The Great Melbourne lockdown in retrospect

Now that much of Australia, but not Victoria, is locked down, it seems like a good time to reconsider last year’s epic lockdown in the light of subsequent experience. What have we learned that is useful?

  1. Hotel quarantine doesn’t work. Immense amounts of effort were devoted into working out who made what mistakes in setting up Melbourne quarantine, whether it was bad contracting, security guards fraternsing with the inmates returned travellers, or something else. After a dozen or more leakages, in every state in the country, it’s evident that this effort was a waste of time. The correct response was for the Commonwealth government to accept its constitutional responsibility and set up purpose-built quarantine facilities as fast as possible. A year later, this is finally starting to happen.
  2. Localised lockdowns with arbitrary boundaries don’t work. They failed in Melbourne and again in Sydney. The one success (Avalon) was the exception that proves (tests) the rule: a peninsula, with only a few roads in or out, lots of single family homes for professionals who could work from home.
  3. Lockdown needs to be early. It’s forgotten now, since it doesn’t fit the “Dictator Dan” stereotype, but Andrews waited a long time for full lockdown, though less than in the earlier national lockdown.

What remains to be seen is how much difference contact tracing makes, and whether Delta offsets this. The standard line is that NSW was much better than Vic now, and has improved greatly since then. But they never found the index case for Avalon, or the links between the known source and a couple of mystery cases a few weeks ago. If the current NSW outbreak is controlled quickly, that’s a big win for contact tracing. If not, it might be Delta or maybe tracing was never as good as claimed.

Finally, the obvious point. If Morrison and Hunt hadn’t made a mess of buying vaccines, then played down the urgency of getting vaccinated, we would be a great deal better off.

MS Fundraising Appeal: a big success

My fundraising appeal for MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Brissie to the Bay was a huge success, raising $3100 to support services including physiotherapy, service coordination, counselling and symptom management as well as MS research to look for better treatments and ultimately a cure for this dreadful disease.

Special thanks to generous donor Chris Caton, Tom Davies, David Godden and,Graeme Orr all of whom gave $100 or more, and especially to super-generous Chris Murphy. I know not everyone has a lot of spare cash, so thanks to all who gave what they could afford.

I wasn’t able to take part in the big ride, as I was out of town, but I did a solo 100km ride, as well as a marathon earlier in June. I am so fortunate to have kept the good health that allows me to do these things, and glad to be able to do something to help people who haven’t been so lucky.


A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.

Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

Final MS Appeal

I’ve been raising funds for the MS Brissie to the Bay Appeal, and have raised over $2000.

I’m making one last push to reach my target of $2500 (I have $231 left to go). As I couldn’t join the official ride, I’ll do one of my own, with a min 50k and max 100k. For every $5 donated, I’ll do an extra km in addition to the initial 50.

Improving economic participation to overcome Indigenous disadvantage

I took part in a UQ Economics Thought Leadership event last week, looking at this topic. It was a family event as my cousin Robynne, who has done lots of work in this field (currently chairs the Board of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, as well as being a professor at UTS among lots of other positions), also took part. Here’s a link to the UQ page with a video recording and here are my Powerpoint slides.

My contribution was to link the discussion on Indigenous disadvantage to the national and global issues raised by Livable Income Guarantee and UBI proposals.