Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Employed and sacked by a British company

I fail to understand why essential workers at call centres run for Centrelink, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Australian Taxation Office and the police assistance line are employed by a British labour hire company, Serco (Age Online, 21/10). I also fail to understand why, when these services are needed most during the pandemic, 420 Victorian Centrelink call centre staff have been sacked. These people will not receive separation payments or redundancies because they are employed on a casual basis, despite many being on staff for more than two years.

It would appear that the government’s ‘‘Team Australia’’ prefers to support British, rather than Australian, companies. If our politicians were ‘‘employed’’ on contract through Serco, we could shed those who have become uneconomically viable and not met their key performance indicators. What a saving to the economy that would be. Bring it on.
Petrushka Owen, Hawthorn

The hard slog of finding work when you’re over 35

I was made redundant from my communications role at a scientific research organisation in April and have been looking for a new job since then. This week I saw a marketing and communications job advertised at an environmental, not-for-profit organisation. The role looked interesting and I met all its criteria. Well, all except this one: ‘‘Qualify for recently announced JobMaker program (be 18 to 35 and receiving income support payments for at least one of the last three months)’’. The government has made the already difficult task of finding work virtually impossible for those of us aged over 35.
Justine Loe, Elsternwick

Let’s reward the workers who really deserve it

I was annoyed to read the comments from the National Broadband Network’s chairman justifying bonuses to its senior executives (The Age, 21/10). The performance of NBN Co has certainly not improved in a way to justify these bonuses. The people who really deserve them are our healthcare workers and teachers who have done an outstanding job at the pointy end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phil Ritchie, Balaclava

Getting rid of the people we need the most

I am in despair over what is happening to our universities. Not only because I have just been retrenched from one, but because so many of my peers have also suffered the same fate. But there is more to this horror than the mass unemployment that is ravaging the most highly trained workforce in the country. There is also the attack on the humanities that is accompanying the “response” to the government-created funding crisis in tertiary education.

For what do we need right now to get us through this crisis? Health workers, sure. More carers, absolutely. But we also need people who can analyse and understand why some sectors, social groups and regions have been hit hard by this pandemic, who can offer policy alternatives and critically sift the best of these from others. As well as those who can understand why people go along with lockdowns while others devour conspiracy theories. And who does those things? Well, social scientists do. And who are now going to be priced out of existence by the new ideologically driven policy for universities.
Louise Johnson, Newport

The impossibility of getting customer satisfaction

I read with extreme amusement that Andy Penn, the former chief executive of Telstra, has been appointed chair of a new body advising the federal government on how to boost the nation’s cyber defences (The Age, 21/10). Presumably this is because of the skills he honed in making Telstra’s electronic, customer-interface systems virtually impregnable by its customers. Telstra would have to be one of the most inept and frustrating businesses to deal with. I am sure cyber criminals are rubbing their hands together in glee.
Lisbeth Johnson, Upwey


The decline of Auntie

Well said, Jon Faine – ‘‘Coalition’s holy war against the ABC’’ (Comment, 21/10). After working at the ABC in the ’70s and ’80s, when we even had a staff-elected representative on the board, I have watched with sadness and dismay the slow and steady erosion of the ABC’s integral reporting without fear or favour and without any commercial or political interference. Very sad to see our only ‘‘voice of reason’’ becoming another politicised lame duck.
Vivienne Fry, Beaumaris

A nonsensical holiday

Why is a public holiday for the grand final being held in Melbourne? The match is being played in Brisbane, and the lockdown in Melbourne precludes large gatherings from celebrating. The victims of this holiday will be the limited number of small businesses which are allowed to open as they will be required to pay their employees penalty rates. Is the Premier trying to destroy this struggling sector completely?
Peter Norman, Glen Iris

Let us all worship our footy

Peter Rose (Letters, 21/10), football is in a special category in relation to the public holiday for the non-existent grand final this week. I laughed, thinking it was a prank, to hear that slabs of the MCG turf were lifted – what did it cost? – and sent to the Gabba to be inserted there for the grand final. Still, any religion has very strange customs.
David Hood, Richmond

Let’s share the great match

This year, with the grand final being played in Brisbane,the AFL is presented with an opportunity to review its policy on the grand final venue. If the MCG were to host the match every other year, with the alternate years being played in other states , it would provide greater equity among all the participating states.

A grand final is a significant financial and social event. Victoria wants it to remain at the MCG, its premise being tradition. However, this favours Victorian teams even though the other states and their teams make up 45per cent of the participants. Spreading the benefits of hosting a grand final would be fairer and generate greater interest in the AFL around the country. It is time AFL football became a truly national sport.
Bill Parlet, Mount Evelyn

Some have money to burn

Xavier College is selling its Brighton campus which is expected to fetch between $100 and $130 million (Business, 21/10). Haileybury, which has four campuses in Melbourne, plus schools in Darwin and China, is understood to be considering purchasing this property.

Public schools are scrimping and saving so they can get their classrooms painted, when private schools are selling and buying multimillion-dollar properties. If private schools have these huge amounts of money available to them, why is the federal government funding them?
Asa Smith, Montmorency

Such a crazy decision

Victoria’s Racing Minister Martin Pakula said his passion for horse racing clouded his judgment on whether it was appropriate to allow a small crowd at Saturday’s Cox Plate while indoor gatherings were banned on AFL grand final day (Age online, 21/10). Mr Pakula, why did you ever think that such an inept and out of touch decision would be reasonable (especially after the Premier’s announcements last Sunday)?
Damian Meade, Leopold

Drive safely, please

Re ‘‘Gridlock to grip CBD commutes’’ (The Age, 21/10). In fact, Monday morning saw the expected increase of traffic on our roads. Motorists impatient to travel the breadth of their expanded territory are trying to adjust to more road users.

Until public transport is perceived to be safe, traffic will only get worse as more people return to work. One set of road users, cyclists, do not mix well with impatient motorists. A crash involving a cyclist and a car will usually mean a paint scrape on the car but for the cyclist, death or serious injury is a likely outcome.

Cyclists have been forced off shared paths by overcrowding and unleashed dogs. We all must drive more carefully and courteously as we share the roads.
Dave Barter, Hawthorn

Don’t become complacent

Mask-wearing on our trams is already decreasing. Perhaps ticket inspectors (‘‘authorised officers’’) could offer friendly reminders to passengers about this and other COVID-safe behaviours.
Caitlin Stone, Brunswick East

Medical qualifications?

Re ‘‘Big businesses call to ‘open up workplaces’’’ (The Age, 21/10). When those seven chief executives of major corporations show us their epidemiological qualifications, then I will take their advice on when and how restrictions should be lifted. In the meantime, I am sticking with the experts.
Kerry Lewis, Williamstown

The headline we need

Stop press: The chief executives of seven top companies vow to underwrite the costs if a COVID-19 outbreak is linked to the early reopening of Victoria’s economy.
Donald Newgreen, Brunswick

It’s too little, too late

Brett Sutton says he found out ‘‘through the media’’ that private security guards were being used in hotel quarantine two months after it began. If I were chief health officer, I would have inspected quarantine hotels – and hospitals too – to ensure best practice and to thank those working on the frontline of this pandemic.
Sally Trotter, Eaglemont

Premiers out of loop?

Greg Hardy (Letters, 21/10) says Dan Andrews cannot be believed when he says he was not told in advance that travellers from New Zealand would be coming to Victoria. If so, it must be a remarkable coincidence that the premiers of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania were similarly surprised when unexpected visitors also turned up there, especially as the Prime Minister had announced the bubble only applied to NSW and the Northern Territory.
Ray Pilbeam, Canterbury

Our disunited country

Many people are experiencing tension as a result of the pandemic and the prolonged lockdown. But the political games – which are clearly avoidable – that are taking place are also causing stress and anxiety. What happened to ‘‘We’re all in this together’’?
Helen Richards, Mentone

A very poor lesson

What an enlightening lesson in civics and accountability our children are learning in Victoria. They are being given a demonstration of how lying, obfuscation, throwing your team members under the bus, and a disregard of consequence is an acceptable strategy for surviving in government. Oh, and a public relations machine that insists you show up every day, especially on Sundays, to keep yourself front and centre of the conversation in the home. God help us in 20 years’ time when these children are running the country.
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza

Take a bow, Victorians

Professor James McCaw, one of the scientists charged with tracking Melbourne’s social distancing for the federal government, says: ‘‘Victorians are the most compliant with the rules of anywhere in Australia’’ (The Age, 19/10). What a difference a word would make – Victorians are the most community-minded of anywhere in Australia.
Lesley Kehoe, Southbank

Please, ease our pain

My heart sank when I read Melissa Cunningham’s story – ‘‘New rules exclude myotherapists’’ (The Age, 20/10). I have been in steadily increasing pain since July due to disk compression in my cervical spine for which treatment by a myotherapist is the only non-invasive solution I have left.
It seems that just because what is a well-regarded form of physical therapy is not formally recognised in Victoria under the umbrella of allied health professionals, patients must wait in pain for treatment by trained medical professionals.

It is great that some of the restrictions have been lifted. I am truly happy for people who can get their grey roots attended to at hairdressers, but to leave thousands of people in pain is a travesty. It needs to be addressed by the Health Department and Victorian government on Sunday.
Andrew Johnstone, Prahran

The forgotten ‘lockdown’

I am heartened by the number of Victorians writing to express their frustration at lockdown conditions. They cannot see families, play golf, go to cafes, go shopping, etc. Once we get our freedoms back, I am sure they will all become advocates for the release of asylum seekers who have been locked up for years and who, like us, did nothing wrong.
Iian Denham, Strathmore

The meaning of leadership

The job of being the federal Treasurer is surely throwing up its challenges. This may explain Josh Frydenberg’s recent criticisms of the Victorian Premier. The federal government is in no position to criticise anyone who is doing something. In fact, I am not sure what anyone in the Coalition is doing. Still waiting for the Roadmap to Recovery? Has anyone explained to Mr Frydenberg, Scott Morrison et al that governing is more than handing out money and expecting others to do the work?
David Conolly, Brighton

Helping The Donald

I wish that Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, would ask one of his employees to send his President a complimentary copy of Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The poor guy does not have a clue.
Dino Bressan, Ivanhoe

A very partisan election

Peter Caffin (Letters, 21/10) says the US ‘‘can’t organise an acceptable election for all Americans’’. Donald Trump only wants an acceptable election for all Republicans.
Jeanette Bunn, Menzies Creek


Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:


Thank heaven the grand final will soon be over. Then we’ll get back to COVID normal bickering.
Michael Hall, Blackburn

What possible reason is there for a public holiday, with no parade and no grand final at the MCG?
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine

I expect Richmond players to keep the correct social distance from Tom Hawkins. This ‘‘virus’’ must be beaten.
Bob Muntz, Ascot Vale

Could a crowd be allowed at the races if the Racing Minister arranges private security?
John Howell, Heathmont


Please, Dan, grant Santa a travel exemption.
Roger Farrer, Hampton

Michaelia Cash, who made an artform of hiding behind a whiteboard, accuses Andrews of ‘‘throwing distractions’’.
Alan Simons, Eltham North

Italy has 11,000 cases in a day. Victoria had three yesterday. Thank you, Daniel Andrews.
Anna Summerfield, Bendigo

They lock up a city and say trust us, yet can’t do simple blood tests to an accepted standard.
Chris Davis, Pascoe Vale

ScoMo gets his puppets to knock Andrews, making many Victorians see red. Where’s his compassion?
Margaret Sullivan, Caulfield North

We should use quarantine stations, not hotels, for international travellers as we did in the past.
Rob McFee, Canterbury


NBN: Fibre to the executives’ bank accounts.
Kevin Pierce, Richmond

Money, money, money. It’s a rich man’s world.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

Twiggy Forrest, thanks for bringing back RM Williams (20/10). Can you now please buy back the Port of Darwin
Mal Marcard, Point Lonsdale

Long may Melbourne’s precious icon, the Waiters Restaurant (20/10), survive.
Ivan Gaal, Fitzroy North

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