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What about Victorians who were further afield?
When the Victorian border closure with NSW was announced late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve it appears that there was no consideration given all of the Victorians like us who had driven to Queensland before Christmas for a long-awaited reunion with loved ones.
We met many couples like us on the way who were headed to various locations in Queensland. When the announcement was made, we had virtually no hope of being able to get to the border in time. It would have meant packing up and leaving immediately and trying to condense a three-day drive into 24 hours of non-stop driving with little chance of finding accommodation on the way. We are seniors and such a prospect was just too difficult as well as very dangerous.
We are fortunate in having accommodation with family in Brisbane but we have no idea when we will be able to return home and we are relying on family back in Geelong to look after our house.
While we both thoroughly endorse actions that are necessary to stop the latest COVID-19 outbreak, we suspect that attention was focused on Victorians in NSW without thought to those in Queensland.
Heather Prince, North Geelong
Another knee-jerk reaction
The Andrews government has acted in a knee-jerk fashion once again and provided insufficient time for Victorian citizens to come home from NSW.
Wouldn’t you have thought that they might have given Victorians three to four days to return home before closing the Victorian border while shutting out all NSW residents immediately. But that would have been too sensible and would not have been sufficiently punitive.
Iain Carmichael, Richmond
A bit of a bet each way
Your editorial (‘‘Debacle at the border beggars belief’’, The Sunday Age, 3/1) suggests that governments need to get on with the job and protect the community from coronavirus. At the same time it criticises the haste with which border closures were reintroduced.
In NSW, the latest outbreak of COVID-19 occurred more than three weeks ago. It would have been prudent for Victorians not to have travelled to that state even though it is the holiday season.
We have already seen the reintroduction of this insidious disease into Victoria in spite of the best effort of health authorities. It seems that this has occurred because infected people did not quarantine.
Allowing thousands of people to come home without border restrictions would almost certainly have led to significantly increased numbers of outbreaks and the consequences would have been disastrous. Perhaps then you could have had an editorial slamming the government for not taking action more quickly.
James Young, Mount Eliza
Consistency demands national leadership
It is not often that I find myself agreeing with the various business alliances in Australia, but in their calls for national standards and expectations in relation to border closures I cannot but support their calls for more consistent and realistic codes.
However, the problem is that this needs a national approach led by the federal government, and that particular body has been found severely lacking in leadership and any semblance of responsibility when it comes to borders, quarantine and the like. Looks like we’re stuck with the current set-ups. Graeme Gardner, Reservoir
Strong management requires better funding
I agree with your sentiments when writing about the border debacle and testing delays that “we are entitled to expect from governments, state and federal: strong, co-ordinated and professional management”.
However, this requires funding of the public health and government activities. If we keep reducing taxes and government funding then we cannot expect that there will be spare capacity to cope with unexpected emergencies such as COVID-19.
Gerry O’Reilly, Camberwell
Aghast at this stupidity
Many thanks to The Age for celebrating the perseverance and resilience of all students who completed year 12 in 2020, and particularly for highlighting the accomplishments of refugees like Iman Al Atassi (‘‘Wait over for pupils of the pandemic’’, 30/12) and Abdul Basit (‘‘After fleeing terror, Abdul is now dux of Dandenong High’’, 3/1).
These young people, and many others like them, showed tremendous determination and drive to achieve their goal. What a credit they are to themselves, their families and the dedicated teachers who supported them.
But what’s this? Abdul, with his stellar result of 97.5, cannot take out a HECS loan to further his studies at university because his permanent resident visa prohibits him from doing so. He, and other refugees, must rely on a possible scholarship.
Have we all gone mad? It is incomprehensible that our refugee policy not only detains people indefinitely and incarcerates a little family on a remote island, but also places major obstacles in the way of bright young people furthering their education to the benefit of us all. And where is the voice of the opposition? I am aghast at the stupidity. Young people are our future – all young people, whatever their background.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North
Now for the next step
Now we are all ‘‘one and free’’ perhaps we can take another small step. Restoring landmarks to their original names would be good for truth, reconciliation and tourism.
Candidates for renaming are not hard to find (the Princess Margaret Rose cave). We could stop pretending that places were ‘‘discovered’’ by early settlers and explorers. Mount Wellington was named after a man who voted against the Reform Bill to extend the franchise in the English Parliament.
In many cases the explanation for the naming seems to be obsequious deference to ‘‘home’’ and perhaps a pension for their service.
If, say, 10 landmarks were volunteered for renaming each Australia Day I think Australia would be more interesting and more honest and Australia Day more relevant for more of us.
Bronwen Murdoch, South Melbourne
It just might help
I think Teela Reid (‘‘Anthem gesture won’t unify Australia’’, Comment, The Age, 2/1) is correct.
But by changing the national anthem, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has created what should be a catalyst for a bigger discussion that addresses the unfinished business as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
‘‘One and free’’ rings hollow without the appropriate actions.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine
The reality says otherwise
Conflicting emotions abound as I examine the change to our national anthem by the Prime Minister. On the one hand it stops the whitewash of 60,000-80,000 years of First Nations peoples’ history, and this is a welcome start to a change process that needs to be far more pervasive.
On the other hand, the change is being implemented at a time when this same government has imprisoned, on Christmas Island, a family of four, two of whom are born in Australia. Priya and Nades and their two girls have now been in detention for more than 1000 days.
Whatever their status, we cannot be ‘‘one and free’’ while these people languish in their detention centre.
There are also many Aboriginal people wrongfully detained for petty crimes that defy the meaning of the phrase as changed by the Prime Minister.
Suresh Rajan, Morley, WA
She’s not handling it well
Surely even our Sydney-centric Prime Minister must see Gladys Berejiklian is not handling COVID-19 well. From the Ruby Princess on, too little too late appears to be the motto.
Why should the rest of Australia be put at risk? Time for the federal health authorities to get involved.
Doris LeRoy, Altona
A destructive footprint
I read with dismay and despair that the government is proposing a huge runway to be constructed at the Australian Davis Station in Antarctica. A destructive footprint built in a pristine environment containing breeding rookeries of giant petrels and Adelie penguins.
As a former expeditioner (Casey, winter, 1968 and four summers at Macquarie Island, Mawson and Davis) I was involved in a lay capacity in biological studies in Antarctica and am aware of the fine ecological balance that exists in all the Antarctic wildlife species.
To construct an airfield 2.7 kilometres long and 40 metres wide, requiring 3 million cubic tonnes of earthworks, 11,500 concrete blocks weighing 10 tonnes each, a new wharf and explosive building and require 100 voyages of transportation almost defies the imagination.
Since 1947, Australia’s reputation as an Antarctic environment protector has been without question, now that reputation lies in tatters. This is a political decision based on the fear of China’s increasing involvement in Antarctica.
One can only hope a public and scientific outcry occurs to put this project to bed.
Rod Mackenzie, Marshall
Douse the fireworks
Surely we have grown beyond the need for expensive and polluting fireworks heralding in the new year? Let’s not reinstate this tradition in 2021. The waste of money that goes up in smoke and then rubbishes our waterways is overwhelming.
Anyone who watched the beautiful full moon over recent nights is compensated in full.
Annette Madden, Highett
One, for the moment …
Good to see we are ‘‘one’’ for the moment … but before too long probably around election time we will no doubt divide again.
There will be lifters and leaners, self-funded retirees and burden-on-the-taxpayer oldies, those who have a go and those who don’t or can’t, wealth creators and the deliberately unnamed ‘‘wealth receivers’’, working families and sad or selfish others.
Our population in a multitude of ways will be divided into the aspirationals and the tree-hugging, bleeding heart, inner-urban, cafe-latte rest.
Ah well … plus ca change.
Bernie McMahon, North Melbourne
Unclear on the point
It has taken some days and many readings of John Carroll’s article (‘‘The two faces of Daniel Andrews’’, Comment, 29/12) and yet I remain ignorant of exactly what point the writer is attempting to make.
Many of his statements are contradictory as he flips between describing a Premier that exudes ‘‘firm and unflappable, resolve and clarity’’ and ‘‘a hounded authoritarian running a one-man government’’.
As we watch NSW again struggle to contain a new outbreak of the virus, and our best wishes are with it in this fight, the reality is clear – that strict and vigilant measures to stop transmission as adopted in Victoria have worked.
While good contact tracing has a role, this is a practice of tracing persons who may be infected after the horse has bolted or more precisely when suppression of transmission has not occurred.
To his final comment about damage to the CBD, I would suggest it is those jurisdictions that have acted quickly to suppress the virus that are the ones that are now showing the best economic performance. At this stage I tend to the view that the Premier has done a good job.
Terry Brooks, Montmorency
We are too precious
I hear you, John Lewis (Letters, 2/1). We do not have food rationed and our unemployment rate has not reached 30 per cent as occurred in the Great Depression. The power is still on and we are not having family members sent to fight in battles from which they may not return, nor are trenches being dug in school ovals as happened during WWII.
We are too precious, indignant that life is not ‘‘as it should be’’ and offended if things do not go our way.
We overanalyse everything and the 24-hour media cycle certainly doesn’t help.
This is life.
Jen Gladstones, Heidelberg
The perfect screen
The pandemic has been the perfect screen for the Morrison government as it continues its policy of what fictional bureaucrat Sir Humphrey Appleby would describe as ‘‘masterly inactivity’’.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter claimed that the IBAC draft had been delayed while they focused all their efforts on the COVID crisis, while simultaneously handballing responsibility for handling the pandemic back to individual states. Brilliant.
Quite how or why the minister and his staff were involved in dealing with COVID, when the Health Minister, Aged Care Minister and the Department of Home Affairs seems to suggest a plethora of cooks already, was never fully explained. But then the Morrison government makes it a policy never to explain.
An ineffective French king once had his time summed up as ‘‘He reigned but never ruled’’. The PM and his highly remunerated team of public servants could be summed up with ‘‘They served but never delivered’’.
Stephen Farrelly, Donvale
It only took four pages
What a difference four pages make: on page one of Saturday’s Age (2/1) Australia’s peak medial group warned that slow lockdown action in NSW threatened wider Australia (‘‘NSW actions ‘risk to nation’’’) and on page four we see the headline: ‘‘Business says latest border closures an overreaction’’.
A year into this and nothing has changed.
Mark Freeman, Macleod
One rule for them
To Juliet Flesch’s three observations (Letters, 2/1) concerning the story that talked about politicians finding it hard to find a job post-Parliament (‘‘Politicians lose bid for retirement pay boost’’, The Age, 31/12), a fourth should be added: ex-politicians feel entitled to be job-snobs while those on unemployment benefits are regularly vilified by politicians for refusing to uproot their lives to relocate for seasonal work.
Linda Skinner, Mooroolbark
AND ANOTHER THING
The third Test
Let’s hope that the next Test drags on for the full five days so I can resume my schedule of dozing in front of the TV set.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy
Changing the anthem
Sorry, but ‘‘one and free’’ still doesn’t do it for me. Not with four of us still stuck on Christmas Island.
Janet Pett, Kilsyth
What unabashed ignorance that anyone would celebrate a revised national anthem that includes ‘‘for those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share’’ at the same time Australia is locking up asylum seekers and refugees who did just that.
Jenni King, Camberwell
Apart from the words, and the music, there’s not much wrong with our national anthem. Why all the fuss?
John FitzGerald, Canterbury
Thank you, Anne Leeson (‘‘Message is clear’’, Letters, 31/12) Many Australians from all walks of life oppose live exports and want to see the end of them.
Charles Davis, Hawthorn
Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt were very outspoken during the Victorian shutdown, but they are now curiously silent during the NSW outbreak.
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie
Are business groups (‘‘Business says latest border closures an overreaction’’, The Age, 2/1) setting themselves up as epidemiologists now?
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
With repeated quarantine failures in multiple states, new highly transmissible virus variants, and record case numbers abroad, does Victoria really need the additional risk posed by the Australian Open? Tennis, and virus, anyone?
Anita White, Kew
Department of Words
Suggested New Year resolution for ‘‘talkback’’ participants and interviewees’: Stop using the word ‘‘absolutely’’ when you merely mean, ‘‘yes’’.
Joy Stapleton, Darraweit Guim
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