Surely there is a better way to handle testing

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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COVID-19

Surely there is a better way to handle testing

I am constantly surprised at the massive queues for COVID testing. Why has no one come up with an electronic method of handling this process? Any half-decent web development company could produce a working prototype in a matter of days. Such a system might involve: registering with a central database for your preferred testing site; immediate notification of the likely wait time; online inquiries to get updates on your current wait time; SMS notification when the wait time is down to a predetermined period; and the removal, along with SMS notification, of the “no-shows”.

Those few people without access to the internet or a mobile phone could physically register at the testing site and be given an estimated time at which to return. Such a relatively simple system would reduce the frustrations of those in Melbourne who have been queuing for hours. I am sure it would also encourage those who are put off by the long queues to register for this most important testing.
Brian Collins, Cardigan

Let those of us under 50 be eligible for vaccines

We hear constantly about empty vaccine hubs and “vaccine reluctance”. As a just shy of 50-year-old mum, with three kids under 12, I find this very upsetting as I do not yet qualify for a vaccine.

Please, if those who are in the eligible age groups are not turning up, let us open vaccination up to those of us who are keen to protect ourselves and, by extension, our families. This will help us achieve herd immunity faster, which will protect everyone. I do not understand how NSW can offer vaccines to those aged 40 to 49, but not Victoria. We are all Australians.
Kathy Horne, South Melbourne

The Victorian government has failed – yet again

Hotel quarantine failure, times two. Bungled contact tracing, naming the wrong site. You will understand of course, Mr Premier, why we have lost confidence in your government to handle COVID-19. And that we will have long memories when it comes to polling time.
Andrew Laird, Malvern

When will the federal government take action?

Tens of billions of new spending was announced in the federal budget but a proposed, purpose-built quarantine facility in Victoria was met with “we are still considering it”. We are at least 15 months into a global pandemic and this further outbreak in Melbourne highlights the fact that hotel quarantine is not fit for purpose. I do not know what there is to think about. Scott Morrison, I know you don’t hold a hose, but for all our sakes, please do something.
Claire Collins, Flemington

Getting vaccinated for the good of the community

What does it say about our individualistic society when the main driver for getting the vaccine appears to be international travel rather than protecting our community? And what sort of government promotes this? As an under 50-year-old, who knows when I will be eligible for a vaccine? I do not care about not being able to travel overseas this year but I do worry that coming into another cold, Victorian winter, we still have large sections of our community susceptible to illness or death from COVID-19 because not enough people have been vaccinated.
Melissa Macrae, North Balwyn

Reading, willing – but not able – to get the jab

I want to get the jab. I am 60 and eligible. I used the online booking form from my local GP and the first available appointment was July 1. I rang the hotline for the mass vaccination centre in Wonthaggi (only open three days a week – I wanted to book for next week), only to be told that bookings could not be made that far ahead. A complete shambolic mess.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

Sadly, many ‘health issues’ prevent mask wearing

On two trips on my local bus this week, neither of the drivers wore masks. I debated about asking them why, but decided against it. Maybe they had medical problems?
Jacqueline O’Donnell, Ashburton

THE FORUM

Mistakes will be made

Rod Wise (Letters, 25/5) questions the way in which “expert” decisions were made six or more months ago, despite the experts acknowledging they knew less at the time than they do now.
The bottom line is the decisions were necessary. This is a theme that has run through the pandemic from the start. In an emergency we are generally required to act before we know everything about the likely consequences. This means mistakes will be made, even by experts who are as well informed as anyone at the time.

With hindsight, those mistakes will look even worse. But the alternative – to not act for fear of suffering for one’s errors – can be far worse. The greater part of courage is being prepared to be a little bit wrong sometimes.
Tony Morton, Coburg

Up close and personal

I attended the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, and COVID-19 restrictions were met by selling a reduced number of seats per row. At the MCG last weekend, the restrictions were met by closing whole sections of each stand. Meanwhile, we sat shoulder to shoulder with other fans. How is that meeting the attendance restrictions?
Garry Thomsen Canterbury

Select few get bonuses

More than 700 highly paid employees at NBN Co received average personal bonuses of $50,000 last year (The Age, 26/5). Really? I worked for 45 years as a registered nurse, never received any discounts on my health insurance and doctor’s visits, and worked many, many hours of unpaid overtime. We are all paid to do our job: why are bonuses paid to high-earning workers?
Breta Cohen, Blackburn North

Outrageous NBN rorting

NBN remuneration is a staggering rort that those who live in the real world of long hours, hard work, average pay and limited security – including NBN’s own technicians – can only look upon with shocked disbelief . This is not in the interests of shareholders or the public. It is another case of executives rewarding themselves, spuriously labelled as legitimate remuneration practice.

All in favour of paying ourselves millions from the public purse, say aye. What rubbish. Australia prides itself on being a democratic and fair country, but that is far from the reality. History shows that this is the stuff upon which revolutions are built.
Emma Borghesi, Mount Martha

The heart of the issue

Labor’s decision to quantify the NBN bonuses in Cartier watch value – and The Age’s decision to illustrate this using graphics – is appalling. It ignores the very real likelihood that the Australia Post executives received bonuses in addition to these expensive gifts. Also, it detracts from the genuine issue that the NBN paying bonuses in a government-owned entity during a pandemic will be poorly perceived by the community.
Rebecca Fraser, Lake Wendouree

Wait for the fireworks

I cannot wait to see Scott Morrison’s explosive and indignant outrage at the news that more than 700 NBN employees received bonuses of up to $50,000 each. Oh, but wait, most of them are probably blokes.
Richard Hughes, Woodend

The key is early learning

What a terrific article about the targeted early childhood learning provided through the Indi Kindi program in the Northern Territory, led and taught by local Aboriginal people (The Age, 25/5). Contrast that to another article in the same edition, which laments the low kindergarten attendance rates in Australia, particularly among socio-economically disadvantaged children. This will impact on their learning outcomes for years to come.

Australia is slipping down the scale on international literacy and numeracy standards, a reality that has caused much hand-wringing from politicians and bureaucrats. Yet the value and importance of early childhood learning is staring us in the face. We only have to look at the evidence in Scandinavian countries and much of Europe to see the difference that universal access makes. We may once have been the lucky country but we are not the clever country. We need to make childcare and early learning programs free, accessible and relevant to our communities, and enable children to shine.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North

It’s about showing respect

Julie Szego writes that she subscribes to Tony Blair’s view that, “Progressive folk tend to wince at the terms woke and political correctness but the normal public knows exactly what they mean” (Opinion, 26/5). To be woke or politically correct means to show respect to, and understanding of, people who are marginalised or disadvantaged.

In my view these terms are used pejoratively by the political right (such as Blair) to justify their condemnation of anyone who speaks out against discrimination and marginalisation. He asserts that progressive folk have fallen into a trap set for the left and have alienated the normal public. Bollocks. The only trap we have fallen into is not to vigorously challenge the pejorative definition of these terms whenever they are used.
Mick Cummins, Coburg

Ensuring independence

It is very magnanimous of the public to “pitch in to help the National Archives” through donations and volunteering (The Age, 26/5). Especially when it spent four years and about $1.5million of taxpayers’ money arguing against the release of The Palace Letters.

It is shocking that the National Archives, with such limited resources, would take on a case to deny historian Jenny Hocking access to researching the correspondence between the then governor-general, Sir John Kerr, and the Palace. This tumultuous period resulted in the dismissal of the elected Labour government of Gough Whitlam in 1975.

We the Australian people have every right to view these historic records and need some assurance that they are not subject to any political interference from across the seas or home. The National Archives needs to be funded properly but also operate as an independent and open institution.
Karyn Howie, Barwon Heads

Labor must take action

I was born into a seemingly endless era of dull, conservative governments led by Bob Menzies. I do not want to die the same way. If Labor does not offer a clear alternative to the current smooth-talking, do-nothing crowd, I fear I will.
Jeff Langdon, Smythesdale

Plibersek must step up

From my viewpoint there is only one person inspiring hope in the Labor Party. And that is Tanya Plibersek – the only person Scott Morrison seriously responded to, especially when she tackled Craig Kelly. There is not much point in clinging onto the leadership, Anthony Albanese, if you know it will lead to certain electoral defeat.
Michael McKenna, Warragul

Plea to silent majority

Gary Heard says, “How we long for leaders who will actually lead us where we need to go” (Letters, 26/5). Voters have shown disdain for real leadership in policy presentation at the polls. Note: Bill Shorten at the 2019 election and John Hewson in 1993. Both took necessary and courageous taxation policy to the electorate.

Both succumbed to the scare tactics of those who saw themselves as losing their personal fortunes. John Howard managed the gun law changes as he was already in office. Why would Anthony Albanese be so upfront now when the election is months away? Is it because the so-called majority believe in the current marketing spin? We need the silent majority to speak up. We owe it to our kids.
Maree Williams, Kew

Politics and comedy

Who knew that Chris Uhlmann (Opinion, 26/5) could be funny? The expression “Go to Gate” does seem to be where federal politics is heading. No thought, no vision, just nothingness.
Denise Deerson, Bulleen

Our democratic principles

The current narrative about Captain James Cook (The Age, 26/5) and the role of the British in Australia overlooks key features that are vital to a balanced account of history. When Cook arrived on the eastern seaboard in 1770, Britain was not the only power sending explorers there and elsewhere. Developments in navigational capability and munitions meant it was a matter of time before indigenous populations would be disturbed permanently as they lacked capacity for effective defence.

The British established the colony on the foundation of democratic principles that we now take for granted. We assume an entitlement to the principle of the separation of powers, including an independent judiciary and recognition of the rights of the individual. These principles are a legacy of British institutions and we ought not detract from their important role in our national identity.
Liz Burton, Camberwell

Damage is everywhere

In relation to Richmond’s safe injecting room, City of Melbourne Greens councillor Olivia Ball says that while the independent review panel found there was no improvement in the area’s amenity, it also found no evidence that it had adversely affected its surroundings (The Age, 26/5). She and the panel members may not walk around North Richmond every day. That is what we do, and evidence of the damage to the local community is everywhere.
Shelagh Kavanagh, North Richmond

Importance of being a Scot

I am sorry, DP (Quick crossword, 26/5), but your clue about the “English novelist”, Sir Walter Scott, was incorrect. In fact he was Scottish.
Audrey Stewart, Geelong

Protecting our players

Head injuries and concussions are certainly problematic in AFL but I do not think mandating helmets is the solution, John Bye (Letters, 26/5). American footballers wear helmets but plenty of them get concussed.
Peter Hepburn, Claremont, Tas

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

COVID-19

Russian roulette at the MCG is fast becoming a game of hide and seek.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton

Our quarantine facilities are like Hogan’s Heroes’ Stalag 13 – not completely escape proof.
Bill Trestrail, St Kilda

If vaccines had been rolled out, we might not have needed these restrictions. Well done, Scott.
Dieter Liebrich, Swanpool

Limit bulk packs of toilet paper to those who’ve had the jab.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

Here we go again. Melbourne likely heading to lockdown – all because of Dan’s “gold standard” failure.
Tim Blowfield, Melbourne

Get all the deniers together and put a ring of steel around them.
Ron Micallef, Berwick

Elections

Turn up and shake hands: Morrison’s strategy for winning the federal election.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

The main difference between Liberal and Labor: one has three syllables, the other has two.
Bill Donachie, Vermont

Would a Wong/Keneally ticket cut through the rubbish?
Daryl Goldie, Camperdown

If the Coalition pops champagne corks whenever it wins a byelection in a safe seat, it will be dead drunk by the time of the general election.
Hans Paas, Castlemaine

Environment

There must be a way to blame renewable energy for the loss of 3100 megawatts in Queensland.
Pete Sands, Monbulk

Did a Coalition MP sabotage the Queensland power station to reinforce their leader’s cry, “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow all the time”?
Francis Bainbridge, Fitzroy North

The Andrews government should protect our native birds rather than allow shooters to kill them and other precious creatures.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

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