Visitors Swarmed To Sydney’s Reopened Beaches Last Week And Proved We Can’t Have Nice Things

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April 27, 2020, 02:42 GMT

Julia Willing

BuzzFeed Staff

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In an effort to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, major beaches across Sydney (and indeed, the country) have remained closed for the past month — as our government battles to flatten the curve of infection.

Getty Images

However, last week in Sydney’s East, Randwick Council optimistically tried reopening some of its beaches — with designated exercise times permitted at Coogee, Clovelly and Maroubra.

Saeed Khan / Getty Images

Over the Anzac Day weekend, the beaches were opened from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for exercise only.

And in a turn of events that will surprise absolutely nobody, crowds soon arrived en masse to the beaches — with little to no regard for the rules of social distancing.

Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Police at Maroubra Beach were forced to evacuate swimmers from the water due to “non-compliance”.

At Coogee, things were no better.

Ruth Wynn-Williams
@RuthWW

Moths to a flame at Coogee at 8.40 this morn.
Three hour opening hours going great guns*

*if you are the virus

12:41 AM – 26 Apr 2020

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Bruce Templeton
@brucetempleton

Social distancing at Coogee beach. #COVID19Aus #coogee #SocialDistancing

11:15 PM – 24 Apr 2020

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And at Clovelly, sights were much the same:

Paul Chivers
@riskfacilitator

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. #Clovelly 🙁

04:27 AM – 26 Apr 2020

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On Sunday night, Randwick council announced the beaches would remain open from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. today, but didn’t confirm whether those conditions would change over the remainder of the week.

Randwick Council
@RandwickCouncil

Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly Beaches will be accessible for exercise tomorrow (Mon) from 6-9am. That means swimming, surfing and jogging. 🏊‍♀️ 🏄‍♂️ 🏃‍♂️ Please practise social distancing and leave once you’ve finished exercising. We need everyone’s help to do the right thing. 🙏

07:46 AM – 26 Apr 2020

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And with neighbouring council, Waverely, set to reopen Bondi and Bronte Beach tomorrow, swimmers and surfers are being warned not to disregard the rules.

Paula Masselos
@paulamasselos

Not long now Bronte. 7.00 am Tuesday 28 April swimmers and surfers will be able to safely access the water via designated corridors. Beach remains closed. Please observe rules and social distancing as I really want this to work. Otherwise reclosure.

05:35 AM – 25 Apr 2020

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Please, for the love of god, observe the rules of social distancing, so we can all enjoy nice things in moderation. 🙏🙏🙏

You can keep up-to-date with all of our most recent coverage of the coronavirus here.

This Photographer Captured Sydney’s Most Iconic Beaches Completely Deserted And The Shots Are Eerily Beautiful

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April 21, 2020, 04:58 GMT

Julia Willing

BuzzFeed Staff

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As a Sydneysider myself, I think it’s fair to say that our dear city has struggled with the concept of social distancing.

James D. Morgan / Getty Images

Particularly the Eastern Suburbs, of which I am also a resident. 🤦🤦🤦

However, after pictures of Bondi Beach absolutely covered in visitors went viral in March, local councils reacted swiftly — shutting all major beaches in the Eastern Suburbs and in regions across Sydney.

Jenny Evans / Getty Images, Peter Parks / Getty Images

Fast-forward four weeks and the beaches now tell a very different story.

Salty Wings | North Bondi, Bronte, Bondi Beach. / Via saltywings.com.au

Co-founder and photographer of Salty Wings, Jampal Williamson, took to the skies to capture Sydney’s most iconic and popular Eastern Suburb beaches in the wake of the government’s lockdown.

Salty Wings | Bondi Beach, before and after. / Via saltywings.com.au

The collection is juxtaposed with photos taken prior to self-isolation — to demonstrate the stark difference between these beaches before and after Sydneysiders were encouraged to stay home.

“The entire flight felt like a dream,” Jampal told BuzzFeed Australia. “To see Sydney’s beaches deserted like this was surreal and not something I have ever seen before. I was photographing them in their natural habitat. It was beautiful.”

Salty Wings | Icebergs, before and after. / Via saltywings.com.au

“Social distancing has been an interesting time for all of us…But to be honest, seeing what others are going through around the world, I feel so grateful to be in a safe country like Australia.”

Salty Wings | Tamarama Beach, before and after. / Via saltywings.com.au

“And I can handle the social distancing if it’s saving lives.”

“Although I have marvelled at seeing these beaches bare, I’m also yearning for them to reopen and for everyone to enjoy them again.”

Salty Wings | Coogee Beach / Via saltywings.com.au

“I hope this time comes soon and when it does, I look forward to photographing the moment!”

As it stands, major beaches in the Eastern Suburbs and across the Sydney region remain closed in an effort to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Salty Wings | Tamarama Beach / Via saltywings.com.au

So please, as much as you might miss the beach, stay home, stay safe and support your local communities.

You can keep up-to-date with all of our most recent coverage of the coronavirus here.

Conservative Leaders Have Suddenly Funded Huge Social Policy Changes In The Pandemic. Now People Are Joking They’re Socialists.

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April 17, 2020, 04:19 GMT

Gina Rushton

BuzzFeed News Reporter, Australia

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Lukas Coch / AAP

Prime minister Scott Morrison in the House of Representatives on April 8, 2020.

The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

The coronavirus pandemic has Australians joking that prime minister Scott Morrison is an unlikely new comrade in the march toward socialism. In a matter of weeks, the once surplus obsessed “ScoMo” has doubled the rate of welfare payments, scrapped childcare fees for essential workers, announced a nationwide moratorium on rental evictions and handed $150 million extra dollars to domestic violence services.

People tweeted in jest, welcoming “Comrade Morrison”, a “socialist leader”, to the resistance, while political pundits say Morrison is an “accidental socialist” or a temporary “whatever-it-takes Keynesian”. But the editor-at-large of the nation’s conservative broadsheet reminded readers the prime minister is “not a radical” who will be manipulated by “revolutionaries”.

“He’s definitely not a socialist,” says Ariadne Vromen, a professor of political sociology at the University of Sydney. Rather, she thinks, the government is realising the role it plays in protecting people from the inequalities of the market.

“We are being forced to think about that, the role of the state, I guess that is what this moment is doing,” Vromen told BuzzFeed News. “[The response from the government] is social democracy.”

Emeritus professor Frank Stilwell from Sydney University’s political economy department said Morrison and his cabinet are implementing policy so unaligned with their own ideological beliefs that he thinks some MPs would be regretting even winning the election.

“These guys must hate every minute of having to do this,” he told BuzzFeed News. “Tenant rights, free childcare, doubling Newstart — this is more than Keynesian economic stimulus, it really is a major change in social policy.

“It must go against every instinct of Morrison and the Liberal cabinet but the circumstances absolutely require it.”

Associate professor Tim Lynch from the University of Melbourne’s school of social and political sciences said Morrison, Donald Trump in the United States and Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom weren’t currently trying to transform a capitalist system — they were trying to salvage it.

“You’ve got conservative leaders who are in many important respects indulging in big government left-wing Labor-style behaviours at a surface level,” he told BuzzFeed News. “Ideology is taking a backseat to the emergency… [Leaders are thinking] ‘how do we protect what we’ve got?’ Not ‘how do I have some Damascene conversion to a new political ideology?’”

Lynch said even former British prime minister Winston Churchill — “the biggest small and big C conservative of the 20th century” — thought in the short-term that centralised government power was needed to fight “a larger evil”: World War II.

“Morrison, Trump and Johnson are doing the same,” he said.

Morrison has been clear the multi-billion dollar spending spree is temporary, repeatedly reminding Australians about what he calls “the snapback” — the moment when the crisis ends and the new spending is cut.

The question for those who have fought inequality for decades is not whether Morrison is suddenly a socialist — he’s not — but how these seismic shifts in funding, policy and rhetoric produced by the crisis can be sustained when life returns to “normal”.

Supplied

Jeremy Poxon (left) at an action outside Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s office.

Jeremy Poxon broke down in tears when the government announced it would double the rate of welfare payments for six months as part of an economic stimulus package.

“It seemed like a human, collective, unified moment,” Poxon, an organiser with the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU), told BuzzFeed News.

Poxon has campaigned to increase the single rate of Newstart, Australia’s unemployment payment, which hasn’t increased in real terms since 1994, by at least $95 a week.

When the pandemic hit, Poxon said he thought the government might raise the rate by $50, and described the $275 per week increase as “mind blowing”.

Supplied

Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union members.

“We didn’t expect a Liberal government to outflank Labor, the Greens and the left,” he said. “They managed to immediately lift like 800,000 people out of poverty. Over the next six months people who have been skipping meals every day will be able to afford three square meals.”

Nations around the world have introduced welfare-as-stimulus measures. In the US, Trump has signed off — literally — on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package through which adults making less than USD$75,000 a year can access an emergency universal income payment of $1,200, plus $500 per child. Those who earn more than $75,000 will receive a smaller payment and the checks are capped for anyone who earns over $99,000.

The UK is expanding welfare payments in a multi-billion dollar package, covering 80% of wages for workers whose jobs are at risk and offering renters a billion pounds in support. Johnson has lifted the UK’s Universal Credit, a consolidated monthly social security payment, by about £80 a month for a year in response to the pandemic.

Poxon’s jubilation is tempered by the fact the huge raise only happened because hundreds of thousands more Australians are applying, or will need to apply, for welfare. Lines to Centrelink, the welfare agency, stretched around the block last month in scenes that were likened to the Great Depression.

Poxon said AUWU members are saying things like “Oh, well now that this unemployment crisis is affecting the middle class it’s a real crisis now” and “Oh goodness gracious me, a rich person is having to access entitlements” — as if their suffering is only now seen as “legitimate”.

“We have been fighting for you all along,” he said.

Poxon knows the government is determined to repeal these changes once the pandemic is over but thinks it will be “incredibly difficult” as many people won’t be “merrily waltzing back into secure employment”.

Dean Lewins / AAP

Early childhood educator Josephine wipes down tables and bench tops with disinfectant at the Robertson Street Kindy Childcare Centre in Helensburgh south of Sydney, Friday, April 3, 2020.

Earlier this month Morrison announced childcare would be free for parents still using it during the pandemic, describing it as “critical” and saying essential workers must have access to childcare.

Marie Coleman first became involved in Australia’s childcare policy in the 1960s, and in 1976 was appointed the Director of the Office of Childcare under the Fraser Coalition government. She has been campaigning for affordable childcare for decades.

Twitter

Marie Coleman in 1993.

“This is the first time I can recall a prime minister of any complexion actually describing childcare as an essential service and that in itself is interesting,” the 87-year-old told BuzzFeed News. “The moment you say in all seriousness that it is an essential service then you begin to think about this model we have, which is predicated on immense profit taking corporations, and in which we can’t really control what is being charged to parents.”

Throwing money at the system would not change the structure, she said, suggesting Australia’s newly “quasi-socialist” government should take this opportunity to rethink how the sector works.

“The structure of childcare at the moment means that developing an organised, unionised workforce is not tremendously easy,” she said. “The inefficiency of the system and its burgeoning costs and public dissatisfaction is still going to be there.”

Late last month Morrison announced a six-month “eviction ban” for those unable to make rent due to financial distress. He then said the ban was for states and territories to enforce. Fewer than half have so far passed the necessary legislation to make it law but the NSW government followed through last week and allocated $220 million to residential renters and landlords. Renters who have lost a quarter of their household’s income due to the new coronavirus will be protected from eviction for half a year if they have “negotiated in good faith” with their landlord.

In the US there are pandemic-induced moratoriums on evictions in more than 30 states and in the UK the government announced a three-month ban on evictions.

NSW Tenants’ Union / Via Facebook

The NSW Tenants’ Union chief executive Leo Patterson Ross said while many European countries have annual moratoriums on evictions, especially over winter, the announcement was a “fundamental shift” in tenancy rights in Australia.

“It is hard to express how hard [that change] was going to be without the pandemic,” Patterson Ross told BuzzFeed News. “If you talk about this kind of thing ordinarily you would just get landlords saying ‘this is my property and I need to be able to recover it’.

“[Europe’s] human rights framework is much more developed and their relationship to housing as an essential need is much further on.”

In the past few months Australian landlords have suggested those facing pay cuts should still cover rent, told those on visas to vacate properties immediately and threatened victions for those who can’t pay rent. One landlord responded to a tenant who asked to negotiate a rent freeze by asking how much they spent on food and entertainment.

“You can be a landlord and have zero knowledge of what that means and your obligations and responsibilities,” Patterson Ross said.

“I think it is weird that we don’t have registration and education for landlords, or make sure they have some cash reserve to be able to fulfil their obligations.”

Patterson Ross said the pandemic is likely to put renters’ rights on the table in upcoming state and federal elections.

According to Vromen, the policies might change, but the lasting legacy of the coronavirus pandemic will be the inequality it has laid bare in Australia. Who does and doesn’t get to work from home is one part of that.

“The people working still in essential services like nursing, care work and grocery stores and so on, they are overwhelmingly women and they are overwhelmingly women of colour,” she said. “It is really forcing us to think about the inequalities that we don’t see and we don’t see them because they’re part of people’s everyday private lives.”

Stilwell said not everyone will be in favour of turning Australia into “one of those Nordic states with a higher level of taxation”, but that this period will show voters the need and benefit of a more robust social security net. In the meantime, Stilwell says the government abandons austerity and spends more than it did in response to the Global Financial Crisis.

“Hopefully we will now see the end of this always stupid rhetoric about the need for a surplus budget,” he said. “Governments are not like households — they can manage higher social priorities by using economic instruments like deficit budgeting.”

Lynch said people were letting their political views colour how they saw the actions of conservative governments, seeing them as “validation” of their own ideologies.

“If you’re a conservative, the response is about saving capitalism and if you’re on the left the extension of government power is validation that the government should be acting in defence of claims of equality and justice,” he said. “These actions aren’t being undertaken because of a newfound love of the poor… they are being done because [equality and justice] are rendered [further] beyond reach in an economy which is broken, [as opposed to] one which is capable of being salvaged.”

So will Morrison be able to “snap back” the reforms when this crisis is over?

“They will try but I don’t think they can,” said Stilwell. “This is a classic example of when material conditions triumph over ideology.”

Lynch vehemently disagreed. He thinks if there is no snapback, the public will ask: “Why are you continuing to take taxation from us for reasons which have now passed?”

More on this

Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

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Horrorshow – If You Know What I Mean (Bardo State Album)

[Verse 1: Solo]
Now once upon a time not long ago (Not long ago)
There was an ocker kicking rhymes up in the land of rock and roll
He’s not a rocker, just a stoner on a roll (On a roll)
Goin’ all out on the road and tryna make the honour roll
See I been all up in the dojo practicin’ my braggadocio
Learned to toot my own horn, blow my saxophone and my oboe
Soprano, alto, baritone, mastered my high and low notes
A quick jazz cigarette then I’m takin’ my solo
If you ain’t heard about it ask around
On any given Sunday bet we turn the party out
Get love on every corner walkin’ through our part of town
Yeah, you that lucky winner, Price Is Right and so you better come on down
To the inner west, come and visit the turf
You’ll see my crew be runnin’ Sydney like the City2Surf
From the pretty beach sides to the sticks in the ‘burbs
They say "that dude Smooth Nicholas, he slick with them words"

[Hook: Solo]
I was rollin’ with my brosef and he turned and said to me
"Homie, you been goin’ in since we was only seventeen"
I said "I ain’t one to blow my own, but I tend to agree
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean, what I mean"
Now the punters say they love the way I spit it on the beat
It put the roof over my head and put the kicks up on my feet
Nothin’ changed, still a couple snakes, we cut them blades of green
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean

[Verse 2: Solo]
The sorta shit that they let fly, I could do with my eyes closed
But I’m taking the high road, tryna scale heights, never fall off cause I climb slow
See my sign’s goat, as in G.O.A.T
Make my way from A to B while spelling out what’s plain to see
My man was shotgun in the ‘Yota, looked over and said to me
"Homie, you been goin’ in since we was only seventeen"
When we’d rock up to your house party, rollin’ twenty deep
Turnin’ off your Black Eyed Peas and throwin’ on some BDP
R.B.G, R.O.C, Eminem or D.R.E
R.S.E, BnE or Suffa, Pressure, and Debris
For the moment probably be that O.V.O or T.D.E
But homie this that O.N.E, that D.A.Y, that E.N.T
Nowadays we got our names up on the list and drinks are free
It’s like something I think I saw in a vision or a dream
I’m tryna paint the kind of picture that make you picture the scene
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean

[Hook: Solo]
I was rollin’ with my brosef and he turned and said to me
"Homie, you been goin’ in since we was only seventeen"
I said "I ain’t one to blow my own, but I tend to agree
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean, what I mean
Now the punters say they love the way I spit it on the beat
It put the roof over my head and put the kicks up on my feet
Nothin’ changed, still a couple snakes, we cut them blades of green
If ah, you know what I—you know what I mean

[Outro: Solo]
Don’t wanna blow my own trumpet, don’t wanna toot my own horn
Don’t wanna beat my own drum kit, don’t wanna write my own score
But they like it, they love it, they buy it, they bump it, recite it
Turn it up and then they bump it up some more
Don’t wanna blow my own trumpet, don’t wanna toot my own horn
Don’t wanna beat my own drum kit, don’t wanna write my own score
But they like it, they love it, they buy it, they bump it, recite it
Turn it up and then they bump it up some more

Horrible Histories – Australia Song lyrics

[Verse 1]
In Britain’s Georgian times
There were so many crimes
No time to hang each crook guilty of a felony
Cos there’s no room to jail you
They’d send you to Australia
To live in our new-fangled penal colony
Think that sounds like heaven?
In 1787, it wasn’t that kind of once in a lifetime trip
First fleet took the journey
Months at sea so churny
Over 40 died while they were on the ship

[Chorus]
Those that lived were plucky
Plucky, plucky, plucky
Crammed on board with rats and vermin, cockroaches in bed
Stench inside was sicky
Yucky, yucky, icky
Lice not very nice, can’t get them out of my head

[Verse 2]
Landed Bay of Botany
Convicts’ life was rotteny
Needed food and shelter but everything failed
Threes too strong for felling
Stagnant water smelling
A real step back in time in New South Wales
Soil too poor for budding
Huts washed up by flooding
Plans for building houses came to sticky ends
The best of all their labours
Attacked by local neighbours
And that is when your neighbours don’t become good friends

[Chorus]
Situation tricky
Tricky, tricky, tricky
Then a second fleet of ships was due aground
Some thought this was lucky
But illness had strucky
Half were dead or I’ll
Fever was spinning around

[Verse 3]
After seven years
Convict record clears
Just one catch
You got to pay your own way back
No wages meant no money
No choice, but what’s funny
Many stayed, became farmers and made a stack
Original arrivers
Proved hardy survivors
Sydney turned into a place you’d choose to go
Think that they’d be fairer
To convicts who were sent there?
No way they built prisons even more remote

[Verse 4]
Port Arthur was one of the jails
Where every escape attempt fails
Was one man who nearly got through
Billy Hunt dressed as a kangaroo

[Chorus]
Inmate’s life still sucky
Sucky, sucky, sucky
Life behind bars was not very nice
Hideous and messy
Who would ever guessy
This hellhole would become a
Holiday paradise?