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What alternative do we have in this crisis?

Pathetic in his insincere offer of bipartisan support, he was unable to offer it without a swipe at the Premier and the government.

A six-week lockdown is not what any Victorian would want but considering the situation, what alternative does the government have if huge numbers of fatalities like we have seen in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere are to be avoided?
Brian Pryke, Mount Dandenong

Impact on the economy may be too big a price to pay

Government is often about balancing risks, but I fear we have overreacted to one risk and overlooked another.

The six-week lockdown of greater Melbourne seems excessive given the localised nature of the COVID-19 spot fires and our enhanced ability to deal with any seriously ill patients in hospital.

We also need to look after the lives and livelihoods of small business owners. No doubt we will flatten the curve, but we could avoid flattening the economy as well if we learned to live with a level of COVID-19.

This is still far less than the seasonal level of influenza which kills 1500 to 3000 people each year, most of whom, like the case with this virus, are elderly with pre-existing conditions.

We have made mistakes, but we are learning as we go. Even optimistically, we are at least six months away from a vaccine and we cannot remain locked down until then.

Unless we get the balance right, the damage to people’s lives from the shutdown of the economy is likely to be greater than the damage from the pandemic.
Tom Williams, Albert Park

The danger in trying to score political points

Does Michael O’Brien really think he will attract votes by politicising the health crisis with his carping criticism and negativity about the government’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19?

Perhaps he thinks we have forgotten his demands for restrictions to be lifted at a time when it was obvious this was a big risk.

A particularly low point was trying to blame the government for the recession and high unemployment.

Also, I doubt whether anyone was impressed with his comment that Dan Andrews was not participating in “we are all in this together”. Other opposition leaders, state and federal, have resisted the temptation to score points out of this crisis.
Laurie Martin, North Croydon

A failure of the government and the opposition

Are we back to square one because our government was incapable of getting the message out to all demographic groups in a clear, coherent and direct way?

Did it rely on under-trained, underpaid security guards rather than accepting help from the Defence Force? Has it expended all its brain power and energy on gerrymandering local council wards and taking factional antics to new heights?

Is the best the government can do is stage an incompetent “imprisonment” of vulnerable, public housing residents in an ill-considered attempt to salvage its image?

And is the opposition simply incapable of holding the government to account? I nominate my local supermarket manager, Dave, as the next premier. At least he manages to keep enough toilet paper and pasta on the shelves.
Indra Liepins, Glenroy

It is time stop the carping and work together

Can we please have an end to the blame game. Daniel Andrews is providing exceptional leadership during this emergency.

He is focused, concise and unflappable in the face of continuous carping by the opposition and media.

There is no manual on running this show. Come on, people, stop whingeing and pull together.
Peter Thomas, Moonee Ponds


Imparting the message

The media has highlighted the need to spread reliable information about COVID-19 and lockdown measures in as many community languages as possible.

Leaflets are the most practical solution. However, some recently arrived migrants, particularly women and the elderly, may have little or no formal education or knowledge of English.

Any information, support and answers to their questions must be conveyed verbally and in print in their native languages.

Prevention of COVID-19 could be improved if interpreters were a regular part of the teams engaged in door-knocking and testing. There should be a focus on the most common languages spoken in specific areas so that interpreter services are used most productively.

This could be achieved if the government consolidated translating and interpreting services instead of outsourcing them to different of agencies, all of which compete to be the cheapest provider.

This would also ensure that translators and interpreters, particularly for emerging languages, were appropriately funded, trained and credentialled.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East

A kind word and help

Jon Faine says that some people, including those in high rise estates, “come from those parts of the world where anyone in a uniform can never be trusted” (Comment, 8/7). The lockdown presents an unusual opportunity for all concerned.

The experience will either confirm that mistrust or be a first step on a long road to trusting authority. A tough, heavy-handed approach, or understanding, a kind word and an offer to help may turn a life around. Which is it to be?
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

Far from luxurious …

Given the Spartan and stressful conditions in Victoria’s public housing at present, it seems hardly appropriate to refer to these grim blocks as “vertical cruise ships” (The Age, 6/7). They are more like towering infirmaries.
Trevor Hay, Montmorency

… and treated so badly

Thank you, Peter Khalil – “Public housing tenants must be heeded” (Comment, 8/7) – for writing about what many of us are thinking out of concern for those in the high rise towers and the inconsiderate and unfair way they have been treated.
Tim Hoffmann, Brunswick

Nurses eager to assist

A friend of mine is a nurse and she wonders why the government is not using the nurses who, at the moment, do not have a job.

According to her, many nurses are not getting work from nursing agencies because there appears to be no demand, while the hospitals seem to have put a freeze on recruiting.

Using unemployed health professionals instead of unqualified police (as far as health issues are concerned) would make a lot of sense and free up the police up for other matters which need their attention.
Ed Castenmiller, Sunbury

The forgotten caterers

Surely the airlines’ catering staff and facilities could be used to provide meals for those in total lockdown. Also, they are well equipped to provide meals for different dietary requirements.
Stephen Wilbourne, Kilcunda

Heed the health advice

On Tuesday, on my solitary walk keeping well away from others, I walked past a cafe in white, middle-class North Balwyn. I counted 10 diners, plus staff, in an area of about 15-square metres.

For that size, the cafe could perhaps have squeezed in four diners. It is not the government’s communication that is at fault.

It is the stupidity of some people, whatever their ethnic and cultural background, who are wilfully ignorant of the government’s health messaging. I hope the new restrictions are maintained until this new threat recedes.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

The haves and have nots

I am sure our politicians and wealthy elite are aware of the “no travel to holiday houses” rule. But, please Dan Andrews, can you make sure that this is clearly communicated to those in the high rise apartments which have been locked down.
John Circosta, Brighton East

Passing on the blame

We are told “we’re in this together”. However, someone from Melbourne told me that all our troubles were caused by the behaviour of certain people in certain suburbs.

In my regional town, which is coronavirus-free, there is no doubt that those to blame reside in the big smoke.

My neighbours have just returned from New South Wales, where they were routinely abused by fellow patrons in pubs and questioned by the police when their criminal state of origin was spotted on their number plates.

Of course, in Western Australia and South Australia, they are sure that our troubles originated with our poor government and its failure to competently manage a few important things.

I listened in dismay as our Premier chastised us for our “complacency” which had let the side down. Please, Scott Morrison, why do I feel so alone?

Sally O’Brien, Benalla

Can’t we travel a bit?

Thank you, Daniel Andrews, for letting the people of Melbourne continue to play golf and tennis, and to surf and fish. But the proviso that one cannot leave a lockdown area to partake in a sport appears to me draconian.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

But what was he asked?

Watching the televised press conference with Dan Andrews on Tuesday, it was frustrating not to be able to hear the questions posed by reporters. Why were they not handed a microphone? We do not know if the Premier answered the question posed or put the usual politician’s spin on it and avoided the issue. I think I may have just answered my own question.
Ann Banham, Williamstown

Victorians before politics

Michael O’Brien needs to make up his mind whether he will continue trying to undermine trust in the government, or get on board and help keep Victorians safe.
Barry Mitchell, Williamstown

How fortunate, Premier

According to Jon Faine, “people close to the Premier insist the emergency cabinet was never told of problems with security guards, even though several accounts have already been published of lower level managers alerting their bosses to procedural breaches”.

What a surprise and how convenient for the government. Straight out of Yes Minister.
Ross Morrison, Carnegie

Deciding how to say ‘hello’

Come on, you marvellous Melburnians (and Mitchell Shire folk). Let’s be positive. We have six weeks to agree to a social-distancing, greeting gesture. When we re-emerge from the lockdown, handshakes, hugs and high-fives will still be forbidden.

Come mid-August, we should be ready to launch ourselves and our new greeting on the world. The vulcan salute from Star Trek? A double nod? Please, not the namaste since Donald Trump botched it.
Rilke Muir, Kensington

Importance of a negative

In New Zealand, returning overseas travellers go into quarantine and cannot leave until their COVID-19 test comes back negative.

Why can’t all the states agree on this and have a uniform rule?

Given that the federal government controls who comes here, surely it could be a condition of entry that travellers stay in quarantine until they test negative.
Bernadette Earl, North Carlton

Well done to Victoria

I am 17 and from the United States. Currently I am living in a hotel in Melbourne due to the mandatory two-week quarantine. I have come over so I can go to a school in regional Victoria for better educational opportunities.

I think that the new restrictions in Melbourne are one of the smartest things that can be done.

I am from the country with the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world. Many Americans are so ignorant about the effects that this virus can have on major cities.

I also believe the US has taken the worst approach to managing this pandemic. It is a breath of fresh air to see the accountability of the Victorian government and the way it has brought in restrictions in order to protect people.
Rachel Simmons, Melbourne

Lessons from coronavirus

In the past, difficult decisions have been avoided for fear of the negative consequences. Today we are living with these consequences and it gives our leaders the chance to undertake ambitious actions with profound effects.

The first is transforming the economy. Mitigating the economic impact of COVID-19 will require significant government spending. Australia should develop a world leading, renewable energy industry from research and design through to manufacturing and implementation.

On a building and construction level, the focus should be on increasing the stock of social and affordable housing.

The second is shaping our communities to be more neighbourhood based, reducing the pressure on public transport and major roads, and providing a boost to regional areas.

The last four months have proven that many organisations can run well with a workforce based substantially at home, and this should be supported.

The third is improving the mechanics of how the commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictions work together, with health as a priority.
Rick Dixon, Mount Eliza

Seven years of lockdown

How awful is another lockdown? Further unemployment, more mental illness and family violence, absence from friends and loved ones for another six weeks. However, this is for a good reason: to keep us safe from COVID-19.

Imagine what it would be like if the lockdown were extended for seven years. That is what asylum seekers in offshore detention and those detained at the Mantra hotel in Preston have endured, with no end date in sight. Why this cruelty? We can be better than this.
Helen Pereira, Heidelberg Heights


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Another six weeks. That takes us up to April 97.
John Bye, Elwood

This virus is corona-onerous.
Martin Shaw, Mirboo North

Victoria, not the place to be.
Maria Prendergsast, Kew

Will there be a trade in illegal immigrants over the Murray?
Patricia Ray, Seville

Churchill, Morrison, Andrews: great leaders in times of crises.
Graeme Brazenor, Richmond

The government has let Victorians down and cost Australia billions with its incompetence. Andrews should step down.
Damian Saracino, Melbourne

Ten out of ten, Dan.
Kenneth Ralph, Belmont

Does O’Brien listen to himself? Carping hypocrisy from one who wanted everything opened up.
Ann Peers, Glen Iris

Michael O’Brien, try: “What can I do to help?”
Russell Ogden, Inverloch

The Premier blames Victorians. He left out a word: government.
Ross O’Loghlen, Fitzroy North

Danned if you do, danned if you don’t.
Maree Coote, Port Melbourne

There will be a big new wall. It will be paid for by NSW.
Dan Drummond, Leongatha

Victorians vaguely nodded their heads when medical experts advised a spike was likely.
James Moseley, Frankston

Premier, if you want your government to keep the confidence of Victorians, send Mikakos packing.
John Vidovich, East Melbourne

Are the Ivory Towers in lockdown?
Michael Kirley, Moonee Ponds

Michael O’Brien, this is about saving lives. Playing the blame game serves no useful purpose.
Cath Dyson, Mount Eliza

To those blaming ethnic groups: don’t feed the monster.
Adrian Bowden, Brighton East

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