Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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Our country needs to work together as one
Ben Groundwater asks why more Australians aren’t railing against travel restrictions overseas (Comment, 19/8). I cannot believe that more of us aren’t getting angry about the lack of freedom within our country and the outrageous claims that state premiers are making.
In NSW, health workers from Victoria are not allowed to travel there. In South Australia, international students will be allowed to enter the state but not residents who live on the borders with NSW and Victoria. And how dare Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk say her state’s hospitals are only for Queenslanders?
Does she not realise that the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne takes children from all over the country as no state offers the same paediatric level of care as it does? We are one country and we need to work together. It is offensive, embarrassing and heartbreaking to hear otherwise. Then we can get started on the absurd fact that we cannot leave our own country, which I find equally frustrating.
Stephanie Howell, Brunswick
What happened to our united federation?
It is official then, from the Queensland Premier: ‘‘People living in NSW, they have NSW hospitals. In Queensland we have Queensland hospitals for our people.’’ What a statement about the effectiveness of Australia as a working, co-operating federation. Appalling.
Once the pandemic is all over, the infrastructures set up for controlling the movement of potentially infected people can be then used to quarantine people returning from Queensland in case they have picked up parochial, foot-in-mouth disease by being within 100 kilometres of a Queensland politician.
Graeme Thornton, Yallambie
The wisdom of keeping the state borders closed
Chris Uhlmann’s observations (Comment, 19/8) are succinct. Border closures impinge on our freedom and it is fair to query why they remain closed. However, it is quite clear that border closure is the best way to manage the spread of COVID-19. Too many people have shown disregard for self-isolation and, in Victoria, disdain for donning a mask and obeying travel and curfew restrictions.
Mandatory hotel quarantine has failed. Why would the rest of Australia want to experience what Victorians are living with? The states and territories are wise to keep their borders closed and the federal government right to limit the number of people coming into the country and leaving. This is good risk management.
Sue Bennett, Sunbury
It is our right to choose where we want to travel
Following Chris Uhlmann’s comment on our government’s totalitarian approach, I was pleased to see Ben Groundwater’s comparison of travel freedom in Europe, with higher COVID-19 infections, compared with Australia. However, I take issue that we accept these measures and see the reasons for them.
As a retiree, I had planned several travel events this year. I have had cancelled two fully-paid, interstate trips and my cruise to New Zealand seems unlikely even though it is still scheduled. Numerous car trips to bushfire-ravaged areas did not get to the planning stage and I have not been to the beach house for months. But what are the alternatives? I rule out terrorism (no skill or equipment) or running the blockade (unlikely to succeed). All that is left is to raise a silent cheer to those fined for breaching regulations and write the occasional provocative letter.
David Maunders, Hurstbridge
If we want to beat the virus, we must fight it together
Aren’t we one country? In it together in the good times and the bad? When we march out at the Olympic Games behind our flag, aren’t we united as one? But this pandemic has illustrated some flaws in our national character. To hear the Queensland Premier say that Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders is astonishing. Stop the politically motivated back-stabbing and self-serving sniping and get it together. Choose now, once respected leaders, and let us beat this virus.
Ronald Skidmore, Cranbourne
In support of our state
I urge fellow Victorians to buy locally produced or manufactured goods and services in preference to supporting those states which have turned their backs on us in our hour of distress. This includes directing our tourist dollars to Victorian destinations once this pandemic is over. Beautiful one day, repellent the next.
Ramon Grant, Strathmore
Pain of youngest students
Rohan Wightman says ‘‘There has been a lot of talk about the challenges to students in year 12 but there has been no mention of year 7s, whose entire school experience will be defined by the COVID-19 year’’ (Letters, 20/8). The same applies to preps. They have only had about six weeks of face-to-face time in a classroom before lockdown, hardly enough to find out where to sit or what the rules are, before the introduction of remote schooling.
Without the repeated classroom efforts of the teacher to instil the basics required for literacy and numeracy, many children will be at risk of falling behind and I am sure the Education Department will not advocate a repeat year for them. These children have not yet made friendship groups and play dates are not allowed. Mothers have tried their best but they are not qualified teachers. Like year 7s, it is heartbreaking.
Jennifer Toon, Williamstown
Hope for the little ones
As a retired teacher of infant grades, I know how important that first year of school can be. It provides the platform for the rest of the child’s education. I once had a school inspector tell me that the best teacher in the school should be teaching preps, for that very reason. My heart goes out to all the little preps for this COVID-19-interrupted year they have had. But knowing how resilient children can be, and how dedicated teachers can be, there is hope.
Elaine Coventry, Sandringham
Only the most deserving
All year 12 students will be eligible to apply for VCE special consideration. Can we be sure the new process does not become another means for some students to receive an advantage over others, given that so much money, prestige and branding is attached to year 12 results? Special consideration must be applied to the most deserving cases.
The schools that were forced to close at an early stage due to COVID-19 outbreaks were concentrated largely in the northern and western suburbs, rather than the more affluent eastern suburbs. It is these schools that should be granted a higher level of special consideration, especially given all the additional access and equity disadvantages they have faced.
Grant McMurdo, Yarraville
Protect the animals
Another article about animals being tortured overseas as a part of live animal exports (The Age, 19/8). We have specific laws around the slaughter of animals in Australia yet somehow it is OK to pack animals onto boats as though they were boxes rather than living creatures and have them tortured to death when they reach their destination. How is this allowed to happen? It is not OK for animals to be tortured so we can make money. Please change the laws.
Jillian Lockwood, Heidelberg
Rethink an inheritance tax
Ross Gittins (Comment, 19/8) points out the increasing wealth gap between generations which is being accentuated by the effects of the pandemic. The debts that the younger generation will face in future decades will weigh them down immeasurably. They will have lower real wages, pay more to study and struggle to buy a house. It is time politicians revisited the idea of an inheritance tax.\
Surely the elderly and Baby Boomers could recognise that a small sacrifice on their part – one which would not affect the quality of their remaining years – would go a long way towards reallocating some of society’s wealth to those younger people who have sacrificed so much as a result of the lockdowns. It would help to alleviate much of the astronomical government debt and address the ever-increasing generational lines that will divide society in the future.
Jon Morley, Caulfield North
MPs, try lateral thinking
I am 76 and an aged pensioner who also does some part-time work. Believe it or not, I also have a six-year-old child. No whinges, but there is not much income. My wife and I are managing on our savings and around $400 per week.
Have any of our superstars in government (earning a bit more than $400 a week) had any thoughts about the cost of power, gas, motor registration and motor insurance during the pandemic? My utility bills have doubled in the last two months and while our cars are barely used, their fixed costs remain the same.
Jess Smith, Lower Plenty
Learn to live with virus
With less than a month to go until the end of the stage four restrictions, the Premier is yet to articulate our long-term plan to live with this virus. As New Zealand has demonstrated, elimination is impossible. While the rest of the world seems to be going about living with the virus, Australia and New Zealand seem to be intent on a ‘‘Groundhog Day strategy’’ whereby we return to lockdown whenever new cases present.
This is not sustainable. We cannot go in and out of lockdown without irreversible damage to our mental and economic health. We need to find a way of living with the virus whereby the most vulnerable are protected and our healthcare system is standing by.
Will Bennett, Ballarat
Why did the federal government mandate hotel quarantine for international arrivals? There are air force bases for large jets in remote areas, with local accommodation such as empty military barracks. Even airport hotels are safer than mid-city hotels. Was it a deal to placate the very strong hotel industry? If so, it knowingly risked lives and misery to millions of people, let alone billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Will this question be covered at the Victorian inquiry?
Loraine Lamont, Beaumaris
Who’s telling the truth?
Lieutenant-General John Frewen, head of the Defence COVID-19 Taskforce, told a Senate inquiry the same support for hotel quarantine offered to NSW and Queensland was available to Victoria (The Age, 19/8). Daniel Andrews and Emergency Management Victoria Commissioner Andrew Crisp disputed this. Surely there is an email or other written evidence to prove whose version is correct.
Patricia Norden, Middle Park
Surely no doubt at all
State Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien claimed that our Premier gave false evidence at the parliamentary hearing. A ‘‘decorated officer’’ has confirmed that the Australian Defence Force offered support to Victoria, including for security in hotel quarantine. So that makes it true.
Jane Wilson, Caulfield
The suffering continues
Premier Daniel Andrews has warned stage four restrictions will not be eased if coronavirus testing rates continue to decline, even if case numbers fall (The Age, 18/8). This brings to mind an old business quip: ‘‘The beatings will continue until morale improves.’’
John Wilson, Brighton
Passing the buck
The Prime Minister’s logic: We are responsible for aged care. It is run down and was unprepared for COVID-19. It is Daniel Andrews’ responsibility to fix it.
Tim Mahar, Fitzroy North
Very precarious ‘shields’
Front-line health workers are crying out for proper mask fit testing to help reduce the significant risks they face from both known and unknown COVID-19 infected. The already distressingly high number of infections in our health system speaks for itself; people at all levels are very well aware of the risks and the precautions to take.
However, in the community a large number of people are wearing face shields, which are useless in preventing either aerosol or droplet spread, instead of a mask. In high-risk environments, these shields are worn in conjunction with a face mask, not instead of one.
The charitable explanation for wearing a shield is ignorance and an education campaign will fix the problem. The other is that the shield wearers are using them as a means of avoiding fines, to appear to be doing the right thing and to reduce the discomfort of a face mask at the potential cost of infecting others or themselves. Ban shields as a sole covering unless the wearer has a medically certified reason not to wear one. As a person who wore a mask for 40 years, I cannot think of one.Dr
Geoffrey Haughton, Sandringham
The voice of ‘authority’
Ellie Zolfagharifard’s comments on female voices for smart speakers (Comment, 19/8) struck a chord with me. I changed the voice on our GPS from female to male as I figured my husband would be more likely to take instructions from a man.
Annette Bando, St Kilda East
Holistic health care
Sage advice from Professor Christopher Davey (Comment, 19/8). Government-funded, community mental health services, staffed by multi-disciplinary teams, can offer appropriate services for those who do not require or are not eligible for acute psychiatric care, but who do require holistic mental health care. This is also good for the staff in these teams who can work together and provide positive care, and reduce the reliance on often solo private providers. Let us hope the $32million allocated for mental health in Victoria is used wisely and Professor Davey’s recommendations are heeded.
Lesley Osenieks, Birregurra
But it’s my parcel
This week a courier delivered a package but he took away the second parcel addressed to me. Australia Post refuses to redeliver it, claiming the impact of a coronavirus-induced rush. Instead, the recipient must travel and join the queuing crowd at a post office, thereby contravening recommended behaviour.
Roberto Keyhan, Eltham North
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
First rule of a pandemic: Look after health professionals. Clinic and hospital managers, don’t penny pinch when it comes to protection and care.
Susie Allanson, Glen Iris
The pressures of year 12 plus a pandemic equals a distraught teen.
Ashleigh Magnezi, Caulfield
Masks are required to be removed before entering a bank. The trouble is finding a branch which is open.
John Acott, Sandringham
Greg Foyster (‘‘How to stuff up a DIY mask in 26 steps’’, 18/8), you are hilarious. Thank you.
Eve Bergin, Seaford
To address the problem of not enough people being tested, we need to encourage hypochondria.
Sandra Torpey, Hawthorn
Anti-vaxxers, it’s probable that future international travel will require tourists to have had a COVID-19 vaccination.
Ian Powell, Glen Waverley
Kamala has Donald’s number. Go girl.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale
Hold the front page. Trump pardons someone (US suffragist Susan B. Anthony) who wasn’t one of his stooges.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick
If things go pear-shaped for Trump, he could always get a gig as a stand-up comic. Nah, maybe not.
Dawn Richards, Huntingdale
If you spit over your neighbours fence, expect him to spit back.
Terry Malone, Warburton
Sam Newman for lord mayor? I hope it’s only a rumour. Melbourne doesn’t need a Trump-like lord mayor.
Jan Ross, Ballarat
Re ‘‘Barbaric footage shows illegal cattle slaughter’’ (19/8). How many more animals have to be brutally tortured before we ban live meat exports?
David Gentle, Ivanhoe East
When is it a good time to increase superannuation payments?
Wendy Logan, Croydon North
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