Path out of lockdown is long, bumpy and frightening but it’s right

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

Understandably, we instinctively and automatically project our anger onto Dan Andrews and by association Brett Sutton. Hopefully, we recognise our grief for what it is, normalise our feelings and feel gratitude for a scientifically based plan – yes, imperfect, but the best possible. We must never forget the ‘‘70 per cent rule’’ which public health specialists follow during crises – the balance between precipitously using insufficient information or awaiting 100 per cent certainty which is too late.

Thankfully, our Premier listens to his senior medical adviser, backs him, and understands that the best of road maps are flexible. Both know the Public Health and Wellbeing Act backwards, including its sections on accountability, proportionality and least restrictive measures. Both know the alternatives in terms of the death, chronic ill-health, overrun health system, and stage five restrictions seen overseas.

So, to those commentators and politicians who continue to criticise, please see that our leaders need support, and that constant complaints about them ultimately drain morale, exacerbate grief and undermine community efforts. Because most of us believe that we are in good hands and on the right path, albeit one which is long, bumpy and frightening – and that we are heartbroken to witness the casualties.
Dr Greg White, Balwyn North

Little to no improvement in people’s lives
Andrews is taking us nowhere and giving us nothing. On Sunday he slipped the noose so little that it will make little to no improvement to most people’s lives. We need a plan to live with COVID-19 as elimination is an impossible goal. People need hope they will soon have a job again and be able to see family and friends. Even resilient people who still have jobs are despairing. Please Andrews, give us a workable light at the end of this tunnel.
Margie Toole, Armstrong Creek

Wallets will open when we feel safe
Thank you Dan, it took guts to fight for a conservative and controlled pathway towards the new COVID normal. The federal government’s preference to quickly open up the economy will not save businesses. Our wallets will open when we feel safe. Shopping and spending is not worth dying for.
Louise Zattelman, Box Hill

Factor in the levels of community compliance
While I, like many Victorians, support the extension of stage four, I don’t think we anticipated seeing the restrictions remain as tight for another seven weeks. The frustration is palpable, the verbal backlash has been vehement, and my fear is that people’s willingness to toe the line will dwindle now the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away. I desperately hope the modelling the government used incorporated a scalable algorithm capturing the relationship between various possible timeframes and the likely levels of community compliance.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Planning seems not to acknowledge gains
By and large I have supported the actions taken to limit the spread of the virus. However, I was disappointed with the road map. The outlined program seems to ignore some of the gains that have been made, the increased knowledge we have, and the fact that large parts of the state are coronavirus-free. Surely our aim should be to come up with strategies to minimise the probability of infection of the elderly and try and work out ways to allow the rest of the population, and businesses, to get closer to ‘‘normal’’.
Shaun Quinn, Yarrawonga

There is an alternative to lockdown
Dan Andrews keeps saying there is no choice but to continue hard lockdown, but of course there is, and countries all over the world are showing how to live with COVID-19. European countries have ruled out returning to hard lockdown for good reason – it causes more harm than good. Open up society, get back to work, protect the vulnerable, do all the smart stuff (PPE, test, track and trace) and do local shutdowns on hotspots.
Wayne Alexander, Eltham

THE FORUM

Own your words
There is some agreement with Amanda Vanstone’s observations of the nasty side of the internet (‘‘Beware the internet of nasty things’’, 7/9). With the possible exception of genuine whistleblowers with smoking-gun evidence, anonymity has become the curse of the internet and the refuge of uncivilised cowards. If you have something to say and want to enter the contest of ideas and opinions, then have the courage of your convictions to own them and defend them in full view of those who would agree or disagree.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South

Joint statement unhelpful
The joint statement issued by Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenberg on Sunday, immediately after the announcements by Daniel Andrews, does nothing to help Victorians through the crisis. Although it may appeal to their base, it contains nothing to show Victorians that our federal representatives are ‘‘on our side’’. Long gone are the days when the Prime Minister pronounced ‘‘we are all Victorians’’. The statement merely continues Morrison’s ongoing modus operandi to apologise for everything and not take responsibility for anything, coupled with a lot of ‘‘don’t look over here, look over there’’.
Doug Shaw, Sunbury

Shots at tennis
When there are crowds at the tennis, organisers encourage players to hit a few balls into the crowd after a match. If one hurt a spectator, I suppose they would default themselves.
Djokovic’s action was an accident. No intent to harm anyone, and for him to be thrown out of the tournament is laughable.
John Rawson, Mernda

Sporting insincerity
The Joker is out of the US Open after an egregious breach of the rules. Too bad he wasn’t an AFL player. We would have had an insincere apology and the payment of a fine, and the game would have gone on.
Peter McGill, Lancefield

Taylor ignores options
The COAG Energy Council has reported that the shift to renewable energy can occur (‘‘Coal’s exit won’t turn lights off: report’’, 7/9) without economic disruption and without the need for government subsidies. However, Energy Minister Angus Taylor wants the taxpayer to pay for carbon capture and storage projects and underwrite the exploitation of natural gas (‘‘Government’s clean energy plan’’, 7/9).

There is sufficient evidence that CCS is unviable. The promise of CCS is often used to justify the continued use of fossil fuels as an energy source. Renewables with energy storage are cheaper and quicker to deploy. However, Mr Taylor and the federal government ignore this reality to the detriment of the biosphere and our long-term prosperity.
Nicholas Howe, Malvern

Wasted energy policy
The proposed changes to allow the clean energy agencies to invest in carbon capture will allow public money to be invested in a technology that has not worked. It appears to be a move to help Liberal Party donors use their stranded assets.
David Robertson, Wheatsheaf

Threat from within
Threats to our wildlife (‘‘Feral cats, foxes in crosshairs to protect natives’’, 7/9) do not come only from foreign invaders. Everywhere now, it seems we are confronted by the noisy miner. Not to be confused with the introduced Indian mynah, these highly aggressive native grey birds have exploded in numbers in recent years. They have conducted a blitzkrieg on our suburbs and evicted just about every other bird, even large wattlebirds.

Noisy miners were listed nationally as a Key Threatening Process in 2014 but nothing else was done. We are in serious danger of losing most other bird species from anywhere this bird is present. They need to have their protected status removed and active control measures need to be implemented.
Alex Judd, Blackburn North

Fence out predators
Environment Minister Sussan Ley is providing $2 million to research a ‘‘humane’’ wild cat poison, when scientists claim baits are ineffective at controlling cat numbers (‘‘Feral cats top hit list in saving wildlife’’, 7/9). Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of animals, native as well as pets, will die horribly after accidentally eating 1080 bait. Wildlife groups agree that predator protection fencing is the best and most humane solution for the human-caused problem of cats being abandoned to go wild.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

Protest rights remain
Your correspondent Peter Fenwick (Letters, 7/9) is of course correct when he claims that our right to peaceful protest must be preserved, but he is incorrect in comparing last Saturday’s protesters with those in Hong Kong in 2019. Unlike the Hong Kong protesters, those arrested in Melbourne were not charged for expressing their political views, but for ‘‘breaching Chief Health Officer directives’’, thus putting the community’s health at risk.

Despite short-term strict lockdown laws, the right to peaceful protest is still alive and well in Melbourne. We are able to express our political views in many ways, and we can hear or express any number of dissenting political views. We will still have the right to express our views at the ballot box – surely the ultimate form of peaceful protest.
Jo Bond, South Melbourne

Team full of Mosquitoes
I love the fact that a bloke named Mosquito is playing for Essendon. When his Essendon career is over I would dearly love for him to come play for my lads, the PNG AFL football team, the mighty Mosquitoes!
Dave Quinn, Collingwood (via Port Moresby)

Strange West Bank stance
The challenges of Palestinians living in the West Bank were partially revealed by, ‘‘In the Jordan Valley, international deals don’t change reality for Palestinians’’ (5/9). In 2016 writers from around the world travelled to Palestine-Israel to spend time in the occupied territories. Their experiences were collected in the book Kingdom of Olives and Ash. This book of essays confirms the experiences the article describes are representative of everyday life for many Palestinians.

Daily life for most Palestinians is intolerable. The permit system, the checkpoints, make routine life – shopping, getting to work, to school – exhausting. Yet this year in the UN, when Israel threatened to forcibly annex up to a third of the Palestinian West Bank, Australia voted against a resolution condemning the annexation. The Australian government rightly promotes a ‘‘rules-based international order’’. There is no justification for Israel and Palestine relations to be an exception.
Jan Lacey, North Melbourne

Fossilised Australia
The Australian government is stuck in the past. Planning to develop gas and carbon capture and storage will hold Australia back from the emergency action the UN says is needed for a safe climate future. Instead Australia could create 1 million clean jobs, according to a plan by Beyond Zero Emissions. These include jobs in renewable energy, building, manufacturing, transport and land use.
The UN International Panel on Climate Change says humanity has all the knowledge needed to solve the climate emergency. Fossil fuels must be replaced with reliable renewable energy as soon as possible.

Hopefully it’s not too late to contact the PM, Treasurer and local MPs to demand they act on the science for the post-COVID economic recovery.
Marguerite Marshall, Eltham

Visionary leaders needed
Without being overly pessimistic, it may be that COVID-19 will be with us forever. Governments have used various tactics to try to reduce or even eliminate the virus while waiting for a vaccine, which may never come. These measures have been punitive, have bred uncertainty and have caused economic turmoil. We now see emerging conspiracy theories and protests as people lose confidence in governments and those epidemiologists advising them.

No matter how effective the lockdown is in containing the coronavirus it will not eliminate it. There will be future outbreaks and it is impossible to have three-month lockdowns after each occurrence. We need a strategy for living with the disease, minimising its impact and allowing people to get on with life.

To really protect the community we need visionary leaders who offer hope by taking a long-term view rather than deploying short-term reactionary tactics.
James Young, Mount Eliza

Modify the bubble
I support a cautious reduction of COVID-19 restrictions based on rigorous modelling. Nevertheless, it’s tough living through it on my own, and I was looking forward to visiting my daughter and her wife. I’ve learnt, however, that if I go to her apartment, within walking distance of mine, only one of them can remain at home. I can’t see the logic in this. If I’m shedding the virus, it will be in the apartment when the absent resident returns. If they are shedding, I will pick it up no matter which one is at home when I’m there.

I can’t be the only parent wanting to visit a partnered child and I know there are solo adults who would like to visit both parents. The bubble was designed to reduce the threat to mental health of living without human contact. A sensible modification would be more likely to achieve the aim.
Maggie Kirkman, Melbourne

Wrestle the game back
It used to be called the greatest game in the country. Rugby fans used to describe it as aerial ping pong. Now the great game of the AFL has disintegrated into what can only be described as wrestling on legs.

The current administration and football commentators need to hang their heads in shame trying to convince us that it’s the same game we used to know.
Denis Evans, Coburg

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Coronavirus
How cruel of Dan Andrews. He gives us a road map and then tells us we can’t go on any road trips.
Ann Banham, Williamstown

I agree with Peter Fenwick (Letters, 7/9) ‘‘it should never be unsafe to protest’’ until it becomes unsafe to protest.
Paul Cook, Coburg

I guess those apposed to lockdown haven’t heard of the term, ‘‘for the greater good’’. Could someone explain it to them, in small words.
Julie Conquest, Brighton

Victoria is on an unexpected journey to reach the precious COVID normal. Produced and directed by Dan Andrews.
Michael Peterson, McCrae

Thank you Dan on behalf of all the people that would have died had you not stood up to the bullies.
Brewis Atkinson, Tyabb

Good grief! Preserve me from two hours of exercise and please don’t make me eat kale.
Ann Ritchie, Bellfield

Scott Morrison says Victoria’s COVID road map is ‘‘crushing’’. What happened to ‘‘we’re in this together’’ Prime Minister?
Brian Morley, Donvale

Having rowed us up the proverbial creek and lost the paddle, the Premier presents us with a road map that tells us to stay where we are.
Arthur Roberts, Elwood

Devastating yes, but if uncontrolled COVID-19 will be devastating!
Bruce Dudon, Woodend

Politicians and business live in an economy. We all live in a society. If the economy fails society will rebuild it. Not sure that the opposite is true.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool

Lockdown finishes when daily infections are five you say? Wake me up in 10 years and not a minute before, dear Jeeves.
Tim Nolan, Brighton

Finally
The UK government can ‘‘afford’’ to give Tony Abbott an unpaid job. We Australians are all paying for him to work for another government with his Life Gold Pass.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn

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