Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
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Simple safety steps to protect the community
After being vigilant since COVID-19 hit our shores, and also “quadrupled vaxxed”, I contracted it a few days ago following a “special occasion” lunch with seven others at a fine diner. All of us started to become unwell at the same time. None of us had contracted COVID-19 before and were healthy on the day. The only reasonable conclusion is that we all became infected at this lunch.
The restaurant was not busy and no other patrons were seated between us and the kitchen. The service was very professional but only one of the waiters wore a mask. Leaning over our heads and near our faces, delivering and collecting plates, it seems likely that the unmasked waiter was the transmitter, according to one of our group, a very experienced GP. Or possibly one of the kitchen staff, unmasked and contagious, coughed or sneezed proximate to our meals before they were placed in front of us.
The lesson is that people need to get out of their cone of complacency and take basic, easy precautions like masking, hand sanitising and distancing. Not only will it help us stay well, it will help protect the more vulnerable at greater risk of hospitalisation or death, as well as our health system which is under so much pressure.
For those who want to put the economy first, such precautions will decrease workplace absences and losses. They will also provide financial benefits to industries, such as retail and hospitality, which are suffering from low customer numbers due to justified concerns about getting COVID-19 at venues where people congregate.
Wake up, Australia. Everyone from the top down in government or business, in public or private life, needs to prioritise taking these simple, safety measures.
Cheri Lee, Brunswick East
The risk that ‘living it’ will be a roll of the dice
I retired from teaching at the end of last year, but returned to fill one of the many gaps left due to teacher burnout and illness when my school contacted me at the start of term three.
I was concerned about the current waves of COVID-19 infection but since I am fully vaccinated, I resolved to wear a mask at all times and asked students to do so as well. While many “wore” masks following the state government’s request, this was – as always with teenagers – haphazard. I lasted a week and then came down with COVID-19 (the first time I have had it).
In my view, the only way to “live with COVID-19″ is to recognise that this does not, and cannot, mean returning to the “old ways”. It is a new environment. Until all leaders (in political and educational arenas) accept this and lead us, especially students, to accept the responsibility to keep ourselves and our fellows safe, “living with it” will be a roll of the dice.
David Baxter, Mornington
Tough rules are no longer politically ’convenient’
After living in something of a “police state” for a couple of years, the state government’s sudden soft tone on mask-wearing has a deafening electoral convenience about it.
I was on a tram the other day where a civilian was stomping around and hassling kids to put on their masks. Does a tired and spooked populace really need to put up with such harassment?
Let’s have some clarity on this matter from a government which – back when it was at a safe social distance from polling day – thought nothing of sticking its nose into everyone’s business on a daily basis.
John Skaro, Malvern
The media’s duty to update us on all the cases
We sat in the car park at Bendigo market place and watched people go in. Thirty entered without masks before the first masked shopper was seen, and he was wearing one that let air in and out at the sides.
Because much of the media no longer publishes figures of new and active cases of the virus, people think there is no longer a problem. If these figures were prominently displayed daily, surely people would be startled into wearing masks – but then shoppers might stay at home and this would be a problem for retailers. A difficult situation for the authorities.
Anna Summerfield, Bendigo
Put our citizens first
Cara Waters’ article on the slow release of land by developers (The Age, 26/7) helps explain why Australia has the second most unaffordable housing in the world after Hong Kong.
The first lesson in economics is that price depends on supply and demand. The supply of land is controlled by these developers.
Reportedly 10per cent of houses in Australia are empty and a walk around any neighbourhood will show why – houses bought by overseas “investors” either sitting empty or with a house sitter, with the investor having significant capital gains in recent years.
It would be “nice” if our governments looked after their citizens rather than developers and investors.
John Meaney, Frankston South
A lesson from the past
It was 1954: there was foot and mouth disease in the Netherlands and our family was scheduled to migrate to Australia. We were travelling by ship and had been told some weeks before to send all our footwear, except for one pair, to the ship’s company so that it could be thoroughly disinfected.
On the day of departure, at the foot of the gangway, we were lifted up by burly sailors and the soles of our shoes were rinsed off with disinfectant liquid. Once on board, we found the bag containing our disinfected shoes waiting for us in the centre of our cabin. We had kept Australia safe.
Janna McCurdy-Hilbrink, Northcote
The excuses don’t wash
To the member for Cook: “Where the bloody hell are you?” How can Scott Morrison justify being absent from parliament? The people of his electorate deserve to know why they are not being represented.
This is more hypocrisy from Morrison. Last week he told people that governments cannot be trusted, this week he is not showing up as an elected MP. He shows no respect for government (and election result?) and no respect for his constituents
Michaelia Cash said on Radio National, “I’m not aware of the circumstances, so I can’t comment on it”. Pull the other one. Perhaps Morrison is busy pursuing his god’s plan for him.
Lesley Hardcastle, Ashburton
Copping a fair punishment
One hopes that former prime minister Scott Morrison gets detention for wagging parliament, as well as 1000 lines. “I am here to represent those who voted for me, not to pursue personal gain.“
Tom Stafford, Wheelers Hill
Scraping for a living and …
I was enraged to read Dr Cathy Humphrey’s courageous comments (Letters, 26/). How can we still be allowing our best and brightest young academics, many with gruelling experience at the coal face, continue to beg for a living, for decades?
I have watched countless researchers, the majority women, spend nights and weekends working up countless grant applications while they toil away on their bread-and-butter jobs. God help them if, in this process, they choose to have a child or two and really lose any position in the pecking order of a “real job”.
No wonder so many are forced to find other jobs, leaving society the poorer for the loss of skills honed over years. I am tired of seeing talented people, mainly women, working in social welfare and in sciences scrape and bow in an antiquated system. The Australian Research Council should be ashamed of this punitive track record.
Coleen Clare, Northcote
… grovelling for grants
It is staggering how failed or former politicos are given long-tenure, highly paid appointments to statutory bodies and commissions (sometimes without relevant qualifications or experience) when highly qualified, experienced and dedicated people such as research scientists have to grovel for grants and do not have security of employment. I would pay the scientists any day before the politicos, particularly as they do stuff that is actually useful.
Rick Whitelaw, Anglesea
I guess it has been lucky so far that the seven Manly Sea Eagles players who hold deeply personal religious convictions have been able to overlook adulterers, idolators, revellers, drunkards and gamblers (thou should not covet money) in their own teams and have still been able to play on the Sabbath whilst wearing a jersey emblazoned with gambling logos.
Brent Baigent, Richmond
Double standards on pics
Two great photos. Two wonderful high kicks. Two AFL footballers at the peak of their powers in Jamie Elliott (The Age, 25/7) and Tayla Harris in 2019. Two different sets of reactions to the photos. Conclusion?
Anthony Clifford, Wendouree
Offensive and sexist
How you could publish a letter which reinforces and perpetuates “gender wars” when we are trying to bring all genders together in respectful, change-embracing way bewilders me (Letters, 25/7).
Your correspondent supports commentary made by Monique Ryan where she and her team vilify a group of older men in her electorate (Good Weekend, 23/7).
“Gooms” (Grumpy Obnoxious Old Men) is ageist, sexist and ignorant that older men have the highest percentage per capita of taking their own lives in our society. When did division and sledging ever bring a more civil, respectful society ? Let alone from a new MP who stood on a platform of bringing a new civility to politics? And as an older woman in Kooyong, your correspondent doesn’t speak for me.
Diana Yallop, Surrey Hills
Is federal Labor really the breath of fresh air it promised to be? Surely now is the time for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to acknowledge the importance of whistleblowers in exposing corruption in government bodies, and drop the ludicrous court cases against Richard Boyle (who revealed alleged unethical practices at the Tax Office) and David McBride (who spoke up about alleged war crimes in Afghanistan).
Clay Douglass, Daylesford
Benefits of free trams
Re “Why the free tram zone needs to be cancelled” (The Age, 26/7). Daniel Bowen makes some good points, but fails to acknowledge a key segment of those of us who work in the city who benefit from the free trams – cyclists.
It is an incentive for us to not drive in but continue cycling when we know we can then move around the CBD for free, frequenting retailers right across the city (and so also benefiting those businesses). Not to mention the number of tourists who have mentioned to me over the years how attractive these trams makes Melbourne to visit.
I wonder if Bowen has used the free trams recently. I have not experienced overcrowding on a free (or paid) tram in a very long time thanks to COVID-19.
Andrew Laird, Malvern
Equal space for all of us
As the population of our inner suburbs grows, battles for a fair allocation of space are intensifying. The land area which is available to car drivers in our cities is huge. People who like kicking or hitting balls long distances can command many hectares of land for their sport.
Then there are those who are more efficient in their use of land – people who walk, cycle, picnic, etc. Their numbers are growing and they want a bit more land, be it bike lanes, wider footpaths or beautiful, natural spaces. And those who have traditionally taken up a lot of space – drivers, golfers, etc – are fighting back. Somehow I feel these battles are not going away.
Andrea Bunting, Brunswick
A true revolutionary
“Elon Musk has turned into a liability for Tesla” (The Age, 26/7) focuses on the financial and managerial, and completely misses the importance of Musk. He is a true revolutionary of design and method. It is difficult to overstate his importance in these areas.
Yes, it is obvious he has quirks and failings just as it is obvious he now has serious competition in a car market he almost single-handedly created. The Musks and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the world will forever be scorned by their dutifully competent but ordinary contemporaries. History and the benefiting public will continue to see things otherwise.
Mark Freeman, Macleod
A sign of our times
Jim Pilmer (Letters, 25/7) quotes a report from a television journalist, who said: “The injured driver was taken to hospital where he is in a stable. Condition.” Pilmer may have heard correctly. With the shortage of hospital beds, the injured driver may be in the stable.
Catherine Healy, Brighton
Travesty to environment
I find it very confusing that there are so many articles about the destruction of habitats and loss of endangered species, yet at the same time central Victoria is fighting the state government and Ausnet’s plans to cut down a corridor of over 150,000 eucalypts which support those very vulnerable species. This is part of the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project.]
Melbourne is being sold this project as “green” but it is a travesty to the environment and an indictment of the current poor planning for sustainable energy which is hidden behind mischievous, misleading rhetoric.
Why is our state environment minister missing from our community discussions? We need her to engage with us. Above-ground transmission lines negate the green energy that the renewables create.
Moira Smith, Darley
Nothing really changes
A couple of months into office and Labor moves to emasculate the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s regulation of union militancy within the industry (The Age, 25/7). How predictable. Same old Labor.
Martin Newington, Aspendale
Why am I not surprised?
Developers doing the wrong thing by land banking. Who would have thought these upright citizens would do something like that?
Shane Gunn, Heathcote Junction
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Scott to meet former political leaders in Tokyo? I thought he said you can’t trust governments. Is there a dollar in it?
Graham Fetherstonhaugh, Carlton North
If Morrison feels such contempt for parliament, perhaps he should consider a new vocation.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
So much for the electorate of Cook having a representative in parliament this week.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
Parliament opens and Scotty from marketing does a runner. Again.
Ken Rivett, Ferntree Gully
How encouraging that legislation relating to aged care, a key election promise, will be introduced into the new parliament.
Glenda Addicott, Ringwood East
Has anyone put Andrews on the endangered mammals list? Once ubiquitous, now rarely sighted.
Pete Sands, Monbulk
The Colliwobbles are back – only now they are affecting every team that Collingwood plays.
Howard Marosi, North Carlton
Forget the initial head-high tackle. It’s the dangerously prolonged and forceful stranglehold that should be subject to scrutiny.
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale
Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi, oi, oi. With a little less effort, we can go from bronze to gold in COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 of population.
Marilyn Mackenzie, Lorne
On Monday, ABC Classic played carols for “Christmas in July”. Some listeners complained. Why? The ABC was only just ahead of the shops when it comes to Christmas.
Ray Way, Blackburn South
Splendour in the grass? Depends on its THC strength.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East
When the RBA lifts interest rates, the banks pass them on with greased lightning. As for accounts which earn interest for customers, banks aren’t so keen.
Doug Springall, Yarragon
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