Children need a safe path back to normality

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OPENING UP

Children need a safe path back to normality

On and off from the beginning of the pandemic, children have been locked out of school, sport and playgrounds, and restricted to a 5km radius of their homes. Yet with the Delta variant, they now comprise an increasingly high percentage of those infected. Eminent immunologist Peter Doherty says that children need to be immunised to defeat COVID-19.

We need a strategy to open up their lives again. As soon as vaccines become available, could we have specially equipped buses go to a local school hall or site for a day to vaccinate children? This would not only safely open up the schools for these youngsters, but allow them a return to normality. At the same time it would be a contribution to reducing the virus in our population.
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills

Morrison getting ahead of himself
The PM is getting ahead of himself, talking up the “freedoms” to be enjoyed at 70 per cent vaccination. Australia is at the moment about 30 per cent fully vaccinated. Contrary to what the NSW Premier asserts, the number of COVID cases does matter, particularly when that 70 per cent vaccinated excludes a large proportion of children and young people. The narrative seems to be preparing the nation for an election, in which the tide of anti-lockdowners will gather pace. This will have been the result of the federal and NSW governments, not to mention the Victorian opposition, who have from the outset all resisted a disciplined prevention strategy.

The Prime Minister, who failed in appropriate quarantine provision and vaccine acquisition, now seeks to ride that wave, no matter how divisive it becomes.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East

Hold firm and stick to elimination strategy
We can not open up when the dangerous Delta variant is still spreading. Even fully vaccinated people can carry the virus, pass it on to others, contract the virus, have no symptoms, get mild or moderate sickness, become hospitalised or die. We can see this happening in other countries such as the US, Israel and the UK. Some people can not take the vaccine and will be sitting ducks for illness, long COVID, and death. The Australian elimination strategy has worked and we have lost few lives during this pandemic, and the economy is doing as well as can be expected – don’t lose your nerve and blow it now.
Wendy Goodwin, Flagstaff Hill

The perils of living next door to Gladys
Having let the bug out of the bag in her own backyard and letting the Delta variant seed in other states and New Zealand, the Premier of NSW now boasts that she is showing the nation how to live with COVID. If borders are dropped the virus will spread rapidly from NSW into neighbouring states and beyond. This future includes an overwhelmed health system where tracing and isolating is impossible and shutting down specific areas in ghetto-style lockdowns. It also means thousands upon thousands of ill people and many thousands of deaths. I’m not sure how pleasant my living with COVID would be if one of my family or a friend were to be part of that statistical analysis. I don’t think that living with COVID is going to be anywhere near as rosy a picture as the NSW Premier is painting. Frankly, I’d rather not be living next door to Gladys.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Desire to open up ‘not a race’ for health sector
There is much talk about when we will open up and “live” with COVID. Morrison suggests more health funding would be found if necessary (the states would need a bit more assurance on that score). Of course we all wish the situation was different. But what about our healthcare workers. Are they expected to continue to risk their own health to care for the higher number of COVID cases which would result in opening up too early? Surely the additional burden on the health system is not simply related to the cost. If Morrison was providing proper support to workers and businesses then we could say the desire to open up “is not a race”.
Judy Kevill, Ringwood

THE FORUM

Pier listing crucial step
The decision by Heritage Victoria to consider listing Flinders Pier on its register of historic places is an important milestone towards saving the iconic pier from demolition. Heritage Victoria’s intervention shouldn’t have been needed. Parks Victoria has a statutory obligation to protect and manage public assets in a manner that serves the long-term interests of all Victorians.

The pier is home to Victoria’s maritime emblem, the Weedy Sea Dragon, a favourite of Sir David Attenborough. The Flinders Pier draws visitors from across Victoria, and before COVID was a popular destination for divers and underwater photographers from around the world. Heritage Victoria will now undertake a statutory assessment and the matter will be determined by the Heritage Council.

The bigger question is whether Parks Victoria has the capability to manage and responsibly protect the state’s maritime assets.
Charles Reis, Flinders Community Association

Freedoms need protecting
One of the hallmarks of a liberal democracy is the right to peacefully protest against the actions of government. Indeed it is a pillar of freedom that separates us from the numerous forms of dictatorship around the world.

Recent protests, had they remained peaceful, would have been a legitimate exercise of such a cherished freedom. However, violence against law enforcement officers is intolerable and those who assaulted police should feel the full wrath of the law.

The COVID-19 pandemic, though, should not be used as a means to limit or ban protests when the government doesn’t like the message. The health crisis will pass but we must be vigilant to ensure our freedoms don’t pass away with it.
Peter Curtis, Werribee South

Unfair attack on solar
I am very concerned about the Australian Energy Market Commission ruling that allows solar households to be charged for sharing energy. The IPCC has made it clear the world is under serious threat from climate change, and this AEMC ruling effectively discourages people from helping to alleviate the risk by making their homes generators of clean energy. State governments can still intervene and I urge the Energy Minister to block this unfair attack on solar.

The ruling penalises Australians who do their bit for the environment by contributing to cheap, clean energy and receive low feed-in tariffs for their product. Big coal and gas generators don’t pay for pumping electricity into the grid. In addition, these big generators are not charged for the damage their emissions cause, so we are effectively subsidising them every time a climate-related disaster is cleaned up by the taxpayer instead of the polluter. The AEMC ruling adds insult to injury.
Joe Boin, Ballarat

Teacher recognition
For too long we have ignored the concerns of teachers in this COVID-riven world. Teachers are rightly angry and disappointed at the way their angst over classroom safety, access to vaccines, and being kept informed of school closures has been dismissed and marginalised. It’s almost as if the government is asking them to babysit the economy. Teachers have been heroic in their adaptation to alternative ways of progressing learning and their dedicated management of student welfare. Teaching is arguably the most important role in society, and if COVID has given us something positive it should be inestimable gratitude for teachers. Maybe, just maybe, when this is over we might give teachers the recognition they have always deserved.
Bryan Long, Balwyn

Share AstraZeneca stocks
A scan of international data shows hundreds of countries with vaccination rates well below 5 per cent. It seems Australia has stockpiles of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced here and not likely to be used in Australia. There can be no excuse for not shipping these to the developing world where poor health infrastructure means the needs are great. Even from a self-interest perspective, we cannot get beyond COVID-19 while it is rife in many other countries.
Peter Allan, West Brunswick

Waiting on eligibility
It’s difficult to watch impassioned pleas from health professionals and receive admonishments from politicians day after day, urging young people to get vaccinated, when I am unable to get my twin 17-year-old VCE students an appointment for the vaccine because they are still ineligible.
Anne Scambary, Newport

Time for real answers
Responses to this pandemic should be considered, not simply reactive. In no other democracy in the world has lockdown been implemented with such savage measures as here in Melbourne. We should not accept the narrative that there is only one way, and that the widespread collateral damage is justified. There are many other types of lockdown that have been used in other countries and we have the advantage of being able to see how they have worked.

We don’t have to rely on unsupported assertions that “we know this works”.

It is possible to call upon experts in a range of fields beyond the medical to ensure that decisions are assessed for their flow-on effects as well as their short-term impact. Politicians by and large respond to public voices. Let us ensure that our voices demand rationale and accountability from our political leaders rather than crude quick-fix measures that merely suppress questions and defer the time for real answers.
Mary Reside, Glen Iris

Nightly consolation
With so much gloom and uncertainty in the world from human conflicts and sufferings, climatic and environmental upheavals, and pandemics, it’s reassuring that we still have simple marvels beyond our meddling to turn to, notably the night sky.

This past week (weather permitting and before curfew hour!) it’s been possible to sight all the planets visible to the naked eye and known since our early human times: looking west to the early evening sky, Venus and, low down, Mercury and Mars, and looking around to the east, Jupiter and Saturn, and the fabulous moon. Certainly some compensation for me before being locked up for the night.
David Cramond, Mornington

Good old days
Australian Story (ABC TV, 23/8) described the 1981 maritime rescue by the HMAS Melbourne of 99 Vietnamese refugees who were in grave peril in the South China Sea. It was uplifting to see photos of the rescue, and film of the 40-year reunion of the refugees, who have made great successes of their lives in Australia, with the navy personnel who rescued them.

Australia should return to the policies of the early 1980s and process refugee applicants quickly in their home country (if possible) or the country to which they have fled. This would reduce difficult refugee movements across land and sea, allow refugees to quickly resettle, and eliminate wasteful spending on immigration detention.
Andrew Trembath, Blackburn

Inhumane doctrine
The work that the crew of HMAS Melbourne (and the Australian government at that time) and other RAN crews since in rescuing Vietnamese and other boat people made me proud to be an Australian. The work of politicians and their announcements since then have made me ashamed to be an Australian.

We now adopt the bizarre doctrine of penalising the victim (the boat person) to punish the perpetrator (people smuggler). Rest assured that I will not vote for any party that espouses this inhumane doctrine.
Christopher Roff, Group Captain (Ret) RAAF, Balwyn North

No need to call in forces
Kerry O’Brien’s fears (“O’Brien alarmed by authoritarian drift”, The Age, 23/8) that political leaders are becoming comfortable with using the Defence Forces in civilian situations are timely and prescient. They are trained and armed to protect us from external dangers. Our democracy and rights depend on such a powerful body not having sway within the country.

Disasters linked to climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity. Natural disasters, where the lack of capability, knowledge and numbers of our existing crisis management organisations, are now used to justify calling in defence personnel.

Better we have well-trained civilians and an experienced public service to deal with such disasters. We should be building our firefighting, rescue and emergency services to ensure they have the capability and experience to manage such events without politicians calling in defence.
Kate Kennedy, Coburg

Power formula
Scott Morrison considers the formulaic response of “I am the Prime Minister” a reasonable explanation when challenged on his actions or inactions (“The PM of no responsibility”, Comment, 23/8). Compare this with what Margaret Thatcher said: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Coronavirus
Let’s put the scientists in charge and leave the politicians to squabble among themselves.
Helen Mulvaney, Thornbury

Scott Morrison wants us to see COVID as some kind of natural disaster, and of course governments have no control over that sort of thing, do they?
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

To keep Gladys Berejiklian happy, we need a Goldilockdown – not too hard, but not too soft.
Suzanne Palmer-Holton, Seaford

While the PM is confident we can live with the virus, it’s dying with the virus that might be a more difficult sell.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Scott Morrison’s promise to “reinforce” hospitals out of lockdown might potentially prop up his electoral prospects, but he’s not good at delivering on promises.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

United Australia Party
Clive Palmer is such a jokester. Installing Craig Kelly as leader of the United Australia Party is his best yet.
Alistair Davies, Thornbury

Your front page (24/8) refers to Craig Kelly and some united party. Surely an oxymoron.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Furthermore
Best wishes to our paralympians as they head to Tokyo. We are proud of you and welcome the chance of sharing your joy of flying the flag for us.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton

Lord Botham has the credentials to deal with our beef industry if he lives up to his cricket moniker.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

I thought our aim was to export more beef, not import “Beefy”.
Bill Pell, Emerald

One of the best suggestions going around in the AFL is to name the goal of the year award after Eddie Betts. I am sure every AFL player would aspire to win an “Eddie”!
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava

Tasmania. Good enough to host two AFL finals but not good enough to have an AFL team.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick


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