Australia

Australia is in a position to tackle any outbreak

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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DOUBLE DOUGHNUT DAYS

Australia is in a position to tackle any outbreak

Epidemiologist Tony Blakely made some interesting observations on managing the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Comment, 27/11). However, he refers to the ‘‘two determined approaches of different styles’’ taken by Victoria and NSW. I believe the difference was not of style but of circumstance.

In Victoria, and Melbourne particularly, unknown sources rose to be much higher than in NSW. At worst, contact tracing was overwhelmed. In such a circumstance, only approaches which tend to block transmission – such as lockdown, curfew and restrictions on movement – can work. Eventually these actions did reduce unknown as well as known sources, so that a much improved contact tracing system could take over, allowing for ring fencing of outbreaks as in NSW.

However, although known cases in Victoria fell to levels as seen in NSW, unknown cases remained high. This is why Victoria took the additional time for unknown sources to be reduced. Australia is now able to tackle any outbreak, as South Australia has shown. In particular, overseas arrivals can be managed with effective quarantine measures.
Peter Horan, Highton

Congratulations and well done, Victoria

Congratulations to Dan Andrews and his team of advisors for their steadfast adherence to returning Victoria’s second wave to ‘‘Covid Normal’’. All this despite the dog whistling of anti-government protest movements by certain Liberal politicians. The silence of Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenberg on Victoria’s achievement is deafening and may well be remembered at the next federal election.
John Uren, Blackburn

Come on, Premier, ease up a little more

Yesterday Victoria achieved 28 days without a new case of coronavirus. Please, Daniel Andrews, make good your promise to return to ‘‘COVID Normal’’ by lifting restrictions for gatherings, visitors, hospitality and sport. We have played our part, now you must play yours.
Pam Swirski, Berwick

Let common sense prevail with the tennis

What is the down side of missing the Australian Open for a year compared to the downside of a third wave of COVID-19 in Melbourne? We saw how many breaches took place in the AFL season, despite strict protocols and hefty fines. These international tennis players would be coming from parts of the world where COVID-19 is rampant.

Now I read that six members of the Pakistani cricket team have tested positive while they were in managed isolation in Christchurch (The Age, 27/11). Hotel quarantine experience has demonstrated the dangers of over-estimating our ability to isolate this disease. Cancel the Australian Open and come back safe and strong in January 2022 when a vaccine will most likely have been widely disseminated.
Duncan Foster, Maidstone

Don’t mess this up with a quarantine breach

Victoria has done extremely well to achieve zero community cases. But I would have hoped that through all of this we have learned that city hotels are not the place to keep returned travellers. These must be remotely located facilities, such as army barracks, that we can use to genuinely physically isolate people and avoid the inevitable exit of the virus through workers. Of course, the facilities would need to be upgraded to achieve maximum levels of comfort for ‘‘ïnmates’’, but please can we show we have learned from costly experience.
Julian Guy, Mount Eliza

After our long lockdown, let’s celebrate safely

Achieving double zero cases for 28 days and elimination of COVID-19 in the face of constant carping from our state opposition, not to mention the Prime Minister, federal Treasurer and federal Health Minister, is a remarkable achievement. Do you think we could have fireworks to celebrate? Fireworks that are televised and that we can watch from our homes and cafes. Fireworks for everyone in cities, the regions and even the world.
Donna Ward, North Fitzroy

THE FORUM

Mask up indoors, please

Yesterday, with mask on and sanitiser in hand, I tentatively joined a large proportion of the population to do some shopping at Northland. I was horrified to see so many people wearing their masks well below the nose, and sometimes, just around the chin. They may as well not have worn it at all. At least then they would have looked blatantly non-compliant rather than plain stupid. It might be this stupidity that puts us on the back foot once more.
Joy Stapleton, Darraweit Guim

A connection with others

Jessica Irvine writes that the year of the pandemic ‘‘was not without its wins’’ (Comment, 25/11). In recent years I have had my own ‘‘lockdown’’ due to ill health and recovery after hospital. I was often sad and lonely and felt neglected. However, when everyone else found themselves in this situation, empathy was everywhere.

Passers-by paused to say ‘‘hello’’ or ‘‘how are you?’’ when I was outside tending my garden. There were friendly phone calls and emails. When I went to buy food, people nodded or had a brief word. Simple things enrich our lives. This week I watched my grandson’s year 6 graduation night (on Zoom). Time and again those lovely young people commented on how they had learnt to be kind to others.
Evelyn Lawson, Karingal

West, overlooked again

Many people are applauding the Andrews government for its budget and handling of the pandemic. However, it has failed the west. It passed legislation during the pandemic to allow the toxic soil from the Westgate Tunnel Project to be dumped 200 metres from schools, homes and market gardens. The government says PFAS levels are expected to be low but refuses to release the results of the soil tests. It has also failed to deliver on the Melton hospital and Western Rail Plan. Give credit where it is due but please do not turn a blind eye to the failures.
Catherine Abrahams, Darley

The haves and have nots

Businesses were quick to voice their disapproval at the proposed payment of sick leave to casual workers. This is in complete contrast to their silence when the Coalition government reduced penalty rates to the lowest-paid, most vulnerable workers. As long as the rich get richer, fairness is out the window.
John Nash, Altona

Misplaced priorities

While Tim Pallas and Dan Andrews are busy patting themselves on the back on their plan to spend $49billion in coming years, key targets are being missed to improve the education of Aboriginal students (The Age, 26/11). I will take improving the lives of Aboriginal people over a massive road any day. Rethink your priorities, Labor.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills

Desperately seeking help

Scott Morrison, I have applied for the highly prestigious and globally influential position of Santa’s logistics manager at the North Pole. I need to grovel to his senior elves in Paris, London, Tokyo, New York and Monaco to get them to support my bid. Can I please borrow an RAAF jet for a month, as I am currently on JobSeeker and cannot afford the airfares – and I do not want to get sick with the coronavirus.
John Laurie, Newport

Doctrinal gobbledegook

Mike Smith (Letters, 26/11) is right that VCE literature now fosters ‘‘abstruse, often desiccated perspectives on texts before students have even developed their own interpretations’’.

Each year the examiners put out a report, including sample essay answers by the previous year’s students, for schools. Last year’s sample answers included such doctrinal gems as, on Virginia Woolf, ‘‘functions as a symbol for toxic masculinity and its dominating influence in a society founded on male supremacy’’. On the wonderful Sylvia Plath, the impenetrable ‘‘the poetic voice oscillating between a critique of cultural scripts for womanhood and a paradoxical desire to conform to the reified domestic idyll’’.

I, a first class honours graduate and long-time VCE literature examiner, can glean not one single thing about the poetry from this, but an awful lot about the doctrine. All I see is sharp minds being perverted by orthodoxy. The instruction to say what you mean is out the window. I recommend students choose VCE English to retain their sanity.
Robin Rattray-Wood, Rosanna

Try an informed debate

Surely there is someone informed and capable enough in Australian academia to present a rebuttal to Jordan Peterson’s controversial views (The Age, 27/11) in a dissertation. It seems to me the approach of ‘‘call him out’’ or silence him, as expressed by many critics, is a mirror image of conservative politicians led by Tony Abbott to close down Julia Gillard. The clamour they created for her to be silenced and not enjoin with her in informed debate was ugly. Peterson’s critics are acting in much the same way.
Des Files, Brunswick

Trauma, death, misery

Mark Wales’ article (Comment, 25/11) was succinct and powerful, not just in depicting his experience as a former SAS officer but also in his analysis of military and civilian responsibility: ‘‘The decision makers that greenlighted this mess of a war, year after year, are just as culpable’’ as the alleged rogue soldiers. His call to ‘‘let our elected officials, and the public, debate our decision to send troops to war’’ makes sense and is long overdue.

Australia engaged in war in Iraq and Afghanistan to please the United States. There was no support from the United Nations, no planned end game, and both interventions resulted in trauma, destruction, death and misery. As a long-time activist for peace, I applaud Wales’ call that future decisions to engage in war be debated and decided by Parliament.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North

Irrelevant non-voters

Dino Bressan says that ‘‘since only about two-thirds of eligible voters cast their ballots (in the US), it could be truthfully stated that neither candidate obtained a clear majority, and that both the winner and loser represent a minority of the total electorate’’ (Letters, 26/11). In a ‘‘first past the post’’ election, the winning candidate is the one who receives the most valid votes. In this case, it is Joe Biden. Anyone who chooses not to exercise their right to vote, regardless of whether voting is compulsory or not, is surely irrelevant to the outcome.
Ian Panther, North Ringwood

Thanksgiving? So what?

As much as I enjoy The Age’s cartoons, can someone please explain why we were wished a safe and happy Thanksgiving by Wizard of Id creators, Brant Parker and Johnny Hart. We are not the US. This holiday bears no relevance to our history.
Jennah Rose, Donvale

Stranger than fiction

Spike Milligan would have wryly smiled at your story – ‘‘Gymnast jumps to freedom’’ (World, 26/11) – about a North Korean man who escaped to South Korea by swinging himself over the border barricades without triggering the sensors. In the 1970s, when Berlin was split by the wall, Spike famously joked: ‘‘The world pole vault record was beaten by a German man today. The man, formerly of East Germany, now lives in West Germany’’. Art becomes reality. Vale Spike.
Keith Fagg, Rippleside

Hope and optimism

From ‘‘Reclaim the Night’’ (June) to ‘‘Bucket List’’ (October) and ‘‘Mr Curly’s Wandering Day Map’’ (November), Michael Leunig’s 2020 calendar got to the heart of things, inspiring hope, optimism and a sense of humour. From his 2021 edition, it appears we are in for more colour, contemplation and cups of tea. Bravo Leunig.
Patricia Cameron-Hill, Mount Macedon

Correction: A letter published yesterday said Mathias Cormann, who hopes to become the next secretary-general of the OECD, wanted to ‘‘supplement his parliamentary pension with another job’’. However, he was elected to federal Parliament in 2007, three years after the Parliamentary pension scheme was abolished in 2004.

AND ANOTHER THING

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Cormann

RAAF jets have become the government’s taxi service. Use them to bring home stranded Australians.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill

As finance minister, he would never have approved the RAAF rort that he is now enjoying.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Yet another OECD (Overly Expensive Coalition Deal).
Bill Keneley, Grasmere

Cormann’s European job search is costing us the equivalent of one Cartier watch for every hour he flies. Why is ScoMo not outraged?
Michelle Leeder, Seddon

Politics

China wants to play strip poker, with Australia doing all the stripping.
Jerry Koliha, South Melbourne

If Morrison wears our flag upside down, could he stand on his head while addressing the nation?
Greg Lee, Red Hill

Donald, if you’re looking for somewhere to hide from the law after January 20, the Equadorean embassy has a vacancy.
Bill Trestrail, St Kilda

Jon Faine (26/11), thanks for reminding us of the growing list of federal ministers’ misdemeanours, with none being held to account.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen

Furthermore

Whistleblower David McBride deserves a medal, not prosecution and possibly life imprisonment.
Gill Riley, Doncaster East

Yikes! Someone spilled yellow paint over pages two and three of my Age (27/11).
Mike Puleston, Brunswick

Barry O’Neill (27/11), Puffing Billy has started again, Friday to Sunday, and then daily from mid-December.
Andrew Webster, Fitzroy North

Once upon a time it was Teflon Howard. Now ‘‘our Glad’’ has that honour. Whatever happened to three strikes and you’re out?
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

I trust Diego ‘‘hand of God’’ Maradona says ‘‘thank you’’when he gets to the Pearly Gates.
Bill Pell, Emerald

Note from the Editor

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