Former federal deputy chief medical officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth was interviewed on Sky News and in a response to the question ‘so who are the people to listen to, Nick?’ from Peter Stefanovic, he replied: “Well, I think when you hear your leaders speak; I mean, there’s a difference between experts and leaders, Pete. I think that experts, sure, give the view as you see it, that’s fine, within your swim lane, because some experts work in a very narrow sphere, Pete, but they’ve had a sort of creep in terms of what they’re asked to comment on, and they don’t seem to mind swimming outside a swim lane. So, my advice to people is listen to the leaders, primarily. I’ve got some very, very close colleagues on ATAGI [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation], but we’ve got to keep in mind, that not a single one of them ever had to make a decision like this [on who gets AstraZeneca] in a pandemic before.”1

I am over 60 and have had my first AstraZeneca vaccination, and have the second one in a few weeks2. Why did I get it when there are clearly risks of clotting with the AstraZeneca vaccine? Because it was recommended by ATAGI for people my age. 

I have two children who are in their thirties and I am deeply concerned for their and their spouse’s health should they be forced to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. They may have to get this vaccine if the spread of the Delta strain gets further out of control in Sydney. That we are in this position where people have to choose between a vaccine with very rare fatal side effects or a very dangerous virus, is solely because of the monumental mishandling of the vaccination ‘strollout’ by the federal government. If the government had taken the offer of 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for delivery in January 2021 we would be in a much better position, and Morrison would not have felt like he needed a brain-fart in an attempt to make himself look good, by foisting the AstraZeneca vaccine on people who ATAGI recommended should get the Pfizer vaccine3. The number of people who have died because of Morrison’s incompetence is yet to be fully calculated, because we probably still have many months of the pandemic to go, especially in Australia. If Coatsworth was thinking about Morrison and not some state premiers when he was talking about ‘leaders’, then he is sadly mistaken or delusional. If it came to a choice between listening to Morrison or the experts of ATAGI, give me ATAGI every time. In addition, if I had the opportunity, I’d ask Coatsworth how many deaths of those under 60 from blood clots, are an acceptable cost to speed up the bungled vaccination ‘plan’?




  • Yes Minister says:

    I believe much of the reluctance of wrinklies to get vaccinated stems from lack of confidence and even contempt for the PM and his associates. That includes medical éxperts’ close to ‘Morrison. Certainly I am more cynical of the grub than most although I suspect only far right tragics have any confidence in him. My sources of information include a trusted GP who is anything but an establishment drone, and in her opinion I would be at greater risk from vaccination than I would be without it. Mind you I do not live or spend much time in a high density environment and that is a very different situation than most folk encounter. Further to that point, it is evident that high density living encourages virus transmission, particularly in respect of the delta variant. I have always contended that covid-19 constitutes a warning that if not taken seriously, will inevitably result in more and more transmissible variants and soaring death rate in cities. We’ve already seen much higher than average infection rates in London, New York, China, Sydney, Victoria and many other cities than towns in the sticks like Longreach, Cloncurry, Mt Isa etc. This disparity is certain to become even more obvious with new variants and probably even more so with new viruses. One thing is certain, we won’t ever be going back to the old ‘normal’. Social distancing is here for the long term, lockdowns will become more and more frequent / lengthy, and the economic consequences will send an increasing number of businesses to the wall. International travel as we used to know it is a thing of the past. On the bright side, it is only a matter of time before the need for population reduction can no longer be ignored. How neo-liberalism deals with that will be extremely interesting.

    • admin says:

      I think you are probably right about us old farts. We have been around long enough and have seen enough malevolent, narcissistic spivs like Morrison to know what his ilk are like. Nothing matters to them except themselves. Everything they do is for their benefit. Nobody else matters, and if some should die when he decides on something for his benefit, he would be completely unconcerned. He is a carbon copy of Trump, except that he is a little more articulate. The word salads are longer, but just as meaningless and self-serving.

  • Warren says:

    Coatsworth and Murphy types are a worry. But you can understand why they pull in the big bucks. I think it is called arsemosis and bullshite.
    The below Guardian article reveals more bullshite.

    • admin says:

      I watched Murphy a fair bit and he struck me as a time-serving duffer, beholden to his political masters for his position. His inability to follow the rules (on Insiders) on which his group advised the government was bizarre.

  • Jon says:

    I’ve said it before and I’m happy to repeat it – Coatsworth’s public statements show he’s little more than a conservative lackey and apologist. Why the SMH keeps giving him column space is a mystery. If I was interviewing him I’d ask him why Morrison etc got Pfizer while exhorting others to get AZ and whether this was setting a good example, why we’re near the end of the queue wrt vaccination, why we have inadequate stocks >12months on from vaccines being available, whether he thinks Morrison’s messages (it’s not a race, it’s free choice, lockdown not vaccination is the key etc) have been appropriate from a “leader” at a time of national crisis, whether Christensen’s comments should be condemned, and why he thinks that being party to ads with false messages about community safety is a reasonable thing to do.

    • admin says:

      I have seen only a few of Coatsworth’s utterings, but what I have seen makes me wonder what is wrong with him. I suspect he is a conservative lackey as there is a photo going around social media showing a bunch of mates at some shindig. In the group with Coatsworth are Christian Porter and Peter van Onselen. Telling.

  • Jon says:

    He has also undermined public confidence in medical experts by (falsely) claiming that ATAGI experts aren’t qualified for the job – because they refused to bow to Morrison’s requests to change the AZ advice. In doing so Coatsworth put himself above the combined knowledge and wisdom of this group (members and their qualifications are in the link) who quite obviously weigh up and debate all data, knowledge and risk as circumstances change: Apart from his obvious conservative bias, it appears Coatsworth has become a victim of his own ego.

    • admin says:

      It is a common problem, being a victim of your own ego. Maybe he has the hump that ATAGI has the profile and he was only second muppet to Brendan Murphy, and his vaccination ad was a bit of a flop.

  • Mark Dougall says:

    Well my response to Coatsworth is they are not my leaders. In most part I didn’t vote for them. In most part I find them unbelievably stupid about most issues. In most part I distrust them. So I listen to Nicola Spurrier, Raina MacIntyre, Peter Doherty and few others, and I rely on widely available, properly evaluated, trustworthy, scientific information, on this matter, and when it comes to other, even more important matters, like climate change, I also listen to real experts, and not these dills. Then I make my own mind up because, quite frankly, I despise most of these so called leaders.

    • admin says:

      Ditto. As I said to someone the other day: many politicians hate scientists because they show that the political dogma of the age is bullshit or dangerous. This has got worse in recent years.

  • Russell says:

    The political and leadership drought in this benighted land started two decades ago at least, when Hoary Howard’s Liberal Party began to drag up into its ranks many many greenhorn conservatives whom I suspect came mostly from well-heeled private college backgrounds and benefited from social connections of their parents in very blue ribbon Liberal areas. It would have amazed earlier Liberals that some of the most extreme cases of white picket fence thinkers now came out of Catholic families once traditionally tending to support social justice and equity in Australia. Not so the “80s crew of Pynes, Bernardis, Porters, Vanstones, Leys etc. And many new Liberal MPs were the sons/daughters of old anti-communist, anti-socialist European immigrants, people from places like Poland, Russia, the Baltic states.
    These brats and prats, many being beneficiaries of (Whitlam’s) free higher education years, saw their natural political home as the right wing faction of either of the main parties. By the late nineties university fees came back, and equality of opportunity was all but destroyed. Open equal access to university qualifications was severely curtailed, leaving many capable young people out of the race where entry into politics was concerned.
    Since then young lawyers, MBAs, real estate bosses and accountants have flooded the Liberal Party, not with the noble aim to be leaders in society but to extract as much as they could personally and financially from becoming MPs, especially federal ones. Very few highly capable, very intelligent leader types have emerged from that cohort of weird Ayn Rand fans, Thatcher endorsing MPs. That swing resulted in a very low number of possible Liberal Party “star politicians” to choose from as high office holders. Witness precisely the abysmal Scott Morrison. Witness the intellectual rubbish, the weak-kneed time servers now in the federal ministry; insufferably arrogant, poorly educated in anything but a narrow speciality, and too many of them beingfailures as decent human beings. It’s a tragedy that’s seriously ruined this country for twenty years now.
    And quite a number of Labor apparatchiks too are of the same extraction as younger Liberals. None of them will ever be true leaders in the sense of earlier politicians with broad, deep humanistic education and honest concern for the people’s welfare.

    All of that explains much of why we are in the abysmal mess we are with this “strollout” of the vaccines.

    • admin says:

      Their inability to do much of anything is astonishing. Still, that is why they were installed; to do absolutely bugger all, and keep the status quo for the wealthy. We are heading toward a 1789 again. The wealthy never learn.

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