GUY AND COVID: Blanket statements are not the sign of a leader


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On Saturday morning, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announced that, under his government, there would never, ever be a lockdown. Guy has been opposing the Andrews government’s pandemic legislation because it, among other things, allows for, “indefinite detention without judicial review”.
On Saturday afternoon, federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, also a Liberal, announced that Australia would close its border to anyone who has been in southern Africa and is not an Australian citizen. He also said that Australian citizens, residents and their dependents arriving from those countries would need to go into compulsory detention without access to judicial review, also known as supervised quarantine with the length of quarantine determined by medical authorities and not legislation or courts, in this case 14 days. Blanket statements designed to appease anarchists and inflammatory descriptions of quarantine designed to scare the vulnerable, are not the hallmark of a leader. And, Guy’s timing could not have been worse.
Paul Kennelly, Caulfield North

The lockdown v virus calculus
Here’s a question for Matthew Guy. With new variants of COVID-19 such as Omicron emerging just how many Victorians would have to die before he rescinded his guarantee of no more lockdowns should he ever become leader of our state?
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Please, no more double-speak
Matthew Guy has such foresight that he’s confident – at least initially (″⁣No ifs, no buts, no more lockdowns.″⁣) – to guarantee that the Coalition, if elected, would make ″⁣lockdowns a thing of the past″⁣.
However, when pressed at the same press conference, he conceded there could be ″⁣limited circumstances″⁣ that lockdowns would be required. Clearly he’s taking a leaf out of the Prime Minister’s playbook by playing both sides thereby hoping not to alienate either group. To clarify his position, Mr Guy needs to answer the following question unequivocally: if the Omicron variant breaks out in Victoria, would he endorse or ignore the advice of public health experts to lockdown to prevent its spread? No more double-speak, please.
Kevin Bailey, Croydon

An unequal and unfair pandemic response
We can’t have three-quarters of the world’s population unvaccinated and not expect to see new variants.
It’s just dumb to try to protect ourselves and leave some populations totally at risk. We can expect to get what we deserve and “learning to live with the new variants” is just another excuse for an unequal and unfair pandemic response.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool

Stop dithering, plan for crises
If only we had a federal government with strong leadership that actually planned for crises rather than dithering during the event. Then we might have purpose-built quarantine with medical facilities attached, a working national cabinet that could pivot quickly and a real plan to attack climate change.
Instead all we get from this government is dog whistling and counting the poll numbers.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye

Where is the respect in this?
I am disgusted, depressed and beyond disillusion that the Victorian Liberal leader could use as a ″⁣plank″⁣ promise – no lockdowns ever. That is so clearly aimed at our tired, brave and co-operative community (and Daniel Andrews) and it will pick up the disgruntled, the fearful and the anti-vaxers. So much for treating the community with respect.
Carol Oliver, Carlton


Vicious cycle
CSIRO chief climate research scientist Pep Canadell has found that climate-changed conditions of dryness, heat, wind speed and humidity are the main causes of our increasingly frequent, larger mega-fires (The Age, 27/12). These huge, often un-fightable fires are in a vicious cycle with climate change.
The Morrison government’s drive for new gas and coal is madness and must end now. Poorer countries do not need fossil fuels, they need the clean energy which COP26 urged, plus financial help from the UN Green Climate Fund.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

Criminal negligence
It was startling to see the effect of climate change on Victoria’s forest fires finally quantified. If the average annual area burnt continues to grow another eight-fold in the next 32 years there will be little if any forest remaining. It’s almost as if the federal government doesn’t believe these figures or just doesn’t care.
Not only is the government failing to take strong action on climate change, it is also failing to act on the now one-year-old recommendations of the bushfire royal commission.
Greg Mullins, former commissioner, Fire and Rescue NSW, climate councillor and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, said, “The federal government has completely dropped the ball on addressing the commission’s recommendations. To protect Australians, the government must now enact the steps outlined in the recommendations without further delay.”
Some would say that to not do so amounts to criminal negligence.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Little on offer
I find it strange to criticise federal Labor for offering up little in the way of policies since the last election. Bill Shorten presented a brave plan forward and was beaten at the polls by a government offering nothing and delivering on that precisely. So why would Labor overestimate the intelligence of the Australian voting public a second time?
Jae Sconce, Moonee Ponds

How’s the laundry work?
I find it difficult to comprehend how money laundering takes place at small poker machine venues. Is it someone walks in and dumps $100,000 at the window and asks for 50,000 two dollar coins and then goes back some time later and cashes in say 45,000 of them for paper money? The logistics seem rather difficult and even if the machine accepts paper money, how is the payout effected?
Alan Inchley,

It was universal, once
Terry Malone (28/11), suggests we should have a ″⁣universal basic income″⁣. That was established in 1907 when, in the ″⁣Harvester″⁣ case, the ″⁣basic″⁣ wage was determined to support a man, his wife and two children.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Matildas’ new goal
The Matildas might take a leaf out of Ty Cobb’s (baseball star) book when asked about his batting success: “Hit ’em where they ain’t”. The Matildas had many good strikes yesterday against the US but they went straight to the US goalie. Too easy for her.
Bill Cleveland, Kew

Not so courteous
Bridget Archer crosses the floor of Federal Parliament to vote against the government. The Prime Minister then summons Ms Archer to his office for a meeting with himself, the Treasurer and the Minister for Women for what the PM describes as ″⁣a very warm and friendly and supportive meeting″⁣. How considerate of Mr Morrison to be so gracious for doing so when in fact Ms Archer’s actions caused him extreme embarrassment. I trust the Prime Minister will extend the same courtesies to all future newcomers to the Parliament and existing members who choose to vote against the government.
Frank Stipic, Mentone

Can do, but shouldn’t
Perhaps the Prime Minister should pause his nonsensical promotion of ″⁣can do capitalism″⁣ as a major solution to the challenge of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and instead consider the significant contributions that ″⁣can do capitalism″⁣ has made to the climate change problem itself. Is he expecting the foxes to look after the chickens?
Sean O’Sullivan,

Reverse freedoms
I have no faith in ″⁣statements of belief″⁣ as proposed to be protected by the Religious Discrimination Bill. Like judging a book by its cover, it’s what’s inside that matters more. We all know this bill is only on the agenda as a sop to the noisy minority who failed to block the marriage equality bill; we’re also told that the ″⁣freedom″⁣ the bill seeks is already protected by existing legislation. There’s no escaping the conclusion that it aims to extend freedom to discriminate rather than freedoms from discrimination.
Your editorial (″⁣Federal watchdog with teeth long overdue″⁣, 27/11) correctly identifies the more important issue. Instead of worrying about whether churches and believers are free to discriminate, it’s time for the Prime Minister to concentrate on what the increasingly frustrated majority really wants: a long-promised integrity commission to achieve some accountability. Now’s the chance to show that his government’s genuine commitment to this is more than a ″⁣statement of belief″⁣.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Federal law needed
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is doing the right thing for all Australians by introducing the much anticipated Religious Discrimination Bill. While it is true that such a bill should not be necessary and codifying concepts of freedom carries some risk, to do nothing now would be highly irresponsible.
The abuse of state-based anti-discrimination laws to silence religious expression has become so serious that a strong federal law containing suitable protections is sorely needed. Freedom of religious expression is after all a foundational pillar in a free society without which it cannot be considered to enjoy true liberty.
All Australians, whatever their beliefs, should welcome this effort to keep us one and free.
Peter Curtis,
Werribee South

Restore trust, please
For Scott Morrison to suggest matters pertaining to Gladys Berejiklian are not worthy of investigation informs us he has no understanding of the concept of ″⁣corrupt conduct″⁣, nor the rule of law. As Peter Hartcher (27/11) identifies, ″⁣Morrison seems more intent on protecting politicians from scrutiny than on delivering a meaningful anti-corruption commission.″⁣
Jacqui Lambie says, ″⁣People are disgruntled. They are sick of it. People don’t like what’s happening to their country. There’s no accountability.″⁣
Restoring public trust and confidence is an essential first step, but as Hartcher says, ″⁣It needs a prime minister acting as national leader, not tribal chief … and we’ve yet to see it.″⁣
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

Rights removed
I didn’t think I could ever be more ashamed of being Australian than I am now because of current government policies until I read this (″⁣Legal protection likely for aged care providers″⁣, The Age, 27/11).
How could this be possible in a civilised society? People moving into aged care facilities are told ″⁣this is your home now″⁣ . They currently lose none of the rights they had when they were living in the community, but of course they gain different responsibilities.
This proposed change by government in ″⁣an 11th-hour amendment to its aged care bill″⁣ will remove residents’ current rights and give immunity to aged care providers from criminal or civil prosecution for using physical, environmental and chemical restraints. So they will be free to use restraining strategies rather than employ staff to care for residents and so increase their profits.
Has the government learnt nothing from the royal commission?
Jenny Callaghan,

Halfpenny for PM
Kate Halfpenny for prime minister. Her Saturday Age columns reveal her as relevant, articulate, worldly, fair and funny, and so, so logical. Sadly, she would have no appeal to either of the major parties on the evidence out of Canberra in recent years.
Michael Sheahan, Albert Park

Federal ICAC needed
I find Scott Morrison’s politicking insulting for blaming NSW ICAC for Gladys Berejiklian’s downfall. The former premier decided to resign herself, no one told her “you have to go”.
All of the above has nothing to do with why there shouldn’t be a federal ICAC with teeth; I’m sick of Morrison’s spin, he “has to go”.
Rita Reid,
Port Melbourne

Will he rue his words?
The Prime Minister seems to be contradicting himself with his latest condemnation of the workings of ICAC in NSW. Long have we heard, in so many pronouncements by the PM, that his criticism is founded on the premise that it is not the Australian way and does not reflect Australian values? Surely then nothing could be more Australian than a kangaroo court?
Patricia Parkinson,
Main Ridge

Foreign interference
Duncan Fine (25/11) laments the incursion of Americanisms into our language and culture. He might have been bemused, as I was in recent years, to have encountered secondary school students who spoke unwaveringly with American accents, despite having spent their entire lives in Australia. I could only conjecture, but I wondered if the dominant influences in their lives had come via screens from the US.
Patsy Sanaghan,
Farnham, Surrey, UK


I wonder if Scott Morrison thinks Eddie Obeid was ″⁣done over″⁣ by ICAC. If so, when will he ask for Obeid to be released from jail. Maybe he could even offer to post bail.
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear

Does the Prime Minister’s action against trolls include those using parliamentary privilege?
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

What bizarre history books has Peter Dutton read when he claims the current situation with China is like the 1930s?
David Fry, Moonee Ponds

Sounds like Peter Dutton is dusting off the “Domino Theory”, used to justify the Vietnam War, as a suitable fit for fighting the 2022 election.
John Groom, Bentleigh

Is there any chance of Defence Minister Peter Dutton returning his sabre to its scabbard?
Greg Bardin, Altona North

Matthew Guy … no ifs or buts … no lockdowns ever – except of course in limited circumstances. Would the new Omicron mutation be considered one of those circumstances? Or any of the variants that will surely follow?
Marie Nash, Balwyn

What are the odds, politically speaking, that politicians in a few weeks will say this new variant isn’t much to worry about? Low, it seems.
Thomas Baker, Camberwell

On Scott Morrison’s mind … Start of November, ″⁣Oh Macron″⁣; end of the month, ″⁣Omicron.″⁣
Carl Harman, Point Lonsdale

Christian Porter and Greg Hunt to retire? You’re just trying to brighten my day.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

Farewell Stephen Sondheim. His Send in the Clowns might have been written for our lot in Canberra and some of our cricket team – ″⁣Don’t bother … They’re here.″⁣
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

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