Australia

Virus suppression task raises dilemma over toll

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

Nick Coatsworth makes an irrefutable case for aggressive suppression as our best strategy to combat COVID-19 ("'Aggressive suppression' is working", July 16). But he appears reluctant to accept that the goal of that strategy should be local elimination. I fear aggressive suppression without the clear goal of local elimination has allowed leaders to relax restrictions prematurely, resulting in unnecessary deaths and an increased probability of subsequent breakouts. In NSW, the Premier now deems local elimination impossible but will not reveal the number of deaths per month that she would regard to be an acceptable target. If Taiwan, Vietnam and New Zealand can achieve local elimination, surely Australia can too? Michael Britt, MacMasters Beach

Aggressive suppression may work for some, but it's not working for me or the rest of the arts community. I'm a classical harpist, and I was surprised and delighted to hear my colleagues in the Auckland Philharmonic are playing again with audiences present. Australian orchestras are not performing, and if they were, the largely older audience would be taking a risk by attending. With the current strategy, there is no end in sight for either the arts community or audiences. Perhaps we need the visionary leadership of New Zealand. Owen Torr, Redfern

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Suppression might be expedient but it is not the answer in the long run. The last few weeks have shown that we are not too good at taking personal responsibility, which seems to be the only suggestion from the NSW Premier.
We missed the best opportunity to eliminate the virus by lifting restrictions too early and not closing the Victorian border promptly, but it is a goal that surely is still worth pursuing. The goal of elimination still looks like a better option than risking the serious health, ongoing economic and psychological damage from repeatedly having to put out potentially uncontrollable spot fires – quite apart from the morality of the implicit loss of life that suppression seems to involve. Jane McGregor, Byron Bay

It seems clear the majority of local transmissions over the past two weeks started in pubs, clubs and the casino ("Shutdown fears as pubs struggle to conform", July 16). Why does there appear to be a reluctance on the part of the NSW government to shut down these venues completely and not just limit their numbers? Is the government reluctant to upset the powerful pub and club lobby groups, or is it because they are relying on the revenue they get from the gambling that takes place at these venues? Mary Lawson, Marrickville

We should be proud to hear of the "extraordinary" survival rates of patients admitted to intensive care in Australia ("ICUs deliver prodigious survival rate", July 15). But this good news does not speak to the often prolonged period of recovery and rehabilitation necessary or the likelihood of permanent disability arising from the chronic after-effects from this infection. It is now well recognised that, rather than a disease of the lungs, this is a systemic disease that affects blood vessels and organs throughout the body. Tuly Rosenfeld, Randwick

COVID-19 has become the beneficiary of self-regulation and, once again, citizens are the victims. Jill Phillips, Ettalong Beach

Keep Queen for ceremony only

There is one clear takeaway from the publication of the Palace letters — the governor-general should be appointed by and answerable to Parliament (Letters, July 16). If this had been the case in 1975, John Kerr could have confidently told Gough Whitlam that he would face dismissal if he didn't resolve the crisis or call an election. Any link Australia has with the monarchy must be purely ceremonial. Warwick Joseph, Lindfield

The letters do not answer the greatest mystery about Kerr's action — why did he do it? Kerr was a Labor man, appointed by Whitlam. He must have known the election which he required Fraser to supervise would go badly for Labor. If he left the resolution of the crisis to the politicians, they would have sorted it out. Was it Kerr's pride in his position that caused him to act, without telling anyone? John Miller, Coogee

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

I don't understand why the 1975 dismissal is characterised as a constitutional crisis. The appointment of Malcolm Fraser as PM was on the condition that he would hold new elections. The election was held on December 13, 1975, so an unelected caretaker government was in power for just 32 days. On that occasion, as on so many others, the electorate did not "maintain its rage". John Roseth, Mosman

As a republican, I cannot support the on-going criticism of Kerr and the monarchy. If we were all so appalled by the dismissal of Whitlam, why didn't we vote him back in? Instead, the public voted for Fraser with a massive majority. Democracy was served. Clive Hughes, Freshwater

The most disturbing fact about Kerr's correspondence is what was not said. He was never reminded of his duty to maintain dialogue with the country's elected leader and its attorney-general, which amounted to tacit acceptance of his skulduggery with the opposition leader. Tom Orren, Wamberal Heights

People who don't understand the system cry out for change that could leave us in a much worse position. I'd rather have the Queen as head of state than someone like Donald Trump. William Lloyd, Denistone

I can't wait for Sir John Kerr the musical. Ingrid Haydon, Long Jetty

Once limitations on meeting sizes are lifted, could I suggest that all of the dismissal whingers and the Kiwis still whining about the underarm incident get together for a weekend and complain to each other until they're over it. I recently emotionally let go of Balmain's disgraceful cheating against Souths in the 1969 grand final and I really feel better for it. Matt Petersen, Randwick

JobTrainer, ignoring TAFE, will fail

It is unfathomable that the federal government can announce the new $500 million JobTrainer scheme and neglect to mention TAFE, the exemplar public provider of vocational education and training ("$2b skills fund to fight off recession", July 16). If this scheme is to feed taxpayers' money to disreputable, for profit, private providers, it will be certain to fail both the students and the community. Mark Berg, Caringbah South

There is not much information about who will be providing the training in JobTrainer. Will it be TAFE, which needs to be expanded and revitalised after the decimation of the last decade, or back to the dodgy brothers vocational providers who ripped off students and taxpayers? Deb McPherson, Gerringong

Uni cuts start to bite

The shameful and inexplicable federal government policy of excluding universities from the JobKeeper program is seriously starting to bite ("UNSW to cut 493 staff and merge faculties under COVID-19 response plan", July 16). The nearly 500 jobs lost at the University of NSW come on top of the previous sacking of all casual and sessional staff, which many would argue form the backbone of much of the teaching within the university. Even the United States has not cut the heart out of the tertiary education sector during the pandemic. It is not a huge mind stretch to understand that universities provide vision, leadership, guidance and even prosperity as the country works toward recovery. This government lacks all wisdom and imagination. Josie McSkimming, Coogee

Clean trains, no commuters

To all those edgy commuters out there, I have used the trains just twice since March ("Long journey back for edgy commuters", July 16). Both times, the trains have been absolutely spotless so apart from the lack of commuters it has been a pleasure to sit in such a clean environment. Today's trip included a young man who came through the carriages and cleaned all hand-rails. Great work Transport NSW; it is a credit to your cleaners. Wendy Cousins, Balgownie

Camellia hopes wilt

Decisions relating to Parramatta should not be made by those with little or no connection to the area ("Desperate plea for extra metro station", July 15). No station for Camellia – it will take too long to get to the CBD. I do not advocate this but if all that is required was speed, cut out Strathfield, Burwood, Five Dock, the Bays Precinct and Pyrmont. The idea of a transport system is to serve the people living and working in the area. With no Rydalmere station, at least the students at Western Sydney University could walk from Camellia – it is no further than from Redfern to Sydney. Parramatta has been plagued by decisions made by the state government. Finbar O'Donoghue, Telopea

There are times when our state government completely baffles me and this is one of those times. The lord mayor of Parramatta wants an extra station to be built at Camellia, as he believes that it will be a significant industrial and residential growth centre in the future. The government, via Transport Minister Andrew Constance, says that it will not be built "because of contamination and flooding challenges". As far as I can tell, there are two inconsistencies with that excuse: firstly, there is already a heavy rail station at Camellia and secondly, flooding challenges don't seem to bother them when it comes to a heavily commercialised poor imitation of a Powerhouse museum. Why does this government continue to treat us all as complete fools? Brian Pymont, Frenchs Forest

States of conceit

Tory voters in the UK are ripping up face masks and party membership cards ("Push to extend mask rules", July 16). US President Donald Trump largely refuses to wear a face mask. He is trying to show Americans that he is "tough", and believes his own rhetoric on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Many Republicans slavishly follow Trump's example. Some Republicans believe that the pandemic is a hoax. Many Australians also think that wearing a face mask is an imposition and a denial of their personal liberty. What is it about conservative voters worldwide? How can they deny reality? Apparently, it is one law for them, and another for the rest. For them, their rights are more important than other people's rights to avoid infection and death. Geoff Black, Caves Beach

Has anyone tried turning the United States off, and then back on again? Ian McNeilly, Darlinghurst

Trauma trigger

The effects on the brain and mental health of people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder worsens as they relive and have nightmares about their experience (Letters, July 16). Future traumatic events or depicted events can compound their PTSD, often leading to suicide. Wasting money making the war memorial bigger to house more memories of horrific events, will be detrimental not only for our servicemen and women but for our emergency personnel and anyone who has suffered or witnessed traumatic events. Nearly $500 million would be better spent on research and treatment of PTSD. Preventing its devastating effects and suicides is critical. Rob Wansbrough, West Pennant Hills

Setting the a-gender

I note that, with the recent leadership change in the New Zealand opposition, that country now has, for the second time in its history, females serving as prime minister, governor-general, leader of the opposition and chief justice, at the same time ("NZ Opposition Leader announces shock resignation", smh.com.au, July 16). Whereas here, I don't think we've ever had a female leader of the opposition, and the others only once – and then not at the same time. Once again, our neighbours across the ditch show us how it should be done. Jim Catt, Currimundi (QLD)

Exchange of views

On the contrary, I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion, if they have facts and evidence to back up that opinion (Letters, July 16). And as for automatically respecting the opinion of others; if someone opines that it is OK to drive a car with unsecured infants as passengers, definitely no respect from me. Graham Fazio, Old Bar

When it comes to the issue of free speech I have always lived by the motto that everyone is entitled to my opinion. Phil Peak, Dubbo

Name and shame

Oh dear! I guess it was inevitable that my name eventually joined the list (Letters, July 16). The cause of cringeworthy embarrassment over the years when viewing some of those soapies. Cheryl Wilson, Crows Nest

I empathise with all the Sharons, Karens and Cheryls of the world, but try living with Jane. If I had a dollar for every reference I've ever heard to plain or Tarzan, I'd be a wealthy woman. But as the bard says, and as we all know, "a rose by any other name ...". Jane Dargaville, Camperdown

Rob may not be regarded as sexy these days but I am forever grateful my mother didn't go for her first choice of Ricky. I could never have lived with the assonance. Robert Hickey, Green Point

At the moment I wouldn't mind being a Karen, Sharon, Joan or a Jan. Ghislaine Williams, Kirrawee

In reply to Allan Gibson of Cherrybrook and John Bunyan of Campbelltown, my name is Allan John Gibson of Wahroonga. Allan Gibson, Wahroonga

Let's not forget Bazza. He knew how to sink a slab of Fosters in one sitting (in economy). John Swanton, Coogee

Les, we forget. Al Wetten, Scarborough

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