Return rush risks revival of sick work culture

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Isolation rules

One of the good things about the pandemic has been a reset in the minds of workers that it is OK to go to work sick and infect co-workers. It has also exposed poorly paid industries where workers have no leave entitlement and are financially compelled to continue working and infecting co-workers.
I would like to have thought that one of our social adjustments post-pandemic would be that sick workers stay at home until they are well, but your reports on the COVID infection rule changes (“Isolation rule change in sight for households”, The Age, 22/2) indicates that some will seek to resume sending sick people to work as soon as the health system can cope with the effects.
Jeff Moran, Bacchus Marsh

Unmask schoolchildren
So a mask mandate remains for schoolchildren. I understand the argument that they are the least vaccinated members of our society. But they are also the members of our society least likely to become seriously unwell with COVID. How about we make it time for parents (and children) to make the choice about masks?
Andrew Laird, Malvern

Get people moving, not consuming
The state government announcement that it will now subsidise dining in Melbourne’s restaurants by $10 million (“Voucher stimulus for Victorian hospitality”, The Age, 22/2) to help “kick-start” the Victorian economy is perverse and should be reversed. What we really need is for that money to be spent on programs helping people to lose weight and drink less. This money would have been much better spent subsidising the weight loss as well as the personal fitness industry. Overeating and excessive alcohol consumption are behind the state’s obesity crisis which actually costs the economy millions of dollars annually in lost productivity and absenteeism.
John Glazebrook, Terang

Rule easing drives a shadow lockdown
Why is Victoria relaxing mask rules indoors, particularly in retail, when we are still seeing 5000 new cases a day and 100 deaths a week? Rather than bolstering economic activity, this move is more likely to drive those in “shadow lockdown” further into the shadows.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Stay decentralised
Years of talking about decentralisation in Australia has come down to the mantra that at all costs we must keep the CBD crowded and uncomfortable. COVID has brought about decentralisation through the working from home movement, and now there is a renewed effort to centralise work again.
Ann Ritchie, Bellfield

Mandate triple-vaccination
Does the Victorian government subscribe to the theory of the survival of the fittest to the degree that it is prepared to sacrifice those over 65, or expect them to restrict their activities to avoid the virus? Unless more emphasis is made that all should be triple vaccinated it is inevitable there will be more spread of the virus. People should be required to be triple vaxxed to access all public places. In the UK, hardly a model to emulate, fourth vaccination is being given to the elderly, and yet here we are adopting this gay abandon attitude.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

Music coming alive again
Live music is back. Hearty congratulations to radio 3MBS for the marvellous Tchaikovsky Marathon on Saturday at the Melbourne Recital Centre. The five concerts demonstrated that Australia has world-class musicians ready to perform for us. All of these musicians and singers gave freely of their time, not only in performing but also preceded by hours of practice with the assistance of many other volunteers. My hearty thanks to all involved in this splendid annual event.
Rod Watson, East Brighton

THE FORUM

Freedom under fire
As an Australian-Ukrainian, I am filled with dread and fear as I watch the unfolding events in Ukraine. Ukraine has its own proud history, culture, acknowledged sovereignty and should be allowed to determine its own destiny. My Ukrainian parents would have been upset but not surprised that the bullying and destabilising of this rich country continues. My parents endured a Stalin-induced famine during the 1930s that killed nearly 4 million people, the Russification of many parts of the former USSR through forced translocation of Russians into neighbouring countries of Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and other parts of the former Soviet Empire to enable dominance of the Russian language and culture. Even the Ukrainian national anthem composed in the 1860s was not allowed to be sung until its independence some three decades ago. The first line of the national anthem gives you a sense of Ukrainians: “Ukraine’s freedom has not yet perished…” All Ukrainians have ever wanted is freedom and self-determination. Stop Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Vera Lubczenko, Geelong West

Eyes on the superpowers
Peter Hartcher, (“All eyes are on the bigger bear”, 22/2), is right to conclude that, notwithstanding Russia’s destructive meddling in Ukraine’s eastern region, the US has made a clear-cut calculation that it is the economically and militarily advanced leviathan, China, that represents the greater long-term world threat. As a historical analogy, one might cite the World War II alliance between the dominant Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and Italy’s posturing Mussolini. Vladimir Putin is a master of political theatrics but the power differential between his nation and China says it all. The global contest is between the superpowers of US and China: end of story.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Protect democracy
In 1938, Hitler annexed part of Czechoslovakia to “protect” German-speaking Czechs, before taking over the whole country. Hitler also incorporated Austria into Germany in the Anschluss. Emboldened by the lack of action by the rest of Europe he went on to invade Poland in 1939 and started a war that devastated Europe and only ended with Allied “boots on the ground”. In 2022, Putin has annexed part of Ukraine to “protect” Russian speaking Ukrainians. He will take over the whole country in the next few weeks if nothing is done to stop him. Belarus’s President has offered up his country to Russia, remaining separate but doing Russia’s bidding. The Baltic states may well be next. As a committed pacifist, I can’t believe I am saying this, but the only thing that will stop Putin is European and American boots on the ground.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Appeasement maybe
Is the reason why NATO, and the US in particular, are reluctant to support Ukraine militarily that Putin has a point? Like it or not, for over 200 years Ukraine has been more or less under Russian suzerainty. Large parts of Crimea and eastern Ukraine are inhabited by Russian-identifying people. Perhaps the short-term solution is for Ukraine to trade off those predominantly Russian parts to Russia in return for recognition of Ukraine sovereignty over the rest of the country. Appeasement maybe, but better than having it all taken by force with thousands of civilian casualties.
Daniel Cole, Essendon

Better than Trump
Joe Biden is working hard and effectively with others to block the Ukraine invasion plans of Putin. Donald Trump would never have done the same.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool

Abbott’s simple view
Tony Abbott is alive and well (“‘New Iron Curtain’: Abbott warns Baltic states, Poland will be next if Russia invades Ukraine”, 21/2) returning to his boyhood when the world was divided into two – the goodies and the baddies (the USSR). He wants such simplicity back again. The world was never that simple and he should know that Poland is now a member of NATO and the prospect of the Russians attacking it is next to zero.
John Rome, Mt Lawley, WA

Real can-do capitalism
How thrilling to see a genuine can-do capitalist take his vision for energy reform up to this short-sighted federal government (“Mogul hits back at PM on AGL bid”, The Age, 22/2) with a proposal that could achieve significant emissions reductions. This government is now confronted with its failure to plan for generational change to new energy models. It can only watch as industry steps into the void their lack of leadership has created, and enacts bold visions with decisiveness. What an exquisite dilemma Mike Cannon-Brookes has created for this government. It might actually have to support a solution that helps manage climate change, by speedily closing down old-world energy sources. Careful what you wish for Messrs Morrison, Joyce and Taylor. And welcome to the 21st century.
Sally Holdsworth, Malvern East

Wasting an opportunity
How sad it is to see the PM look a gift horse in the mouth. A serious investor comes to help him with his “technology not taxes” plan and he rejects it without fair consideration. Once again he demonstrates his lack of imagination.
Nigel McGuckian, Bendigo

Embrace the change
The transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy is upon us. The endgame is a national electricity market incorporating no coal-fired generation and limited gas-fired generation. Cannon-Brookes’ joint bid to takeover AGL, although audacious, was timely. In addition to his proposal, AGL’s earlier planned closures of its coal plants highlight that regulators and policy makers need to be planning and implementing a rapid and equitable transformation of energy sources. Everyday Australians are supportive of renewables as shown through their actions – over 3 million households have solar panels installed. This renewable revolution is the challenge and opportunity of our time: it is to be embraced, not feared.
Amy Hiller, Kew

Billionaire plays
What contrasting headlines on the front page of The Age on Monday. A billionaire who wishes to spend his fortune on enabling the early closure of coal-fired power stations and Clive Palmer’s obscene sums spent on political attack without as much as a mention of policy. Australians consider with great care who you vote for.
Libby Gillingham, Mornington

Earn political relevance
In defending election expenditure, your correspondent (Letters, 22/2) conflates campaign spending with speaking. Election campaign ads and other material are almost invariably uninformative and often disingenuous and negative. We would be no worse off if it all disappeared. This in no way affects politicians’ freedom to speak. However, it would pressure them to compete for our attention by saying something relevant about why we should vote for them.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Freedom to splash cash
While your correspondent advocates freedom of speech, the model he advocates gives the greatest freedom to the one with the most money.
James Proctor, Maiden Gully

Palmer’s positive
A rare positive from the COVID pandemic, Clive Palmer pulled out of his speech at the National Press Club (“Clive Palmer gains edge over Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in a growing contest for disaffected voters”, 22/2). He is apparently suffering from COVID-like symptoms, which is concerning as he is unvaccinated, having previously claimed he doesn’t need the COVID jab. He and everyone should get triple vaccinated as the disease doesn’t distinguish between political affiliations. Keep well Clive, the newspapers need the money from your ugly black and yellow ads and we all need newspapers to give us honest political reporting.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

Driver error
Are there some poor E-scooter riders? Yes, I agree with your correspondent (Letters, 22/2). And some bicycle riders who disregard red traffic lights, don’t wear helmets, look at their phones, ride on footpaths … and hit pedestrians.
And yes, it is always the other bloke’s fault when accidents happen. Did someone mention motor car drivers and accidents? Poor skills and lack of respect come in many forms.
John Simmonds, Fitzroy

Let us take a power nap
I have just returned to Victoria after 12 months on the road towing a caravan as a grey nomad. On re-entering Victoria I was assailed by different message boards, all with variants of the need to pull off the road and take a power nap. Unfortunately, the reminders were useless as none of the boards was followed by a place where I could pull over. Compare that to Western Australia where there are well-designed and maintained areas to pull over every 20 or so minutes. Each comes with signage flagging that sites are within 5 kilometres, 1 kilometre, then 300 metres, then “now” – so lots of warning for a tired driver to plan ahead. Every pullover also comes with a clean toilet block.
The lack of pull overs in all directions around Melbourne means that an interstate driver travelling through needs to spend hours travelling to the other side of the city.
Stephen Ransom, Hampton

Quit the labels
The fact that your correspondent refers to conservative views being on The Drum and other ABC programs is part of the problem (Letters, 22/2). He sees these panellists first as conservatives, whatever that means, and whatever follows as a conservative point of view. Perhaps we should all stop applying narrow labels and just listen and engage with all sorts of people and stop trying to put them into boxes.
Joanna Wriedt, Eaglemont

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

And another thing

Ukraine crisis
More and more, President Joe Biden’s warnings to Russia look like a bouquet of lettuce leaves.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Before Australia provides its renowned cyber security prowess to Ukraine (“Australian cyber spies aid Ukraine”, The Age, 21/2) could they possibly do something to stop the scam phone calls I keep getting?
Greg Lee, Red Hill

AGL bid
Scott Morrison says, “Our government is very committed to ensure we sweat those assets” (“Mogul  hits back at PM on AGL bid”, 22/2). We’re all sweating as the world heats up. Climate change is happening now. Catch up.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn

Mr Morrison, the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones, and we don’t have to go to the end of the coal age.
Gillian Upton, Balaclava

Mr Morrison last month: can-do capitalism will solve climate change, signs carbon-neutral pledge. Mr Morrison this week: criticises can-do capitalism for trying to shut down a coal-fired power plant.
Benjamin Levy, Caulfield North

It seems Mr Morrison still can’t accept that the push against coal is not about lower power bills.
Rex Niven, Eltham

Furthermore
Mr Morrison seems to have avoided a case of arc eye, after flashing himself with an un-screened electric welder, while “showcasing” workers. Let’s hope that next time he doesn’t try cutting anything with a circular saw.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

As the old joke goes, a gentleman is someone who can play the ukulele but doesn’t.
Peter Russo, West Brunswick

Why bother with Wordle when Age readers have Target, Wordwit, quick and cryptic crosswords and, my favourite, Codewords?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

Now, can Patrick Dangerfield save Geelong from a football tragedy?
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda

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