Onus is on employers to monitor their staff

Credit:Illustation: Jim Pavlidis

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THE PANDEMIC

Onus is on employers to monitor their staff

Given that the majority of Victoria’s current COVID-19 cases were caused by removalists working while not wearing masks, I found it most concerning this week to encounter removalists in an apartment block who were also working without masks. When I asked them about this, they rudely replied that they were not required to do so because their work was “the same as exercise”.

When I rang the company, I was informed it was “the law” that they did not need to wear masks as it was hard, physical work and that “you should try working with a mask”. In fact, the work I observed was not strenuous – the two men only had to wheel the goods into the building and use the lift.

At a time when residents in apartments are being urged to take very seriously the risks associated with using common areas such as lifts and corridors, it is time the removalist industry took stronger action to protect employees – and the whole community.
Dorothy Scott, Murrumbeena

Our state’s right to be compensated for outbreak

If the unnamed removalist company allowed its employees to breach the conditions of entry into Victoria, then surely the Victorian government should seek financial recompense from it.
Mick Hempenstall, Aberfeldie

Encouraging testing and reducing movement

Victorians should be praised for doing the right thing and getting tested as required. That said, given this latest Delta variant and the risk of fleeting transmission, I cannot help but wonder if we should mobilise pop-up testing stations at specific locations where there is a need for rapid testing, such as St Patrick’s Primary School in Murrumbeena. Media reports indicate the parents were asked to collect their children, with those in grade 4 told to go directly to a testing station. This means more mass movement of people. We need to “make it easy” for our community, both to lessen any opportunity for people to put off testing and also to reduce movement.
Sandy Morris, Surrey Hills

NSW must bite the bullet and lockdown now

If Gladys Berejiklian and Scott Morrison care anything at all for the people of Sydney or Australia, they would enforce a hard lockdown in New South Wales now to contain this virus – if it is not already too late. It is pure arrogance to believe we cannot get into the same mess as some other countries where the virus is raging out of control. If the NSW Premier and Prime Minister carry on the way they are, political annihilation will be the least of their worries.
Ginny West, Jan Juc

Treasurer, ‘petulant’ voters have long memories

Well, Josh Frydenberg, we will see how “petulant” the Victorian people are when it comes time to voting next year. While we have not heard too much from the federal Labor Party around how it would have handled the pandemic, I find it difficult to believe that it would have been worse than what has happened to date from you and
your colleagues.
Michael Hendrickson, Kew East

When there’s disagreement over what is ’essential’

Income support will supposedly help people make a decision about whether or not they should stay home from work. But this decision was forced upon workers by the NSW government which has failed to provide clear rules. In a crisis, people do not want the added stress of having to decide what they should do themselves. What if the employer and worker do not agree on whether the work is “essential”, and the employer wants the employee to keep showing up? Income support will not protect someone from losing their job.
Catherine Miller, Chewton

Where the loyalty of Victorian ministers really lies

Perhaps Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt should seek preselection in New South Wales seats as they seem more prepared to support that state than Victoria.
Jack Manning, Kangaroo Flat

THE FORUM

Follow WA’s early lead

The majority of Victorians do the right thing during COVID-19 restrictions. However, we need to start making decisions based on the fact that there are people who do not and, as we have seen, it does not take many of them to have a devastating effect on the rest of us. We may scoff at Western Australia for its “slam the borders shut” mantra, but why we did not do so with NSW far sooner is beyond me. Between the botched vaccine and quarantine rollout at federal level and the dithering and incompetence at state level, I say: a pox on both their houses.
Jane Levin, Mount Martha

Following the science

Michael O’Brien says Daniel Andrews must come up with a plan to avoid lockdowns in Victoria. One part of such a plan would be to encourage us all to do what we can to slow the spread of the virus, such as wearing masks and always checking in when appropriate. Continuing negative commentary causes confusion and gives succour to those who argue against scientific-based advice. The most important part of the plan would surely be to ensure all Australians are vaccinated as soon as possible. Perhaps Mr O’Brien could have a word with his friend, Scott Morrison, on this point.
Alister McKenzie, Lake Wendouree

Seeking strong leaders

One good reason to be glad to live in Victoria is the unambiguous advice given by the Andrews government during lockdowns. The Berejiklian government’s refusal to decide which were essential functions and workers, and decision to rely on the public’s “common sense”, was not a good plan. If this kind of reasoning were more generally applied, speed limits on roads would be unnecessary. Governments are elected to make unambiguous decisions and communicate them clearly. Of course, the Prime Minister’s reluctance to take responsibility for anything provides Gladys Berejiklian with an example that is all too easy to follow.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

Who are his people?

Given that Josh Frydenberg is the senior Victorian representative in the government, why does he bag Victoria at every opportunity? In relative terms, Victoria is dealing with COVID-19 very well. In energy management terms, it is doing very well and in step with the latest Australian Energy Market Operator’s forward-looking approach to grid management. In voter terms, a large proportion of his constituents in Kooyong support the cautious action on COVID-19 and the progressive approach to climate change action. So who does Josh Frydenberg actually represent?
William Chandler, Surrey Hills

NSW, his natural state

Josh Frydenberg, I hear that the good people of Kooyong want to turn your electoral office into a wine bar. But don’t worry, they have found you another office in a nice part of Sydney. You will be much happier up there.
Ken Hurle, Ivanhoe

Loyal to our own state

We could have all been Australians, in this together. But thanks to Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Greg Hunt and Gladys Berejiklian, we are Victorians first, and proud of it.
Maria Nield, Richmond

Please, wear your mask

It is so frustrating that our government continues to promote, accept and condone masks under the nose and masks around the chin. Some education and enforcement is long overdue.
Stephen Mills, Blackburn South

Pleasing diversity

Pallavi Singhal’s fascinating analysis of winners of the Miles Franklin Literary Award (The Age, 15/7) reveals strong judging biases, but some of these are historical. If we just look at the last decade, a different picture emerges. Of the last 10 winners, eight were women. Also over that time, three of the winners were of Indigenous heritage and five were born overseas. A pleasingly diverse group, reflecting Australian life in its many phases. The judges of recent years deserve recognition for promoting this diversity. But still too many (three) winning titles starting with “The”.
Neville Nicholls, Viewbank

Oh, Danny, we’ll all …

My family always knew when I was reading Danny Katz’s column because I would start laughing uncontrollably. He gave the paper life. I will miss him terribly.
Benjamin Levy, Caulfield North

… miss you so much

Danny Katz, The Age will never be the same..except for Good Weekend. Thank goodness for that. Now can you please bring out a book with all your old columns, especially the COVID-themed one. I still have it on my fridge.
Virginia Prior, Ashwood

So many projects …

I agree with Mary Howe (Letters, 14/7) about developing our own mRNA vaccines, if only we had sufficient resources and expertise in CSL and our universities. Instead of wasting billions on an obsolete, heavily polluting transport “solution” (the North East Link Project), we should shift our resources into the vaccines of the future. These could earn billions of dollars in their patents and sales and prevent the misery of COVID-19 illness which is causing the huge overloading of our medical systems and destroying people’s lives and economies.
Dr John Merory, Ivanhoe East

… in need of money

To be spending $500 million on the Australian War Memorial is unconscionable. The money is desperately needed elsewhere. A pandemic is raging and the as yet unbuilt quarantine centres need this money, not to mention the returned soldiers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Oh, a reminder of the many thousands of people who are in need of public housing.
Katriona Fahey, Alphington

Unis’ precarious plight

Amy Zadow (Opinion, 15/7) is probably right about always-on workers suffering negative health consequences, but I wonder if her sample base (university staff) hasn’t distorted her results.

University staff at this time are under inordinate duress from the federal government’s deliberate neglect. Universities have suffered more from the pandemic than other sectors by being denied JobKeeper, as well as losing foreign student income. Staff are consequently being – or face being – laid off, so it is little wonder they report negative health symptoms.
Peter Greig, Colac

Let’s ban all balloons

I applaud the new environment law that bans the release of balloons outdoors (The Age, 14/7). However, how can this be effectively policed? Think of all the children’s parties in parks. A much better solution would be to ban balloons all together. There are many other decorative options, such as paper streamers.
Carmel McNaught, Balwyn North

Saving planet together

I hope the diplomats from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation enjoy snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. They will probably be shown the best of the reef. However, the best of the rehabilitation efforts seems to be a masking of the real needs of the reef. It is more like an Olympic Games bid, a plea of persuasion on behalf of the government. Our government should be pleased with an endangered tag for the reef. It takes a whole world to save a planet’s environment. Let us have everyone on board. There is no coming back later to fix mistakes.
Tricia O’Brien, Ventnor

Why not go the whole hog?

Re “Periodic table off the table in chemistry shift” (The Age, 14/7). Okay, so let’s teach maths without numbers, English without words and punctuation (I think iPhones have started this already) and physics without laws or equations. Knowledge needs to be based on something.
Andrew Crane, Richmond

Imaginative teaching

Jim Reiss is smack on the mark – “Inspirational teachers can impart the magic” (Letters, 15/7). The key to good student outcomes is imaginative teaching. Undue weight can be placed on content, rather than the creativity of the teacher. If the periodic table is relevant to imparting a new, “gee whiz/politically correct” version of the science curriculum, the skilful teacher will integrate it into the whole. As a former government school principal who observed hundreds of teachers, I recognise good teachers can make even bad theory work. Unfortunately, with poor teachers, nothing works.
Ian Whitehead, Traralgon

Excitement of learning

I can remember the excitement I felt when I studied chemistry at school. The periodic table showed me how many elements there were but, even more exciting, was the realisation that there was such intrinsic order, that the finding of some elements had been predicted before they were found. This order led me to believe that a higher power must have been responsible for the creation of the universe. I am still grateful for learning this at school.
Jean Sietzema-Dickson, Mont Albert North

Atoms and the universe

Dr Seamus Delaney (Letters, 15/7), the periodic table of the chemical elements shows the structure of atoms from which the entire universe is composed. It teaches how the structure of atoms allows the many complex molecules from which we and the world around us are made. And you cannot get more fundamental in teaching science than that.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Double standards?

Reading your article regarding the rise in gas prices (The Age, 15/7) makes me curious. It is interesting how business leaders like the Australian Industry Group want government intervention when the markets do not suit them. I thought that governments were supposed to be imperfect arbiters, unlike the market. Isn’t price supposed to be the perfect signal? Ho hum.
Phil Labrum, Flemington

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

COVID-19

Throwing the book at the removalists? If this is a case of deliberate non-cooperation, the book isn’t heavy enough.
Ralph Boehmer, St Kilda West

Mr Morrison, please take a holiday to Hawaii until this COVID thing is sorted.
Andy Indrans, Taradale

Petulant? Frydenberg’s missed the mark. We are furious. Come the election, we Victorians will remember what he said.
Margaret Moore, Thornbury

The vaccination ads make me want to amble out slowly, and wander down, in my own time … and get a … I’ve forgotten already.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

The “childish and petulant” voters of Kooyong might remember Frydenberg’s intemperate remarks at the next election.
Sandra Torpey, Hawthorn

Has Berejiklian apologised to the nation for adopting a dangerously ideological approach to containing Sydney’s outbreak?
Graham Williams, Glen Waverley

It seems essential workers in NSW equals the workforce. Movement spreads the virus. The economy first, public health last, hey Gladys?
Judy Loney, Drumcondra

Better Dictator Dan than Gormless Gladys.
Mike Puleston, Brunswick

I always thought civil libertarians were lefties – but apparently not in NSW.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool

Morrison – a fizzer on Pfizer.
Bob Stensholt, Glen Iris

Furthermore

Teaching chemistry without the periodic table strikes me as absurd.
Geoffrey Hilliard, Ashburton

Hooray for cartoonists. Skilful commentators and experts at irony, they never fail to inform, amuse and inspire. Thanks.
Raeleene Gregory, Ballarat East

Congratulations to The Age for appointing an Indigenous affairs journalist. Fantastic news, and long overdue.
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully

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