“Social distancing” is the problem.

Most people won’t keep their distance. I have been in a few public places in the last few days and haven’t witnessed any discernible difference in people’s behaviour.

That is why the “social distancing” policy is mostly ineffectual because:

  • it’s seen as rude to deliberately distance yourselves from others, particularly in a social setting.
  • personal risk of the virus won’t hit home to many people until someone they know has the virus.

Unfortunately, shut-down is the only next step worth taking. This removes places that people can come together and transmit the virus.

Masks are the new fashion.

I wear a mask whenever I come within two metres of another person. If you come within two metres of another person, you should be wearing a mask.

People are infectious with the virus for four days before symptoms appear. The most common transmission occurs not from surfaces or hands, but from breathing. It surprises me that more in my local community are not wearing masks – in other countries, it is default behaviour to wear a mask even if you have no symptoms. Given that there are now projections for 50,000 to die in Australia, you could save a life by wearing a mask.

A four day incubation period with no symptoms. Act as if you have the virus.

Coronavirus and social media

The way that news is propagated to the public has changed.

Before social media

Before social media, important government announcements in Australia were efficiently transmitted via:

  • two newspapers in each city; and
  • five television channels in each city.

The situation now

Now, a large proportion of the public’s primary source of news is via social media channels. News-related posts are mixed in amongst posts about cats and selfies.

This makes it more difficult during crisis situations for government to communicate a consistent message to the public. There is no consistent timing for social media posts to appear in a user’s feed, so it can happen that news stories can be out of sequence in a user’s news feed, resulting in misinformation and confusion.

What needs to happen?

In future, government should legislate so that in a crisis:

  • Government posts are mandated as highest priority across the main social media used in Australia; and
  • Mandated SMS text messaging should be used for official government information.

Coronavirus in Australia should be contained

My inexpert guess is that Coronavirus infections will be contained within the next 6 months.

The basis is the following:

  • Australia is a sparsely populated country. It is one of the least densely populated countries. Therefore people coming close enough to each other to be infected is less likely.
  • Australia is an island and can more easily control its borders.
  • Australia has a strong health system to support virus testing and remediation of the infected.
  • Australians are well informed of hygiene, and infection mitigation.
  • The virus does not cope well in the hotter temperatures in Australia.

The risk

The ongoing risk is mass infection triggered by a single event, example as follows:

An infected individual attends a mass event. The infected individual comes into enough sustained contact to infect a large number of people. The whereabouts of this large number of infected people are untraceable after the event.

If this single event occurs, then all bets are off and contagion will be much more widespread.

The consequences

The most likely consequence for most of the public in Australia will not be health-related. The effects will be damage to the economy due to loss of confidence; disruption in international trade; less international tourists due to restrictions; and a shortage of some goods.

Disclaimer
Personal opinion only. The infection rates of the coronavirus are impossible to predict accurately and most affected by the public’s actions.

What does a local councillor do?

I still find it is not commonly known what exactly a local councillor does, and that there are quite a few misconceptions by the public. I will try to explain as simply as possible:

A councillor is a member of a “board of directors”

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Chief Ex…
councillors
counc…
 appoints 
 appoints 
day-to-day
council staff and operations
day-to-day…
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  • Councillors provide input and give final approval to council policies.
  • Councillors provide input and give final approval to the whole of the council’s annual budget.

A councillor represents the community

  • Councillors are elected by the public and are expected to listen to residents’ feedback and any issues that a resident may have with something about the council.
  • Councillors provide input and give final approval to the whole of the council’s annual budget.
  • Councillors can attend local events and community group functions.

How much does a councillor get paid?

A councillor in a metropolitan council gets paid around $30,000 per year.

How many hours a week does a councillor work?

  • There is generally one important council meeting per week that goes for around four hours. Councillors should have read the agenda papers prior to the council meeting.
  • In elected positions, there is no “boss” as such. Councillors are expected to do a good job otherwise they will be voted out at the next election.
  • Some councillors also working a full-time job so have to fit councillor duties around their full-time job.
  • Generally, I find that on average councillors work from 6 to 10 hours per week, depending on what is happening, and the circumstances of the individual councillor.