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Fight for better homes for these residents

For those who have expressed outrage in this past week, hang on to it and channel this into advocacy for improved conditions and increased stock of public housing. Do not just forget, or move on to the next protest. Make this week mean something.
Christine Craik, Australian Association of Social Workers

Why are we still building small, congested units?

Those who criticise the severity of lockdown restrictions in public housing towers ignore the fact that social distancing is not possible to maintain unless there is a guard on every floor, lift and stair entrance, and even then congestion could still be a problem in passageways.

It would, of course, not be necessary if all residents could be relied on to observe all rules to stop the spread of the virus.

Unfortunately that is not the case, given the expressed attitudes of some and the fact that the virus had already taken hold. It must also be remembered that these towers were designed in a different era, well before there was the slightest concept of the effects of a pandemic.

Certainly play space for children is virtually non-existent and so a problem. So why are we allowing unit developments today that are so crowded there is no safe outdoor space?
John Weymouth, Ringwood East

Yes, these towers are ‘vertical cruise ships’

I suspect the next state government inquiry will be into whether locking 3000 residents in their apartments, in nine high-rise towers, facilitated the spread of COVID-19.

The problem with the towers is not simply one of overcrowding. In most high-rise buildings, the air circulated through the airconditioning carries whatever air-borne droplets of virus are there, so that all get to share it.

Locked inside their apartments, with windows fixed closed, residents have only the increasingly contaminated air to breathe. We saw how the virus spread on cruise ships when travellers were locked in their cabins. We are repeating the mistake and turning these nine towers into ‘‘vertical cruise ships’’.
Betty Russell, North Warrandyte

It’s time for the government to change course

The Victorian Public Tenants Association has called for increased public housing (The Age, 9/7). This provides a great opportunity for the Victorian government to be more flexible and change its current ill-conceived privatisation of public housing land.

In Northcote, the local community supported a renovation of the low-rise estate on the north banks of Merri Creek with an increase in total units. But the government has rezoned the land.

It intends to sell it to a private developer for mixed housing in a 12-storey tower which will overshadow the creek environs – and all of this with a mere 10per cent increase in beds for public tenants.

Only a fence has gone up around the site so far. Hence there is a great opportunity to build a state of the art public housing estate with more units than previously designed.

It should also be specifically designed to protect the creek and open space, while opening up the creek for public use. The added benefits would be an increase in immediate employment and an earlier finishing date.
Geoff Wescott, Northcote


Benefits of mitigation

Stephen Duckett, writing with Will Mackey, persuasively argues that an elimination strategy for coronavirus is better than our suppression strategy (Comment, 9/7).

However, he fails to note that both leave a large pool of uninfected people in the community, and that Victoria’s second lockdown has been mainly caused by leakage of the virus out of quarantine into our uninfected population.

The elimination strategy requires both watertight quarantine and a vaccine. If either of these do not work, it fails just as badly as suppression.

A better strategy is mitigation, in which you temporarily isolate vulnerable members of your community and, using social distancing protocols, allow the pathogen to move slowly through everyone else, so as to prevent your hospitals from being overloaded.

When the virus runs out of new people to infect, it will die out and the all-clear can be sounded for the vulnerable to re-enter a community that has become resistant to the disease.
Andrew Rothfield, retired doctor, Northcote

Teach the kids at school

COVID-19 will not go away in six weeks and more remote schooling is not the answer. With all possible safety measures in place, please let children return to their classrooms. A solid education lays the foundation for an empowered life. During the last lockdown, the loss of classroom interactions and support had a profound effect on the well-being of children, particularly those already disadvantaged. Let adults concentrate on flattening the curve and let kids enjoy learning, with all the resources they need, in their schools. Teachers are essential workers too.
Marion Askin, Camberwell

The forgotten educators

I always knew kindergarten teachers and early childhood educators were superheroes. They obviously are immune to COVID-19 as they are on the front line, working with young children, when schools are closed for an extra week. This is an economic, not a social or compassionate, decision. It is affecting a sector that is mostly female and not sufficiently funded or recognised for the work that is done in the care and education of children from birth to five years.
Anna Munari, Ascot Vale

A very safe environment

Why can’t teachers return to schools (The Age, 9/7) where there is plenty of room to socially distance especially, with no or few students? However, they can go to supermarkets where social distancing is basically impossible.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

So many cars in lockdown

Yesterday I headed to Melbourne from the Surf Coast for a medical appointment at a hospital. From 6.45am at Aireys Inlet onwards I faced a constant stream of cars heading to the coast. Lockdown is very, very leaky.
Margaret Jacobs, Aireys Inlet

Blocking the ‘interlopers’

Given the logistical nightmare which is the Albury/Wodonga crossing, I wonder if any thought was given to putting checkpoints around the southern side of Wodonga or the northern side of Albury to intercept the southern interlopers.

If that had been possible, the residents of the twin cities would have continued to be able to move freely between each centre and to not suffer a massive amount of inconvenience.
Rod Evans, Parkville

Flouting the restrictions

Is it a breach of the new coronavirus restrictions for a person to leave Melbourne for a holiday home in regional Victoria after the restrictions were announced, but before they come into effect?

I am aware of a number of Melburnians who travelled to a holiday home in East Gippsland. This was in clear breach of the spirit of the restrictions. I understand the same situation has occurred at Inverloch, Phillip Island and Dromana when the advice has been to ‘‘stay at home’’.
John Christiansen, St Kilda

Who’ll police ‘intimacy’?

It is wonderful that despite the COVID-19 restrictions, we are still able to visit our intimate partner. It does, however, raise the question as to how the intimacy is to be verified. (And I do note that it is partner singular, not plural).
Allison Christians, Footscray

Deja vu all over again

Locked in the house, with nowhere to go. I honestly cannot say I am surprised it has come to this.

After the first easing of restrictions, I was out for a bike ride when I spotted half a dozen or so idiots playing touch rugby.

Clearly they had no idea of the requirement to maintain social distancing. And I am sure they would not have been the only ones without a clue.
Greg Brown, Tarneit

What could have been
How a stitch in time could have saved Victoria from COVID-19. Once again we see the pitfalls of privatisation manifested with so-called ‘‘security’’ services being enlisted on a whim.

With guards paid a pittance by their employers, what kind of service do you expect?

It is deeply disappointing to think we might have escaped this second wave, had our government taken an extra second to think this plan through.
Doug Williams, Clifton Hill

Fighting the virus together

The frustration about re-entering lockdown is understandable, but Victorians playing the blame game will face more insidious outcomes if we do not put it aside.

While we fight among ourselves, the real, invisible enemy is running rampant through our community. Ultimately, we cannot wind back the clock. Do we continue arguing over where it all went wrong, or will we overcome this virus together?
Virginia Naves, Clifton Hill

Accentuate the positives

I understand that the lockdown is overwhelming and disappointing to everyone and that it will impact on people financially. But the media focus on the negativity does not help with people’s well-being and attitude to this. How about focusing on some of the positives?

Spending quality time with family and bonding? Taking time to cook and eat a meal together as a family? Spending times with your kids and helping them with their homework without distractions? Let’s have a ‘‘glass half-full’’ attitude.
Ali McLeod, Cremorne

US’ childish response

The United States’ plan to leave the World Health Organisation is like the petulant kid taking his bat and ball and going home. More than ever the world needs this co-ordinating body.

If there are problems, work to fix them. The world is tired of the US’ bullying and undermining approach to problems and diplomacy.

Such an attitude from the developed country with the worst pandemic response should beggar belief but no longer does. The saddest part is all those ordinary Americans who are now locked, more than ever, into poor outcomes.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Degrees of ‘leadership’

In recent days, we have seen the best and worst of Liberal politicians.

While premiers of other states were rushing to distance themselves from anything Victorian, the Prime Minister’s statement that, under the current circumstances, all Australians were Victorians, was unifying and statesman-like. By contrast, the only contribution by the state leader of the opposition has been to sit back and take daily potshots at the Premier.

We are very fortunate that Michael O’Brien is not in charge.
Richard Morris, Drouin

Failure of government

Peter Thomas (Letters, 9/7) is one of several claiming there is ‘‘no manual on running this show’’.

Please see the document, ‘‘Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents’’. It was prepared for Barack Obama but could have easily been adapted to Victoria.

The lack of foresight in protecting residents of our ‘‘vertical cruise ships’’ has been astonishing.
Andrew Gemmell, Glenroy

Let’s all do the right thing

Give Dan Andrews a break. I am sick and tired of seeing this man, who has devoted every waking hour to deal with this crisis, being ripped apart by the media and Michael O’Brien.

We must work together and we are all responsible for getting this virus under control. This includes pulling our weight, doing the right thing and not sheeting home blame on party political lines.

COVID-19 knows no divisions or borders. We are very lucky to have Dan Andrews and Scott Morrison working tirelessly for us.
Belinda Dawkins, Bunkers Hill

A ‘brilliant’ discovery

I have just read astounding news: a supercomputer has found that operating commuter trains with windows open and limiting the number of passengers may help reduce the risk of coronavirus infections (The Age, 9/7).

I wonder what further insights the supercomputer might provide. Perhaps it could analyse whether opening blinds will let more light into a room.
John Stewart, Traralgon

Oh no, it’s Norman

It is so disappointing. Just a few weeks ago we had some days with zero, now it is getting out of control again. I am talking about ABC media appearances by Dr Norman Swan, of course.
Alex Beaumont, Port Melbourne

It’s so great to see you

Yes, we need new ways of saying ‘‘hello’’, Rilke Muir (Letters, 9/7).

For casual greetings, the mini-wave is fine. For something more expansive, spreading the arms wide as for a hug, but keeping the distance and closing them again, smile added, works nicely.
Jenny Lang, Malvern

Danger in overcrowding

Following the rapid spread of coronavirus in high-density housing, the state government has been urged to tackle overcrowding there. But the federal government’s policy is to ‘‘grow’’ Australia’s population, cramming more and people into our cities. Lunacy.
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Tassie has set up a hard border with Victoria. Have they dug a moat?
Greg Tuck, Warragul

What will happen to Victorians who arrive in NSW by boat?
Raymond Kenyon, Camberwell

The pariah state. Unclean, unclean.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury

Dan, one word: superb.
Donna Tsironis, Blackburn South

Thank you, Michael O’Brien, for explaining our position so succinctly. Cedar Meats, quarantine hotels and Andrews.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Minister Mikakos, one of the many very impressive women in our Premier’s team.
Maria Bohan, Newtown

The only contribution from O’Brien is carping and blaming. Oops, his schadenfreude is showing.
Judy Loney, Drumcondra

We are Australians and sing with one voice. Unless you’re a Victorian.
Barbara Abell, Essendon

Many of us dropped the ball. We have to take some responsibility.
Terry Kelly, Fitzroy North

I hope Trump gives Brazil’s Bolsonaro, a fellow coronavirus sceptic, a sympathetic hug.
Barrie Bales Woorinen North

I hear they’re using drones to discourage Victorians fleeing into NSW. How did they get Michael O’Brien up to the border?
Lesley Walker, Northcote


Super funds dump coal investments (9/7). Finally the free market realises profits will dwindle as climate change increases.
John Johnson, Richmond

Josh Frydenberg, it’s probably not the best time to announce tax cuts when so many are unemployed.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

When you’re walking along Portsea beach, remember you’re passing another Fox.
Tom Stafford, Wheelers Hill

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

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