Never let a chance go by

Have you ever noticed there are some ‘special people’ in our society that are always hustling to gain a sniff of an advantage? With the current restrictions on life as we (used to) know it accepted by the majority of Australians in an effort to prevent a far worse tragedy, our hustlers seem to be lining up to demonstrate their complete lack of regard for the rest of us.

We have the tone deaf as evidenced by Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman fame who spoke to 60 Minutes on Channel 9 late in March
“There’s pretty much nothing to get scared of. It’s not the Spanish Flu that killed 15 million people just after the First World War … I’m 80, I should be really scared. Guess what? I’m not really scared.”

Mr Harvey was pleased to note revenue across his national chain of electronics stores up sharply amid huge consumer demand in recent weeks.

“You know, this is an opportunity,” he said.

“Our sales are up in Harvey Norman in Australia by nine per cent on last year. Our sales in freezers are up 300 per cent. And what about air purifiers? Up 100 per cent.”
We have the outright dangerous as evidenced by ‘reality’ television show co-host and chef Pete Evans who has been on the record for some time as claiming a paleo diet is the answer to a multitude of health issues, sunscreen is poisonous and that vaccinations are ineffective and extremely hazardous to health. Doctors (who do have a clue about health) have been on the record warning Evans to stick to what he is supposed have a clue about — how to cook. Evans has bobbed up again promoting a device that flashes ‘biolights’ as a coronavirus cure. There is no medical evidence behind this device to support Evans’ claim and from the sound of this report, even less chance of a link between the device and a cure for Coronavirus being demonstrated. If that’s not sufficient reason to walk away as quickly as possible, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is investigating the claims made about the $15,000 device. [Edit update: Evans has since been fined $25,000 by the TGA]

Then we have the opportunists such as some large businesses.

Frequently at General Practitioner’s Surgeries around Australia, there is a small room staffed by one of the large corporate pathology groups. Unsurprisingly, the pathology operator pays rent for the room and probably contributes to the surgery’s utilities costs.

So in the middle of a pandemic when people are being told to stay home, use telehealth options (which now have Medicare numbers to encourage a change in behaviour) and generally avoid situations where there are crowds of people, pathology groups aren’t getting as much business through their integrated surgery locations. So the large corporate pathology groups, with multi-million dollar turnovers and considerable government (Medicare) funding are turning the screws on the general practitioners (generally running a small business) that host the pathology offices demanding a 50% reduction on rental payments while retaining the same floorspace.

We can’t move past opportunists without referring to Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce. Joyce has demanded a $4.2 Billion loan from the Australian Government if the Government decides to assist Virgin Australia with a $1.4 Billion loan to survive the Coronavirus economic downturn. Joyce claims he needs the money to ‘level the playing field’, but the real reason is probably included in this quote from the Sydney Morning Herald
Last week, Qantas raised $1 billion in fresh debt from the market in a loan secured against aircraft it owns to help it through the crisis. The company has $3.5 billion in other assets it can use to raise more cash.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has been lobbying against government support for Virgin, saying last week that government should not help companies that "have been badly managed for 10 years" and that helping Virgin and not Qantas would be "completely unfair" on his airline.
Joyce also thought it was ‘fair’ to unilaterally ground Qantas domestic and international flights in late October 2011 without notice during an industrial dispute, leaving his customers stranded all over the world. Joyce also didn’t bother informing the government of the day so they could broker a resolution or alternative arrangements for those stranded by Joyce’s actions.

Thankfully, not all the hustlers are residents in Australia.

JK Rowling writes well. So well in fact she wrote the Harry Potter books and due to her skill, the royalties from Harry Potter means she probably never has to worry about how to pay for the best medical treatment (or anything else for that matter). According to reports, Rowling advocates a breathing technique claimed to ‘cure’ Coronavirus. The technique involves ‘controlled coughing’ which according to the experts is a real treatment for some respiratory diseases — Coronavirus isn’t one of them. In fact the coughing could spread Coronavirus to others that are close by. Maybe Rowling should keep to what she’s good at, like Evans.

The original response to the Coronavirus by the UK Government was that all their citizens were reasonable and responsible people, so reminders of the correct hygiene and distancing techniques (or ‘nudges to do the right thing’) would minimise the adverse health effects until a herd immunity had developed.

A month later ‘nudging people to do the right thing’ demonstrably worked so well the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was reported to be taking short walks after a period of isolation in a ICU bed due to Coronavirus and sadly thousands have died.

At least Rowling and the UK Government weren’t deliberately obstructionist. Rather than miss some of the detail in the USA’s failure to respond appropriately to the threat of Coronavirus, you too can gain a small understanding of the complete and utter failure of President Trump and his hand-picked (and sometimes related) henchmen to understand the risk and protect his citizens by reading this article in The New Yorker.

Nurses having no option other than garbage bags for Personal Protective Equipment in the world’s richest country is a damning indictment, but is not as bad as Viktor Orban, the President of Hungary who has invoked considerable emergency powers to combat Coronavirus. The ‘emergency powers’ have no end date and some of them have nothing to do with the management of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some of the powers instituted by Orban are similar to those instituted by Morrison. At least Morrison can’t change the law or Constitution by decree.

The ‘old normal’ has gone forever. Hopefully in the ‘new normal’, whatever that is, those that practice the behaviours discussed above are given the short shrift they deserve.

What do you think?

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Phil Pryor


The Australian conservative in business is an unwiped anus awaiting the bottom line, enjoying blinkered greed, counting on stupidity and dullness in consumers, embracing advertising lies and exaggerations, and soon to check best opportunities in lobbying, deceiving and of course, tax dodging. Better give the right wing ratbag pollies a few bucks, though that even sucks...



Gerry Harvey is the archetypical greedy I'm-All-Rright-Jack arsehole eh. I suspect he is greatly admired and envied by a great many other business owners. I also think that nothing short of nukes or the Second Coming would ever change them. Right now they're the most enthusiastic Socialists the world has ever seen, but that's because they're on the receiving end.  

How many Rabbits do I have if I have 3 Oranges?