The push to open schools exposes teachers to risk

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The push to open schools exposes teachers to risk
As a teacher, I fully understand how much some schoolchildren have suffered with the extended lockdowns in Melbourne.

However, the suggestion that schools should reopen due to the low risk to children totally ignores the risk to which teachers are exposed (“Blanket lockdown closure of schools comes under fire”, The Age, 26/7).

If schools are to remain open during outbreaks, then teachers must be moved to the 1B vaccine group, otherwise they are putting in jeopardy their lives, as well as those of their loved ones.
Lachlan Morton, Richmond

Young people should have access to Pfizer
Following the death of a young woman in her 30s and the news that one-quarter of current ICU patients in NSW with COVID-19 are under 40, it is beyond unconscionable that the majority of young people still do not have access to the Pfizer vaccine.

Young people have borne the disproportionate burden of the long-term financial, social and mental health impacts of the pandemic and are now bearing the physical impacts as well.

The entitlement of members of the older generations who have turned their noses up at AstraZeneca and have chosen to wait for a “better” vaccine is galling to those who are ineligible and who instead must run the risk of contracting a deadly or life-altering disease.

Government ineptitude and failure have constrained the supply of Pfizer; however, it is beyond time that all young people were given access and the chance to prioritise their own health.
Thomas O’Dwyer, Burnley

Vaccinated people should not have to be in lockdown
The nub of the matter is vaccinated people should not have to be in lockdown, because they are at greatly reduced risk of contracting the virus and if even if they did, would be far less infectious and less unwell. In the absence of sufficient vaccines, the states have been forced to impose blanket lockdowns, and not surprisingly Scott Morrison is now supporting that course of action.

The alternative would differentiate between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, thereby giving some in the population an advantage denied to others while exposing the government’s failings in not making sufficient vaccines available.

Hence the mixed “hurry but wait” messages that don’t work but are constructed so as to appear that the government gave the right advice while making acting on it impossible for so many.
Emma Borghesi, Mount Martha

Morrison on right track with AstraZeneca
Your correspondent is wrong when he proclaims that “a new leader is required” (Letters, 26/7). Far from reaching “the point of no return”, over the past few weeks Scott Morrison has demonstrated effective leadership as a result of his willingness to change direction in relation to income support and the role of AstraZeneca in the vaccine rollout.

In short, he has identified what needs to be done and has decided to get on with it. Indeed, we are by no means in “Billy McMahon” territory and, even if we were, Anthony Albanese is certainly no Gough Whitlam.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont

The reason for the PM’s shift is obvious
It seems obvious to anyone observing the Prime Minister’s ability to avoid taking responsibility that he would choose lockdown over immunisation as the solution to the NSW pandemic crisis.

Lockdown is the responsibility of the Premier, and the Prime Minister can wash his hands of any deterioration in the crisis if the lockdown fails. It’s also a tacit admission Australia doesn’t have enough vaccines.
John McCulloch, Cheltenham

Send the vaccines to NSW
As a Victorian, I would strongly support a temporary shifting of Victorian Pfizer vaccines to NSW. Helping suppress the Sydney outbreak is in Victorian’s best interests, as well as just being the right thing to do – supporting our fellow Australians.
Errol Hunt, Footscray


Our freedoms abound
Saturday’s protesters decry the loss of personal freedoms and liberties while their actions jeopardise our collective health and freedom. Rather than focusing on the sacrifices we have been asked to make, we could focus on the extraordinary freedoms we are privileged to enjoy.

The freedom to isolate and keep our families safe because we don’t live in slums and shanty towns; the freedom to retain employment and work from home for so many; the freedom to have our shopping delivered to our doors; the freedom to make sourdough, to enjoy our beautiful parklands and potter in our gardens; the freedom to get tested at no cost; the freedom to live safely in a community where the virus is not running rampant; freedom to partake and indulge in online education and entertainment.

Never has there been a better time to isolate. We might have to stay home, but here in the First World we have the rest of the world at our fingertips.

If only the protesters could see the actions we are taking not as freedoms being denied us but First World privilege and liberty being exercised for the public good.
Alexandra Moss, Rosanna

Balanced and informative
Thank you, Michael Davis, for your non-hysterical and informative review of Farmers or Hunter -Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe (“The counter-balance to Pascoe”, Spectrum, 24/7).

When this book was first published it was greeted with glee by detractors of Bruce Pascoe. It was treated as a sensation that proved that Pascoe was a fraud and the ideas presented in the book were nonsense.

Davis writes that Sutton and Walshe present an “alternative interpretation” of Indigenous cultural practices. There is a difference between an alternative vew and a dismissal of these practices.

Like Michael Davis, I also hope that this book will add further to our knowledge and capture the same interest that was generated when Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? first appeared in 2014.
Jan Mackenzie, Eltham

Time for a new pitch?
The federal government got its wish in having the listing of the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” delayed (“Reef’s heritage status safe … for now”, The Sunday Age, 25/7).

With concerns on the effects on the tourist dollar being at the forefront of the lobbying perhaps this is an opportunity for a new marketing campaign: The Great Barrier Reef: Here today, Gone Tomorrow or Here for a Good Time, not a Long Time.
Timothy Phillips, Coburg

Faux apology doesn’t cut it
We can be sorry “that” certain things have happened, or not happened. But it is a very different thing to be sincerely sorry “for” the way things have happened. The latter takes ownership, the former does not.

The Prime Minister seems incapable of owning his failures, preferring to blame others. Sadly, the Morrison government is so bereft of values, principles and standards that the faux apology that had to be dragged out of him last week just doesn’t cut it.

When everything the Morrison government does is filtered through the lens of electoral success, what hope do we have that it will navigate us through to the other side of this pandemic.

As Peter Hartcher intimates (“Morrison’s reckoning has arrived”, Comment, 24/7) political expediency is the death of empathy, compassion and real leadership. God forbid it costs lives too.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

It’s not an ill wind
With more than 6 gigawatts of wind power being pumped into the National Electricity Market grid on Saturday evening, it is a sobering thought for Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan and other members of the Coalition that all we need is to keep adding more battery and other storage plus keep adding wind and solar at recent rates of installation in order to retire coal and gas out of the system (“Renewables drive lower emissions”, The Age, 26/7).

A zero-fuel-cost energy source is always going to beat coal and gas on price. New installations of either will only increase costs to consumers.
Robert Brown, Camberwell

Risky, misplaced faith
As an evangelical Christian I was concerned to read that some of the protesters in Melbourne and Sydney on Saturday carried placards invoking divine protection from COVID-19.

The experience of people around the world shows that the Delta variant is incredibly infectious and that these protesters were putting both themselves and others at risk by refusing to wear masks or physically distance.

They also risked extending the lockdown, which is ironic as that’s what they were protesting against. I can’t imagine Jesus acting that way. I believe the Bible promises that the Lord will walk with us whatever life brings our way, not that we will be provided with blanket protection against life’s dangers.
Paul Arnott, Ringwood East

Freedom’s rules
Dear anti-lockdown protesters, we hear you. Freedom is one of the most important things in the world and it is worth every effort to ensure that it is not violated.

As you contemplate this fact please consider also that freedom is not to be taken for granted and so it comes with great responsibility; freedom without responsibility is not freedom, it is licence. Licence entitles one to be free to do whatever you think is right for you without regard to everyone else. True freedom is to see what is in everyone’s best interest, and then, to freely choose to do that.

At the moment, we are all threatened by a virus, the “government” included. Nobody benefits by spreading it and so, for the moment, the best interest for everyone is to follow expert advice.
Jeff Onans, Campbells Creek

Canberra must step in
This Delta variant has changed the COVID game. Please, can we see some federal government intervention as to how the lockdown in NSW is being handled.

What they are doing is not working, the rest of Australia needs to be protected.
Doris Leroy, Altona

More of the same
Contrary to your editorial opinion that “the world we open up to will be a very different one”, the trajectory Australia and the rest of the world are on will leave too much of the world unchanged (“Tough transition from fortress Australia”, The Age, 24/7).

In Australia, to take just a few examples, there will still be too many essential workers employed in multiple casualised jobs, there will still be inadequate care and aged-care facilities and inadequate funding of public health, local supply and distribution chains will still be overly vulnerable to disruption, there will still be insufficient local production of vaccines and medical supplies, there will still not be fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities.

Finally, an ideology of individualism and so-called freedom rather than a culture of solidarity and community will still permeate the thinking and behaviours of too many leaders and citizens.

In short, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, SA

Empty words
If Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli (“Payout gives hope for victims of paedophile”, The Age, 26/7) really wants justice for victims/survivors of historical sexual abuse crimes, he and his colleagues would offer more than “being appalled” and saying sorry.

They are very empty words when victims/survivors are fought all the way to the courts or mediation, often taking many years.

Sadly and shockingly, many victims don’t become survivors.
Marie Teague, Ocean Grove

Don’t talk down to them
Extremism researcher Dr Kaz Ross says it is counterproductive to debate the ideas of the conspiracy theorists who form part of anti-lockdown protests (“Anti-lockdown protesters a mix of alienated and far right”, The Age, 26/7), rather, we should improve their “media and political literacy” and modify their distorted views of democracy.

However, this attitude can itself be linked to the growing alienation of parts of society. It is often interpreted as code for saying: “We are the experts, you are not, hence you should listen to us.”

Alienated people are unlikely to change their behaviour as a result of being hectored and talked down to.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

Dial it down, please
During lockdown, can councils please ask builders to have a moratorium on loud radio at building sites. Kids are at home trying to remote school, parents are at home trying to work.

It’s hard enough for kids to concentrate during these difficult times – the incessant noise from the building sites around our house just makes a tough situation worse.

Radio isn’t necessary. Surely builders – currently unaffected by lockdowns – can make a small sacrifice.
Matt McRobbie, Mont Albert

The green, gold and blue?
It has been exciting watching our wonderful swimmers, but how ridiculous that they are very prominent in the green and gold, but then appear in front of a red,white and blue flag.

Other nations must wonder about this. When, for goodness sake, are we going to get a new flag, one that more realistically represents who we are?
Margery Renwick, Brighton

Confused messaging
Former Commonwealth deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth says Australians are confused about the messaging around COVID (“Experts not always helping”, Comment, 24/7).

He could start with the television ad he himself fronts. In the ad he enters a cafe to buy his coffee but he doesn’t sign in, doesn’t wear a mask and doesn’t socially distance. Talk about confused messaging.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South

Vaccination is not a lifeline
Increased vaccination is not the lifeline for the current NSW emergency, as immunity sets in much too late.

It has to be backed by an immediate, full-on lockdown rather than a half-hearted, business-approved mock-down.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West


Scott Morrison’s pirouette on lockdowns is good enough to warrant a call up to the Australian Ballet.
Joan Segrave, Healesville


Lockdown protests
The protesters in the city demonstrate the triumph of stupidity over reality.
Peter Hendrickson, East Melbourne

How many protesters, when driving, stop at red lights?
Dean Platt, Ocean Grove

All extreme-right protests come with the obligatory national flag. “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” indeed.
Moray Byrne, Edithvale

Rights – one syllable. Easy. Responsibilities – six syllables. Too hard.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Maybe those demanding “freedom” can also get freedom from Medicare services.
Karyn Myers, Doreen

The pandemic
Can a national emergency happen south of the Murray?
Ian Mckail, Cheltenham

Australia has been knocked out in the first round of the vaccination Olympics.
Stephen Dinham, Metung

Come on, Daniel Andrews, first and foremost we are one nation. Rise above the politics and share where the need is greatest.
David Healy, Surrey Hills

Three words for the Prime Minister’s response endorsing the Sydney lockdown: Stable, door, horse.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

If nothing else, the pandemic has revealed that Australia has a plethora of professors.
Bill Holmes, Kew

It takes a special level of indolence to lead your country to the top of the table on per capita emissions and the bottom of the table on vaccination.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

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