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Were we misled about the source of the second wave?

Now The Age reports that patient zero was a member of the hotel staff and that when he reported he had come down with a fever, according to emails ‘‘considerable effort was then made to contain the spread of the infection’’. This included a number of security guards and hotel staff being stood down and told to get tested and to go home to isolate. This report also clarifies that private security staff were not responsible for infection control. There may be cause to critically examine the DHSS’ response and security practices, however, we may have been misled for weeks by the media about the source and causes of the second wave, any role the ADF may have taken and those who were possibly responsible.
Peter Starford, Williamstown

Is it time for a round of apologies to Andrews?

Congratulations to The Age for giving front-page prominence to news that patient zero was a night manager at a quarantine hotel and not a security guard. Clearly it would have made no difference if the police or the ADF had been there, except they might have been infected as well. I wonder if all those who rushed to place blame, including the Opposition Leader, will have the grace to apologise to the Premier?
Rob Gerrand, St Kilda

So many questions to answers about the hotels

Why has it taken so long for us to learn that patient zero was a hotel night manager? Why is it presumed that he caught the virus from a returned traveller who has not been identified? Surely, with accurate tracing, this could be discovered.

Was due diligence carried out in a timely manner by the responsible department and any mistakes made by officials immediately reported to the government? Were mistakes covered up and the security industry made responsible, including placing the blame on powerless security guards? Did the government need the hotels for quarantine as it had no designated government facilities for the returned travellers?

Much damage has been done because there was not a prompt acknowledgement of any mistakes. This is regrettable and an apology is the least thing that can be done.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

Our governments can only do so much

With the benefit of experience, everyone accepts that the Commonwealth, NSW and Victoria have made mistakes in Australia’s management of the pandemic. The Ruby Princess, hotel quarantine and aged care are the main examples.

What is important now is that governments learn from these mistakes, and that they anticipate other areas of weakness in policy and service delivery that the virus will exploit. For example, the inability of people on temporary and bridging visas to access JobKeeper or JobSeeker is throwing them into poverty, crowded living conditions and homelessness.

In addition, we need to recognise that governments can only do so much. All of us as individuals have a part to play in defeating the virus by following the rules on social distancing, hygiene and masks.
Andrew Trembath, Blackburn

Would police and ADF have made a difference?

If patient zero in the current outbreak was a hotel night manager who may have passed the disease on to security guards, what difference would it have made if either the ADF or the police were on duty at the time?
Pat Green, Glen Waverley


Lessons from an old bull

Hopefully Jeff Kennett, first elected Victorian Liberal leader as a somewhat erratic and outspoken 34-year-old, was recalling his own personal experiences when he said of Tim Smith, ‘‘Tim’s a young man, a young bull, and all young bulls have got to learn the ropes’’ (The Age, 14/8).
Edward Cohen, Mont Albert

Old school thinking

By describing political success as ‘‘going on the attack’’ and failure as ‘‘He (Michael O’Brien) always tries to get the balance right’’, Jeff Kennett has displayed the sort of thinking that has led to politicians being held in low esteem by the voting public. To praise the more attacking and divisive style of Tim Smith only compounds this. Surely this time of crisis has provided the opportunity for a more enlightened approach to choosing prospective leaders.
Janice Anderson, Port Melbourne

Critical infection control

In laboratories following the HIV epidemics, it took years to get all workers to use protective clothing and observe infection control correctly. In nearly every laboratory segment shown as TV news clips, the workers still are not properly garbed and often there are violations of infection control or appropriate laboratory practice observable.

To protect non-professional workers in aged care and other institutions, the task of understanding and meeting safety standards requires a huge education effort and constant mechanisms for checking that infection protection is carried out properly. Governments must invest in infection control measures over long periods.
Elizabeth Dax, former director, National Reference Laboratory

Curb travel bug and …

Over the past three months, I have pondered the breaches of proper infection control for returning travellers at hotels. So many security staff involved but little emphasis on the travellers themselves. My answers came with Ben Groundwater’s article (Comment, 13/8). He writes of ‘‘over-tourism’’ practices. Tourists are the problem and also the solution, as he says.

Travel agents, along with the entire industry, foster tourism. One needs to ‘‘fly less’’, keep holidays to one flight there and back, and not visit many countries so we can expound about our travels to friends. Surprise, surprise, we now learn that a hotel manager, patient zero, might have caught the virus from a returned traveller.
Von Philp, Queenscliff

… and help environment

Ben Groundwater’s suggestions about how we should approach travel – caring more for the people, their cultures, the environment and wildlife – were apt. As were his thoughts on restricting the extent of our travels. Even in the past we could never see it all. Now we need to see it better. And see more of Australia.

If we follow his advice then we will reduce our carbon footprint significantly. Government authorities, travel companies and travel writers also have a role to play in educating people about more sustainable tourism. A great start, Ben.
Phil Johnson, Box Hill

Sharing the driving?

If Linfox Logistics executive chairman Peter Fox drove a truck from Victoria to the Gold Coast (The Age, 14/8), did his wife and adult children do likewise? I do not think so.
Olivia Cuming, Hawthorn

Fair pay for all ‘drivers’

Given that Peter Fox was able to wrangle his way into Queensland, arguing that he was a truck driver with a valid licence, then perhaps Linfox Logistics should consider paying its truck drivers wages commensurate with being able to afford a $30million mansion in Toorak.
Jacqueline Robilliard, Elsternwick

Very rich and privileged

So, Peter Fox offered up his ‘‘multi-combination driver’s licence’’ to prove he was a truck driver. I wonder if Queensland Police asked to see his manifest (cargo) for the trip from Melbourne to the Gold Coast.

And, if so, what did it reveal? One wife and at his adult children perhaps? Perhaps Queensland Police could clear the air, and support Mr Fox, by releasing the details of the load he transported into the state. Until then the public is left to reach its own conclusions, one of which will be: there is one law for the rich and powerful, the rest can please themselves.
Steve Campbell, Kangaroo Flat

If Biden wins, watch out

I wonder if the so-called election in Belarus and its aftermath (World, 13/8) are a signal as to what could happen in November in that so-called great democracy, the United States. Surely not but then, how many times have we thought ‘‘surely not’’ when watching the Trump presidency? In the event of a Biden victory, when a gracious response from Donald Trump is highly unlikely, what will be the response from his gun-toting supporters? It does not bear thinking about.
Rod Evans, Parkville

The good news first

The Age is to be commended for its page two/three articles, highlighting the positive thoughts and deeds of the everyday person during these troubling times. In fact, instead of my lifetime habit of reading from the back pages first, I now open the paper to page two and start my day with optimistic and encouraging words of wisdom. I then feel courageous enough to tackle the rest of the news.
Jan Courtin, Albert Park

Interfaith support

Irene Renzenbrink (Letters, 14/8) asks ‘‘where are the voices of spiritual leaders’’ with messages of hope and resilience. Quieter voices are often missed in the media which amplifies conflicted relationships. The National Council of Churches has shared messages, plus resources, to give hope. Also, some church leaders and pastors have sent messages of encouragement and appreciation to the Premier and those supporting him at this time of crisis management.

There is also interfaith co-operation, daily resources for prayer, meditation and support for our young whose education and employment pathways are being disrupted. Practical care too for the most vulnerable and discussions to ensure people are not radicalised by extremist propaganda during the lockdown. Also, simple encouragements such as placing candles in our windows each evening.
Bishop Philip Huggin, National Council of Churches

Take courageous action

I agree wholeheartedly with Professor Judith Bessant that after COVID-19, we should ‘‘require the economy to serve the people’’. Until ‘‘the greed motive’’ is dropped out of economic equations and replaced by social, environmental and global factors, nothing will change. Politicians, economists and businesses supporting ‘‘trickle down’’ and ‘‘free market’’ theories are motivated primarily by competitive greed that supersedes all else, regardless of short- and long-term damage.
Henry Gaughan, Richmond

Joy and escape of footy

Sam Duncan’s article (Comment, 14/8) resonated with me. It has been wonderful to be immersed in the vagaries of football to take my mind off the endless commentary from epidemiologists, pollies and so many experts on the dreadful impacts of COVID-19.

I have binged-watched on Netflix, Stan and Foxtel to the extent that my eyes have turned square. Football has given me back some equilibrium, and increased my heart and exercise rate as I pranced around the lounge, screaming at the television every time an umpire blew his whistle as we waited to see if it was ‘‘in the back, holding the ball or incorrect disposal’’. A constant and absolute raffle.
Maurie Johns, Mount Eliza

Unfortunate footy fans

Wow, Sam Duncan, you must be exhausted after binge-watching the footy last weekend. Spare a thought for those of us who have to rely on Channel Seven for its meagre offering of matches which are getting fewer and fewer. It looks as if we are being prepared for the day when it is a case of, ‘‘no pay, no footy’’.
Barbara Greenaway, Mount Eliza


Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Peter Fox

Linfox’s new slogan: You’ve been outfoxed by a Fox.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

Loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.
Wendy Knight, Little River

If Clive Palmer wants to get into WA, all he needs is a trucking licence.
Greg Lee, Red Hill


Wearing a mask without covering your nose isn’t compliance. It’s lip service.
David Harris, Ivanhoe

Is it a sense of entitlement to not have to wear your mask correctly? Come on, cover your nose and mouth.
Joanne Wilson, South Melbourne

Double jeopardy. We now have to walk past maskless smokers.
Anthony Battaini, Melbourne

Many questions to Andrews are from journalists fishing for a headline.
Marie Hodgens, Burwood

Am I the only one who’s uncomfortable about the ADF being used to assist civil control?
Joe Wright, Greensborough

Sorry, Jacinda Ardern, it looks like your magic wand has lost its magic.
James Wilson, Drouin

Kennett thinks O’Brien is a ‘‘soft character’’. Will Jeff lend him his shovel so he can show his toughness?
Alan Inchley, Frankston

We need straight answers in inquiries.
Rod Matthews, Fairfield


To be president, Harris is just Biden her time.
Andrew Smith, Leongatha

The obscene pay packets of Commonwealth Bank executives indicate it has no shame.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Missing in action Morrison. In Hawaii during the bushfires. Now he evades the Ruby Princess inquiry.
Bis Andrzejewski, Strathmore

Why should taxpayers fund nursing homes when operators are making huge profits?
Doug Springall, Yarragon

Sadly, aged care has become aged scare.
Peter Whelan, Gladstone Park

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