National response to outbreaks long overdue
Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:
To submit a letter to The Age, email [email protected] Please include your home address and telephone number.
National response to outbreaks long overdue
Jewel Topsfield’s article (“Mixed feelings as Victorians tackle the third lockdown”, 15/2) was testimony to the fact that our state government appears to know of only one way to manage risk: by shutting down everywhere and hoping for the best. It is profoundly lazy, lacks nuance and is essentially an admission of failure.
Unlike NSW, which in December at 30 new cases in a day still did not feel the need to crush livelihoods by imposing a statewide lockdown, the Victorian approach is akin to solving a domestic rat problem by bulldozing the whole house.
It is impossible to overestimate the toll this snap lockdown has had on the mental and economic welfare on millions of weary Victorians, as they yet again see their businesses closed, community sport cancelled, travel limitations, yet more remote learning for school students, and a general ban on the daily transactions and experiences that give a necessary rhythm to life.
We must now look at bolstering the laws of the Commonwealth concerning times of crisis, as it is clear that for all the talk of relying on the best health advice and being guided by medical practitioners, sometimes that counsel has been wrong or biased towards celebrities and sports stars.
here must be a nationally co-ordinated response to dealing with outbreaks and allowing the prompt and safe passage of Australians around this Great South Land, rather than treating fellow citizens as suspicious outcasts.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn
Financial disincentive for shutdown needed
Lockdowns are hard, and the announcements are always made in a tone of regret, but the regret sounds hollow. I wonder if it would be better to give the state government an incentive to not call a lockdown. If there is a policy that any lockdown is automatically accompanied by appropriate financial compensation from the government to affected traders, then there will be real cause for regret when lockdowns are announced.
Peter Tunge, Bayswater North
NSW not so blameless
Why does the reporting on the outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne, draw no comparisons with NSW over Christmas-New Year? That outbreak too started with a breach of hotel quarantine in Sydney, and many hundreds of cases over two months. It is reasonable to compare the lockdown strategies of the two states, but surely the breach in Sydney resulted in many more cases, and significant disruption over the holiday season, including transfer of the virus to Melbourne (Black Rock Thai restaurant cluster).
So why does a senior federal minister (Josh Frydenberg) still claim NSW is the gold standard. At the moment, looking over the last few months, that is not really a clear-cut conclusion. Each state has had breaches of quarantine, and in recent history, NSW had the breach with the most serious consequences.
Ian McKenzie, Canterbury
The illusion of a ‘gold standard’
The Victorian government and its health advisers and bureaucrats say that our quarantine arrangements are “gold standard”. However, given that we are now in the third lockdown with more cases being announced each day, most of which are related to quarantine breaches, I believe that our quarantine system should be classed as “pyrites standard”, that is “fool’s gold” standard.
Stan Thomson, Sandringham
Continued overseas arrivals a risk to everyone
Quarantine measures continue to be breached and health experts say it is the responsibility of the federal government to establish proper quarantine facilities to contain coronavirus (“‘A no-brainer’: Call to shift quarantine sites”, 15/2). Given this, to continue to bring in people from overseas who are the source of the coronavirus infection as the Morrison government proposes is stupidity. The consequent lockdowns that are necessary to prevent the spread of infection are risking the livelihood and lives of all Australians.
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene
Nickheads out of line
I couldn’t agree more with Alan Attwood’s assessment of his experience at the Kyrgios-Thiem match (“All show and no respect: A night with the Nickheads”, 15/2). My friends and I had an identical experience watching Kyrgios in 2018. When we attempted to “shoosh” his drunk, testosterone-fuelled supporters seated behind us, we were subject to a series of sexist and racist comments. We felt unsafe, and left. There was no recourse for us, and they presumably continued to enjoy their night after jeering us out. Perhaps the Australian Open should consider providing a text line for anti-social behaviour, similar to the MCG’s?
Maddy Fox, Abbotsford
Focus on your one job
Scott Morrison has palmed off almost all related federal responsibilities such as quarantine and border security leaving himself with the task of securing the vaccine. In January he promised that 4 million Australians would have received a vaccination by the end of March. The latest information from the government would suggest that this figure is at best an illusion. Australia was supposedly at the front of the queue. Morrison left himself one job and it looks like he has stuffed it up. Come on Mr Morrison, forget about the photo-ops and ceaseless announcements and concentrate on doing your actual job or get out of the way.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
Failure to deliver a treaty with Indigenous Australia, refusal to commit to honest climate change mitigation targets, hidden political funding, tolerating lies by politicians about COVID-19, cutting funding to our public broadcaster, the ABC, ministerial subversion of public funding programs to gain party political advantage … Our democracy is failing. We must stop the lies, cover-ups, failures of governance and corrupting behaviours before it is too late.
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside
The article may be correct in saying the donations are hidden (“Urgent call as hidden donations hit record high”, 15/2), but their purpose is far from being unexplained. They are monies donated to political parties to buy influence. Transparency might show who is buying the influence but it won’t change the practice of lobbyists hiring well-connected former politicians to facilitate the transactions.
Peter Roche, Carlton
Basic policy overlooked
I work in aged care. We were emphatically informed early last year that nebuliser use was banned during the pandemic to avoid the spread of COVID-19 by aerosols. Anyone requiring a nebuliser that could not be treated with other forms of medication would need to be transferred to hospital for treatment in a negative pressure environment.
How were the medical staff in hotel quarantine not aware of this most basic policy?
Jacqueline Smith, Murrumbeena
Quarantine move a must
The latest witch-hunt over who is responsible for the current inevitable leak from hotel quarantine is as knee-jerk as the panic buying. The need to move quarantine out of large cities is compelling. I know people who are immune-compromised such as my 90-year-old mother and friends who have had serious illnesses.
I have shifted my opinion about many things during this pandemic. One of them is to make better use of the Christmas Island facility. It is clear now that pandemics are not a 100-year event, that there will be more of them, that already the virus we thought we were close to conquering is mutating. Put all the energy of who is to blame to better use. Free the family on the island and start using our taxpayer money more effectively and dare I say it, more economically.
Annette Signorini, Newport
Battery banks problematic
Big battery banks will only provide a stop-gap solution to our growing energy needs and ageing infrastructure if based solely on the use of lithium. Only eight countries produce lithium, of which Australia and China account for more than two-thirds of production. Total world lithium production has also been in decline and this not only takes into account the other metals and minerals needed to produce these batteries. While lithium batteries are streets ahead of any other type at present, they too have a finite life span, and as Japan is the world’s major lithium battery recycler, spent batteries have to be shipped there for reprocessing. Big batteries may seem the answer to our problems, but they come with their own set of problems which can’t be ignored.
Mark H. Kennedy, Sebastopol
Daily visits for elderly
The Victorian government once again bans visitors to aged-care residents “except for end of life reasons”. A person takes up permanent residence in an aged-care facility when debilitating, irreversible decline comes upon them. It is the end of the life they chose to live. It is frightening, bewildering, difficult to find any joy in and incredibly lonely. Whether this period lasts hours, days, months, or years, it is the period of the end of life.
The Victorian government needs to learn that informed compassion dictates granting a reassuring daily visit from a close family member or friend, applying the same precautions as the strangers employed to clean, feed and medicate.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South
Simple act a missed chance
Increasing the number of repatriated Australians from heavily COVID-19-infected countries was always going to be a danger to the local communities. How good would it have been if someone within the Commonwealth government had thought of getting hold of 1000 doses of the vaccine as soon as they were rolled out to vaccinate workers servicing the quarantine facilities.
This simple action would have added a significant safeguard to stopping the virus escaping quarantine and entering the community. However the Commonwealth government persists in not assisting the states with quarantine and peddling the message that “we are not responsible for quarantine”, which helps no one.
Phil Mackenzie, Eaglemont
What sort of governments have we got running this state and country? The experts have blasted the Andrews government for blaming the speed of the virus instead of quarantine management. Health is a national problem, not a state one, yet Morrison refuses to take responsibility for future quarantine facilities. I think it’s time both leaders went.
Ian Anderson, Surrey Hills
On Sunday Greg Hunt announced the vaccine was coming. Last week Dan Tehan announced that the vaccine was coming. On January 7 Scott Morrison announced the vaccine would be “brought forward and begin in February”. Last September Science Minister Karen Andrews announced that 84million doses of the vaccine were coming. In August the Prime Minister had said, “Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine”. Well, currently 77 countries are administering the vaccine and have been for weeks. Israel, for example, began in December and has nearly completed the first dose. Is it possible that the PM got distracted when booking his holidays and really meant to say among the last?
Stephen Williams, Wandin North
Deal with all fairly
There couldn’t be more emphasis on “Home Affairs” at the moment due to the profound effects of COVID-19 on every household in Australia over the past year. Yet our own Home Affairs Minister Dutton has been more conspicuous by his absence than his presence. Certainly the minister came out to free the medivac refugees for “economic reasons” and now the VIP flights and the Safer Community Grants (“Dutton spent $36k on VIP flights to spruik grants”, 15/2).
It seems our Home Affairs Minister is limiting his ministerial responsibilities to ensuring that his own Home is in order, motivated by what seems to be his prime concern, to stay in power, hence the “pork barrelling”. Please, minister Dutton, look out of the window of your “Home” and allow us a level of accountability that is not blanketed by fear phobia and hog-washed rhetoric. Open the door to your “Home”, so that it encompasses all people resident in Australia, as your portfolio would suggest. Embrace their needs whether they be refugees, homeless or simply struggling individuals and deal with all citizens openly and fairly.
Patricia Parkinson, Main Ridge
The not-for-profit Centre for Public Integrity has alerted us to the extent of secret donations to federal political parties and urges urgent reform.
Labor and the Greens endorse stricter laws, but the largest donation beneficiary, the government, defends the current reporting regime. Every political party wants money to fund its activities, every donor wants and expects political sway. The electorate deserves to know who wants to influence and to what extent.
The formation of an independent body that accepts every donation on behalf of all political parties, reports via a website in real-time on the amount, the donor, and the expectation, and which divvies the donations across the political spectrum may be the answer.
Sue Bennett, Sunbury
End franking credits
The impact of the coronavirus on the federal budget is large (“Extra spending will weigh on budget for years”, 13/2), but I’ll believe the Morrison government is seriously worried about it when it cuts back the franking credits handouts.
If we can still afford to hand over more than $5 billion of company tax receipts to shareholders who pay no tax, the government can’t be overly concerned.
Richard Fone, Camberwell
AND ANOTHER THING …
Micro-management has had a bad rap for years. Surely the ongoing breakdowns in virus controls show that its time has come.
Jan Newmarch, Oakleigh
The UK strain may well be swift and dangerous but the most dangerous strain is the Dan Andrews strain.
Bill Dobell, Mount Clear
If the latest cluster had occurred in Bairnsdale or Horsham, would greater Melbourne have been locked down?
Peter Knight, St Arnaud
The wearing of masks is a proven piece of personal safety but there’s one unfortunate side effect, our streets and parks are dotted with little pale blue offerings to the COVID god.
Greg Bardin, Altona North
The latest oxymoron – “quarantine hotel”.
Kevan Porter, Alphington
The significant problem with hotel quarantine is hotel quarantine. The outsourcing by governments of a public health function to a private sector leisure and accommodation provider.
Chris Boon, Nunawading
I think I prefer lockdown, or am I suffering from Stockholm syndrome?
Greg Lee, Red Hill
Isn’t it time the PM and Health Minister fast-tracked the vaccine rollout for anyone working in quarantine?
Andy Wain, Rosebud
“I pride myself actually on my integrity,” Peter Dutton (The Age, 13/2). Your integrity, our facts.
Peter Johns, Sorrento
Canberra’s pandemic role: handing out taxpayers’ money and scorecards on the states’ performances.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
Minister Littleproud’s “honesty, not platitudes” is surely the ultimate platitude?
Harvey Mitchell, Castlemaine
Our electric car sales are minuscule as are our charging stations. Is the PM banking on a miracle to achieve zero vehicle emissions by 2050?
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.
Most Viewed in National
Source: Read Full Article