Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Around the world people ask: “Can we get home?”
My partner and I came to Ghana in 2019 for family reasons. Five months after we arrived, COVID-19 struck and Scott Morrison told us to shelter in place if we could. We did. Since then, for 16 months, we have asked the same question (along with tens of thousands of others) every day: Can we get home?
We are fully vaccinated. We have an overpriced, supposedly “confirmed” flight booking for mid-July. Meanwhile, our various governments maintain the hubris to try to one-up each other with half-truths and hypocrisy, hour by precious hour — all while people’s lives and livelihoods, their sanity and sense, both at home and abroad, are kicked around like a footy before a mainly unmasked and unvaccinated Australian crowd. Can we get home? I think we already know the answer.
Georgina Laidlaw, Old Bortianor, Ghana
Accepting a small risk for the greater good
As a doctor, I understand the reasons for recently changing advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and various governments regarding vaccination with the AstraZeneca. As a citizen, I am incredibly disappointed by the apparent basis for this – consideration primarily, if not exclusively, of the risk-benefit for individuals.
All vaccines carry risks of side effects, which can sometimes be serious. Whatever happened to the principle of encouraging publicly minded adults to consider accepting some small vaccine-related risk in exchange for a benefit to parents, grandparents, the immunocompromised, the economy and the date when restrictions can ease? If we only undertook activities which are of personal benefit, would we have a blood donation system?
Dr Ian Millar, Glen Iris
Cutting arrivals will bring pain to many, Premier
Daniel Andrews, imagine your daughter (Australian-born) is older, partnered, with two sons (Australians also) and lives in the UK. They have not seen their Australian family since January 2019. Finally, they are on an aeroplane in August, ready for two weeks quarantine to relocate home. Both parents are fully vaccinated. But no, your government proposes to reduce international arrivals by 75 to 80per cent (The Age, 1/7). Will your beloved daughter’s and family’s hopes be dashed yet again after waiting so long? This is our family situation.
Geraldine O’Sullivan, Hawthorn
Yet more grist to the mill for the anti-vaxxers
An excellent article by Waleed Aly – “No immunity to reckless politics” (Opinion, 2/7) – which exposes the hypocrisy and hysteria from the Queensland government, and the huge boost it gives to anti-vaxxers.
Many under 40s and 50s had the AstraZeneca vaccine, ranging across healthcare, emergency services and others in priority queues, prior to the guidelines changing. We are safely fully vaccinated and happy to be so. The Queensland government will have no one but itself to blame if it has increased hesitancy in its state. Thank you, Victoria, for taking a more reasoned approach.
Kirsty Page, Ivanhoe
Set a target to open borders and end restrictions
The UK is looking forward to opening up later this month, with 90per cent of all adults expected to have received at least one vaccine dose (World, 2/7). While daily new cases still exceed 20,000, the number of serious illnesses and deaths is now comparable to a bad strain of the flu. This – and not suppression via closed borders, restrictions, and intermittent lockdowns – is what the future living with COVID-19 looks like.
Yet Australia still has no plan or timetable to get us to this future. We should have an aggressive, but achievable, target date for reopening of international borders and an end to all restrictions. The vaccine rollout should be managed to ensure that everyone who wants it can be immunised before this date. Why does the Morrison government have no desire to set such targets?
Mark Summerfield, Northcote
Bring the GPs together
COVID-19 Taskforce Commander Lieutenant-General John Frewen will get a surprise when he finds out that he has no divisions to command.
The 120 or so Divisions of General Practice, drawing together every Australian GP, practice nurse and manager, have been disbanded. These highly motivated, highly skilled and competent organisations would have got the entire community through this pandemic on the trot.
Divisions achieved astounding results that led the health system through major technological and standards change in health care. Scott Morrison says “speak to your GP”. If you want troops, get us GPs back together. It has never been more important for our future wellbeing and economy.
Dr Dennis Gration, Belgrave
Pressure on workers
The Australian government is mandating for residential aged care workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by September. Health authorities have warned against the AstraZeneca vaccine for under-60s. Many residential aged care workers are culturally and linguistically diverse and/or low skilled.
They receive low incomes and take care of most of our parents, ourselves one day.
There are limited Pfizer vaccines available. Will it be prioritised for these workers? Will they keep their jobs if they are unable to receive their vaccine of choice by September?
Lara Lau, East Bentleigh
A history of hotel leaks
Burnet Institute epidemiologist Mike Toole says Daniel Andrews’ plan to restrict arrivals amounts to “putting our hands up and giving up” on making hotel quarantine safe (The Age, 2/7). According to Professor Toole, “we can do better” in hotel quarantine, not limit overseas arrivals.
Victoria has had a number of lockdowns due directly to failures in hotel quarantine. If we were going to “do better” at it, we would have done so by now. According to Professor Toole’s own calculations, there have been 23 hotel quarantine leaks since November – about one every 10 days. Are these the kind of statistics designed to fill me with confidence that the system works?
Justin Shaw, Ringwood East
Stop the polarisation
It is with increasing disquiet that I watch the polarisation of Australians in regard to people returning from overseas. Many people live by travelling for work, including contract work, and it happens around the globe. There are many reasons people travel and in a pandemic some reasons will be more sound than others. By all means restrict the returning traveller caps if that is a sound risk-mitigation strategy, but for some Australians to demonise people because they do not live and work the way they do is straight out wrong.
Joanna Wriedt, Eaglemont
Try a public servant
I have seen little comment on the fact that a lieutenant-general has been appointed to oversee the distribution of vaccines. Does this indicate that there is no civilian public servant capable of this task, or have we now a situation that the states need the authority of the armed forces to back up decisions made by a federal authority?
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine
The cynic in me wonders that whenever the pandemic subsides, will the anti-maskers start wearing masks as a right to protest that these are no longer obligatory. Probably.
Keith White, Red Hill South
Architect of Iraq war
So Donald Rumsfeld has died (World, 2/7). He was one of at least a trio of guilty men responsible for dragging us into a war which was not necessary. Our then prime minister, John Howard, the deputy sheriff, is another one of the guilty men.
Geoff Charles, Mount Waverley
Pot, kettle, black, China
China will not be bullied, says President Xi Jinping on the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party (World, 2/7). A little bit of a contradiction I would think. Beijing is the bully-in-chief. There are enough examples the world over and one very close to home.
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont
Power of the party
When Xi Jinping announced that the Chinese Communist Party had changed the world, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. A glance at the nightly news, with the pandemic in its second year, provides ample proof of his truth, but not in the way he meant.
And, no, that is not an indictment of Chinese people who have no choice but to tow the party line in a repressive regime re: the Hong Kong pro-democracy group now in prison and the brave doctor daring to alert authorities (busy with the usual communist cover-up) to a new virus in 2019 who was promptly silenced and paid with his life.
Anna Lord, Croydon
As a Collingwood member, I take this rare opportunity of applauding Carlton for its vigorous support of Indigenous player Zac Williams due to the damaging racial abuse against him.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool
A duty to pay up
I am surprised and delighted that the billion-dollar cleanup costs for the Northern Endeavour oil and gas rig will be paid for by a levy across Australian offshore petroleum companies. (The Age, 29/6).
Governments past and present have been overly generous to the likes of Shell, Woodside and Chevron, and no doubt others. Now listen to the industry spokesperson squealing about having to pay, after the massive profits they took in past decades.
The imbroglio over our government’s behaviour regarding Timor’s oil and gas reserves, and the ongoing legal gymnastics to cover it up, serves to demonstrate the extent to which we went to serve these multinationals. The greed, selfishness and hypocrisy are nothing short of breathtaking.
John Marks, Werribee
Dare we risk using it?
Pauline Charleston (Letters, 1/7) was looking for a suitably sexist crossword clue and I came up with “sugar daddy” but it’s all a bit syrupy and salacious. And risky.
Clyde Ronan, Yarrawonga
Flawed moral philosophy
Jessica Irvine’s lament about the decline in school students taking economics (Opinion, 1/7) misses the point. For the past 30years at least, the discipline has been dominated by neoliberal ideologues sprouting bogus claims about the empirical certainties of their subject.
Gaining historical and sociological insights to our economies is infinitely superior to mindless slogans about trickle-down effects and the benevolence of free markets. The study of economics in schools and universities has become the handmaiden of transnational corporations and their puppet governments intent on making the rich richer at the expense of everyone else.
If they want their discipline to flourish, economists have to understand that it is a social science. As Adam Smith explained, that makes it a form of moral philosophy – albeit in the current circumstances, a very flawed one.
Dr Allan Patience, school of social and political sciences, University of Melbourne
Exciting and dynamic
Many dedicated and enthusiastic teachers are working very hard to shore up student numbers in years 11 and 12 economics, including using a wide range of resources to make the subject real and relevant.
The Reserve Bank is doing a fantastic job resourcing teachers and students through its website with explainers, videos, articles, statistics and speakers at the ready.
The fantastic female economists on The Business and Alan Kohler’s snappy nightly updates are terrific, while articles by The Age’s Jessica Irvine and Ross Gittins are favourites among teachers.
Economics teaches students vital skills that enable them to contribute intelligently to discussion on many key issues. So, while it may be challenging, conceptual and analytical in nature, that should encourage more students to study it, not fewer. It is an exciting, dynamic and relevant subject.
Marg Wilson, East Brighton
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
If only Woorinen North were a swinging seat, we’d have a chance of getting a car park even though we don’t have a railway station.
Barrie Bales, Woorinen North
What is Canavan getting for his support of Joyce to lead the Nationals? Another coal mine?
Gill Riley, Doncaster East
A man of faith, Donald Rumsfeld has departed into the unknown unknown.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West
It’s time for another “It’s Time” election campaign.
John Walsh, Watsonia
Border closures. Dead right, Dan. Better out than in.
Dawn Evans, Highton
″Merit″ for our federal government seems to be based on who best rolls the pork barrel.
Leigh Smith, St Kilda
The government has gained a rare triple D rating: deflect, defer, deny.
Brian Rock, Beechworth
Malcolm hit it on the head – a monumental stuff-up from Canberra all round.
Ian Anderson, Surrey Hills
Scott Morrison, a marketing man first, a prime minister second.
Rosemary Lithgow, Maryborough
It’s government spin to talk about X million dose of Pfizer arriving in Y month. Joe Bloggs needs to know: “When can I get my jab?“
Sean Geary, Southbank
Appointing a male lieutenant-general to run the rollout/stuff-up? Your everyday woman can do that.
Meredith James, Glen Huntly
This government couldn’t organise a give away at a miser’s convention.
Emilio Bedin, Narre Warren
Scott may not think the vaccination program is a race. Critically it’s now reached a stampede point.
Charles Naughton, Sunbury
Like the Tigers of old…
Zena Marzi, Kew
It’s time the law protected all workers, including sex workers.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency
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