Aussie billionaire calls for NSW lockdown

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has suggested a second lockdown in NSW is “inevitable” and argued it would be better off happening “today” as coronavirus threatens to re-emerge in the state.

Using the notion of compound interest to argue his point over recent figures, the billionaire and co-founder of the software company also suggested building “specialised facilities” and extending quarantine to three weeks.

It comes days after the “climate warrior” said now was a better time than ever to adopt clean energy policies after huge job losses due to the pandemic, launching a renewable energy proposal, the Million Jobs Plan, backed by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

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Cannon-Brookes tweeted Monday night that a return to lockdown for NSW could be “inevitable”, arguing it will be “less sucky” if we shut down now instead of waiting for infections to spike or the economy to take a greater hit.

Cannon-Brookes cited research released by scientists from King’s College London that shows immunity to the virus last just a few weeks.

“If COVID-19 immunity isn’t long lasting (latest research) … then Aus should aim for bordered elimination (suppression is a slow fail),” he wrote in a thread on Twitter.

“Then NSW should lock down now?”

Cannon-Brookes agreed the situation “sucks” but argued it would be easier to lockdown the state now with a smaller number of cases than wait for the virus to blow out and face disaster.

“If a lockdown is inevitable, the least sucky one starts today,” he said.

“Locking down before 25 cases/day will mean far less time (in lockdown) than 200/day like VIC. And there’s less than a week between 25 & 200.”

Cannon-Brookes has a reported net worth of more than $17 billion due to his role as Atlassian co-founder and makes frequent appearances in Australian rich lists.

On Monday NSW revealed 21 cases of COVID-19 have now been linked to the cluster at the Crossroads Hotel with an additional eight cases reported by noon.

In addition, more venues were identified where positive COVID-19 cases have visited while infectious or potentially infectious between late June and early July.

“It’s essential that we all take the risk of transmission very seriously and take steps to protect ourselves and loved ones,” a statement by NSW Health said.

It comes as the NSW government is set to announce new restrictions on pubs, clubs and casinos amid the failure of pub patrons and businesses to contain the spread.

The size of group bookings will be slashed from 20 to just 10 under the changes.

Larger pubs and clubs will be limited to 300 patrons in a tightening of the regulations.

Cannon-Brookes said a 40 per cent reduction in cases was reported for every day the state was locked down sooner rather than later, and pointed out it would have the “lowest overall economic cost”.

“It should be clear – Australia’s physical border is a huge advantage here. Our island helps a lot!” he wrote.

“I’m saying does a rolling suppression strategy (with no lasting immunity & long term health effects) have more economic cost over a year than a hard lockdown strategy?”

He cited American investor and business tycoon Warren Buffett, who according to Jeremy C. Miller, author of the book Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules, “the single most powerful factor behind his investing success is compound interest”.

“I’m saying does a rolling suppression strategy (with no lasting immunity & long term health effects) have more economic cost over a year than a hard lockdown strategy?)”.

A raft of coronavirus-related restrictions lifted across NSW on July 1, which included the limit on the number of patrons pubs, cafes and restaurants can hold as long as they remain seated and stick to one person per four square metres.

Those restrictions lasted two weeks.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Cook said the “moronic behaviour” of people breaching social distancing rules was disappointing.

“We have come a hell of a long way in a really difficult circumstance but you will see from the actions we have taken swiftly in relation to the breaches down in Jindabyne, we will continue to do that,’’ he said.

“Let’s be very clear about this, the time for warnings has long passed. The moronic behaviour of people at dance parties has got to stop and we will continue to seek these people out and, where appropriate, take actions.

“The time for warnings has passed and that’s in defence of us as a community. We are all responsible for our own actions here and we need to be serious about this.”

Epidemiologist and World Health Organisation Adviser Mary-Louise McLaws said there was an “alert number” of active cases that would see health authorities in NSW too overwhelmed to conduct effective conduct tracing.

She told last week that if it gets to 100 cases in 14 days – not including returning travellers in quarantine – then cases could start to double and triple beyond that.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned there was an “extremely high” probability of Victorian cases crossing the border.

“We are monitoring the situation daily and I don’t want anyone to feel they’ve been caught off guard if we happen to need to change something in the next few days and weeks, because it’s still a possibility and I want to make that very clear,” she said.

For the time being, she said everyone in NSW should be in “a state of high alert”. | @MattYoung

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