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VICTORIA’S ROAD MAP
Andrews offers realistic, responsible path forward
The Andrews government’s much-anticipated road map for the next stage in our battle against COVID offers a realistic and responsible path forward.
The road map’s timetable and targets provide much-needed certainty and hope. It accepts the reality that now that the coronavirus has taken hold in our community we can suppress it but we cannot eliminate it, and the only logical approach is to keep active case numbers to a minimum while we get as many people in the community fully vaccinated.
While it would be wonderful to reach a 100 per cent vaccination target, that’s impossible, and the modelling predicts that 80 per cent coverage strikes the right balance between preventing an exponential rise in COVID cases and preventing the multiple health, mental health and economic harms that hard lockdowns cause.
The government is caught between a rock and a hard place, but this well-considered plan charts a cautious and harm-minimisation-focused approach to keeping COVID in check while taking the pressure off the millions of Victorians who are under intense emotional and financial stress. We can control COVID, but we can’t conquer it, and we can’t ignore the many other problems that are now emerging.
Stephen Carbone, Thornbury
The road map leaves people like me out of the picture
Yet again the elderly are not considered in the continuing restrictions for a further five weeks. We are told that “freedoms” will be incrementally restored when 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated.
I am in my late 80s, my friends and colleagues are of similar age or older, we have all been fully vaccinated since July, yet are unable to home-visit couples, two on two, or travel more than 10 kilometres to visit.
Many of my friends are retired to the Mornington or Bellarine peninsulas and thus are precluded from meeting in metropolitan Melbourne. I urge those unvaccinated to urgently do so, but I am not confident what “freedoms” will ever be restored.
Peter Norman, Glen Iris
It’s worth the wait
Paul Guerra of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry asks why the settings in NSW are “fundamentally different” to those of Victoria. When you look at both, it’s primarily the timings of the easing of restrictions that differ.
Along with getting vaccines earlier because they lost control of spread earlier, perhaps Gladys Berejiklian is prepared to live with more cases, more deaths and more risk of an overwhelmed health system; things neither she nor Mr Guerra refers to.
I’m glad that our government seems to think a few extra weeks before opening up is worth the life and health system benefits.
Richard Jamonts, Williamstown
Road map balances our economic and health needs
It’s easy for those in the business sector to lament the slow reopening from lockdown when they’re the ones who will not do the heavy lifting. That responsibility will fall on the shoulders of health professionals.
I applaud the Premier for carefully balancing the economic and health needs of the state. Business leaders need to exercise foresight and acknowledge that a nuanced approach is necessary.
Joel Feren, St Kilda East
Five more weeks will destroy people’s hope
The failure with Daniel Andrews’ plan is it offered no immediate incentives or vision of hope to business owners and their employees or rewarded Victorians who have made the effort to be vaccinated.
How about the government providing to any business whose employees are fully vaccinated an authorised sign that could be displayed on the front window that says that this is a safe business for any fully vaccinated clients to enter?
A further five weeks of total lockdown will destroy businesses and people’s spirits. Further, there was no immediate offer to any struggling business or employees of any additional financial support.
Stuart Nicol, South Yarra
A disgraceful display
Friday’s display of male bravado in the streets of Melbourne is an utter disgrace. If it was in any doubt that construction workers were not doing enough to protect themselves and each other from COVID, it certainly isn’t now.
The images of grown men blocking the streets and disobeying public health orders was quite disappointing, but certainly not surprising.
Any essential worker who has travelled in and out of the city throughout the pandemic can attest that the disregard these, predominantly male, construction workers show for the simplest of mask rules reveals so much about the entitlement they feel and clear contempt for our healthcare workers doing everything they can to ensure Victorians are kept safe.
If they really cared about “workers’ rights” they might have a bit more empathy for the members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation they are putting in danger by recklessly ensuring the COVID cases increase.
It seems this really just boils down to male-dominated industries disrespecting predominantly female industries. What is the point of having strong unions and rights for workers if they largely only apply to men?
Kristy Steele, Brunswick West
Include them in the target
As 12- to 15-year-olds are now in the eligible vaccination group, it would be sensible to include them in our 70 per cent and 80 per cent targets as they are vulnerable to catching and spreading COVID and ending up in hospital.
Excluding them seems arbitrary and as they are likely to comply with vaccination measures at an above-average rate, it would help the community to reach our goals and our freedoms a little quicker.
I’m sure the group of nine teenagers gathered under a bridge in a local park on Sunday, unmasked and sharing a few cans, would be a significant risk group for COVID spread.
Peter Barry, Melbourne
If ever we needed proof that NDIS recipients are seen by some of their service providers as cash cows rather than as people, a manager in The Age described a resident’s voluntary transfer from one home to another as “daylight robbery” (“Ugly turf war over clients of NDIS”, 20/9). Not a kidnapping, but a theft.
Let’s hope Victoria’s new social services regulator can clean up this grubby situation. People living in supported residential services have been inadequately protected for too long.
Alison Cook, Blackburn North
This system works
Craig Kelly and the United Australia Party want to abolish the states. I used to agree with my father when he said the same thing in the 1960s, but in recent years I’ve changed my mind. The pandemic has shown the value of having different nations in the world and states in Australia making different decisions about how to deal with the great complexity of problems it has created.
All Australian states have made mistakes and all have learnt from each other’s mistakes. Imagine if the federal government alone had been making decisions. Given its track record over the pandemic period we would be in a much worse situation than we are at the moment.
Evolution – through trial and error – created the living world we enjoy in all its diversity. We need cultural evolution to continue so we can continue to learn from each other. We need the diverse approaches of our three levels of government so that we can continue to evolve culturally. Our society is complex, so let’s avoid simplistic answers like those of the UAP.
Phil Johnson, Box Hill
What are we doing about it?
“Professional politics has always ridden roughshod over local communities,” writes Emma Dawson (“The threat of identity politics”, Comment, 20/9).
Well, yes, probably, but what are we doing about it?
In making this statement, Dawson effectively dismisses the main issue in this case, which is the preselection of non-local candidates by political parties.
The problem is easily fixed, at least in theory. Simply require that nobody can stand as a candidate if they haven’t lived in the electorate in question for at least five years.
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura
A dangerous precedent
Your correspondent’s letter (“Get the science right”, 19/9) refers to my comment that Australia’s submarines are likely to run on highly enriched uranium (HEU), the same grade used in nuclear weapons. He says that this gets the science wrong because nuclear subs use 50 per cent enriched uranium, not 90 per cent like nuclear weapons.
The international community, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, has agreed on 20per cent as the threshold at which uranium becomes “highly” enriched, because anything at or above this level is deemed weapons-usable. The IAEA’s international nuclear verification system is therefore built around keeping enrichment below this level.
In these circumstances, whether a reactor’s enrichment level is the same as a bomb isn’t the point. The risk is that a country processing HEU for its naval reactors (which occurs outside IAEA safeguards) might redirect it into a nuclear weapons program.
Australia won’t do this, but if we become the first country without nuclear weapons to use this technology, we’ll set a very dangerous precedent.
Piers Mitchem, Greens candidate for Kooyong, Surrey Hills
This is not resolved
It beggars belief that the Christian Porter situation can in any way be seen as being resolved by his resignation as a minister.
Unanswered questions are legion: who were the anonymous donors, why did the Prime Minister not sack him for so patently ignoring ministerial guidelines, what role did WA plutocrats play in funding the secret trust fund, what explains the government’s failure to independently investigate the original accusation that gave rise to Porter’s public denial of alleged offences decades ago?
You cannot just walk away from that, and neither can the Prime Minister.
Tony Haydon, Springvale
The right balance
We are fortunate not to be suffering from the “go late and lightly” policies of the NSW government. Our government’s road map and its denial of privileges to those not double vaccinated or medically exempt now seems to get the balance right in moving towards a cautious reopening.
We need, however, to do far more to protect those workers at cafes and other shops charged with enforcing the rules. In my suburb, random police patrols passing known points of congregation are conspicuously absent.
There is also a case for standard government signage outside cafes and other places highlighting the right of businesses to refuse service to other than QR-code-validated customers and asking consumers to move on once business is completed. There may also be, at long last, a positive pandemic role for private security services in patrolling business precincts to encourage obedience to evolving restrictions.
The road map is a good start, but it’s the manner of its implementation that will be critical to protecting the community from those who think their “freedoms” trump obeying laws designed to protect us all.
John Carmichael, Hawthorn
The vehicle is a weapon
I have to disagree with your correspondent (“They’re not nuclear arms”, Letters, 20/9). Nuclear-powered submarines are nuclear arms, the vehicle is a weapon – that’s why submarines typically aren’t pleasure craft, and make pretty inefficient container vessels.
Let’s not split hairs, if a weapon’s delivery system is nuclear-powered, it’s a nuclear weapon.
Matt McRobbie, Mont Albert
Make helmets mandatory
Saturday’s special report on sport-caused concussion was clearly timely but lacking in preventive suggestions (“Concussion causes more than a headache for community sport”, The Age, 18/9).
My interest in this subject began shortly after medical graduation, when I had a couple of years treating road accident victims in emergency departments.
I saw for myself the extraordinary benefit that arose from making seatbelts and bicycle helmets compulsory (including a reduction in the number of times we had to go out to the ambulance to certify the road accident victim dead).
I have also had personal experience of concussion having sustained one, fortunately uncomplicated, a few years ago when I was knocked off my bicycle by a left-turning motorist and landed head first on the pavement. I have no recall of the impact. I remember when I woke up studying the marks on my helmet and realising that without the helmet I would have almost certainly sustained a fractured skull.
Surely it is time for the AFL to make helmets compulsory.
Graeme Dennerstein, Essendon
She’s an inspiration
What an inspiration Angela Merkel is to the women of the world. She has shown over her many years in active politics that women have the ability to take on high office and through determination and perseverance stay at the top and achieve so much.
Everyone wishes her the very best as she bows out of German politics (“‘Queen of Europe’ bows out”, World, 20/9).
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency
This is the trigger point
Your correspondent (“Aren’t they all illegal”, Letters, 20/9) poses the question, when is the citizen an enemy of the state?
The answer is rather obvious, when they engage in and advocate actions that threaten the health and welfare of the majority of citizens trying to do the right thing.
The actions and rhetoric of anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protesters threaten the lives of the rest of us and they deserve the full wrath of the law.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
QR code checkouts
In NSW it is possible to check out with the QR code as well as check in. I know that not everyone would do it but would this not enable our contact tracers to work in a more targeted way, especially as their workload is growing by the day
Christine Bradbeer, Mont Albert North
AND ANOTHER THING
If an action is not acceptable for a cabinet minister, what makes it acceptable for a backbencher?
Alan West, Research
Ministerial standards are still a mystery under this Prime Minister, as he has been saved from making a decision by Christian Porter’s resignation.
Ron Slamowicz, Caulfield North
We still want to know where the money came from, and we want to know when he’ll pay the money back, because accepting his resignation doesn’t undo the damage to his integrity, or to the Prime Minister’s.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick
You can take the grand final out of Melbourne, but you can’t take Melbourne out of the grand final. Go, Dees.
Rowena Ryan, Fairfield
If the police struggled to subdue the thugs marching through Richmond’s streets last Saturday, what hope does a young hospitality worker have should a group of people like this demand admission to a pub or restaurant?
Mike Pantzopoulos, Ashburton
It’s like driving from Melbourne to Perth and having the first stop at Footscray.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda
What if you don’t want 30 people to come to your house at Christmas?
Layla Godfrey, Mount Eliza
If it had been America, rather than France, would Scott Morrison still have had the bottle to terminate the submarine agreement?
Venise Alstergren, Toorak
If we can so easily tear up the French submarine contract, then why can’t we also tear up the 99-year lease that a Chinese company has for the Port of Darwin?
Ross Bardin, Williamstown
The annoying yellow ad at the bottom of page one yesterday has a particle of sense: Abolish the states. This was proposed by Bob Hawke more than 40 years ago.
Kishor Dabke, Mount Waverley
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