Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Duty to vaccinate unless medically exempt
Professor Julie Leask – “Unvaccinated lockout an overreach” (Opinion, 24/11) – misses the point of so-called mandates. There is a reason as to why we have achieved, by world standards, a remarkably high level of vaccination, and it is not because Victorians (and Australians in general) are more civic-minded than, for example, Europeans, where rates sit as low as 60 per cent.
The rules have driven the response. Many would still not be vaccinated otherwise. To now exempt those remaining non-vaccinated by choice would be an insult to those people, and send the message that holding out eventually gets you what you want. It is everyone’s duty to vaccinate unless medically exempt.
The rules of society often discriminate without vocal opposition because their reasons for existence are compelling. Some states “discriminate” against some people by not allowing them to drive until they turn 18. Men cannot enter a female public toilet and vice versa. Food is a life-essential item, but someone with no money cannot walk out of a supermarket with a loaded trolley. The freedom that the willingly non-vaccinated claim is being denied is right there waiting for them. Removing restrictions for them would be disrespectful to all who have accepted their responsibility to the rest of the community.
Vince Russell, Glen Park
Disproportionate response to the unvaccinated
Julie Leask’s piece on the state government’s intention to lock out unvaccinated Victorians from everyday life throughout 2022 highlights the key conundrums in taking this hardline approach. As a vaccinated person, I find it unsettling that we are segregating people so strongly, barring our unvaccinated friends and family from social or cultural life. This is especially so when considering Victoria’s high vaccination rates.
We should approach 2022 with a holistic public health response and apply positive shifts in attitudes and the ways we communicate with each other. With most of the state aged 16-plus having received two doses, and our young children still yet to be vaccinated, it seems disproportionate to continue to lock out the relatively small percentage of adults who have decided not to take the vaccine.
Stephanie Ashworth, Pascoe Vale South
Serious risk to the aged and immunocompromised
Julie Leask and other pandemic specialists suggest that maintaining restrictions on people who have chosen not to be vaccinated may be counterproductive and ultimately not in the wider public interest (The Age, 24/11). At a whole-of-population level, this appears reasonable and it may be that this is the basis on which such decisions should be made.
However, Professor Leask also says, “We need to ask ourselves whether we are willing to keep allowing the 5per cent of the population to continue paying that price [of being locked out].” I am curious to know how this position weighs the increased risk individuals unvaccinated by choice pose should they come in contact with the significant number of immunocompromised and aged people who have no choice at all about their heightened vulnerability to this virus. The price they would pay – serious illness or death – is incomparably greater than the inconvenience of not being allowed to go to the cinema. This expert advice would appear more complete if it were clear that these factors were taken into account.
Hilary Lovibond, St Leonards
Lambie’s strong words ring true: act like an adult
I prefer the Jacqui Lambie approach to vaccination rather than the exert vacillations and carefully worded approaches. We need COVID-19 vaccination normalised, like childhood vaccinations, and Senator Lambie’s forthright views bring back reality to the debate: “Being held accountable for your own actions isn’t called discrimination, it’s called being – you wouldn’t believe it – a goddamn, bloody adult … It’s putting others before yourself. And that’s what this country is supposed to be about.” (The Age, 23/11).
Peta Colebatch, Hawthorn
Our vulnerable children
Those advocating the lifting of restrictions for the unvaccinated at 90per cent coverage do not mention that this does not include the whole population. Kids aged under 12, who cannot yet be vaccinated, are not included in these counts. Vulnerable kids, particularly those with complex disability or immunosuppression on cancer therapy, can get sick from COVID-19, and indeed can die from it.
Why should selfish folk who choose not to add a layer of protection for the vulnerable by vaccinating have the freedom to spread this disease further when these kids have no protection possible? Restrictions should stay until the whole of society has the capacity to be adequately protected.
Molly Williams, Warrandyte
The great Aussie tradition
Let’s not be too harsh on the protesters. Remember, Australian society has a history of minority groups of recalcitrants. We have had draft dodgers protected by those who served, dole bludgers cheating the national purse, tax avoiders leaving others to pay more than their fair share, politicians benefiting from rorts. Now we have anti-vax protesters seeking herd immunity on the backs of those who have demonstrated they care for our shared community.
Barry Jones, Wonga Park
What about us?
I watched with some amazement as our Prime Minister had his COVID-19 booster shot. My husband and I, in our 70s and 60s, have been told we are not eligible for one yet, as the program is starting with those with serious medical conditions. Is Scott Morrison hiding a serious illness from us or is it just another photo opportunity?
Sue Bertucci, Sunset Strip
Going back to the future
An infectious diseases hospital for Victoria? Great idea from the Liberals. It could be called Fairfield 2.0 after the one previous Liberal premier Jeff Kennett shut down along with schools and public utilities.
Melvin Patch, Croydon North
A question of numbers
In our town, there is a COVID-19 anomaly. There are two shops of the same floor size. The one with the most shelving and therefore less space to move around has a sign on the door permitting 81 people to be inside at any one time. The other one has a sign stating the maximum number of people allowed is 20. Somebody, please explain.
Jennifer Monger, Benalla
The bad memories return
As we open up, I have been summoned back to the office three days a week. While missing the flexibility of working from home, it has been nice to get back into the office and see familiar faces. One thing I did not miss was catching the train. It was a weight back on my shoulders when I heard repeated announcements that consecutive trains had been cancelled at peak hour.
It is inconceivable that this would happen on a network that is carrying a fraction of the passengers it did pre-COVID. Also, I will never understand the justification for sending a late train directly to its terminus, affecting the hundreds of passengers waiting for it around the City Loop.
It was little comfort to me, as I waited half an hour for the train, to know that the minority of customers who caught trains outside the loop probably got home on time due to the fact trains had skipped the five busiest city stations.
Nicholas Serry, Hawthorn East
A day of deep suffering
And now we have Black Friday – not to remember a bushfire that killed many people, the devastating, near extinction of our indigenous animals, and the destruction of our forests and our environment, but to sell merchandise.
Mary Walker, Richmond
Why we need more people
To those 58 per cent of the population who are concerned about a “big Australia” (The Age, 24/11), given our natural population decline, who will fund social and other services for our ageing population if we reduce our immigration intake?
Len Fagenblat, Elsternwick
Heartbreak and wisdom
Tears formed as I looked at the face and read the words of Nagmeldin Osman, the father who fought desperately to save his four young children in the devastating fire in Werribee (The Age, 23/11). “Everybody is my friend, my brother. I have no enemies in my life. I love everybody … We must come together as one. Life is too short.” If only we could all genuinely express such profound sentiments, what a wonderful world we would live in.
Jan Courtin, Albert Park
Delusions of grandeur
It is good to see Peter Dutton committing Australian troops to a potential conflict on the coat tails of the United States. The subtle and cerebral art of diplomacy is certainly not wasted on him.
Given that he is so keen to bring China into line, he could lead our troops into action. Maybe if this were the case, he would be a little less bellicose and he would try to think about other more suitable options, but possibly that is asking a bit much from one of Australia’s leading “attack dog” politicians. Need I remind Mr Dutton of his last infamous strategy when he fancied himself as prime minister. It is time he and his cohorts moved aside and let the adults get involved.
David Conolly, Brighton
Punish the sledgers
Regrettably, sledging has become part and parcel of the modern form of cricket and some Australians have been among its worst practitioners. Sledging is a form of bullying and has become a blight on a game which was once the epitome of good sportsmanship.
Cricket administrators have a responsibility to preserve the quality and reputation of the game and could easily ban sledging. They could give umpires the authority to evict offending fieldsmen (the main culprits) from the game for, say, two overs and to penalise offending batsmen by deducting, say, 10 runs from the individual or team score. Sledging would soon become a thing of the past. Over to you, Cricket Australia.
Richard Morris, Drouin
PM Kelly? You’re joking.
I just have to thank Clive Palmer for the best laugh I have had in ages. His United Australia Party published an ad headed, “Our Next Prime Minister” and underneath, a photo of Craig Kelly (The Age, 24/11). Hilarious.
Damien Ryan, Berwick
A question of relevance
I take your correspondent’s point (Letters, 24/11) about people of faith believing what their deity said or taught (with sacred texts such as the Bible or the Koran as available evidence). I look forward to hearing people of faith arguing for the right to possess slaves (Leviticus 25:44), to punish those who plant two different crops in the same field or wear garments made of two different kinds of thread (Leviticus 19:19) or for the right to stone adulterers or cut off the hands and feet of thieves. Or maybe we could argue which sayings or teachings are to be considered outdated, and which still relevant to modern society, and why.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East
The right to vilify
The Religious Discrimination Bill has nothing to do with discrimination – perceived or otherwise – against anyone from the Pope to the nearest prime ministerial “happy clapper”. It exists solely to allow those same religious groups the legal right to openly and viciously attack and vilify anyone they perceive as holding an opinion or a right they choose to be intolerant of. A pathetically prejudiced attempt at self-promotion and preservation.
Brendan Strauch, Moorabbin
Focus on the critical issues
So the federal government is attempting to push through the Religious Discrimination Bill. Don’t we have higher priorities such as the economy, education, health, employment creation, infrastructure, etc?
Greg Lawes, Dingley Village
Think again, Mr Albanese
Anthony Albanese says he knows of no example where a gay or lesbian teacher has been sacked for their sexuality in a Catholic school – “Labor backs religious freedom but warns on risk for gay teachers, students” (The Age, 24/11). It is hard to sack someone whom you discriminate against, so never hire.
Bob Graham, Yarragon
Each graduation matters
The similarities started out as coincidences, then were too many to ignore. It was a pleasant surprise to realise Julie Szego was describing my own child’s school valedictory evening in her piece “Not even a remote chance of a dry eye” (Opinion, 24/11). Thank you, Julie, for providing the opportunity to relive the event. Among other things, your words reminded me that the graduation of every Victorian young person from the class of 2021 was truly an event worth celebrating.
Helen Matthews, Ormond
Accelerating the decline
The Mathematics Heads of Faculty Network has warned of an emerging crisis in the quality of students’ work and preparedness as a consequence of so many days lost due to school closures (The Age, 23/11). It urges a “go slow” on the introduction of the revised VCE curriculum. It also points out that students are falling behind in mathematics in international comparisons.
More worrying than the timeliness of the revised VCE curriculum is the proposed national curriculum produced by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. This dilutes the already weak emphasis on foundational skills, and replaces them with “discovery” activities and “real world modelling”.
Adoption of this national curriculum, produced without reference to recognised associations of professional mathematicians, will guarantee that the national decline in student performance in mathematics will only accelerate.
Tony Guttmann, emeritus professor of mathematics, University of Melbourne
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Kelly, the next PM (24/11)? We don’t need another Donald Trump.
Ray Martin, Creswick
There could be no stronger argument against voting for the UAP than the large photo of Kelly.
Chris Burgess, Port Melbourne
Page 9 of yesterday’s Age was truly terrifying.
Wendy Batros, Templestowe
After their latest ad, I’m trying to work out if Kelly and Palmer are dangerous, delusional or both.
Greg Stark, Newtown
Please print a warning on the front page if you intend featuring large photos of Kelly’s head. It’s just too much at breakfast.
Ray Lewis, Carlton North
You have to hand it to Kelly with his full-page ad. He’s got more front than Myer.
Greg Bardin, Altona North
It’s time to start the Goddamn Bloody Adult Party with Lambie leading the way.
Robert Phillips, Templestowe
Change the reference point for common sense from “the pub test” to the “Jacqui Lambie test”.
John Forbes, Port Fairy
Where do I vote for Lambie?
Peter Cooke, Warrnambool
Will there be a bill to protect statements of science?
Jacki Hood, Rhyll
ScoMo told Albo where he was going on holidays. He said he would be in Communicado.
Chris Smith, Brighton East
Does Canavan think some people’s jobs are more important than other people’s lives?
Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris
So the Liberals closed Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital and now they’re promising to build a new one.
Marsha Merory, Ivanhoe East
As ScoMo’s pants seem to be regularly on fire, maybe holding a hose isn’t such a bad idea.
Tony Harvey, Castlemaine
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