Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

To submit a letter to The Age, email [email protected] Please include your home address and telephone number.


Downside of being our country’s transport hub

Maybe it is neither bad luck nor incompetence that has led to four lockdowns in Melbourne/southern Victoria. They have the combination of harsher weather and are more densely populated than any other large city or region in this country. When one looks at similar climatic localities in Europe and the United States, for example, where the virus has struck repeatedly, their climatic factors are shared with Melbourne/southern Victoria.

Also, Melbourne is flat and has a grid-like road system and very good radial train network that allow people to work at multiple sites much more easily, and make deliveries over a much greater geographic area, than other large Australian capitals. The ease of movement has been an advantage and made Melbourne the country’s transport hub – but in the case of COVID-19, this might have proved a serious disadvantage.
Dr Geoff Wescott, school of life and environmental sciences, Deakin University

How good are Victoria’s processes and resources?

I have no doubt about the dedication and hard work of our contact tracers. They are clearly working above and beyond. However, given this is our fourth lockdown, I do have doubts about the rigour of our processes and the adequacy of those resources. When the number of sites started ballooning, other states and territories offered to send additional trained contact tracers, an offer that was rejected.

Victoria has now invited medical students from Austin Health to take up paid work in our public health contact tracing team, involving calling people, data analysis, data entry and IT skills (The Age, 29/5). I assume they are yet to be appointed, trained and deployed. This seems a medium-term solution to a short-term crisis. I can only hope the reason for rejecting the offers from other states and territories was for something other than a fear of exposure of the inadequacies of our processes and resourcing.
Julie Foreman, Richmond

If you are not 100 per cent, please stay at home

Absent in the media and government campaign during the current outbreak is any mention of staying home when feeling unwell. This is a crucial health message that would have most likely limited the spread of the virus and averted another lockdown.

My son’s primary school has been rife with colds and other viruses this year. It seems that parents have forgotten the health messages of last year and are sending their children to school when they are clearly unwell. COVID-19, cold or flu, staying out of public circulation while unwell is the only real way to make sure that the wider community is protected, especially for those who have comorbidities and can suffer serious consequences from these viruses.
Genevieve O’Connell, Box Hill North

Sadly, our aged and disabled do not appear to matter

I was appalled to read the statistics about the number of disabled people living in residential care who have yet to be vaccinated. I worked for a number of years for a non-government organisation that catered for young people with intellectual disabilities. Many of our residents had very fragile health as well: some had extremely rare problems, and we were aware that their life expectancy was very short. They lived in residential care because their conditions were too difficult for them to remain in family care, while some had no parents worth mentioning. Are people such as these, like the aged, of no benefit to society?
Margaret Ady, Avondale Heights

Too many of us could have had the jab, but didn’t

Why are we in lockdown again? We can blame the European Union for suddenly introducing export authorisation rules in January and we can blame delivery problems of the vaccine. But we can also blame those of us who, for the past few months, have been eligible to be vaccinated butare not.
Until this current outbreak, there were many appointments available but many people were complacent, believing the danger was over. We are the victims of our own success.
Ian Cameron, Chelsea


We must live with hope

Surely the government’s starting point should be that the restrictions are lifted as soon as possible. Instead, we have one where the opposite is true. We need a change of mindset from elimination to suppression, and learn to live with it. We are already well positioned as we have vaccinations as the backbone to prevention, knowledge on early treatment regarding anti-virals, anti-inflammatories and anti-thrombotics that can further reduce hospitalisations, and a health service envied by the world. We can manage this without any further lockdowns. It is time to live with hope, not fear.
Dr Guy Campbell, Ringwood East

Lockdown, bring it on

During the lockdowns last winter, I changed my lifestyle completely. Living alone, retired and no longer able to interact with the Healesville U3A (University of the Third Age) activities, I became a better cook, took time to experiment with recipes and enthusiastically attacked The Age’s crossword each day, even David Astle’s nightmare on a Friday. My local library was marvellous, with terrific support, deliveries, pick-ups, etc. Each day I played several “brain games” on my iPad. I believe I became more intelligent with all the challenges. Here we are again, but I am much more prepared for the fight ahead.
Val James, Healesville

Sorry, but you’re to blame

As a regular visitor to, and intermittent resident of, Melbourne, I have been disappointed by the repeated lockdowns the city has had to endure. The current one has led to questions of “why Melbourne?“

To me, a significant contributor is the lack of seriousness given to tracing by residents and businesses. In the days leading up to the lockdown, I was staggered by the difficulty in finding the QR code at some businesses, the different QR codes being used, the dismissal by businesses of the relevance of checking in with the code, and the lack of commitment of residents to checking in. It is no surprise to me that there is another widespread outbreak.
David Forbes, Wembley, WA

Literacy and the app

Henry Askin is right that the Victorian government’s QR reader “is generally not fit for purpose” (Letters, 1/6) and reliance on it threatens our security. Apart from appearing to work better with iPhones, it has at least another more significant flaw. Its use assumes English literacy.

I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) in a low socio-economic area. My students are mostly aged 50-plus, mostly female (consequently illiterate in their native languages, so even translations do not help them) and mostly totally dependent on their children. Many of them are unable to use the app, or worse do not know of its existence. Their phones are several years old and rarely seem to be updated. Does this inaccessibility not highlight a major flaw in keeping Victorians safe?
Jan Barker, Mount Martha

No code? No problems.

Like Rob Evans (Letters, 1/6), we recently visited Noosa and the Gold Coast but, unlike him, did not find that all venues “strictly enforced” the “No QR code – no entry” rule. We visited many venues and only two – a cafe and a pub – made sure we showed them a tick on our phones before we could enter. Many others did not ask if we had “QR coded” or were not interested. The Victorian government is not the only one that needs to lift its game.
Susan Deason, Fitzroy North

Enforce stricter standards

A purpose-built quarantine facility in Victoria would not have prevented the current outbreak. This episode highlights our vulnerability to quarantine programs in the other states. It seems not all states separate, into different facilities, returning travellers who test positive to COVID-19. Maybe we should consider isolating, for a further five days, returning travellers who have quarantined in other states and who do not meet our standards until they have a negative test.
Dr Lawrence O’Halloran, Balwyn North

Lift your masks, journos

Could all reporters at COVID-19 press conferences (rather than just some of them) obtain masks that do not slip off their noses? It is a pity the spokespeople do not alert reporters to the correct use of masks before they answer their questions. We all know that both the mouth and nose need to be covered.
Linda O’Brien, Heatherton

It’s time to go, Minister

It is time for the Aged Care Minister to resign. The duties and responsibilities of his portfolio are beyond his capability, as amply demonstrated by the failures to identify and vaccinate residents and staff who were, and are, at the highest percentile of COVID-19 transmission risk and morbidity. This fact seems to have escaped the Minister’s and appointed vaccine provider’s attention.
Vaughan Millar, Fairfield

Colbeck out of his depth

Tragedies often feature a comic character, such as a yokel or fool, whose antics briefly relieve the tension and set the audience up for the next wave of pity and terror. Enter, right on cue, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck.
Andrew Raivars, Fitzroy North

Withdraw from the games

The Olympics is the pinnacle event for athletes. However, in a pandemic there is a morality issue in respect to the host nation. Japan is in crisis with about 1800 COVID-19 cases a day and more than 13,000 deaths. It, like Australia, has vaccinated only a small percentage of its population (2.7per cent) and the risk of further internal transmission, together with external variants, is real. Would Australia hold the games under these conditions? If not, why can’t we make the principled call and withdraw?
Keith Johnson, Mornington

We’d love to go but …

I, and all of my family, are AFL members as well as members of Richmond Football Club. On Tuesday the AFL offered us discounted tickets to Saturday night’s game in Perth. How out of touch is the AFL with reality?
Bill Holmes, Kew

Cormann’s about-face

So Mathias Cormann has expressed the need for ambitious climate targets and sustainable growth in his first speech as head of the OECD (The Age, 2/6). This means that either he thought this way while he was an influential member of the Australian government and chose to dissemble in order to keep his position safe, or he has had an amazing “Damascus experience” now that he needs to adopt a different stance to keep his job safe. Either way, this fills me with dismay. Integrity still counts a lot in my estimation.
Vicki Myers, Hamlyn Heights

Is this really our Mathias?

Now I know I am in a parallel universe. Mathias Cormann used words like sustainable, cleaner, inclusive, mindful, equity and fairness. After years and years of what can only be called aggressive sabotage of any movement towards a net-zero future for Australia, this must surely be the anti-Cormann speaking. Beam me up, Scotty. Time to return to earth.
Lee Guion, Portarlington

Why the women won’t run

Jenna Price (Opinion, 1/6), most Labor voters would love to see Tania Plibersek and Penny Wong lead the Labor Party to the next election. They, together with a strong band of Labor women, have excellent leadership skills, knowledge, compassion and empathy. Unfortunately they witnessed the way Julia Gillard was treated. The love of their families, and the fear of how their families would suffer under the Murdoch press, has overridden their ambition to lead this country. Australia will lose the chance to regain its soul without them.
Marilyn Hoban, Mornington

Shattered dreams

I, too, am a fan of Tanya Plibersek and would love to see her elevated to ALP leadership. But I also thought Malcolm Turnbull would bring a breath of fresh air to the Liberal Party. And what happened? The diehards got him. How can we make sure Plibersek will not be cut down by the vested interests in Labor?
Peter Leslie, South Melbourne

Clarifying ’responsible’

Patrick Hatch writes that “Crown Resorts has pledged to overhaul its responsible gambling program” (The Age, 2/6). Certainly, as an even-handed reporter, it would not be fair if he noted “responsible gambling” is an oxymoron. However, he might have inserted the word “alleged” preceding the oxymoron.
Ken Feldman, Sandringham

The many problems …

Spot on, Ross Gittins (Opinion, 2/6). Small government does not mean better government. Over the past 30 years, both sides of politics have been hell bent on reducing the government footprint for ideological reasons and/or to demonstrate their economic prowess. When will we, the voters, recognise that privatisation of essential government services is an incompetent’s effort to hide their own inadequacies?
Giuseppe Corda, Aspendale

… with privatisation

Ross Gittins exposes the danger of small government, but the problem is not limited to a smaller, hobbled public service. It is the employment of thousands of advisers on the public purse undertaking jobs that have nothing to do with the national interest and everything to do with making sure their boss is re-elected. Whatever it takes, from spin and lies to rorts and whitewashed investigations.

And then there are the thousands of consultants who fill roles that traditionally belonged to public servants. National interest doesn’t win here, either, as their eye is on profits and on producing outcomes that will secure the next contract. We do not so much have a functioning government looking out for the country as a huge, inwardly focused, self-serving brand management organisation.
Jenny Herbert, Metung


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Colbeck has had ample opportunity to lift his game following the royal commission. He should be dropped to the reserves.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Memo to Hunt and Colbeck: what gets measured gets done.
Angela Munro, Carlton North

How can our vaccinated PM let aged care residents and workers not get to the vaccination’s starting line after so long?
Marianne Dalton, Balnarring

Mr Morrison, grab the bloody hose.
Irene Morley, Seaford

Does anybody now doubt there is insufficient staffing in aged care facilities?
Glenda Addicott, Ringwood East

Gerry Harvey could return his company’s $22 million JobKeeper payment to Victorians affected by the lockdown. But I doubt he will be so gracious.
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear

Everyone should be given a card recording the dates (and type) of their vaccines. Currently only some vaccine providers do this.
Jacki Burgess, Port Melbourne


George Christensen, the ABC is not the mouthpiece for the Coalition.
Anita Xhafer, Fitzroy North

I can’t believe I’m saying this but desperate times, desperate measures. Bring back Shorten.
Tom Pagonis, Richmond

Using questionable contractors and subcontractors to achieve what you were advised not to do is the new ministerial standard.
Bill Burns, Bendigo


Well done, Amanda – “Chutzpah needed when seeing medical specialists” (1/6).
Ivan Gaal, Fitzroy North

NZ plans to eradicate all introduced predators by 2050 (2/6). Does that include white people?
Simon Thornton, Alphington

Naomi Osaka. With such racquet eloquence, words are unnecessary.
Wendy Knight, Little River

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article