The Prime Minister did the right thing in boosting JobSeeker and he certainly cannot let it lapse to the old $40 per day. In any case, most of those on higher incomes do not pay the top tax rate because of income splitting, negative gearing and cash payments for excess franking credits. This tax cut largesse for high rollers will be saved and not spent. They will not add to private consumption and cushion the effects of coming off reduced JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments in September. The tax cut will increase income inequality.
Robert Blakeley, Horsham
Paying the price for a casualised workforce
Throughout the past century, advocates and organisations ensured that workers gained payment and conditions commensurate with the contribution they made to the economy and society. However, successive governments – federal, state and local – have promoted the casualisation of the workforce over a significant period.
These societal guarantees have now been eroded to the point where a crisis such as the pandemic exposes the weaknesses created by a large casual workforce. People whose day-to-day existence depends on an ability to be at work (often in multiple low-paid and uncertain jobs) do not have any capacity to choose between this or staying at home. Politicians who are calling for low-paid, casual workers to bear the brunt of protecting the community from virus spread are the same ideologically driven class that stripped conditions from these workers.
Mark Bennett, Manifold Heights
An opportunity to do better for all Australians
The Premier has highlighted the role of insecure work as a driver for coronavirus-affected people continuing to go to work. Similarly, frustration at delays in receiving test results may have been worsened by the privatisation and centralisation of pathology services.
The way our economy has worked until now is not working in a pandemic. When we come out of this, we will need a serious review of how we employ people, where they work and and serious decentralisation, especially for the development of onshore manufacturing to make Australia self-sufficient in essential supplies. We need a future of secure local jobs, drawing on some of our good, old-fashioned ways of doing business as well as more socially and environmentally thoughtful emerging industries.
Jo McCubbin, Sale
Allowing more people to be tested and to isolate
Daniel Andrews needs to extend pandemic leave and hardship payments to people who are waiting for their test results. It is not reasonable to ask someone to isolate for up to 10 days while they wait for a lab result and to only give them help if they test positive. All this does is discourage people from getting tested.
Bryce Nichol, Ringwood North
We all need to eat and have a roof over our heads
So Victorians are going to work sick when they should be in isolation. This should come as no surprise. The infection rates have been higher in those areas where incomes are lower. Overseas this nasty disease is also affecting the poor disproportionately. It is time for a universal basic income to allow workers to stay at home while this pandemic rages. A change to the tax rates to pick up tax from those at the higher ends of the income scale should go a long way towards paying for it. Over to you, Josh Frydenberg.
Eileen Ray, Ascot Vale
Helping small businesses
In 2007, the government realised that the then $50,000 GST threshold on businesses put a stranglehold on many small ones and raised it to $75,000. There has been no increase in the threshold since then, although house prices and the cost of living have soared. If the government wants small businesses to survive this recession, the GST threshold must be raised to $100,000.
Small businesses like mine operate on a shoestring and sustain their owners modestly, while providing valued services to their customers. The GST may soon be raised to 15per cent to provide the funds to support the economy. I hope the turnover threshold will also be raised. Many small businesses will survive or fail based on this decision.
Marianne Sherry, Northcote
Defining true hardship
When masks don’t work
A number of correspondents have criticised the exemption for runners and cyclists from the wearing of masks. On Thursday I wore a mask when I went for my bike ride. While I had no problem with breathing through it even when exerting myself, it was not long before the condensation built up in it, wetting it thoroughly and rendering it ineffective. Sorry, walkers, I will not be wearing a mask again when riding as it is pointless.
Stuart Gregory, Brunswick
Keep spit to yourself
If joggers and cyclists must exercise without a mask, maybe they should buy a running machine or an exercise bike so that their spittle remains in their own garage.
Jim Bitcon, Balwyn
We all must wear masks
I met a bloke, not wearing a mask, on a golf course who proudly announced he had asthma. I think I was supposed to say, ‘‘Of course you shouldn’t be wearing a mask’’. But a mask offers (less than perfect) protection in two directions.
It protects the wearer from others and we others from the wearer. The last thing anyone, especially someone with compromised lung function wants, is COVID-19.
Asthma is a disease of small airways, not a disease of the upper airways of the nose and mouth. If there is a perception from an asthmatic person that their breathing is compromised by wearing a mask, the last thing they need is a ticket to avoid wearing one. They need an improved asthma management plan. So put on a mask and go to the GP. There needs to be one simple, universal rule. Wear a mask. It just might save lives.
Dr Chris Hughes, Rye
The huge job of testing
As a scientist in pathology, I find it offensive that anyone would suggest we are in any way not working at full capacity to get results out quickly. Remember that since February, we have developed tests to detect this new virus, installed extra equipment and trained staff.
We also work 24/7 on thousands and thousands of samples to get you your results quickly, in extremely trying conditions, on ‘‘the frontline’’, as you are asked to isolate in the comfort of your home for a few days. Pathology scientists and technicians are working hard for you and I am proud of each and every one of them.
Name withheld, Mornington
Try ‘pooling’ method
A quicker method of COVID-19 testing is being used by Israeli researchers. ‘‘Pooling’’ tests a combined sample taken from 32 or 64 patients. If the result from the combined batch is positive, then individual tests are conducted for each specific sample. This has greatly accelerated the rate of testing and detection. Another way to speed up testing could be to send ‘‘spit testing’’ kits to each household. This could save on queuing at testing centres and prevent incidental shopping expeditions.
Helen Kamil, Caulfield South
The carers’ dedication
Not everyone is suited to nursing our old folk. It takes a really special kind of person. I hope these workers are now being more highly valued and better compensated for their heroic work.
Gail Greatorex, Ormond
Chilblains and COVID-19
Re your article about doctors and nurses in hospitals seeing rashes and swollen fingers and toes among COVID-19 symptoms. https://www.theage.com.au/national/rashes-swollen-hands-and-feet-the-unusual-symptoms-of-coronavirus-20200721-p55dwp.htmlMany general practitioners are reporting higher than usual numbers of patients presenting with chilblains on the hands and/or feet. The rash appears identical to that associated with COVID-19, yet none I have seen give a history of symptomatic COVID-19 infection or flu-like illness.
Dr Sue-Ann Steer, Glen Iris
So easy in hindsight
Could Michael O’Brien please give us the benefit of his insight into managing the COVID-19 crisis, at the time of the implementation of strategies instead of when the unanticipated consequences make it apparent to everyone. It is easy to be right about what to do then when you now know what happened.
Kris Sloane, Fitzroy North
The wrong time to rally
It is disheartening that organisers of the Black Lives Matter protests intend to go ahead with a march in Sydney. Since the movement started in the US, many Australians have felt more empathy, awareness and understanding for those who suffer prejudice because of the colour of their skin. The unwise actions of a few will result in a significant shift in support for the movement because it is extremely irresponsible to hold a public protest at this time. In the current circumstances, all lives matter.
Creighton Parker, Blackburn North
The ongoing prejudice
Sussan Ley’s approval of the Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine, against the wishes of the local indigenous community https://www.theage.com.au/national/indigenous-owners-lose-bid-to-protect-land-earmarked-for-shenhua-mine-20200722-p55eip.html, shows how little has changed in centuries of European occupation. When push comes to shove, First Nations Australians will always lose out to powerful sectional interests. In 100 years, people will be asking: ‘‘How could they let this happen?’’
Colin Smith, Mount Waverley
Save our environment
People are rightly concerned about the federal government’s fast tracking of environmental approvals. In Victoria, our government seems to be streamlining the process by other means.
Chris Atmore, Somers
Two approaches to trees
I was flabbergasted by Melbourne City Council’s statement that it wishes to protect the grand sentinel trees https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbourne-council-votes-on-lifting-100-trees-to-exceptional-status-20200721-p55e2g.html. Right now it is in full swing, destroying the heritage elms in the Botanic Gardens precinct. At least 20 so far and the number is growing daily. The sight of their trunks lying waiting for the pulping machine is very haunting.
Susie Holt, South Yarra
A tonic for bleak lives
Is there any chance you could include a good news story on your website? And I do not mean one about how people love remote learning or making their own bread. A nice story about a kitten being rescued from a well, a massive plastic clean-up in Timor Liste or even the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 since June would go a long way to stop us from tuning out the news entirely.
Sarah Craze, Ashburton
AND ANOTHER THING
Elvis was right, again. It’s gonna be a blue Christmas.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick
How will a personal tax cut help those who are unemployed?
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale
Is it too early to call it the Coalition’s Debt and Deficit Disaster?
Rob Smith, Rye
It beggars belief the government is considering tax cuts while unemployment grows and JobSeeker/JobKeeper is cut back.
Linelle Gibson, Williamstown
The only thing bothering me about masks is that we can’t use smiles to signal friendly intentions.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West
Students are calling those not wearing masks ‘‘Donalds’’.
Michael Carroll, Kensington
We’ve foiled Big Brother’s facial recognition software and I have an excuse for not remembering names.
Kevan Porter, Alphington
Where can I buy a spacesuit?
Doug Shapiro, Doncaster East
Dennis Walker (23/7), Moe, Larry and Curly would still have to rely on Melburnians doing the right thing.
Les Ewbank, Blackburn
If you can’t jog without a mask, how’s this for an idea? Don’t jog.
David Hamilton, Hampton
I’m a cyclist and a mask is no problem. Joggers, cyclists, all blowing clouds of airborne particles. One rule for all, Dan.
Ed Farbrother, Hughesdale
I finished the quick crossword (23/7). Quite a feat as three clues were missing.
Linda Fisher, Malvern East
Agreed, Josh Bornstein. If you want to reduce gender inequality, fewer middle-aged men in government would be a start.
Paul Cook, Coburg
Cormann: ‘‘I do not publicly comment on constituent inquiries’’ – i.e., ‘‘I won’t fess up to pulling strings to exempt Kerry Stokes from hotel quarantine’’.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South