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CONTAINING THE VIRUS
We could do with your help here, Dan Andrews
We need Daniel Andrews in charge of how to limit or eradicate the spread of COVID-19, here in NSW, instead of the flip-flopping Premier that we have (‘‘You must stay in your state. Victoria shuts out Sydney and sends police to the border’’, The Age online, 21/12).
Gladys Berijiklian still won’t mandate the wearing of face masks and took too long in locking down the northern beaches, but Andrews would have had all this implemented within the first two days. Berijiklian puts the economy first and public heath second, whereas for Andrews public health was his number one priority.
Whatever Victorians think of Andrews, to me, you are lucky to have him, and it’s great to see him back on our screens. No doubt we will hear from the Coalition on how the Labor states are hurting the economy, but Berijiklian is the PM’s poster girl and can do no wrong. Nil desperandum, Dan.
Robert Pallister, Punchbowl, NSW
Vague assurances no substitute for taking a role
Vague assurances from the Prime Minister in a set-piece video that everything will be fine are no substitute for his government taking an active role in leading a national program for returnees, based on Commonwealth-funded and managed quarantine facilities. It’s not that hard. One can only assume he’s not prepared to take the risk of damage to his ‘‘reputation’’ if something goes awry.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene
Care for the community must prevail
It beggars belief that Victorians returning from hot zones in NSW were permitted to self isolate if they arrive at one minute to midnight last night whereas those arriving at one minute past have mandatory hotel quarantine. Can the virus tell the time now?
It is disappointing for all to have travel plans cancelled at the last minute, but care for the community must prevail. No one wants a third wave in Victoria.
Dianne Lewis, Mount Martha
Over to you, Premier
The finding of the Coate inquiry that the decision to use untrained private security was an ‘‘orphan’’ might be right as far as the evidence to the inquiry goes but let us not forget that Daniel Andrews indicated he was ultimately responsible.
I think we are entitled to conclude that the orphan has an adoptive father in Andrews. Over to you, Premier.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills
Go hard, go early
If I’ve learnt one thing from the whole COVID-19 experience, it’s the places that go hard and go early are the ones that have success in containing the problem.
When I first heard some people coming from Sydney were ‘‘encouraged’’ to self quarantine for 14 days I shook my head. At least now the government has come to its senses and tightened the screws from Sunday (I’m still unclear why returning Victorians got an extra 24 hours but logic and consistency has often been lacking through this year).
They were quick to shut us out when we let it get loose. They were also very quick to snigger at us, but let’s forgive such pettiness. The majority will back you, Daniel Andrews, and the tighter you make it the better.
Neale Meagher, Malvern
Open go-ahead no win-win
I fully support Terry Harrison’s comments (‘‘Staging the tennis is an unacceptable risk,’’ Letters, 21/12). After all Victoria has experienced with controlling the virus this year we have learnt nothing if the Open goes ahead.
The present situation in New South Wales is a glaring example that we may well be tipped back into lockdown if this goes ahead. The main beneficiaries of this are the players, who will be rewarded millions of dollars at our risk.
Christine Baker, Rosanna
An apology would …
An apology to the residents of Melbourne’s housing towers for the rapid lockdown and an insistence that it was necessary are not mutually exclusive options. An apology could – and should – be extended to all residents, for the swift imposition of the lockdown along with an explanation that it was considered the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19 at the time.
Maybe the situation could also be the trigger to begin a conversation about the ongoing suitability – or not – of the use of such accommodation for people who may already be vulnerable members of the community and begin a further conversation exploring more appropriate housing options for them.
Doggedly refusing to apologise only exacerbates the notion that the tower block residents are somehow citizens that matter less, whereas using the knowledge gained from the lockdown to attempt to improve their accommodation would send a clear message that their wellbeing matters too.
Cheryl Day, Beaumaris
… cost nothing
Labor, please don’t blow up the goodwill now. It costs nothing except some pride to say sorry. Saying sorry when you have been wrong shows dignity: ‘‘Sorry people of the flats’’, ‘‘sorry about rough ride March to December we did our best with no map, we will learn from it’’, no buts, no ifs needed, the electorate gets it.
Peter Topping, North Melbourne
Inferior donation laws
Ken Coghill (Letters, 21/12) is right to expose financial lobbying in Australia.
The Centre for Public Integrity found that in the 2018-19 election year, the major parties received $103million in income from hidden sources, about 31.4 per cent of their total income. In the past two decades, the major parties have received $1 billion in dark money, representing about 35 per cent of their total income.
The figures highlight glaring weaknesses in Australia’s donation laws, which remain inferior to other countries and even state-based regimes. The money received from fossil fuel lobbyists goes a long way to explaining why Australia is such a laggard on effective climate change policy.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
The air travel folly
I was hopeful we would learn something from this pandemic, but when I read that the Civil Aviation Authority has approved of an expansion of Regional Express (Rex) to start flying 737 jets around Australia in competition with Qantas and Virgin, I’m not sure we have (‘‘Rex on the ascent’’, Business, 19/12).
Last April, when the skies were clearer because of global lockdowns, I wrote warning of the perils of “bailing out the airlines” and suggested this might be a good time to “rethink the whole air travel industry”. We now know the emissions from this industry are responsible for almost 6 per cent of global warming; and because that pollution is emitted at high altitudes, the total impact on our atmosphere is three times greater than a source at ground level.
Also, it has been shown paying a little extra for so called “carbon credits” does not work, and will not solve the climate crisis. Any way you look at it, we need to reduce the amount of flying we are doing.
I suggest we end frequent flyer points systems and replace them with an AKL, an air kilometres limit. When passengers exceed their annual AKL they should be penalised based on the extra distance they fly.
Trevor Scott, Castlemaine
When will we wake up?
So the Coalition has a policy to further increase inequality in this country (‘‘Tax cuts for wealthy ‘fail economy, boost inequality’’’, The Age, 21/12).
Time and time again this government ignores the fact that people on low or no incomes are just as subject to the high cost of living as those fortunate enough to not only earn high incomes but be the beneficiaries of the largesse that is already tax policy, now set to increase.
When will the electorate wake up and see what this government is all about and how quite frankly, it doesn’t give a stuff about anyone who doesn’t fit its ideas of who is ‘‘deserving’’. Clearly it’s not the battlers.
Ann Maginness, Cheltenham
It’s a good thing
I have modest holdings in Australian banks, and am pleased that ANZ has acknowledged ‘‘decarbonisation’’ is inevitable, and that investments in coal are reckless.
If I wanted advice on south-east Asian tourist hotspots, I might approach George Christensen, but he is the last person in Federal Parliament who should have influence over energy policy – even if the Coalition had one.
What drove Josh Frydenberg to join George on the ship of fools, in a socialist plot to dictate private banks’ investment strategies is puzzling – his boss has studiously avoided public comment.
If this improves Josh’s prospects of succeeding Scott Morrison then we are all mugs.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne
True heritage under threat
The article (‘‘Garrett wants feral horses removed’’, The Age, 21/12) about feral horses highlights an ongoing problem.
Dramatically increased brumby numbers illustrate the consequences when powerful lobby groups prevail over scientific fact. Horses are no more entitled to ‘‘heritage’’ status than those other early introduced species: rabbits, foxes and cats.
That horse riders can successfully leverage their Man from Snowy River image means that the true heritage of our national parks remains under threat.
Geoff Crowhurst, Thornbury
Surely you jest
Your correspondent (Letters, 21/12) is surely jesting when he compares the lack of talent on the present Prime Minister’s frontbench with Gough Whitlam’s first frontbench.
Would he please point out for us the present equivalents of Lance Barnard, Jim Cairns, Bill Hayden, Frank Crean, Lionel Murphy, Don Willesee, Rex Patterson, Tom Uren; and I could go on.
Peter Price, Southbank
The casual problem
In his useful piece on casual labour and precarious work in Saturday’s Age (‘‘Don’t blame gig economy for job insecurity, that’s only half the story’’, 19/12) Ross Gittins leaves out one element that requires a lot more attention, the efficiency or otherwise of casual and other forms of non-secure work.
There is already a deal of research that shows that workplace accidents are more prevalent among casual employees. Very little training is available for non-secure workers. Working at different workplaces, employees have little commitment to a particular workplace, and therefore innovative suggestions which secure employees normally make, because of their familiarity with the processes, are not available.
Work processes should be developed through highly skilled and committed employees, who are trained to move from one process to another, so the flexibility which employers keep going on about, is achieved far more effectively within the work system, than through flexible employment practices, which are simply a means to drive down wages without management having to do anything about improving performance.
An in-depth study of casual, and other forms of precarious work, will almost certainly find that productivity suffers but management makes up by cutting back on wages and conditions.
Max Ogden, Fitzroy North
The source of the chaos
Your journalists write that Daniel Andrews has thrown Christmas holiday plans into chaos (‘‘Chaos looms as borders shut to NSW ‘red zone’’’, The Age, 21/12).
I would have thought any holiday plan’s chaos has emanated from Sydney’s northern beaches.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
Jingoistic, silly language
Can we not keep calling NSW the ‘‘gold standard’’ when it comes to COVID-19 contact tracing?
The Coalition has played partisan politics throughout 2020. The Prime Minister, his Treasurer and other ministers have heaped praise on the NSW Premier while condemning the Victorian Premier on the basis of ‘‘performance’’. Will this change now? I don’t think so.
Looking deeper, I suggest what they have done should not be repeated. It was politically loaded, jingoistic and silly. Most critically it was divisive.
This is a very hard virus to contain regardless of who is in charge. This is the story in many other countries, the weather cooled and the virus came back with more potency.
Australia has done particularly well, we learnt quickly but we also had some natural advantages. Now with reopening the virus is reappearing to test us again and again. It isn’t over until it is over.
So, please, Prime Minister and company, keep your barbs and false outrage to yourselves. Our premiers are responsible and they don’t need this additional burden of your cheap talk.
Bernie O’Kane, Heidelberg
The will of the people
The will of the people is the basis for the authority of the government.
It is high time the Tamil family on Christmas Island was sent back to Biloela, Queensland, where they will be welcomed with open arms and for Christmas Island to be used as a quarantine station for those returning to Australia. This would save millions and reflect the will of the people.
Marie Martin, Malvern East
A recipe for disaster
I’m in complete agreement with the letters from Terry, Morgan, Tim, Anita and Tony (The Age, 21/12). We need to urgently rethink the whole concept of hotel quarantine in our largest cities.
It is a recipe for disaster, as we have already seen and no doubt will continue to.
Liz Riordan, Newtown
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s lame and muddled excuses for not mandating the wearing of masks fits into the general pattern of ambiguous convoluted responses from the NSW government to the current outbreak in Sydney.
It’s a walking-on-eggshells approach that will end in tears and bad temper if they don’t switch from conservative to decisive thinking now.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
AND ANOTHER THING
What a surprise – tax cuts for high-income earners do not boost the overall economy (‘‘Tax cuts for wealthy ‘fail economy, boost inequality’’’, The Age, 21/12). Wonder if Josh Frydenberg saw that.
John Walsh, Watsonia
Nothing is certain but death and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
Sydney, we’ve been there, done that. Hang in there.
Brian Morley, Donvale
Perhaps NSW could import Michael O’Brien to advise on its recent COVID-19 outbreak, he had all the answers during Victoria’s second wave.
Kevan Porter, Alphington
Does the NSW government believe it will lose face if it mandates mask-wearing?
Jim Swinden, Parkdale
For those who are sad not being able to see relatives over Christmas, what is sadder is not saying goodbye when they are in ICU stricken with the virus.
Julie Carrick, Leopold
The Australian Open
I am president of our local tennis club and a keen tennis fan, but even I cannot comprehend why the Australian Open has not been cancelled or further postponed.
Neale Woods, Wattle Glen
I fully agree with Terry Harrison (‘‘Staging the tennis is an unacceptable risk’’, Letters 21/12), like many multimillion-dollar sporting events, it is all about the money, profit before people.
Nigel Beresford, Drouin
Scott Morrison didn’t get an invitation to the world climate change conference because he failed his own test. He should know you only get a go if you have a go.
Peter Logan, South Melbourne
All I want for Christmas is for the Australian government to release the illegally detained asylum seekers to New Zealand so they can continue their lives in peace and freedom.
Irina Giles, Preston
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