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The political duopoly has clearly let us down here

I bet the 400-odd healthcare workers who have come down with COVID-19 while looking after those who were sick with the virus would love to have the option Morrison has just taken.
Bruce McMillan, Grovedale

This is the true mark of a leader …
Monica Dux commends the leadership of Daniel Andrews in tumultuous times like this and instead of criticising him for the infection control breaches, she admires his courage to step up to the forefront and take responsibility for the stuff-up by his government (‘‘A leader steps up’’, Spectrum, 18/2).

I believe that this is what makes a great leader. When we undertake any responsibility in life, success is not guaranteed, however there is one certainty – we will make mistakes or fall. The true mark of a leader is not that he falls, but how he emerges out of it with integrity and transparency that everyone truly values.
Navneet Saini, Cranbourne

If you fail, at least do it ‘while daring greatly’
‘‘It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly … who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’’ – Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president of the US.
Albert Haran, Sans Souci, NSW

Strength of purpose, sincerity and integrity
Beautifully nailed, Monica Dux. The Premier has exuded strength of purpose, sincerity and integrity – qualities irreplaceable in a crisis.

And how appropriate to his daily press conferences are the words, ‘‘Once more unto the breach’’ – unto the daily, exhausting battle against the invisible enemy while fighting back exhaustion through the barrage of repetitive and fatuous questions.

Questions so often more concerned with a ‘‘gotcha’’ or a political agenda that you could easily believe it was all a game rather than an issue of life and death.
Liz Levy, Suffolk Park, NSW


Quality and humanity
Sometimes, it’s the smallest of things. I breezed past the page with the latest COVID-19 figures which also reported the number of healthcare workers now infected. More statistics at a time when we are bombarded with them from every angle.

An article on the recovery of a critically ill COVID-19 patient (‘‘Virus survivor on the long road to recovery’’, 18/7) contained the following, incredibly moving, extract from a diary kept by intensive care workers which helped to set me straight: ‘‘Today we tried to wake you slowly after 13 days! Unfortunately you had some trouble waking … It was a pleasure looking after you today! Good Luck.’’

A brief insight into the quality and humanity of the people in whom we entrust our care.

So, the next time we see a friend ignoring the lockdown rules, let’s call them out. And the next time we hear someone we know spouting the latest ‘‘it’s all a hoax/it’s only the flu’’ conspiracy theory, usually parroted from some obscure American website, how about we don’t let such lunacy go unanswered?

Will it make a difference? I’m not sure, but it’s the least we owe the health workers risking their own lives to ensure our safety.
Simon Cowdroy, Healesville

Hypocrisy and futility
Jim Pavlidis (Comment, 17/7) brilliantly draws attention to the hypocrisy and futility of closeting away and forgetting the detained refugees in the Bell Mantra Hotel in Preston.

Would the detainees’ plight come under more notice if they were housed instead in the Cronulla Beachside Hotel in the NSW electorate of Cook, or in the Glenferrie Hotel in the Victorian electorate of Kooyong or in the Eatons Hill Hotel in the Queensland electorate of Dickson?
Patrick McNamara, Viewbank

It’s not about the Queen
We republicans need to be careful that we do not succeed on the dangerous and narrow nationalistic basis that the English monarch is a hateful symbol of our cringing subservience.

The failed quest to frame the Palace letters as the supreme example of the monarch acting against Australian interests seems directed at building that very foundation.

No, we need a more noble basis of ideas for founding an Australian republic, a basis that future Australians can recall with something much more fulfilling and compelling than triumphalism over a deposed monarchy.
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills

These lives count
My reading of your correspondent’s letter (‘‘We have had our lives’’, 18/7) leaves me troubled. Let’s not silence the reporting of deaths of our elderly citizens in this COVID-19 pandemic.

The writer sees this as ‘‘heightening the drama’’ and increasing anxiety, but not reporting would censor factual information and denies the reality and dignity of older lives. These lives count.
We need to hear about all the deaths from this virus. Any person’s death, irrespective of their age, is potentially ‘‘heartbreaking’’ for someone.

Age is but one factor in this. Questions of the burden and benefit of medical intervention, personal choice and context, and the fair use of resources are inherent in medical care.

This pandemic brings the latter into particular relief. But at any time, decisions must be informed, individualised and, hopefully, not grounded on blanket, arbitrary ageism.
Jane Sullivan, Kew East

Where’s the justification?
The Prime Minister has been one of the loudest voices for reopening borders and schools. How then does he justify cancelling Parliament?

Surely if we can work out how to continue the AFL season and allow people to commute to work across borders, we can work out how to allow Parliament to sit. MPs could isolate in Canberra for two weeks for instance.

Is COVID-19 a convenient excuse to avoid accountability.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye

Don’t forget the guard
Vogue editor Edward Enninful says he was racially profiled by a security guard as he entered the magazine’s offices. Not by a police officer, or a haughty fashion salesperson, but a rent-a-cop. Vogue quickly dismissed the security guard from the site.

Enninful is the embodiment of black achievement. With an OBE and considerable wealth, he is one of the most influential black people in the UK.

Following this incident, much was written about his rise in the fashion world, but not a word about the security guard who thought he was doing his job. A job he may lose, without regard to consequences for whatever family depended on his meagre income.

This kind of thing happens more than we care to admit. Someone on the bottom of the employment ladder makes a wrong decision, often careless or ill-informed, and causes offence. And the hapless soul takes the fall for following the cultural lead established by the community or political establishment.

Certainly, Enninful should take offence. And we should stand with him in agreement that no one should be judged for the colour of his skin. But to heap opprobrium on the shoulders of the security guard is wrong.
Robert Lang, Toorak

The blame goes deeper
Reading and listening to the stories of casual workers working several shifts at different care homes makes you think the chicken has come home to roost.

For years now the government has allowed and encouraged companies to casualise the workforce so it’s no wonder you hear these horror stories of the easy spread of the coronavirus.

Let’s put this into perspective: a casual worker even though they might be feeling a bit under the weather cannot afford to stay at home with no sick leave hence no money coming in to pay for food, rent and rip-off energy bills and to take care of their family. It might be a single parent making a pittance in these jobs and needing many shifts just to make ends meet.

Although I am sorry to hear these stories, especially for the elderly people at these homes, let’s not just make scapegoats of casual workers because the blame goes deeper and we all know that answer: low wages for more profits.
Dermot Mcintosh, Bacchus Marsh

A nuance-free zone
Sean Kelly calls for a more nuanced conversation as a path towards a better society (‘‘No, free speech is doing OK’’, Comment, The Age, 18/7). Many people would agree. However, some of those people will also be avid users of social media, particularly Twitter.

It is sometimes argued that social media has not contributed to a deterioration in public debate because it merely provides a more effective method for people to express their ideas.

That sanguine view of social media as a new ‘‘public square’’ was shattered years ago. Good faith, debate and discussion are almost impossible on Twitter, which, under the guise of free speech, rewards outrage and incendiary content. Offering an alternative point of view in an online echo chamber is to invite a torrent of abuse.

The nuance Kelly advocates will not occur on social media. Are all those Tweets really adding to the quality of public discourse or merely intended to upset other people?
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

An inspiring leader
Yes, Monica Dux, I totally agree (Spectrum, 18/7). Daniel Andrews is a believable, inspiring leader.
War against this invisible enemy will invariably challenge the bravest and stumbles are inevitable. The learning curve is steep so we all must play our part.

Isn’t it through our mistakes that we learn? Other leaders will, I imagine, be taking note.
Anna Sewards, Mitcham

Be responsible, people
I don’t blame Daniel Andrews for this latest virus outbreak. I blame the irresponsible people who will not listen to what is being asked of them and do it.

We are now back in lockdown because some people of today only think of themselves. And I don’t mean just the younger generation. We’ve been asked to wear masks when out for a while now and I’m glad we’ve finally been ordered to.

I just went to the chemist to get medications for my 93-year-old dad and was angry at the number of people walking around the shops without masks and not socially distancing. This virus is real, take it seriously or you could be the one in the ICU.
Linda Reynolds, Croydon Hills

Educated populace critical
Joan Segrave (And another thing, 18/7) is correct in suggesting this government ‘‘is skewing us towards a trained rather than educated society’’. It seeks more ‘‘Quiet Australians’’, trained to be be compliant, to do, rather than question or debate. To accept the slow erosion of democracy, rather than contribute to an intelligent contest of ideas. Such is the way of the hard right.

The national cabinet has sidelined the federal opposition, now COVID-19 is being leveraged to postpone the next sitting of Parliament.

The LNP has hollowed out the expertise of the public service over recent decades, attacked press freedom, eroded the ABC and prosecuted those trying to expose government over-reach under the cloak of national security. Never has an educated populace been more critical.
John Everett, Eltham

Just use Facebook
Western security hawks are concerned TikTok could give the Chinese government ‘‘access to vast facial recognition database’’.

Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper for them to just get Facebook accounts that already have lots of photos and come with facial recognition built in?
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Gittins nails it again
Ross Gittins nails it again (‘‘We won’t achieve economic reform until we co-operate’’, Business, The Age, 18/7).

Or, as Franklin Roosevelt observed in his second inaugural address (20/1/1937): ‘‘We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; now we know it is bad economics.’’
John Annison, Yering


At long last we have mandated masks. Good science is the practice of reviewing new evidence and adapting it.
Margaret Raffle, Keilor East



So, Scott Morrison, can I safely assume politicians aren’t essential workers?
Dawn Richards, Huntingdale

It is just not right for my tax dollars to be used to incentivise negative gearers to make it tough for young people to buy their first house.
Peter Gould, Moonee Ponds

If Sir John Kerr had been president rather than governor-general, Gough Whitlam would still have been dismissed.
Rob Cannon, Warrnambool

So the Prime Minister can attend a football match, unmasked, closely surrounded by a group of men with whom (presumably) he does not live, and yet he cannot sit in Parliament, socially distanced from his colleagues? Do I detect a double standard?
Ruth Harper, Taradale

Asylum seekers
Congratulations to Amnesty International and Craig Foster for their petition to get refugees seven years locked up to safe places.
Marie Goonan, Northcote

The ‘footy’
I watched the Essendon/Bulldogs AFL game on Friday night. It was the worst game of rugby I’ve seen in years.
Peter O’Keefe, Collingwood

Chip Le Grand is spot on (‘‘As threat rises, who’s in charge’’, Inside Story, The Age, 18/7). A defined line of responsibility is needed in a crisis. Unfortunately, co-ordinating government departments is akin to herding cats.
Barry Culph, St Leonards

Things are worse for poor old Portsea than Matt Golding thinks (‘‘Portsea off nation’s top 10 rich list’’, The Age, 18/7): That’s a Datsun 120Y parked in Latham Drive … not a 180B.
Ian Millar, Mordialloc

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