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Our sense of community seems to have vanished

Paul Nisselle, Middle Park

Like Bourke Street on Boxing Day

So the hoped-for release from recent COVID-19 guidelines has been delayed.

No wonder. The lack of social distancing and application of the “20 rule” on eateries in Daylesford’s overcrowded main street on Sunday left us wondering about how long it will take for respect for others to prevail.

It was like Bourke Street on Boxing Day.

John Taylor, Myrtleford

Spike comes as no surprise …

The current spike in community transmission comes as no surprise. No, not the recent protest marches, but the large crowds and the complete lack of social distancing I have repeatedly witnessed on the Mornington Peninsula.

Presumably this applies to other tourist areas as well.

Rob Smith, Rye

… if this was anything to go by

Recently I have had to visit two large shopping centres, one in Geelong and one in Knox. I noticed that social distancing was non-existent in most areas, especially in the food halls and fresh produce areas.

Why is it that these large shopping complexes have been allowed to remain open, when it is nigh on impossible to maintain strict social distancing? I don’t blame the retailers, who have mostly done their best in this difficult time. It is Joe Public that is not adhering to strict guidelines, and I include myself.

I will not go to another large shopping centre for the foreseeable future.

Margaret Collings, Anglesea

The stupidity beggars belief

The absolute stupidity of testing Melburnians for COVID-19 as they enter shopping centre car parks and then berating them for continuing with their shopping excursion instead of returning home and self-isolating until results are known beggars belief.

No wonder we are considered worthy of exclusion from the rest of the country.

John McCallum, Mont Albert North

We must remain vigilant

Your correspondent (Letters, 23/6) seems to suggest that we should in effect just let the coronavirus rip and learn to live with the consequences. Few other countries have contained the virus as well as Australia. This is largely due to the stricter measures we took here early on. Countries which have taken a less draconian approach are seeing record surges in cases and deaths. SARS-CoV2 is a very infectious and deadly organism. In less than six

months, America has already lost nearly a third as many lives from the virus as it had troops killed in the entire Second World War. It has 123,000 coronavirus deaths. We have 102. We must remain vigilant and do everything we can to control this virus and maintain our relative success.

Peter Barry, Marysville

THE FORUM

This is a city problem

The Premier of Victoria has reintroduced tighter restrictions due to a spike in community transmitted COVID-19 infections in the suburbs of Melbourne. Businesses in the wider regions, where no COVID-19 spikes are being recorded, have been put under the same restrictions.

Why is it everyone else has to suffer because of what is happening in the city?

For country people it is difficult to understand. The price paid by a significant portion of the business sector has been enormous. For the “greater good” small businesses have taken it on the chin while quietly agonising about how they can survive. The reality is that many won’t and this may well be the final nail in the coffin.

When someone is involved in a car accident, a small portion of the road may be temporarily shut down while casualties are assessed, the accident is investigated, and wrecks towed away. Not every road across the state is closed.

Perhaps it is time we looked at COVID-19 data on a local government basis, and applied the appropriate restrictions accordingly?

Kerry Anderson, Castlemaine

Bent on manipulation

I naively imagined that the rationale of setting fees for university courses was supposed to depend on the relative costs of delivering those courses.

Instead, it now seems the government is hell bent on manipulating the tertiary sector to serve its misguided, politically motivated ends. In the process, it risks undervaluing the goals of higher education and distorting access to it. The pursuit of knowledge involves more than just enabling “job readiness”.

Gough Whitlam must be turning in his grave.

Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

A narrow focus

Students today are urged to choose a pathway to careers that are STEM dependent and to select their school studies accordingly. But while such subjects stress logic and a tight knowledge base their focus can be narrow and the jobs they lead to may well be under greater threat in the future from artificial intelligence developments.

More general arts courses that offer a wider scope and problem-solving challenges may provide the student with the flexibility necessary to adapt to a future of volatility and turbulence.

Peter McCarthy, Mentone

Re-education next?

The minister for re-education, Comrade Tehan, is to be congratulated on his initial steps towards correcting the misconception by the next generation that they should have access to those dubious areas of study and experience – the humanities.

He is well apprised of this waste of time and of national resources and worse, of the counterproductive and even dangerous avenues of free and independent thought that could eventuate.

Consequently he is doubtless arranging the next stage in the process of re-orientation – their removal from comfortable, bourgeois cocoons to the country farms and orchards, where they will find dignity in labour.

The funds thus conserved will then be available for the training of worthy students of technology in the robotic arts, the products of which will shortly replace them, thus completing the process of rendering the whole of the profits of the economy available to and for the benefit of the landed gentry, the clergy and the military – the historic and rightful owners of this proud land.

Tom Keeble, Ocean Grove

Disgusting behaviour

When we hear reports on news programs of an athlete with COVID-19, we are often treated to films of games and practice.

We then see the abysmal practice of players spitting on or blowing their noses onto the playing field. This is not protective behaviour, and surely places everyone on that ground at high risk of infection.

Last century we worried about TB, now it is COVID-19. Please ban this unnecessary, disgusting and potentially dangerous behaviour.

Alma Ries, Geelong

The list got bigger

Former ABC radio broadcaster Jon Faine (“Sense of entitlement is rot at the core”, Comment, 22/6) felicitously describes the widespread abuse of political power (ie. from all sides) as “an overwhelming sense of entitlement”. Similarly, an independent inquiry by the High Court now confirms that “self-entitlement” isn’t the exclusive preserve of our elected representatives. It (allegedly) includes eminent former High Court judge Dyson Heydon. (“Former top judge a ‘serial harasser'”, The Age, 23/6)

Although a different theme to ALP ‘branch stacking’ – the alleged sexual harassment of “six young female associates” (and a current judge, who was a barrister at the time) – has the same underlying “syndrome” of self-entitlement leading to an abuse of power.

The list of “self-entitlement” (ie. by vocation) just got bigger and uglier, because, as Josh Bornstein incisively discerns, “at the same time he was dispensing justice in the highest court in Australia’s legal system”, Dyson Heydon was (allegedly) a pre-eminent “sex pest”.

Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Get in, then get out

Coming to a shopping centre near you, COVID-19. Why are shopping centres-strips not better policed?

There’s little point shop owners having all marks on the floor – count in and out, etc – if people dawdle about, not respecting spacing and in fact not really shopping at all. And why come with the whole family?

Get in – buy what you need – get out.

Doris LeRoy, Altona

Silos everywhere

Large corporations commonly harbour what are called silos, separate groups of people working on differing issues without cross communication despite the fact these issues are not really independent.

An excellent example is seen in The Age (22/6), where on adjacent pages we are informed that “Summer pushed grid to the limit” on page 14, while on the next page we are told Germany and France are promoting the switch to electric vehicles but Australia has a much slower pace because of a lack of government support for the technology.

So here we have it. The electricity grid is vulnerable in times of high demand, something we are all aware of through personal experience, while at the same time base-load generating capacity is decreasing. And in the other silo, we have the Electric Vehicle Council bemoaning the case that government is not providing promotional stimulus for their vehicles.

Why is it so difficult for folk to see the bigger picture. I give up.

Henry Askin, Hawthorn

No panacea, but it helps

Studies in the humanities and the liberal arts and valuing of art and culture don’t guarantee that a state won’t lapse in to crass venality or become broken or worse (read George Steiner’s observations about Nazi Germany in Language and Silence) but they surely help.

Love of language and reading, historical literacy, acquaintance with the history of ideas, respect for other cultures, encouragement of human expression and creativity, together with the habit and skills of critical inquiry are all essential ingredients in the making of a civil society. These can all be found to some degree in other disciplines but are at the core of the humanities.

The staggering ignorance of many of our politicians alone is evidence that instead of barring the way we should be encouraging more people to undertake arts degrees: it would seem that the great Australian cultural cringe is alive and well, at least in Canberra.

Further, as others have noted in these pages, the skills and understandings fostered by the arts are portable: they can and should inform and sustain a great many other enterprises that are essential to our wellbeing.

Michael Read, Carnegie

Fixing the statue problem

Generally, as a white 81-year-old Australian, I do not agree with demolishing or removing statues and cairns and changing place names, with exceptions as pointed out by Tony Wright in his excellent piece in Saturday’s Age (“Name of monster has no place on our soil”, Insight, 20/3). Such moves only continue hiding the full history of Australia since 1788.

What needs to be done first is to place additional plaques on these monuments to tell the full story. I understand this has been done in Western Australia on at least one statue.

If you want to take some action, then I believe the best way to bring reconciliation and peace to our first Australians is to pester your local member of Parliament for the government to implement the “Uluru Statement from the Heart”. Our First Nations people have 60,000 years of right to be recognised in the Australian constitution and the right to a voice to Parliament. Anything less is window dressing.

As to claims that we were not taught about all of this, you did not need a history lesson to know that Australia was invaded in 1788.

Terry Smith, Wodonga

An inspiring story

With all the tragedies that cast a pall over us, eg, the litany of tragic events that provided the impetus for the Black Lives Matter movement, the COVID-19 pandemic, how wonderful to read “An ancient grain is back on the menu” (Good Food, The Age, 23/6).

Such a truly inspiring story, as we seek to understand what we can learn from Aboriginal culture, mamadyang ngalluk, “dancing grass”, fires the imagination: sheer poetry.

Bruce Pascoe and his mob have demonstrated so poignantly what is possible when we respect the power of the natural world and the reverence of sharing a meal.

Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley

Minimising risk

There is no way you can control the risk but you can minimise the effect of the virus.

No amount of fear or hysteria will alter the fact that it is when we have herd immunity that there will be some normalcy in our lives. Health is not defined by the control of this infection. To create guilt around a community will do nothing but create animosity among members of that community.

The initial reason for the lockdown was to ensure that the hospitals were not overrun.

They were not and are not.

Graham Haupt, Ivanhoe

AND ANOTHER THING

Life in the time of COVID-19

Maybe it’s time to hotel quarantine anyone who tests positive to coronavirus … self isolation isn’t working.

Michael Mckenna, Warragul

Is the old joke about needing a passport to visit Queensland about to become reality?

Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley

My daughter lives in Berwick bordering the City of Casey. She reckons they ought to build a wall between the two cities to stop the invasion of COVID-19 into her neighbourhood. She also reckons Casey should be made to pay for it. I don’t know where she gets these ideas.

Damien Ryan, Frankston

Politics

Instead of his constant whining, unless Michael O’Brien has something constructive to add to what should be a bipartisan conversation, perhaps he should keep his mouth firmly shut.

Audrey Stewart, Geelong

Well, colour me surprised that the federal government doesn’t want a royal commission into the unlawful robo-debt program. Who’d have thought?

Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights

Donald Trump, was the stadium for your rally half empty or half full?

Chris Wilson, Poowong

I wish I could be as sure of winning Tattslotto as I am that conservative politicians will oppose wage rises and superannuation increases for workers. Is there ever a good time?

Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie

University fees

Doubling arts course fees will not make any arts-inclined student any more qualified to undertake a science or engineering degree.

Les Aisen, Elsternwick

Furthermore

Warwick McFadyen’s column (Comment, 23/6) defined the true meaning of saying sorry: if only some politicians would read and learn from it.

Mary Cole, Richmond

Finally

I’m disappointed. I thought Boris Johnson was promising us lots of cheaper Penguin books in exchange for our Tim Tams.

Heather D’Cruz, Geelong West

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