MPs’ rejection of mask advice a slap in the face

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Parliamentary divide
Tony Wright described the unmasked behaviour of Liberal and National MPs as “a curious departure from mainstream health advice on a day when Australia recorded the highest number of COVID -19 hospitalisations – 5433 – since the pandemic began” (“No masking the divide as a new parliament begins”, The Age, 27/7). That is an understatement. It is disgraceful behaviour that displays contempt for all Australians who are ill with COVID through no fault of their own, to all Australians who have lost loved ones to COVID, to all Australians who have followed the health advice and to all those healthcare workers trying to save the lives of people with COVID.
Genevieve Leach, Carlton

Face coverings weaponised
Tony Wright concludes his reporting of day one of the new parliament by saying: “The divide across the political aisle will reveal itself as a lot deeper than the business of wearing a mask or not.” Of course this is true. And yet for some it has become a symbol of defiance and denial. Mask-wearing has been politicised, even weaponised, by those who would undermine not only the science but civil society itself. There will surely be more “business” over which the parliament will divide, but the determined and irrational opposition of Dutton and his Coalition has been foreshadowed.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East

Override the politicians
There is desperate need for a national council of health officers, with powers to act. The health of our nation needs to be controlled by medical professionals, not politicians who have their varying pressures to deal with. Australia has a unique chance to control what virus comes into our country, but not if politicians are permitted to play their games.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

Mandates a waste of time
My memories of the last lockdown and mandated masks were of endless vilification, protest marches, hysteria, “Karens from Brighton” and political expediency. Medical officers may well recommend mandated masks but it is obvious that a significant percentage of the population will reject and flout such a mandate.
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie

What is the pandemic truth?
Chris Uhlmann states: “There is nothing to fear but the pandemic truth” (Comment, 27/7). His truth is that we need to learn to live with the virus. He sneers at reliance on medical advisors and asks whether the elderly are being protected at the expense of the young. However, the truth is that politicians have decided to indicate that the virus attack is over. At the recent national election COVID was hardly mentioned. The community, we are told, can be relied upon to do the right thing. Politicians are finding it useful to ignore Australia now being a leader of per capita infections and the 10,000 deaths from COVID since December. Uhlmann and politicians lead us to believe that we need no restrictions but are not prepared to tell us the deaths that are the cost.
Malcolm Ellenport, Brighton East

ABC missed moments of history
I really looked forward to the presentation on ABC news of the opening of the 47th parliament of the Albanese Labor government. The sense of history, the ceremony, giving citizens like me a feeling of being there on this significant day. The telecast began with barely tolerable interruptions, however the afternoon presentation missed so much. The arrival of the governor-general and his outdoor ceremonial duties was cut into, the graceful procession of members to the Senate given less time, interrupted yet again with repeated “news” items. Recognising the new speaker of the house by the governor-general was hardly noted, switching to opinionated commentary by two journalists full screen, then shifting to the governor-general already seated in the Senate and speaking. The ABC let the nation down.
Margaret Burbidge, Ararat


Small steps
Maybe the Greens have finally understood that to make progress on ending the climate wars, some small steps are necessary even if they are not the giant steps they wanted (“Greens ready to back climate bill”, The Age, 27/7).
Even though Labor’s legislation is not all that the Greens and Teals may want, it is an important first step to provide a legislated structure to advance action on climate change. The past decade of incompetent dithering by the Coalition resulted in the shambles in which our environment and the power industry have found themselves. Introducing a framework will provide a structured starting point from which further change can be built.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Like burning money
Once more, we hear the old furphy that digging up ever more coal in Australia is justified. Exporting our coal, even if it is marginally “cleaner”, adds to the total amount that will be burnt and will delay the urgently needed transfer to renewable energy here and around the world. We should be working zealously to transition away from current coal production in a sensible orderly way.
The long-term cost of compensating for every molecule of greenhouse gas released far exceeds the short-term financial gain from burning fossil fuels.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Morrison a no-show
Surely, the main reason why Scott Morrison has failed to turn up at the opening of parliament is that he is just plain embarrassed.
The trip to Tokyo to speak at some conference or other is just a convenient excuse to ease himself into the reality that he has suffered an excruciatingly huge defeat as prime minister and now has to reside in relative obscurity as the lowly member for Cook, a job he doesn’t seem to be doing very well. For a person of such self-importance to have to face the opprobrium of fellow MPs on opening day was most likely a bridge too far, and besides, there would have been little opportunity for him to avoid questions. I’d just be happy if he retired.
Michael Slocum, Ascot Vale

A welcome to all
Jenna Price nailed it exactly “So much for mutual obligation: New job, first day, no show” (Comment, The Age, 27/7). The hypocrisy of the former PM is unbelievable.
She is also right about the religious trappings of the opening of parliament. If there needs to be a ceremonial element, make the Welcome to Country the message to all, no matter what religion.
Peter Roche, Carlton

Debate still alive
Julie Szego may have difficulty focusing on life after Morrison (“Boring politics worth celebrating” , Comment, 27/7) but there are plenty of people who aren’t satisfied with the idea that now the new government has been elected, we can all relax and forget about politics.
Most “quiet Australians” are vitally interested in how the government intends to bring about its promised reforms. We need to see evidence of policies being translated into legislative action.
The enlarged parliamentary crossbench gives hope, at last, of real consultation and informed debate replacing a polarised two-party system.
This should be a spectator sport worth waking up for.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Turn from gas guzzlers
The surging price of petrol was well outlined (“Fuel prices driving up cost of commute”, The Age, 27/7) and the link with vehicle fuel efficiency graphically illustrated.
While high fuel prices and climate concerns will see a dramatic rise in electric vehicle sales, many will not be able to go electric soon because of supply shortage and purchase price.
Efforts to reduce the petrol price impact should lead motorists to turn away from gas guzzlers and adopt smaller, more efficient models. Our vehicle fleet is among the least efficient in the world.
Any visit to Europe will show how families can operate without large SUVs and save themselves hundreds of dollars.
Peter Allan, Brunswick West

EV rip-off
My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a new electric vehicle. This has been a dream of ours for many years and we are excited to be moving to a more sustainable vehicle.
But we are being punished for this simply because we live in Victoria which has no subsidies to encourage electric vehicle purchasing, unlike Queensland (the car costs $4000 more simply because we live here). Victoria also charges a road tax.
We knew all that but it did not deter us. What has been a shock is that car insurance in Victoria costs double that of the rest of the country. The same car to insure in Queensland is $1400 – that car in Victoria is about $2800, for no reason other than it is an electric car. This is a rort.
I don’t understand how the state government can allow this to happen. We are being let down by our government with no incentives to support electric infrastructure or to look to the future.
Mandy Herbet, Bentleigh East

Elon-gated importance
The unthinking ease in which individuals with the ability to sell themselves are given credit for the skilled efforts of the many is once again shown in comments from your correspondent, (Letters, 27/7) extolling the virtues of Elon Musk for “a car market he almost single-handedly created”.
No, he did not. Granted, he was skilled at recognising an opening and presumably had, or was able to garner, the funds – and credit to him for that. But the creators were and are the untold and unrecognised thousands of skilled designers and builders without whom Musk would still be doodling ideas on pieces of paper.
Vaughan Greenberg, Chewton

Unis losing focus
“Women at universities hit hard by casual work” (The Age, 27/7) seems to confirm the impression that universities have drifted from being places for ideas into the business enterprise model that has taken over the rest of our world.
Another challenge for our new government would be to restore the learning and research tradition and banish the business-driven philosophy which now seems to determine the choice even of vice chancellors.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Developers hamstrung
The research report by Prosper Australia (“Land banking ‘driving up prices’,” The Age, 26/7) has been prepared with a specific end-point in mind. Prosper’s reason for being is to increase taxes on land, so it’s not in its interest to consider a number of factors. Developers can’t develop faster because of the slowdown in the civil construction industry, where contractors can’t get staff and can’t get materials to site. Developers develop as fast as possible to minimise interest on borrowings, thereby maximising profits. Lot prices have increased because of the increasing tax and contributions take by governments ($55,000 to $60,000 per lot), the drawn-out approvals process, and a shortage of supply of future development land.
For Prosper to report that developers are deliberately stalling development to make more money is just not correct. The property market has slowed, with lot prices starting to fall. Logically, if the Prosper report is correct, we should see a greater rate of lot production by developers. This just can’t happen.
Ross Eva, Glen Iris

Emotional baggage
When groups of travellers gather, the conversation no longer is about family or politics or sport, but how their baggage went missing and how long they waited on airlines to locate their baggage and deliver it. Yet despite this, travellers learn the senior executives responsible for this part of the airline industry have received work bonuses.
These executives need to spend time at both the baggage drop areas and baggage carousels to appreciate customer frustration.
Or perhaps they accept, as baggage handling has been outsourced, it is no longer the airlines’ problem.
John Tingiri, Mornington

Early learning
Can we stop calling it “childcare” (“Childcare centres bend staff rule”, The Age, 27/7)? It’s much more than that. Early childhood learning centres stopped using the term childcare a long time ago, but it seems that most of us haven’t caught up yet.
As many parents will attest, modern early childhood learning centres do much more than just caring for children. They provide an incredibly important form of education, even well before the kindergarten years. With about 90 per cent of brain development occurring within the first five years of life, this form of education builds a range of social, emotional and cognitive skills, providing a key foundation for lifelong learning and development. So let’s call it for what it is – early learning.
Chris De Gruyter, Hawthorn

A day worth celebrating
Our local government members at the City of Melbourne are toying with changing the date of Australia Day. January 26, 1788, was when European settlers came to Australia. This was inevitable: it was the age of colonisation. If it had not been the British, it would have been another nation.
Let us celebrate the beginning of democracy, farming, urbanisation, literacy, a judicial system, medicine, health and rising living standards. Let us be proud of our European heritage. The Queen’s birthday holiday is a more appropriate date for a new holiday celebrating our Indigenous people. Let’s leave Australia Day alone.
Brett K. Osborn, Mornington

Beds for the vaccinated
It looks as though there won’t be enough hospital beds for the likely numbers with COVID-19, so how will hospitals prioritise treatment? If an unvaccinated patient gets a bed while a fully vaccinated patient is left waiting, isn’t this likely to cause resentment? To what extent can denying vaccination be regarded as self-infliction?
Prioritising fully vaccinated patients could be the biggest incentive yet for vaccination.
David Lamb, Kew East

And another thing

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Sensible opposition MPs (there must be some) may cross the floor just to get on the safe side.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

The new independent MPs must have thought they’d joined a kindergarten instead of the national parliament.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Will the Albanese government refuse a pair to any unmasked opposition member who comes down with COVID-19?
Judy Waters, Elsternwick

Missing Morrison
Should Scott Morrison be paid only the JobSeeker rate of $46 a day because he is not working at the moment, but is busy looking for a new job?
Greg Tuck, Warragul

Did I miss Scott Morrison being awarded an MIA in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours list?
Francis Bainbridge, Fitzroy North

Federal politics
Pauline Hanson stormed out of the Senate chamber during an acknowledgment of Country. She didn’t go far enough — she should have kept going out of the building.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

I agree with the politicians calling for prohibitions in First Nation regions of the NT … once it’s been introduced at the national parliament.
Sean Geary, Southbank

Has Albanese misspoken by stating that closing coal mines will have a devastating effect on the economy? Isn’t it the inverse conclusion?
Patrick Alilovic, Pascoe Vale South

“Moscow is seeking regime change in Kyiv: Lavrov” (The Age, 27/7) The world is seeking regime change in Moscow.
David Jensz, Templestowe Lower

Am I the only one who cringes when the buzz word “space” is used rather than a more appropriate word such as “field”, “area” or “topic”, as in “a lot of research has been done in this space”? May the overuse of such generic words die a natural death.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

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