How many deaths are we prepared to risk?

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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How many deaths are we prepared to risk?

The travel ban is in place while COVID-19 is running rampant in India and while we do not have sufficient quarantine facilities in Australia. Our hotel quarantine barely copes with the current level of arrivals. We still see COVID-positive cases among the arrivals, even from countries with low rates of infection. We also see cases where COVID-19 is transmitted to quarantine workers. The real question is: How many collateral infections and deaths in Australia are acceptable if we allow travellers from India into this country?
Peter Hendrickson, East Melbourne

Our shame that we unthinkingly accept this ban

I thought we were a decent society but the last few weeks have proven we are not. The politicians are only reflecting what society wants and that is extremely depressing. We have shown we are parochial and extremely inward-looking. Shame on us all.
Sandra Bennett, Hawthorn East

What is our citizenship really worth now?

We should be doing all we can to get our people in India back, especially if they have COVID-19, so that they can be treated in their own hospitals. By leaving them in India where the hospitals are overwhelmed, we are sentencing many of them to serious disability or death, as well as increasing the burden on India’s crippled resources, both of which are morally repugnant. If being an Australian does not confer the right to come home in a situation like this, then citizenship of our once respected country is next to worthless.
Bruce King, Malvern East

Remember, this exclusion is only temporary

Luara Ferracioli (Online, 2/5) argues that suspending entry of our citizens from India into Australia is a violation of their core rights. She is concerned this step could foreshadow further “erosions of the liberal commitment” of our government, such as loss of our rights to vote or to stand for office. This is the slippery slope fallacy, where it is argued that a course of action should be rejected because it might lead to a chain of events that culminate in a significant negative effect, without any evidence that these events will actually occur.

Any relationship between voting rights and the current situation is tenuous. The exclusion is temporary, due to be reviewed in a few weeks. How to balance the needs of citizens abroad with the wellbeing of the vulnerable, mostly unvaccinated population at home was undoubtedly discussed in National Cabinet before invoking the Biosecurity Act.
Linda Stern, Alphington

A health issue, yes, but also about compassion

Anyone who needs to be taught empathy is not qualified to hold a position where they have responsibility for the welfare of other people. Perhaps this empathy deficit helps explain the government’s actions in forbidding a return home by Australians who are in India. Their situation is not simply a health issue, as the government insists. It is one of understanding a range of complex needs and exercising compassion. And if the worst happens to some of our fellow Australians in India, and some of them die, is the federal government culpable?
Andrea Goldsmith, Clifton Hill

We must give these desperate people hope

The logistics of safely returning about 9000 Australians stranded in India is no simple matter. Our Prime Minister has made some unfortunate statements that have exacerbated the situation. There needs to be a compassionate, prioritised plan to get people home safely. Give them hope.
John Gordon-Kirkby, Mornington

A small number suffer to protect the majority

So former Test cricketer Michael Slater thinks Scott Morrison has blood on his hands (Sport, 5/5). Rubbish. If Morrison lets people in from India and it causes another wave of deaths here, only then would he have blood on his hands. He is protecting 25million people against 9000 who want to return here.
Geoff Lipton, Caulfield


Apples and oranges

According to the Worldometer website, India’s COVID-19 problems are no worse than the problems of the United States. Statistics need to be compared on a population basis, something that is overlooked too often. Even if India’s statistics are under-reported, as seems probable, it is really its population, four times that of the US, that makes its figures so bad. Would our government ever consider jailing people who return from the US? Or the United Kingdom?
Rod Andrew, Malmsbury

Where the blame lies

Scott Morrison does not have blood on his hands but the Indian government does for allowing mass political meetings and religious festivities to take place during the pandemic, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths and untold suffering.
Craig Calvert, Montmorency

Bring them home, safely

Could Christmas Island, which was used as a quarantine centre early in the pandemic, and other regional centres solve the problem of bringing back stranded Australians in India? Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk supports that view.
Marguerite Marshall, Eltham

Courage of our leaders

When Rana Hussein writes “our government has an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of its constituency in a time of utter crisis for many” (Opinion, 5/5), she is really appealing for it to take the most popular option. To their credit, the federal and state governments have largely made tough decisions during the pandemic to keep us safe rather than try to gain short-term approval from voters.
Roger Farrer, Hampton

Focus on nurses

As a registered nurse, I have watched with incredulity as opportunities for an effective and efficient preventative and vaccination program for COVID have not emerged. The internecine behaviour of politicians has been abominable and robbed citizens of trust and certainty.

Australia’s policy needs to have a target of 100per cent of those eligible for vaccination to be completed by December through larger, more accessible vaccination centres (eg. drive-through hubs). Everyone returning from overseas should be treated as positive until evidence identifies otherwise (safe quarantine) and quarantine centres similar to Howard Springs should be established near major international hubs.
If you choose not to be vaccinated, you must wear a mask, and restrictions should be placed on people returning from all countries where the risk to Australia is too high. The policy of privatising and medicalising the process by using GPs was ludicrous when there is a shortage of GPs. The focus should have been on nurses giving vaccinations in hubs, which would have resulted in larger numbers in the shortest time.
Anne-Marie Scully, Birregurra

Why expect any different?

Have we all forgotten those women and children, Australian citizens, stranded in squalid refugee camps after the fall of Islamic State, for whom our government assiduously did nothing to help? The leopard does not change its spots.
Kyle Matheson, Mont Albert

School winners and losers

Being very familiar with the independent school system, I understand the reasons why independent schools may wish to provide fee discounts to staff who have children at the school (The Age, 4/5). However, there is one very good reason why they should not – and it is not about the bottom line. You have no children and the staff member sitting next to you has one, two or even three children. It does not take much to deduce that their take-home salary, for the same work expectation, is significantly higher than yours. It is, put very simply, a discriminatory practice.
Rosa Storelli, Fitzroy

Just pay back the cash

I had to laugh when I read that Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey said he would not repay about $20million in government JobKeeper subsidies because it was “a tiny amount of money” (Business, 4/5). Well, if that were the case, you would think he would not have any problems handing it back. It is taxpayers’ money, which could be put to better use.
David O’Reilly, Park Orchards

The forgotten male victims

In “It’s a ‘man’s problem’, so how do we talk to boys about sexual harassment?” (The Age, 4/5), there was no acknowledgment that males can be victims as well as perpetrators, whether by teachers of either gender, predatory men, female bosses and other youths in male settings such as same-sex boarding schools or the military. If many boys adopt the masculine stereotype, imagine the dilemma of shame and image maintenance in the event that such a male is the target of sexual harassment. No wonder we talk of males leading the suicide statistics.
Andrew Trezise, Greensborough

Tackle the root cause

The federal government is going to spend $10billion to set up a reinsurance pool for far north Queensland to reduce the cost of individual premiums (ABC, 4/5). Has anyone in the government asked why premiums have gone up in the past few years? It wouldn’t have anything to do with increasingly severe cyclones and floods as a result of climate change, would it? The government is so desperate to ignore this reality that it comes up with interventionist plans like this, which in other times would be anathema to a Coalition government.
Russell Kealey, Belmont

Right to a full, dignified life

As polio survivors, we at Post Polio Victoria thank Bill Moss – “Call to remove NDIS bias” (News, 4/5). We are acutely aware of the age discrimination against over-65s in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We call for immediate inclusion for fair and equal service for all people with a disability who are aged 65-plus. This would enable them and their families to live full, happy, productive and dignified lives.
Shirley Glance, president, Post Polio Victoria

When will we ever learn?

I support the well-argued view expressed by David Brophy – “We must speak up against war” (Opinion, 5/5) – which I am sure is shared by the majority of Australians. Yes, Australians should not die to protect American interests and aspirations, including dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia has no worthy reason to go to war with any nation. History has proven time and again that following the Americans blindly to war anywhere in the world, let alone China, has negative and calamitous consequences.
Yean Lim, Toorak

Ultimately, we will lose

To join the United States in a war against China would make Australia an obvious first target: China could punish us for being uppity and show the US it was serious. If we survived at all, we might find ourselves in the position of the Uighurs. Diplomacy and quiet disengagement from the Chinese market are our rational options. Yes, we should complain about Chinese human rights abuses but we ought first to fix our own.
Penelope Buckley, Kew East

The diplomatic approach

True leadership and the courage of a nation and its political and military leaders are measured by its capacity for diplomacy and negotiation. Stop with the war-mongering drum beats and rhetoric. Our world is hurting enough already.
Julie Perry, Highton

Why send youth to war?

I do not want my boys fighting a fruitless war against China. Diplomacy over time and voices of reason will resolve this.
Les Silverman, Brighton East

Unis will pay the price

Funding cuts by the Coalition government in the 1990s forced universities to become more and more reliant on overseas students for their financial survival, with by far the two largest cohorts of foreign students coming from China and India. The current government’s unfathomable undiplomatic approach towards China has led to an almost complete breakdown in relations.

Now it is unnecessarily causing damage to relations with India with its policies towards our own citizens of Indian origin. Many potential students will no doubt be having second thoughts about Australia as an education destination. Is the government unable to see the wider picture? Is it just inept? Or does it have a very very cunning plan?
Paul Sands, Sunbury

The crowded curriculum

The school curriculum (Letters, 4/5) is already overcrowded. Teachers are struggling to cover what is expected in the time allocated to them. As a humanities teacher of many years’ experience, I can attest to their frustration.

Take, for example, the year 9 humanities course – one term each for geography, civics and citizenship, economics and Australian history, covering settlement to the end of World War I. Three 48-minute periods a week and four 10-week terms, not including term four when year 9 students finish early. It is not a lot of time to cover the detail that some people are expecting.
Kathy Diviny, Coburg

Cry me a river, Melinda

Multi-billionaire Melinda Gates complains she had to bear the brunt of domestic duties and school runs – “Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce shakes health, philanthropic worlds” (The Age, 5/4). Has she not heard of domestic staff, chauffeurs and au pairs? Please.
Lesley Black, Frankston

I’m ‘ungoing’ to Australia

I got it immediately. Yesterday’s nine-letter word in the Target puzzle was “ungoingly”, a brand new word that describes how our government responds to people in India who wish to return to Australia.
Chris Wilson, Poowong


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

India ban

Normally I have little time for the term “un-Australian”. But in light of the government criminalising Australians attempting to return here, it’s applicable.
Louis Roller, Fitzroy North

When Mark McGowan closed the WA borders to Victorians, was he accused of discrimination?
Robin George, Canterbury

I trust Jenny and the girls are not in India?
Jennifer Barden, Fitzroy North

Please, Jenny, get your husband to read the first page of his passport. Our fellow Australians need your assistance.
Ruth Davis, Carrum

The cricketers stuck in India must be terrified about how and when they will get home.
Nicholas Melaluka, Fairfield

I trust Michael Slater and the cricketers will queue behind the 9000 stranded Australians.
Rob White, South Yarra

Does the government plan to jail returning Indians before or after quarantine?
Gloria Meltzer, Chewton


Dutton is loading up his popgun to teach those pesky Chinese a lesson.
Des Bryceland, Truganina

Mr Dutton, show them how tough you were on those invading boat people and and they’ll back off quick smart.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Has anyone read The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley or seen the film of the same name
Mel Green, Glen Waverley

May I suggest Dutton and Co read Geoffrey Blainey’s The Causes of War. There are lessons for the ages in its pages.
Mark Phillips, Glen Huntly


What an articulate, intelligent column by Cade Lucas (4/5) about Andrew Laming’s ADHD diagnosis (4/5). Best wishes, Cade.
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully

Does the ABC try to see how many injections it can show in one news bulletin?
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine

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