The danger of stepping out into the world

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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OPENING UP

The danger of stepping out into the world

Scott Morrison exhorts us to step out of the cave and live again. He should understand that none of us live in a cave. Every day is full of COVID-19 news and the dangers we might meet. Did some NSW furniture removalists stop at this servo today? Are all of my 27 students, jammed into this tiny, poorly ventilated classroom, COVID-free? The Prime Minister, on the other hand, is cosseted in The Lodge or Kirribilli House or Parliament House.

Does he ever have to make a quick visit to the supermarket for milk? He will remain in the safety of his cave after “freedom” is delivered at 70per cent of eligible people being fully vaccinated, a little more than half of Australia’s total population. Meanwhile, outside his cave, the virus will cut loose across the nation, overwhelming hospitals, intensive care units and their staff.
Maxine McGregor, Golden Point

Unvaccinated children at the mercy of Delta

There are about 4million Australians younger than 15 and it is now clear that the Delta variant is quite happy to infect them. I hope, therefore, that the Prime Minister’s much canvassed focus groups include a good representation of mothers and grandmothers. They will give him pause in his enthusiasm for “opening up”. It is not just about avoiding overloading the hospitals and coping with some “tolerable” number of deaths. It is about requiring our children to take their chances in the consequent pandemic of the unvaccinated. Sorry, Prime Minister, but you are on another loser here.
Peter Sheehan, Camberwell

How will our hospitals cope with the influx of cases?

The Prime Minister’s pledge to help hospitals cope with a flood of COVID-19 cases ignores three major problems. Existing staff are already stretched to the limit and are suffering exhaustion. Doctors and nurses have come out of retirement to help. Many medical staff are in isolation because of COVID-19 exposure and this will only increase if there are more hospitalised cases, reducing the workforce further.

It takes years to train new staff, so throwing money at the problem will not fix it in the short-term, and it is the short-term which is the problem here. This is yet another example of no long-term government planning and the hopeful use of another expensive Band-Aid on a chronic ulcer. How come this promise only comes 18 months into the pandemic?
Michael Meszaros, Alphington

Why we must consider everyone in Australia

Why can we not learn from the experiences of Israel and the United Kingdom about the folly of loosening restrictions when a substantial proportion of the population remains susceptible? This scenario highlights the importance of considering the total population, including children, when assessing immunity, not just those in the so-called eligible groups. Until we take into account the vaccination levels in the entire population, any discussion of herd immunity is meaningless.
Dr Ben Adler, Mount Waverley

An alternative view on who is ‘eligible’ for the jab

If there were not yet a COVID-19 vaccine to cover white, middle-aged men, would we be as gung ho about opening up as we are about there not being one for little kids?
Marysia Green, Hawthorn East

If I can’t travel yet, this is the next best thing

I understand the necessity for the restrictions announced by Daniel Andrews but staying at home constantly has become oppressive. I am even finding myself daydreaming of snaking, check-in queues and the crush at the luggage carousel at airports in a fondly, nostalgic way. Such things seem a long way off. Fortunately, Mr Dan Murphy can still sell me a holiday in a bottle and I have just ordered a case of annual leave. No passport required.
George Ruban, North Melbourne

THE FORUM

A case of one-man rule?

Is anyone else getting irritated by Daniel Andrew’s increasingly supercilious behaviour when fronting up to the press? Twelve months ago, his strong leadership inspired us all to follow his instructions. But now, having believed that he has carved his initials on the plan to get Victorians beyond COVID-19, his sensitive, team-player image has descended into misplaced stubbornness. Power should never be allowed to overrule debate and consensus.
Alan Cane, Frankston South

An over-rated quality

Good on Shaun Carney – “Death seems to be hardest word for Morrison” (Opinion, 25/8) – for calling out an overused, nonsensical expression. He says: ” ‘Common sense’ is a ridiculous term because it carries the suggestion we can make up our own rules”. Or as Einstein said: Common sense is nothing more than the prejudices laid down in the mind before you reach 18.
Jan Lacey, North Melbourne

Speed is of the essence

If I had an appointment for an AstraZeneca jab but heard that Pfizer would be available within a month or so, I would be tempted to cancel my appointment too (The Age, 25/8). Not because I was concerned about AstraZeneca itself but because I would be fully vaccinated sooner.
Linley Granger, Foster North

Very selective approvals

It is pleasing that Ahmad Elham Shahwar’s wife and children were able to return safely to Australia on an evacuation flight from Kabul after a visit to loved ones (The Age, /8). But why were they permitted to leave for unstable Afghanistan when it is virtually impossible for most people to travel overseas to see their family members?

Surely, in light of Shahwar’s past work as a translator there would have been a considerable risk of danger for his family. Furthermore, in recent times the government has introduced measures whereby Australian expats who visit must apply for exemptions to return to their homes and work overseas. It may be a long time before we are able to see our adult children who reside in The Netherlands and Japan.
Lyn Every, Wheelers Hill

Just a little more freedom

It appears to me that vaccinated people are not being rewarded. Why cannot businesses whose staff and clients/patrons are fully vaccinated mix? The risks are very low and worth taking. In the United States, there are dozens of cruises being advertised on which crew and passengers must be fully vaccinated. It is about time the people who have done the “right” thing are given more freedom.
Don Chandler, Doncaster

No premature openings

At the beginning of the pandemic, opponents of lockdowns argued that COVID-19 only affected the elderly and infirm and therefore we should open up. This kind of sentiment is tantamount to throwing them to the lions.

As if this were not despicable enough, now there are those, including politicians, who would have us open up prematurely before enough of us are vaccinated and while Delta is affecting children and there is an infant in hospital.
Orania Theoharidis, Aberfeldie

Put point scoring aside

What about mounting a national campaign headed “Our future is in our hands”? All parties (state and federal) joining together for the greater good – defeating the control that COVID-19 has on Australians’ living conditions, health and freedoms.

And all signing on to an advertising blitz (now we at last have the vaccine supplies) – stressing that everyone needs to recognise lives are being lost, fear and isolation are taking a huge toll on families and our standards of living are falling.

The campaign should have the backing of leaders of all backgrounds and those in the medical, legal, scientific, educational and other professions. We are in the fight of our lives and that should be of a greater priority than political party interests. We need to bond together as a nation.
Ranald Macdonald, Flinders

My right to carry a cup

A lot of people are walking around with “keep cups” and no face masks. Is there anything in those cups or are they just empty and an “excuse” not to wear a mask? Another group are those with takeaway coffees that seem to last and last; sometimes the people are seen still holding their cups an hour later. If there is coffee in those cups, it must be very cold.
Clare Harwood, Mount Eliza

The haves and have nots

Re “Victorian students top NAPLAN results despite months of remote learning” (The Age, 25/8). Before getting too excited about remote learning, could you please publish participation rates by geographic area and socioeconomic group? And compare them to participation rates in “normal” years.

A more important question is how many disadvantaged students without functional homes and IT support were actually assessed? These students deserve more than self-referential observations by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.
Douglas Shirrefs, Yea

Nurturing our arts

Bravo producer Ken Mackenzie-Forbes – “Veteran’s cure for ailing industry” (Arts, 25/8) – you have immeasurably enriched our cultural landscape. The government must support the arts community so that Australia’s creative talent continues to flourish.
John and Sue Sherman, South Yarra

Where will they swing?

The Resolve Political Monitor’s poll – “Voters swing to Coalition on pandemic” (The Age, 25/8) – has all sorts of odd bits of electoral info but shows the difficulty of taking too much notice of its results when it also advises its caveat: With 27per cent of voters describing themselves as “uncommitted” with their voting intention and open to shifting their view before the election which is due to be held by May next year.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn

A very close election

David Crowe says: “The message to Labor? Do not underestimate your opponent” (The Age, 25/8). There is no evidence that Labor has ever underestimated Scott Morrison as prime minister and Coalition leader. Labor’s mistake in 2019 was to grossly overestimate its own leader, which proved a fatal mistake. The contest in the next election is almost certainly going to be very close again, given how tiny the government’s current majority is and how reckless the Liberals’ Coalition partner has been with its leadership choice.
Geoff Wescott, Northcote

Time to take a stand, ALP

Federal Labor’s electoral support is going backwards and that is not surprising. If it acts invisible, it is invisible. It proposes to vote with the Coalition to allow public funding to go to Empire Energy (a junior gas company chaired by Paul Espie, who is also chairman of the Liberal-aligned Menzies Research Centre) to frack the Beetaloo Basin for gas (The Age, 24/8), against the desperate wishes of the traditional owners and in the shadow of climate collapse. This is unconscionable and gutless.

Labor remains indistinguishable in action on climate change from the government, and the millions of voters for whom this is a most pressing issue will look elsewhere with their vote.
Gillian Upton, Balaclava

And vote independently

Tony Abbott, when in opposition, had a policy to oppose everything that was proposed by the government. Labor, in opposition, appears to have adopted the policy of voting with the government on almost all issues. Perhaps it should be reminded that it is supposed to present an alternative government, rather than Coalition Lite?
Tony Guttmann, St Kilda West

Golden, not bronze

Surely the first two women elected to federal Parliament, Dame Enid Lyons and Dorothy Tangney (The Age, 24/8), deserve to be remembered also for their many achievements during their time there. Having their names continually associated with a significant area of social justice would be more appropriate than being “cast in bronze” within Canberra’s National Triangle near Old Parliament House.
Maureen McPhate, Mount Martha

A planet before homes

“Stressed parents fear kids will never afford a home of their own” (Money, 25,8) – or should that read instead “Stressed parents fear their kids have no future at all”? The number one threat to our children’s future security is the lack of government action to halt human-induced global heating from fossil fuels. Owning a home will be the least of their worries if the planet is largely uninhabitable.
Brenda Tait, Kew

Reflecting our diversity

Thank you, Mel Buttigieg – ‴⁣⁣Woke Wiggles’ a wake-up for nation (Opinion, 24/8). I live in Melbourne’s south-east where there is a large Filipino, and other, communities. My nearest neighbours are a family from Sudan. Why shouldn’t they see themselves represented on our television screens? This “Geoff” woke up years ago.
Geoff Wasley, Berwick

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

COVID-19

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths do the PM and Hunt expect under their plan to open up?
Damian Meade, Leopold

The PM seems unable to utter these words: my fault, sorry and death.
George Reed, Wheelers Hill

I dreamed that Clint Eastwood was talking to our PM: “Dying ain’t much of a living, boy.“
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura

Michael O’Brien, by all means be critical but tell us what your alternative actions would be.
Ian Clemens, Flora Hill

COVID jargon: So, the reality is, at the end of the day, it is what it is.
Jo Prendergast, Sandringham

If the Morrison government hadn’t botched the vaccine rollout, we’d have reached the 70per cent target and be out of hard lockdown.
Richard Fone, Camberwell

The solution is simple: reopen playgrounds, ban takeaway coffee.
Jenny Possingham, Highton

Politics

I can’t believe the poll results (25/8) when you look at Coalition’s failings, especially on climate change and coronavirus.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

Federal Labor is about as competent as the Carlton Football Club board.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

A superfluous article (24/8) on Craig Kelly joining Palmer’s party when it was announced on the front page ad.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda

People

Ian Botham, “the baron of beef”. Who would have thought?
Ian Leamon, Golden Square

Leunig’s critics (24/8) must have missed his Daffodil poem (21/8).
Bobbie Holmes, Balwyn

Yes, it’s a shame when cartoonists won’t tell us what we want to hear.
Justin Shaw, Ringwood East

Charlie Watts, without doubt the greatest drummer the world has seen in many a year. RIP.
Wayne Smith, Kew

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