Australia needs to learn to live with COVID-19

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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THE PANDEMIC

Australia needs to learn to live with COVID-19

As a nation, we have reached the point of expectation that targets for opening up should be set. The Grattan Institute’s report, Race to 80, shows that “fully vaccinating 80 per cent of all Australians, and 95 per cent of the over-70s, will give us the best chance of gradually returning to normal life – with open borders and no lockdowns”. (Opinion, 30/7) If child vaccination is enacted, these targets are seen as reachable by the end of the year – otherwise, by March 2022 with a bigger share of adults.

Masks, mass testing and other precautions should remain, plus mandated vaccination for occupations, including all teachers, health workers and others with jobs involving social contact. Domestic “vaccination passports” for access to major events and public venues would be needed.
By comparison, the US is opening up with about 50per cent fully vaccinated and the UK with about 56per cent. There are problems, of course, such as the “epidemic of the unvaccinated”, but perhaps it is time for Australia to give back to the public responsibility for its own health and safety, once a more achievable vaccination target, such as 70per cent, is reached. Like other advanced nations, we need to learn to live with COVID-19.
William Puls, Mentone

Why the wait to discuss vaccination numbers?

The national cabinet met yesterday, following Scott Morrison’s announcement that it would begin to consider how many Australians must be vaccinated to prevent future, city-wide closures (The Age, 29/7). Surely, this was one of the first questions that would have been asked many months ago when drawing up the plan for the vaccine rollout. Was he absent from the discussion with his experts on that day also?
Joy Mettam, Hawthorn East

Full vaccination and the right to entry

The UK and some European nations plan to mandate full vaccination as an entry condition to bars, nightclubs and restaurants. (World, 30/7) Air travellers entering the UK also require proof of full vaccination. Will gutless Australian governments, federal and state, follow suit? I doubt it, as it seems that politics over public health governs us. The Sydney outbreak is a case in point.
Jeffrey Kelson, Prahran

NSW is paying the price for waiting too long

Until Gladys Berejiklian stops playing one upmanship, NSW will suffer. Her comment that its restrictions are the strictest Australian has seen is silly. She was slow to lock down and enforce masks as mandatory, and so hell bent on not acknowledging she might learn something from Victoria, that her ego has been a hindrance. Josh Frydenberg is also not helpful in stating that Victoria has been responsible for 90per cent of COVID-19 deaths. These deaths have largely occurred in aged care facilities, a federal responsibility.
Jennifer McDougall, Lake Wendouree

The importance of keeping people apart

It seems Greater Sydney is destined to remain in significant lockdown for many months. There has been too much emphasis on vaccination as the way out of the current situation and too little on rapidly and dramatically reducing the physical interactions of people. Good luck.
Brewis Atkinson, Tyabb

Too many promises and too little action

At the dispiriting 18-month mark of the first COVID-19 case diagnosed in Australia, Shaun Carney’s excellent article (Opinion, 28/7) is a timely reminder that “small-bore politicians” promise plenty but lack the delivery.
Megan Heymann, Kyneton

Cross-party stupidity and excessive pride

Paul Collins suggests “they’re doing a Gladys” for someone who has “done something monumentally stupid but refuses to own up to it due to hubris”. (Letters, 30/7) Dead right. You can add “doing a Dan” for precisely the same reason but just backdate it to last year.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

THE FORUM

Joy of remote learning

During lockdown 5 I read many reports of difficulties faced by students and parents through remote learning. However, it was also a wonderful opportunity to be part of our children’s education.
During the past week, I home schooled my granddaughter so that her parents could work. At the beginning of each day, there was a Zoom meeting with the teacher outlining the expectation for conduct and teaching the work from the booklet she had prepared. In the afternoon the class came together to check on progress.

The teacher was careful to include all students in discussion and questioning. “Show and Tell”, at the end of each day, was a delight. For me it was an intimate glimpse into my granddaughter’s school: the children, the competence and dedication of the staff, the curriculum, and the dynamics of the classroom. It was also a wonderful bonding experience.
Anja Davidson, Doncaster East

The polling ’evidence’

It was good to hear the Prime Minister acknowledging, at last, that short, sharp lockdowns are the way to go – “based on the emerging evidence”. Presumably, the evidence emerging from the opinion polls.
Andrew Mountford, Portarlington

The good news stories

Each day I love to read the stories of the athletes and their families even more than the various medal triumphs – ‴⁣⁣It means the world’: From Bosnia with love, Hana’s journey to starting blocks” (The Age, 30/7). It is so inspiring and almost always a testament to the sacrifices families make for their kids. The stories make me smile a lot and sometimes even shed a tear. Keep them coming. And well down to our latest awesome Aussie family, the Basics.
Brendan Douglas, Alphington

All praise to Simone

American gymnast Simone Biles is an extraordinarily talented athlete. It is easier to label her withdrawal from her team’s finals as a failure (Letters, 30/7) than to discuss the debilitating harm to her mental health as a result of sexual abuse by the team’s former doctor, Larry Nassar, who is now in jail.

The Olympic Games stand for much more than a winner-or-loser dichotomy from which we can excitedly share glory or disappointment. Simone has been working to resolve issues arising from that abuse through professional counselling. She deserves the highest of praise, unconditional support and celebration for her current and essential self-care.
Jennifer Gerrand, Carlton North

Don’t forget our Dawn

Did it not “Dawn” upon your reporter that if Kyle Chalmers had won, he would not have been “the first Australian in history to win the 100 metres freestyle event at consecutive Games” (Sport, 29/7)?
Don Hyatt, Dingley Village

A little more restraint

Channel 7 management: please require your male Olympic Games commentators and interviewers to stop the patronising comments and descriptions. Also ask them to avoid the inappropriate questions intended to evoke emotional responses.
Damian Meade, Leopold

Light amid the darkness

For months I have read about political rorts, pork barrelling and the granting of a visa to a so-called “celebrity” with abhorrent racial views. It came as a relief to read that the National Gallery of Australia will return 14 artworks, valued at $3million and believed to have been stolen, to India on the grounds that it is “the right thing to do”. Bravo to the NGA.
Jo Bond, South Melbourne

Prices are out of control

I remember a time in Melbourne, not so long ago, when jumps in petrol prices were predictable and moderate and on a weekly basis. Now that cycle is stretching out to a month and the difference is 30 to 40 cents a litre.

I have been living in Auckland since March. Here petrol varies 2to3 cents from one day to the next. As a result, I fill up when my car needs it and nobody pays any attention to the price cycle. Where is the Australian government in all of this?
Cao Phan, Auckland, NZ

Just typical families

It was wonderful to see Samantha Selinger-Morris discuss a topic that plagues many families – “Home is where the heartache is” (Life, 30/7). Parents need to know that, to some degree, sibling rivalry is inevitable but does not mean there is anything wrong with your children or with the way you are parenting.
Michael Carr-Gregg, psychologist, Balwyn

Put our country first

According to some readers, there is not much point in having policies that will not get you elected (Letters, 30/7). The point of policy is not to get you elected but to move towards a better (stronger, kinder, more equal – add your own adjective) Australia. A better approach for the nation might be for our (future) politicians to decide what they think will be best for Australia, and to instigate debate so that the most worthy ideas gain sufficient support and can be implemented.
Janice Keynton, Ashburton

ALP’s realistic change

Although conservative party policies will always get my vote, I cannot help but feel sympathy for Anthony Albanese in having to combat all of the “weasel” criticisms of him for simply tabling what he sees as a need to re-appraise his party’s direction. Surely, the path to government rests with majority appeal of a party’s policies, not adherence to pronouncements that simply reflect its traditions. The evidence is clear. Wealth has now filtered down to Labor’s constituency. To be blind to this development is to consign a proud institution to irrelevance.
Alan Cane, Frankston South

The offence was obvious

Julian Burnside’s oafish attempt to draw a parallel between the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and the Nazi extermination of 6million Jews was grossly stupid and has drawn intense criticism (The Age, 30/7). Yet, Burnside had to have the reason explained to him by a (presumably much more learned) friend at the bar.
Rod Gibson, Redesdale

Clarifying anti-Semitism

Regarding Julian Burnside’s comment and the following backlash. The Holocaust was undeniably horrific and tragic, but for how long will this be used to distract from legitimate criticism of Israel? Not all criticism of Israel today is ipso facto anti-Semitism.
Anthony Hitchman, St Andrews

Households’ revolution

I agree with Michael Angwin (Letters, 29/7) that the most important reason to install solar panels is for environmental benefits. However, it is a bit rich for “vested interests” to propose households are charged a feed-in tariff for solar power produced in the middle of the day and then be paid for power produced in the evening. Given the current price paid for solar power, it is no incentive to install panels.

Essentially, the only way to avoid this charge would be to invest in expensive batteries that are still unaffordable for many households. If this change is implemented, I propose households revolt and turn their solar power off, say on Tuesdays or Fridays, and see how this affects grid stability. Alternatively, electricity distributors could invest in battery storage – perhaps that would require some strategic planning.
Denise Chadwick, Soldiers Hill

Swimming, a vital skill

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino says the state government’s “swimming in schools initiative” means all children will have the chance to learn to swim (The Age, 27/7). Through no fault of their own, public schools offer a week’s, or at most a fortnight’s, worth of swim lessons a year which is nowhere near enough. Leaving this vital skill to the private sector, which has taken a hit with COVID, is irresponsible of the government.
Jessica Hill, Burwood

No offence intended

I hope you will forgive me, Angus McLeod – “Pointlessness of prayer” (30/7) – but I have just said a prayer for you.
Joan Noone, Hampton

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

COVID-19

Please explain. What will it take to eliminate our AstraZenephobia?
Simon Molina, Brighton East

Hi, Sydney. In the words of Alice Cooper: Welcome to our nightmare.
Dave Speirs, Geelong

Yet another awful Delta Dawn for Sydney and Gladys.
Marg Jeffery, Ballarat

Has Gladys ever heard of Victoria?
Randall Bradshaw, Fitzroy

Chin slings and beard bandanas are as useless as a flywire door on a sub.
Vikki O’Neill, Ashburton

If Daniel Andrews allows spectators at the grand final, all sports should be given the same privilege.
Pam Swirski, Berwick

My son, who lives overseas, suggests Victoria build a wall along the NSW border and make them pay for it.
John Ackerman, Keilor East

So, how’s the quarantine facility going?
Angela Thomas, Ringwood

Politics

Albanese is doing a Beazley. ALP equals Alternative Liberal Party.
Helen Lyth, Rippleside

Albanese didn’t drop Labor policies. Swinging voters at the last election did.
Russell Ogden, Inverloch

Labor has made being Green easier.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

The Libs could ditch the Nationals and replace them with Labor.
Brian Williams, Vermont

Frydenberg’s silence on NSW is deafening. He’s made his alliances and will live with them at the election.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Furthermore

Someone please tell Alan Jones he is a legend in his own lunch box. Let’s see how that “resonates” (30/7).
Linelle Gibson, Williamstown

Our Aussie flag: feature the stars from the current flag in gold, on a background of eucalyptus green.
Rose Marie Crowe, McKinnon

The reliance on Zoom during our five lockdowns has highlighted the failure of the NBN.
Sarah Russell, Mount Martha

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