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LIFE IN LOCKDOWN
Amid this unrest, there was a moment of magic
I experienced a moment of magic in the city on Saturday. I was walking in Lonsdale Street, aware of the heavy police presence and dreading another day of riots, when I was confronted by about six enormous horses on the footpath, tails to the wall, noses to the street, just near Melbourne Central. The police on the horses were stern statues. I stepped onto the road to pass them, as did a woman and child of about five, who were in front of me. I was hoping the child wasn’t frightened.
As we reached the middle of this intimidating spectacle, the child turned to the mounted police and waved hello. Suddenly all the statues smiled, waved, and called hello back.
I was moved and grateful for that show of humanity. I was impressed that the mother had helped that child to feel secure in the midst of all the uncertainty and anger surrounding us these days. It’s a sign of how desperately we need such kindness and human connection these days that I was moved to tears.
Maggie Kirkman, Melbourne
This should have been sorted by now
Am I allowed to drive outside my 10-kilometre limit to collect textbooks? I consulted the Victorian government’s website. No definitive advice. I contacted the COVID-19 hotline. They don’t know. There is no permit or exemption I can apply for. Effectively, it would be my gamble. It may be essential. It may not. I may or may not be fined. I was directed to contact my local police station.
I contacted them and they weren’t able to clarify either. Personally, the officer would think that it was essential, if I was going straight there and straight back. But with no guarantee, I risk a fine.
The police are apparently fielding many queries like this as a result of referrals from the COVID-19 hotline.
It’s a conundrum. The government is referring citizens to Victoria Police to answer questions that it can’t answer itself, regarding its very own rules, which the police operate under the directive of. We’ve been locked down for so long now, why is it not a fine-tuned and well-oiled machine?
Marianne Powell, Bayswater
Whatever happened, Melbourne didn’t ‘snap’
Your online headline “Mayhem and sadness in a week Melbourne finally snapped” (The Age, online, 24/9) was an insult to our city and a gross distortion of the content of Chip Le Grand’s story. Your reporter sought to find out what motivated some tradespeople to take to the streets and join the rabble to risk arrest, rubber bullets and capsicum spray.
Sure, everyone is getting frustrated. But to describe that mob as an entire city ″finally snapping″ is ludicrous. Most of us sensibly stayed home or went about our business and were shocked and dismayed by the lawlessness.
Graeme Hammond, Kingsville
We need a more nuanced approach
The recent chaos seen in Melbourne is a stark warning to our authorities as to the adverse effects of the long lockdown.
The shutdown of construction sites was a catalyst, but there is a huge pent-up well of frustration. Many of us are feeling it, but restrain ourselves from protesting in such a manner.
The lockdown is having adverse mental health effects on many. Families are distressed at not being able to visit one another – even when all are fully vaccinated. Children locked out of school are becoming stir crazy. We need a more nuanced approach to dealing with this pandemic, lest we get a bigger pandemic of mental health issues and chaos.
Graham Reynolds, Soldiers Hill
These protesters have crossed a line
I have always supported people’s right to peacefully protest. I have supported the right of those who choose not be vaccinated to not be demonised or victimised for this. But now you anti-lockdown protesters have made my city unsafe. You have demonised and victimised health workers and you have put yourself before others.
On Friday, I went to my local shopping plaza and was confronted by riot police and you. You made me feel unsafe and deeply sad.
Who are you? You’re not the Melbourne community I know. I’m over it. Over you. You’ve crossed a line. Kath Brackett, Thornbury
We need clear advice
The concerns raised by Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli regarding jab mandates (“Church warns of ‘two-class society’ over vaccine rules”, The Age, 25/9) and how they are to be applied are not just questions for faith organisations but relevant to local libraries and others.
Public libraries are open to all community members offering a variety of services. For some it is about borrowing materials (comparable perhaps to a retail setting), for others it is to participate in lifelong learning opportunities, study spaces, Wi-Fi, printing and scanning (where education settings are perhaps more applicable) and for others it is about attending programs and events such as story times and author talks (here, entertainment settings could be applied). For many it is a combination of all of these.
Libraries have always welcomed all comers without judgment or prejudice and as a librarian, I for one am concerned about how any jab mandates are going to be enforced.
The Health Department really does needs to lift its game and provide clear, consistent advice and support to all organisations and workplaces before any easing of restrictions. If not, Pandora’s Box will well and truly have been opened.
Michael Smith, Essendon West
It’s already here
I’m surprised by Archbishop Peter Comensoli’s fears about what mandatory vaccine requirements could lead to in Australia.
There are those already securely housed and there are the insecure homeless. There are those who with the help of the bank of mum and dad will be nicely housed in the future, then there are those whose mum and dad don’t have banks, have never had banks, who can never expect to be housed in the future.
There are those whose liquid assets have recently increased exponentially (no cruises, no eating out, no skiing in Japan) and those who have been forced to access their super accounts (often quite meagre) in order to just pay bills and eat.
There are those with secure jobs with good conditions and there are those who can barely cobble together a decent wage from a number of casual jobs.
The “two-class society” is already here.
Ewa Haire, Moonee Ponds
Drop the appeal, please
A recent Federal Court decision established that Environment Minister Sussan Ley owes young people a duty of care and needs to take action to minimise the impact of climate change. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last week indicated that his government (now) recognises the seriousness of climate change and will move to plan for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Will Ms Ley now also do an about-face and not waste taxpayers’ money appealing against this visionary, landmark court decision?
Jen Martin, Northcote
It’s a small loss
The Meaning of Liff, the delightful little “dictionary” compiled by the late Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, defines an Ainderby Quernhow as: “One who continually bemoans the ‘loss’ of the word ‘gay’ to the English language, even though they had never used the word in any context at all until they started complaining that they couldn’t use it any more.”
I suspect that Piers Morgan and the usual bloviators complaining about the minor changes to the cricket lexicon come under this category (“Batsmen dismissed as cricketers pitch for inclusive language”, The Age, 24/9).
Vivienne Bond, Warburton
We do owe the French
Your correspondent (“And another thing”, The Age, 23/9) could not be more wrong when asserting that we owe the French nothing.
Australian soldiers rest on French soil from fighting the Germans, not the French. Australian graves are still treated and maintained with utter care and respect by locals ever mindful their graves are from world wars the French hosted through no wish of theirs and that these should never be allowed to be neglected.
The comments were both unfortunate and inaccurate.
Victoria Watts, Brighton
Bottom of the barrel
How does anyone at any level who deals with the visa status of the Murugappan family sleep at night?
There is casual cruelty and then there is the cruelty you have to work really hard at to deliberately design and implement a scenario where only three of the four members of the family are granted a visa (“Tamil family get 12-month visas but no Biloela return”, The Age, 24/9).
As a country, Australia is scraping the bottom of the barrel. So, so, so shameful.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
Making the wrong choice
The recent decision to deny the Murugappan family’s return to Biloela seems wrong on many levels. A law that leaves no room for common sense, nuance, mitigating circumstances and human compassion is unjust.
Apart from the enormous, pointless waste of taxpayers’ money in detention and legal fees simply to keep this family from returning to their community, where they are valued contributors and friends, their prolonged cruel treatment as a deterrent to others has long moved beyond lack of empathy to mental torture and diminishes us all. Whatever happened to the land of the “fair go”?
There are “sliding doors” moments in life where we have a choice between a constructive or destructive decision. This is one of many such tests failed by this government.
Joe Di Stefano, Geelong
It’s a matter of choice
Archbishop Peter Comensoli’s concern over the potential creation of two classes of people – vaccinated and unvaccinated – is misplaced and misleading.
Unfortunately there will be a division among people worldwide as vaccine access is inequitable, but the vaccine is available for everyone in Australia.
If someone chooses not to be vaccinated they have identified themselves as many things, but not a different class.
People without access to a vaccine must look on with disbelief.
Shelley Rowlands, Hawthorn
Reduced to a backdrop
Public national parks are being increasingly handed over to private interests (“Walk right in”, Good Weekend, The Age, 25/9).
While some are content to visit these shrinking wild places and be inspired and content to leave it alone, others come back thinking about the business opportunity.
After coming up with the best “eco” tag they can use to green-wash their vandalism it’s straight to the accountant and the list of regulations to see what they can get away with. They then take the most spectacular spots and talk glibly in statistical terms about how much they have left untouched.
It is infuriating that these self-interested profiteers also have the ear of politicians keen on the revenue and the next “iconic” tourism announcement.
Our precious natural heritage is increasingly being reduced to mere scenic backdrops for the wealthy to be pampered and fleeced so they can have dinner party stories of their adventures and look-at-me Instagram posts.
Paul Sinclair, Thornbury
It was pleasing to read that some of the sexist language used in cricket is to undergo long overdue change (“Batsmen dismissed as cricketers pitch for inclusive language”, The Age, 24/9).
However, reading an article in Saturday’s Age (“Pregnant worker’s wage cut: union”, 25/9), I was struck by just ow offensive the expression “fell pregnant”, used in this piece, is. It has connotations of a fall from grace, as in the Garden of Eden.
Would it be too much to ask reporters at least to use the more neutral expression “became pregnant”, or perhaps more accurately in this instance “announced her pregnancy”?
Julia Blunden, Ashburton
A brief moment of hope
Reading The Age on Saturday (“Call to tighten control on polluters”, 25/9) my eye slipped and I somehow read the words “Carbon pricing is the most effective way to transition to a lower emissions economy, Mr Frydenberg said”.
I thought: at last, the Liberals are starting to adopt the traditional Liberal way of dealing with a problem, put a price on it and let the market do its thing. Then I realised my mistake, it was an International Monetary Fund official who said that, not Mr Frydenberg.
But it got me thinking: only the Liberals can now put on a carbon price, Labor is unable to do so in opposition as they are running a small target strategy. And if they win next year, they would still be too traumatised by the Abbott experience to dare adopting it in government.
No, it’s up to you, Liberals. Come on, Mr Frydenberg, make my mistake a reality.
Sandy Dance, North Melbourne
Run as an independent
Darren Chester is a decent man stuck in an indecent party. I hope his “break” from the Nationals party room encourages him to seek election as an independent.
We desperately need decent people in Parliament.
Alan Williams, Port Melbourne
Save the space for us
I note with interest that you published a letter by the federal arts minister (“Generous MTC funding”, 25/9) in response to an article about arts funding.
MPs have ample opportunity to express their views and spout their political opinions elsewhere in the media and online.
This creeping practice of publishing letters and comment pieces by current politicians is disturbing and does nothing to promote a diversity of views or progress public discourse.
I enjoy reading articles by journalists and opinion pieces by other commentators and readers but don’t want to be subjected to more political justifications and talking points spouted by those who already have a loud megaphone.
Leave the letters pages to the general public, and don’t clog them with self-justifying pollie-speak.
Wendy Muller, Emerald
AND ANOTHER THING
After 57 years, the Dees delivered.
Paul Custance, Highett
After 57 years, so happy for Ronald Dale Barassi, still the spiritual heart of the club.
David Seal, Balwyn North
The Tragics are no longer tragic.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills
Well done, the Demons. Now it’s the Saints’ challenge to break what is now a 55-year drought.
Rob Upson, Kennington
Oh well, it’s only six months to footy.
Brian Morley, Donvale
Looks like the Biloela family are out of sight until after the next election.
John Russell, Bonbeach
Can’t wait for Josh Frydenberg to acknowledge that the Gillard government had it right all along and that we should have a price on carbon.
Alan Whittaker, Kew East
By targeting and attacking vaccination hubs and their staff, so-called freedom protesters are attempting to deny others the freedom to choose to get vaccinated.
Marsha Merory, Ivanhoe East
The church has always talked about a two-class society: Those who have the ticket to heaven, and those who don’t.
Jac Renzenbrink, Wallington
Memo to Peter Comensoli, Archbishop of Melbourne: The Catholic Church has already created a two-class society, men and women.
Jane Garvey, Camberwell
If churches are so concerned with the unvaccinated then why can’t they have a separate service for the unvaccinated?
Michael McKenna, Warragul
Here we go again: If Michael Leunig (Spectrum, 25/9) doesn’t want to get vaccinated, then no one is forcing him to.
Geoff Tennant, Caulfield South
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