, hospitalisations and deaths) at various levels of vaccination. It explains those figures of 70 and 80 per cent vaccination among adults (= approximately 56 and 64 per cent of all Australians.)

The key finding is that we need to get up to 80 per cent adult vaccination to bring the “transmission potential” – their fancy name for R – down to 1.0, and even then we will have to maintain “baseline” public health and social measures (PHSM) as well as testing, tracing, isolating and quarantining (TTIQ) measures for outbreaks.

At that stage we would still expect around 1300 deaths over a six-month period. They also point out that on average each year there are 642 deaths from influenza. (They could make a stronger point by using the number of deaths from flu and pneumonia over six months – 1200 to 2000).

One finding which may be counter-intuitive to some is that rather than working down through the age brackets, as has been the approach so far, once the most vulnerable people are vaccinated priority should be given to those most likely to spread the virus – namely the most mobile and therefore younger people. On that point at least, the New South Wales Government seems to be on the right track.

The plan is light on the future of hotel quarantine, the main weakness in our border protection. It simply mentions ”a further review of the national hotel quarantine network”.

There are plenty of numbers in these pages waiting for anti-vaxxers to misrepresent them.  Yes, there will be some deaths of vaccinated people, but that is because when we reach 80 per cent, 4 out of 5 people will be vaccinated: if we hit 100 per cent vaccination the antivaxxers could make the accurate but meaningless claim that all deaths are among the vaccinated. And some will point to the figures on the last page, showing that AstraZeneca is less effective than Pfizer at stopping infection, but we should note that in terms of protecting against hospitalization, ICU admission and mortality, there is no difference between the vaccines.  Another point to keep in mind is that booster shots are envisaged in the plan.

Another document on that site is the Treasury modelling: Economic impact analysis. Its key finding relates to the economic benefits of early and short lockdowns – which seven of our eight state governments have known for a year. The document reads “taking early and strong action in response to outbreaks of the Delta variant, is consistently more cost effective than allowing higher levels of community transmission, which ultimately requires longer and more costly lockdowns”.

On reading the documents relating to the plan one may gain the impression that each step has firm boundaries and different approaches, but the process is a continuing one, all towards lowering R. On Wednesday’s Coronacast Norman Swan gave a general description of how it all works.  If we want to see its components in action, particularly the effects of vaccination, we should keep our eyes on New South Wales: there is at least something to be learned from the New South Wales slowness to take strong action.

Incentives

The only certainty about Labor’s suggestion that each Australian be paid $300 once fully vaccinated is that Morrison was bound to oppose it, regardless of its merits. Writing in The Conversation Peter Martin, citing research on the effectiveness of small rewards, believes “Albo’s on the right track”. Another economist, Mark Crosby, also writing in The Conversation,  warns that such a move may create perverse incentives and “could encourage a mentality of compensating Australians who are reluctant to make sacrifices in the national interest”.

In view of the high returns from lifting vaccination rates, say, from 80 to 85 per cent, the benefit-cost calculations of a modest cash reward are a no-brainer from a utilitarian perspective. The overarching issue is whether 40 years of neoliberal conditioning has sapped our community spirit, leaving a society where the only effective motivation is “what’s in it for me”.

A possibility worth considering is that anyone who is fully vaccinated would be eligible for a $300 payment, but that that they would have to make a conscious choice to claim it. That may reveal some insights into our society.


Our region – the virus is raging in Indonesia and Myanmar

Every month the ABC’s Saturday Extra has a “Foreign Affair” segment. The latest is about our own region, Southeast Asia, particularly in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. Geraldine Doogue discusses the situation with Emma Connors of the Financial Review, Huong Le Thu of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and Michael Wesley of the University of Melbourne.

This region, having done so well during the early stages of the pandemic, has now been hit hard by the Delta variant. Unfortunately that good early performance led to countries not giving priority to vaccination and now the virus is spreading through unvaccinated populations. All looked well up to around April this year, but the Delta wave is threatening the region’s recovery from the pandemic, is weakening its longer-term economic progress, and is exposing fault lines in some countries’ political systems.

The final 8 minutes of this 23-minute Foreign Affair session is about the geopolitics of the region. In Australia we are too inclined to think of the region in terms of US-China rivalry, as if countries have to make a choice between the superpowers. But as governments in the region told US Defense Secretary Austin during his recent visit to the region, they don’t see the world in such a binary way.

The table below, an update of a similar table we have presented earlier, shows selected data for our region, arranged in order of reported daily cases per million. To put these figures into perspective, our peak last year, during the Victorian outbreak, was 23 cases per million nationally, or about 120 cases per million in Melbourne. The US and the UK reached between 700 and 900 daily cases per million earlier this year, but in most of Europe and the US daily cases are now down to around 40 to 60 per million.  The countries in our region now have daily case rates ranging from the best to the worst.

Cases may not be the best indicator for all these countries, particularly in countries where there is not a high rate of testing. Deaths may be better recorded. Most countries in Southeast Asia have low death rates, but very high recent death rates are reported from Fiji (10.2 deaths per million population each day), Myanmar (7.8), and Indonesia (7.2). In the week to August 1, 19 per cent of the world’s coronavirus deaths were in Indonesia and 4 per cent were in Myanmar.


The rest of the world

The graph below shows the Delta wave of infections and deaths. Note that it reveals about a two-week lag between infections and deaths.

Worldwide data on cases has never been accurate because it is dependent on recording, which in turn is dependent on detecting, which in turn is dependent on testing. Even in countries with reasonably good record-keeping, testing capacity can become overwhelmed during bad outbreaks. Now, with many populations at least partly vaccinated, the proportion of asymptomatic cases, which may not be detected, is growing.

Deaths are more accurately recorded, and the table below shows deaths by broad WHO region over the last week, with South America emphasised because of its disproportionate share of deaths in relation to its population. Much of that imbalance is accounted for by Brazil, which had 10.1 per cent of world deaths last week, and by Ecuador, which seems to have been failing to record Covid-19 deaths until recently. Also, at first sight, Europe seems to be more or less balanced, but within Europe Russia had 8.3 per cent of world deaths last week, while death rates in western Europe are low.

In its general website (where you have to register rather than on its open Coronavirus website) The Economisthas an article Why have some places suffered more covid-19 deaths than others? The research cited in that article reveals a strong correlation between  Covid-19 deaths and indicators of inequality. Most other contending explanations of different countries’ death rates, such as the age of the population, show little correlation.

The UK situation

We can always trust the UK Government to do something silly like losing its American colonies or exiting from the EU. This time its folly has been declaration of July 19 as “Freedom Day” after it had brought its daily cases down to around 25 per million.

That folly provides an example of where Australia may be when we reach adult vaccination rates of 70 to 80 per cent. In the UK 73 per cent pf the adult population has received two doses of vaccine and 89 per cent at least one dose.

The graph below illustrates its recorded daily infections and deaths per million since the original outbreak of the virus last year. As in many countries the initial wave caught the UK by surprise: most cases were undetected. The waves in October last year and January this year were followed by a corresponding wave of deaths. But while the latest wave has seen a surge in recorded cases, which could well be under-recorded, the rise in deaths has been modest. Equally puzzling is the rapid fall in recorded cases after the peak.

Tentative explanations for this low death rate and the fall in recorded cases abound. They are covered in Sarah Chang’s article in The Atlantic: Watch the UK to understand Delta. Although many UK people have Covid-19 antibodies from previous waves (a situation that would not hold in Australia) she is sceptical about herd immunity as an explanation.

Lest any Australian politician believe we can declare “Freedom day” and lift all restrictions once we reach a similar vaccination level, we should note that the UK is still recording one death per day per million. In Australia that would equate to 25 deaths a day, or 9000 a year.


Data sources

See our separate web page of hyperlinks to generally reliable information and analysis about Covid-19, including data on vaccination and the WHO Covid-19 epidemiological updates. The Economist open access Covid-19 site has an article on the UK situation “Boris Johnson’s gamble looks like it will pay off”, another on the rising political discontent in low-income counties, and even one letting the world know that Australians are becoming “increasingly grumpy”.


Politics


Class as Marx never imagined it

How we yearn for the days when the propertied classes voted Liberal/Conservative/Republican, the working classes voted Labor/Labour/Democrat, and the two parties competed for the support of the middle classes. It was all so clear cut.

Writing in The AtlanticHow the bobos broke America – David Brooks describes present class divisions in America. He focuses on “bobos” – bourgeois bohemians with “progressive values and metropolitan tastes” – contrasting them with what the French call “bourbours” who “go out of their way to shock [the bobos] with nativism, nationalism, and a wilful lack of tact”. Brooks confesses to being a fully paid-up member of the bobos, and to having not seen the populist reaction against the new elites in his earlier writings.

He outlines how left-leaning parties in America and elsewhere have lost their working class membership bases, and how education now seems to be the main political class marker.  He cites a 2012 study of Americans in the highest 4 per cent income bracket that revealed 44 per cent voted Democrat while 41 per cent voted Republican. (Marx would be shocked.)

“The modern meritocracy is a resentment-generating machine” he writes. It reeks of all the snobbishness, arrogance and detachment of the elites of the old order. In what could pass for a strategy document for Morrison’s re-election, he suggests:

This situation produces a world in which the populist right can afford to be intellectually bankrupt. Right-leaning parties don’t need to have a policy agenda. They just need to stoke and harvest the resentment toward the creative class.

Like Michael Sandel, author of The tyranny of merit, Brooks sees the class divide not in terms of income, financial wealth, material possessions, or access to health care, but in terms of respect. There’s an elite class who do not respect those who do not share the elite’s values. Transfer programs and provision of public goods will not, in themselves, bridge the divide.

Optimistically he sees Biden drawing political strength from the fact that he stands outside this new class system.


Sleaze

The Centre for Public Integrity has analysed recent reports by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) on Commonwealth programs involving discretionary grants, and has found problems ranging from “minor areas for improvement to serious maladministration”: Scrutinizing grant administration: key reforms. These programs include sports grants, the grant of $433 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and the commuter car park grants.

It calls for such projects to be subject to legislated program guidelines and published merit selection criteria, and for means by which parliament can oversee the programs.

In an article on the Centre’s analysis, Sydney Morning Herald journalist David Crowe quotes the views of experienced and respected jurists, who are highly critical of the government’s use of taxpayers’ money to advance the Coalition’s electoral prospects. He quotes the pathetic defence of these rorts offered by Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher.

The Centre has also drawn attention to the generous treatment enjoyed by a well-connected firm managing detention of asylum-seekers in the Nauru concentration camp: Liberal party donor’s revenue from uncontested contracts for offshore processing rises to $1.5bn. One revelation in that article is that we are spending $3.2 million a year for each person kept in detention on Nauru.

The Australia Institute is collecting signatures on a petition calling for a Commonwealth anti-corruption watchdog to be established.


Prime ministerial character references

Some people ask if there has even been a worse prime minister than Scott Morrison. It’s a bit early to be passing judgement on the incumbent, suggests Paul Stangio of Monash University, writing in The Conversation. His article – Who were Australia’s best prime ministers? – pulls together the opinions of 66 political scientists and historians to assemble rankings for the best and the worst. The top ranking is unlikely to surprise many Pearls and Irritations readers. The bottom ranking is a bit more difficult, in a field that includes Tony Abbott, Billy Hughes, Billy McMahon and “Viscount” Stanley Bruce.

Writing in The Saturday Paper John Hewson notes Morrison’s failure to exercise leadership, and his uneasy relationship with truth and responsibility: Scott Morrison and the truth. Unfortunately it’s paywalled (note that The Saturday Paper has some attractive subscription offers), but Hewson also has an article in the Canberra Times, focussing on the government’s corruption in discretionary grants programs and its refusal to establish an anti-corruption commission, ending in a biblical warning from the Book of Numbers “to our Pentecostal PM”.


Australia needs a national conversation about children

The Centre for Policy Development has produced an Early childhood initiative evidence pack, pulling together its work on early childhood education and care. Drawing on published research, it puts the case for early childhood development as a major driver of national wellbeing, and presents a report card on our present situation.  Small investments in early childhood deliver high dividends in later years, not only in individuals’ greater contributions to society, but also in avoiding the need for interventions in later life.

Australia has made progress, but we have some way to go in providing adequate early childhood education and care. There are significant areas of unmet need, particularly for the fifth of Australian children, particularly males, who are developmentally vulnerable when they start school.


A peek inside the visa appeals system

Writing in Eureka Street Frank Brennan takes us into the workings of the appeal mechanisms around applications for migrant visas: The fraying of judicial nerves in migration cases. He notes that there are significant inconsistencies in the rulings of different judges.  Brennan uses one case to illustrate the convoluted process of appeals and contested judgements in an overworked and under-resourced system.


Economics


Why has reform stopped?

Last week we provided a link to John Daley’s major project at the Grattan Institute – the research project Gridlock: removing barriers to policy reform. Also last week on Saturday Extra Geraldine Doogue interviewed John Daley and Julianne Schultz of the Griffith Review on the question Is Australia’s governance deteriorating?  Daley summarised his Gridlock work, describing the weakening of independent institutions, the sidelining of the public service, and the erosion of conventions that guide good governance.

Schultz put a historical and cultural context around these developments. Australia seems to be wandering through a moral and intellectual wilderness, and is not engaging with the ideas that will have a bearing on our future. Perhaps we have never really engaged with the ideas that have shaped our nation: maybe we just let stuff happen. (18 minutes.)

Her essay Facing foundational wrongs: careful what you wish for is in the current edition of the Griffith Review. It’s a cultural, political and economic history of Australia, from Federation to Covid-19.


How to design a tax system

There are many principles to be considered in designing a tax system, and some of these principles conflict with one another. Matt Grundoff, Richard Denniss and David Richardson of the Australia Institute describe five of these principles and evaluate them against ten existing taxes (e.g. GST) and possible alternative taxes (e.g. a carbon tax): Principles of a good tax. Evaluating our taxation choices. Some of their analysis is a little superficial, but their work provides a useful framework for considering proposals for tax reform.


Australia’s bit in cooking the planet

At a time when the world should be reducing CO2 emissions, not only have we been tardy, we have also been trying to encourage “developing” nations to buy our coal.

On Late Night Live Phillip Adams interviewed Allan Behm of the Australia Institute about our climate diplomacy, particularly the government’s message to “developing” countries: “buy our coal because it’s really clean”. At a time when more responsible nations are closing coal-fired power stations, we are encouraging the construction of new ones.

Behm sees our recalcitrance in a historical and bipartisan context, going back to the Keating Government’s half-hearted participation in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, when we carved out special exemptions for ourselves.

We are fast becoming a pariah on climate change. We rank third place (bronze medal) behind Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest exporters of fossil fuels, and are seriously out of step with the US and the UK. Our traditional friends are trying to teach us how to behave, but we’re not listening. Perhaps we’ll be forced to listen when our companies find they are paying a carbon tax levied by our trading partners. (15 minutes.)


All you ever wanted to know about quantitative easing but were too embarrassed to ask

Do we understand how “quantitative easing” works?

If you haven’t had the joy of studying macroeconomics at university, or if you forgot it the minute you walked out of the exam, Jonathan Smith of Georgia State University has a four-minute Ted Talks session: How do governments create money out of thin air?  It’s about “quantitative easing” (QE) – the way central banks can get more money into circulation through means other than lowering interest rates, and can do so without causing inflation.

If you’re generally familiar with the way central banks operate but want to know what is actually happening in Australia, Saul Eslake has a recording of his webinar What is “QE”, and how does it work?. (56 minutes presentation 16 minutes Q&A). He explains how our Reserve Bank operates QE through private financial markets rather than through directly financing government deficits, how QE should work to create funds for consumption and productive investment, and how through using QE our Reserve Bank has managed to avoid having to use negative interest rates as a monetary stimulus. He also takes us through some of the normal workings of central banks, for example how they balance objectives of full employment with price stability. (Hint – they use a simple linear equation with only two variables.)

Unsurprisingly, low interest rates have resulted in asset price inflation, increasing the financial wealth of owners of real estate and equities. Eslake suggests that the government has calculated that the resulting widening disparity in wealth is offset by an outcome of lower unemployment stimulated by QE.

What happens, however, when interest rates rise and asset values fall, exposing the fragility of the “wealth effect”, and when highly-leveraged investors realise they have taken on too much debt?


Housing – further out of reach

If the price of food, health care, gasoline and clothing were rising at 21 per cent a year, while the real economy was standing still, economists would be talking about “stagflation” and drawing comparisons with Venezuela, and most media – including the Murdoch media if Labor were in office – would be condemning the government for its economic incompetence.

But economists and the media seem to be remarkably relaxed when CoreLogic’s property value index shows a monthly rise of 1.61 per cent in July. That would be a 21 per cent annual rise if it continued at this pace, which it could well do as property speculators (politely but incorrectly called “investors”) pile into the market, having learned that Labor is matching the Coalition’s irresponsibility in allowing “negative gearing” and capital gains tax concessions.

If commodity inflation, as measured by the CPI, were running at 21 per cent a year, it would at least indicate that the economy is probably running at full employment. But when asset price inflation is running at such a high level, all it indicates is that too much money is in the hands of people who have nothing useful to do with it.

Is it not reasonable that anyone with a full-time job should be able to afford shelter? But in many parts of Australia, including traditional working-class regions in our capital cities, essential workers – the people who are keeping us supplied with food and looking after the aged during lockdowns – have to pay up to two-thirds of their income on rent.

One revelation in the CoreLogic data is that in our biggest cities apartment prices are rising much more slowly than house prices. Does this mean there is an imbalance in the market, an early sign of over-supply?

It is notable that while many property spruikers and politicians see something to celebrate in unaffordable housing, across the Tasman the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has launched an inquiry into that nation’s housing crisis.


Australians are escaping from the big cities

Boccaccio’s Decameron is a story of young people fleeing plague-infested Florence to enjoy a sexual romp in the countryside. Data on internal migration released by the ABS suggests something similar may be happening here: people are leaving Melbourne and Sydney, but perhaps having less fun than Boccaccio’s characters.

For most of this century so far internal migration has seen people moving out of Sydney, people moving to Brisbane, and the Melbourne population holding fairly steady. But over the last 12 months there has been a significant movement out of Melbourne, coinciding with its extended lockdown last year.

It’s a bit early to link cause and effect. The inconvenience of the lockdown is not the only possible explanation: housing prices may be another, and the lockdown has accelerated the uptake of technologies that facilitate distant working and living. Will the present Sydney lockdown have a similar effect, and are these movements permanent?


Agricultural visas

Family reunion visas are prohibitively expensive and asylum-seekers are subject to painfully slow bureaucratic processes, but the Morrison Government, under pressure from the National Party, is close to finalising an agricultural visa for seasonal workers, to replace a shortage of so-called “backpackers”, arising from provisions in the proposed UK-Australia trade deal.

Writing in Open Forum, former Immigration Department deputy secretary Abul Rizvi warns that the agricultural visa scheme could lead to exploitative working conditions in the sector. Farm lobby groups will push for conditions that load costs on to seasonal workers and for weak regulations generally.

Rizvi outlines proposals to clean up employment conditions in the farm sector. (These would surely be welcomed by farmers who don’t want to be dragged into a race to the bottom: employers’ lobby groups are notorious for being much less reasonable than the employers whose interests they claim to represent.)


Polls and surveys


Essential – no one’s getting high marks

The main message from the latest Essential Report is that voters are continuing to turn away from both Morrison and Albanese.

There is a small loss of support for Morrison as preferred prime minister – 7 points over 6 months.  At that rate he will be level pegging with Albanese in early 2023.

On governments’ responses to Covid-19, people’s ratings of the Commonwealth continue to fall.  In the states most affected – New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – people’s ratings of state governments is also falling, but they still come out far more favourably than the Commonwealth. People are strongly in support of fast, hard lockdowns.

Unsurprisingly people want to see government support for people affected by lockdowns, and a clear majority, particularly among Labor supporters, want to see “Jobkeeper” returned.  (Does this mean people are unaware of the extent to which “Jobkeeper” was rorted?)

Respondents were questioned on their stance on the anti-lockdown protests. Younger people show more support for the protesters than older people. By voting intention the strongest support is among “other” voters (31 per cent), followed by Greens, Labor and the Coalition.

There is still an 11 per cent hard core of people who say they will never get vaccinated, and an unsurprising preference for the Pfizer vaccine among those who do want to get vaccinated.  (We shouldn’t attribute the Pfizer preference only to an irrational approach to risk: with deliveries of Pfizer on their way, for some people Pfizer could provide a faster path to full vaccination that AstraZeneca.)


Racism in Australia

A group of researchers from Western Sydney and Deakin Universities have surveyed 2000 Asian Australians on the nature, type and frequency of racist incidents they may have experienced or witnessed. Their general findings, published in The Conversation, are that about 40 per cent experienced racism personally, and that many others witnessed racist incidents. Very few reported the incidents to authorities, or even to their friends and families.

Their report Asian Australians’ experiences of racism during the Covid-19 pandemic (hyperlink in The Conversation article) has a number of detailed tables about locations and types of incidents. Shops show up strongly in the list of locations for racist behaviour. The most common responses were about being treated with less trust and respect than other Australians.

A similar survey has been conducted by Asian Australian Alliance and Osmond Chiu of Per Capita. It finds a high incidence of racial slur and name calling, and many incidents of physical violence, including incidents of people being spat on and physically intimidated. Overwhelmingly the perpetrators were unknown to the respondents, and very few people reported the incidents to the police. As with the other survey, many incidents were associated with shopping.


Webinars


Australia Institute

Wednesday 11 August, 1700 AEST: Chanel Contos “Understanding Consent”.  She came to prominence in February this year, when she conducted a poll asking whether any of her friends who attended Sydney private schools had been raped or sexually assaulted.

The webinar is free, but registration is essential. See the Institute’s seminars webpage.

Balmain Institute

Thursday 12 August, 1900 AEST: “Covid-19 and the performing arts”, with Bruce Spence of the Actors’ Benevolent Foundation and Ray Kingston of 2MBS Fine Music Sydney.

Register on the Institute’s website.


Very light opera


Remember the days before social distancing?  Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko and Roland Villazon provided a little levity to Franz Lehár’s  Dein ist mein ganzes Herz at the Berlin Waldbühne in 2006. (Orchester der deutschen Oper, Marco Armiliato conductor.) Luscious on full screen


If you have comments, corrections, or links to other relevant sources, we’d like to hear from you.  Please send them to Ian McAuley — ian, at the domain name ianmcauley.com

See Michael West Media for more analysis of these and other economic and political issues.

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