Why should we all have to suffer?
Is the cost of saving some very old people in poorly run (government-monitored) aged care facilities really worth the enormous economic and human costs to the majority of Melburnians? Focus stage four restrictions on problem suburbs first and allow the others to keep going in stage three. Our society simply cannot afford higher unemployment, the unnecessary destruction of business, the increased levels of family violence, more cases of poor mental health and other intangible costs from applying stage four to suburbs where there are no hotspots.
Tony Danino, Wheelers Hill
The loss of liberty needs serious debate
We have reached a truly momentous point. All Victorians should take pause to consider the gravity of the latest move by the government. The declaration of a state of disaster and a nightly curfew with less than 24 hours’ notice is a paradigm shift in the restriction of civil liberties. Preventing community transmission in areas of high prevalence by proven PPE practice works for the community. The more extreme measures announced on Sunday do not. Clamping down on the fundamental liberty of freedom of movement, and all the as-yet-unexplored implications of the state of disaster, cannot protect us sufficiently to outweigh the freedoms we thereby lose, nor those we permit ourselves by our silence to lose in the future.
Michael Puck, Maffra
Sean Kelly (‘‘PM avoids focus at critical time’’, 3/8) accurately notes Scott Morrison’s adept avoidance of political scrutiny, particularly in relation to Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) for which the Commonwealth assumes responsibility for policy, funding and staffing. Recent research published in The Medical Journal of Australia concluded that compared with international staffing benchmarks, Australia’s RACFs meet none of the minimum criteria for adequate staffing. While Morrison has been Prime Minister for two years, this crisis has been more than 20 years in the making. The decline began with staffing, and particularly nursing staffing, following the Howard government’s passing of the 1997 Aged Care Act.
Michael Faulkner, Toora
Nimble without protection
Letter writers mourn the loss of protectionism, as if local PPE manufacturers would have been ready with enormous stockpiles of gear for an unforeseen once-in-a-century event. Privatisation gets bagged while our privatised telecommunications networks support mass work and school from home. Privatised airlines fund grounded fleets of the latest planes at private not public cost and risk. Level crossing removals are making road trips safer and quicker with money from the sale of the Port of Melbourne. The reforms of the Hawke-Keating, Kennett and Andrews governments made us stronger and better placed to face the current challenges.
Andrew McLorinan, Hampton
Mental health lost
Short, medium and long-term mental health impacts resulting directly from our response to COVID-19 are being lost in the hype about daily case numbers. A University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre report gave sobering projections that death from suicide will rise 20-30 per cent over the next five years. The consensus from my discussions with many clinicians is that a doubling of the suicide rate is far more likely. This would mean more than 3000 additional deaths each year. Perhaps if we perversely reported suicide rates – both attempts and deaths – daily as we are doing for COVID-19 people may feel it is an issue worth considering in our COVID-19 response.
Michael Saxon, Essendon West
Wave away federalism
While there have been mistakes made, especially around hotel quarantining, the PM’s recent reference to the ‘‘Victorian wave’’ as opposed to a second wave of infection sounds like he’s taken a leaf out of the US President’s ‘‘Handbook of Obfuscation’’. This unsubtle critique of the Victorian government’s handling of the pandemic undermines the concept of federalism and the need to all work together. The disaster that’s happening in aged care is a federal responsibility and the source of the majority of deaths. It is now obvious that a combination of the casualisation of labour along with the ‘‘right wing’’ belief that farming out of what was once government responsibility to private industry are unmitigated disasters. The virus has clearly demonstrated that these long-held ideologies of the nebulous concept of ‘‘trickle down economics’’ do not work. This is foremost a health crisis and unless we deal with this head-on we will not have any sort of economic recovery.
David Conolly, Brighton
Lack of rigour showing
There is much talk about private versus nationalised ownership. This discussion centres on if it’s privately owned it’s bad and if it is nationalised it is good for the public. This is strange because both systems are just a group of people that supply a product to the public, both have a management system that entails intelligence and planning to succeed. We constantly see business fail in specific projects but we also see government fail in processes that they undertake. All this shows that poor planning and thinking, together with lack of oversight and accountability by both sides brings failure, one is not better than the other. The main failure here is that Australia shows a lack of rigour in its systems of producing quality people to manage our systems of society.
Roger Wolfe, Balwyn
In search of a big idea
I’d like to ask why all the money and effort is being spent to fix this COVID-19 mess, and none was spent on prevention? We had months of ‘‘hindsight’’ watching things unfold in Wuhan and Milan. This gave Australia the chance to create effective communications. And we blew it.
It is obvious that for COVID-19 we needed a great communications campaign. We needed a Life. Be In It to cajole us into the right behaviour, and an AIDS Grim Reaper campaign to terrify us out of the wrong behaviour. Advertising has few virtues, but it has mastered the art of communications. We need an emotional narrative to move us all in the same direction. Especially in times of crisis. We need to be touched by a message. Not ordered about, or threatened, or bored to death with polly-speak. Professional, experienced creative communication is what’s needed here, and fast.
Maree Coote, Port Melbourne
Hurtling to danger
I used to be a jogger myself. A good run can take you out of your everyday consciousness: all breath, muscle and feet. I go for walks instead but it’s not quite the same. That detached running consciousness, however, is becoming a menace to slower pedestrians. There are too many runners who seem to think they own the middle of the footpath. They sprint up from behind and brush past without any attempt at distancing, or they hurtle round corners without a clear view of whoever is on the other side, and they breathe all over slower walkers, unmasked. Is it time to ask joggers to wear masks like the rest of us, and keep a sensible distance from walkers?
Caroline Williamson, Brunswick
Premier’s ‘I’ messaging
What is Premier Andrews expecting to achieve by repeatedly referring to the stage four details as ‘‘decisions I have taken’’? He is not a dictator with unilateral decision-making powers, he is the political leader of a team, including experts that are making the decisions and overseeing their implementation. Not a good look. Please revert to using ‘‘we’’ rather than ‘‘I’’ Mr Andrews.
Tony Beach, Williamstown
Deuced due diligence
To use his own words, Nathan Buckley not only failed to do the ‘‘due diligence’’ on coronavirus protocols by playing tennis with Alicia Molik, but he had his homework stolen by Justin Longmuir who provided an object lesson in coaching against Collingwood.
John James, Claremont, WA
Dread hangs over us
Because of the strain placed on aged care due to the spread of the virus, my mum a registered nurse working in a pandemic response agency, went into a home, worked one day, and contracted the virus from a contaminated surface. She is an experienced nurse but was so run off her feet, she did not have time to wipe the surface down. She resigned the next day because her messages about better PPE distribution and better rostering were not getting through. We are now locked in a strange battle, one where a sense of dread hangs over you without any reprieve. Mum’s an asthmatic which is frightening enough, and dad and I spent eight days with her leading up to her positive result.
It is the finer details of the numbers that is frightening for those locked in this battle. It is these small, but significant details that the numbers cannot truly express. For each positive case the psychological struggle, not just for the individual but for the families and friends is one of dread and frightful unknowns. For those who lose loved ones the pain is immense. The suddenness of this agony exacerbated by not being able to hold a proper funeral.
Behind each number, is a story, a psychological and physical battle with a virus that behaves however it chooses. We cannot yet cure it and we cannot yet vaccinate against it, but we can cut it at the source.
Joe Molony, Hawthorn East
Almost a third of Victoria’s sports betters are men aged 18-24 who’ve grown up believing footy and gambling are intrinsically linked. Last year, Australia’s gambling industry spent $232 million on ads, excluding sponsorships and in-program content. Ads that create unrealistic expectations and encourage people to think betting is normal. For many of us, the AFL fixture ‘‘bonanza’’ represents a bright light during a difficult time. For bookmakers, though, it’s an opportunity to make up for ‘‘lost’’ revenue. Sports betting ads targeting young men dominate the airwaves after 8.30pm – but let’s not kid ourselves, they’re also being consumed by children. Victoria’s 10 AFL clubs have made a commitment to say no to sports betting sponsorship and to limit the exposure of young people to this risky activity. I urge the community to get behind them – to love the game, not the odds.
Shane Lucas, CEO, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
I’ll keep the mask on
Dr Nicola Doyle (Letters, 3/8) references the work of Professor Michael Levitt modelling Chinese data. That was an age ago in the life of this epidemic and in our understanding of COVID-19. His later predictions about the behaviour of the virus have not been accurate, particularly in predicting the course of the pandemic in the US. It is now apparent how easily the virus spreads and that death is not its only consequence, with multiple organ damage and long-term poor health across all age groups. The burden on health systems through weight of numbers and prolonged stays in intensive care have tested health systems. It is much better if we don’t catch it and the only way to prevent it spreading is to limit its opportunities to infect us. So for now I prefer to wear a mask and take the advice of Australia’s epidemiologists and public health doctors as I have no wish to die or become a burden on my hospital colleagues.
Dr Brian Cole, Bendigo
AND ANOTHER THING …
I’ve been stoically following lockdown rules but I’m starting to have flashbacks to schoolrooms in the ’60s, when the whole class was kept in at lunchtime, due to the misdemeanours of a recalcitrant few.
Patsy Sanaghan, North Geelong
Trying to put a positive spin on ‘‘lockdown’’, does ‘‘lockup’’ sound better? I don’t think so. It sounds the same to me.
Jo Prendergast, Sandringham
I feel immensely proud to see my community abiding by the rules and wearing masks. Take a bow everyone.
Dee McLarty, Eagle Point
Stage four has come too late. It seems that without the footy in Melbourne, the Government has taken its eye off the ball.
Peta Colebatch, Swan Reach
During stage three, I did my shopping and exercising in my own suburb. This new 5-kilometre circle of stage four has greatly extended my range. Thanks.
Ralph M. Bohmer, St Kilda West
If ‘‘paid pandemic leave’’ is a bridge too far, perhaps our leaders might augment the suite with ‘‘health seeker’’ or ‘‘health keeper’’ payments, so unwell people can stay home and not be financially penalised.
Laurine Hurley, Northcote
Could we please, please, please stop hearing from Michael O’Brien?
Duncan Reid, Flemington
Having lost his persuasive skills due to people’s mistrust, Daniel Andrews is now using coercive powers to exercise control over Victorians. This is the real ‘‘state of disaster’’.
Mario Moldoveanu, Frankston
Go you good thing Daniel Andrews and the Victorian government. Let’s hope we all now do the right thing.
Kevin Mulvogue, Mount Evelyn
How will the limit of only one hour’s exercise a day be policed? Will cops be able to demand our Fitbit data?
Georgina Davidson, Brunswick East
It seems like it’s time for an anti-privatisation political movement (Letters, 3/8).
Bill O’Connor, Beechworth
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