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Many were unwittingly breaking the exercise rules

Huffing and puffing to reach a destination
Now let me get this straight. It appears that it is OK to jog and cycle huffing and puffing over masked walkers to get to their destination within the 5-kilometre zone. However, it is not OK to drive and thus avoid spreading any possible virus to reach the same area within the zone. Give me strength!
Don Owen, Hawthorn

Confusion, headaches the prevailing symptoms
Police are fining or warning people who drive to their preferred place of exercise. And yet: DHHS says you ‘‘must not travel more than 5 kilometres from where you live to exercise’’. Symptoms of COVID-19 include headache and confusion.
Ralph M. Bohmer, St Kilda West

Editor’s note: The government overturned these restrictions late Wednesday (‘‘Sutton removes drive-to-exercise restriction after backlash’’).

THE FORUM

Honours deserved
Could those responsible for awarding Australian honours and awards each year focus less on retired business people and politicians and more on people such as disability support worker Faye Frazer (‘‘We have grown together: a sad goodbye’’, 18/8). Surely Frazer’s attitude (‘‘I’m going to treat these boys how I would expect my kids to be treated’’) and determination to provide a family experience for ‘‘her boys’’ over 30 years is highly deserving of recognition. An uplifting story in this gloomy time. Best wishes to Frazer, her husband and ‘‘her boys’’ in retirement. May they enjoy those regular morning teas for many years to come.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

Pock-marked Earth
The proposal by the Trump administration (‘‘Alaska refuge set for drilling’’ 19/8) to take away environmental protection from such a pristine piece of wilderness is tragic. This is yet another example of the continuing war against the Earth. So much of our fragile ecosystem has already become so commoditised. Should this proposal come to fruition, it is not only Alaska that will be pock-marked, but all of us. We are not owners of nature, but a part of it.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley

A repressive norm
Chris Uhlmann is right to be alarmed about the totalitarian stand taken by the government in recent weeks (‘‘Fair to query authoritarian edicts’’, 19/8). Increasingly repressive measures enacted during the COVID-19 crisis have shackled our citizens in a way that was unimaginable even a short time ago. The real danger is that we will accept them as the norm, with few, if any, voices raised in protest. If democracy is to be meaningful, then we must all find a voice and bring to a halt the continued erosion of our freedoms.
Helen Scheller, Benalla

See the human face
Chris Uhlmann’s comment shows how easy it is to transform a democracy into authoritarian rule. Bureaucrats are authoritarians by the nature of their job. It is the politicians who have to pressure them to put a human face to their decisions. What we see here is the failure of the politicians.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

Ruby Princess debacle
An inquiry has determined no blame for Australian Border Forcer (ABF) over the Ruby Princess disembarkation. However, the problems only started at that point and remain uninvestigated.

Recent reports indicate airlines knew in advance about the Ruby Princess COVID-19 outbreak and attempted to get ABF support to track passengers and permission to refuse to carry them.
ABF repeatedly refused and hundreds were then flown around Australia and the world. Many were subsequently traced and disaster averted at least in Australia. This is the second part of this debacle and until it is properly investigated the matter cannot be regarded as closed.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Vaccines for the Pacific
Australia’s renewed strategic awareness of our Pacific neighbours could get a huge boost from their inclusion in the Prime Minister’s promise of free COVID-19 vaccinations. It is a clear win-win, not only in extending our protection zone but invaluable in the goodwill it would generate. A lack of generosity, on the other hand, not only makes us look selfish but gives yet another opportunity for rival suitors and to one in particular, with its President’s portrait already starting to hang proud in Port Moresby.
Peter Sheehan, Camberwell

Electoral transparency
Donald Trump’s pronouncement that ‘‘the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged’’ should be translated as ‘‘if I lose the election, I will reject its result claiming the election was rigged’’. The thought of the possible consequences is terrifying. Please, whoever is in charge of voting and vote-counting procedures in the US, make sure any checking and double-checking is absolutely transparent before, during and after voting.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East

Test tally unsurprising
If people are maintaining their distance from each other and wearing masks and following the rules, why is the government surprised that there is less testing? As we have also seen, other infectious diseases reduce because of these measures, the common cold and other respiratory infections should drop too, so if no one has symptoms and less people are tested, isn’t that a good thing?
Sue King, Somers

Cattle beyond control
Australians are once again confronted with footage of the barbaric slaughter of live exported cattle in Indonesia that brought about the ban in 2011 (‘‘‘Barbaric’ footage shows illegal cattle slaughter’’, 19/8). Despite the excuses of the industry and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s claims that Australia has the best welfare in the world, protected by its Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, farm animals are still abused overseas. Ironically, the farmers whose cattle could not be exported because of the ban are about to receive compensation payments thanks to their recent court case. When will the Minister admit he and his department can’t control what happens to animals once they leave our shores?
Charles Davis, Hawthorn

Social work disincentive
The draft Higher Education Support Amendment Bill proposes an increase in fees for university social work courses. Social work is central to child protection, family relationship counselling, family violence services, addiction treatments, among many other services. The profession of social work has always faced the disincentive of low salaries. The pairing of a dramatic university fee increase with the prospect of poor remuneration after graduation will discourage students from considering social work.
Angel Were, Castlemaine

Cut pollie super
If Senator Jane Hume and her colleagues are so concerned with the ability of business to give pay rises because of proposed increases in the superannuation guarantee, they should be concerned with the effect on the public purse of the 15.4 per cent contributions paid to their super and have them reduced to 9.5 per cent like ordinary Australians.
Philip Witherow, Hampton

In need of nuance
So, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham finds ‘‘perplexing’’ China’s targeting of Australian wine (‘‘China targets wine exports in escalation of trade row’’, 19/8). Perhaps he should examine his government’s ongoing critique of everything Chinese and the unchecked, frequently bigoted commentary of backbenchers. He and his fellow ministers might also take advice about returning to a more nuanced diplomacy involving toughness where called for, but open dialogue and encouragement also, unless he wants to destroy trade with China altogether.
Michael Beahan, Brunswick

Rebuke in a bottle
Australian wine is the latest casualty of China’s resentment of Australia leading the call for an inquiry into the origin of coronavirus. Australia perhaps led the way at the suggestion of the US. When China and the US eventually settle their tariff disputes, there will no doubt be a resolution that permits greater imports from the US. This will most likely include wine, barley and other produce previously sourced from Australia. Well played, somebody.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

Help the year 7s
There has been a lot of talk about the challenges to students in year12 but there has been no mention of year 7s, whose entire school experience will be defined by the COVID-19 year. Year 7 is usually a time when students experience a radical shift in their social world, embracing new friends and experiences. This is usually facilitated by schools, who work hard to integrate students from various primary schools into a unified group. Year 7 students have missed out on the practical electives that broaden their educational experience and have not identified with their new school. The year 7 students of 2020 have been forgotten and it’s a tragedy.
Rohan Wightman, Muckleford

Bleak VCAL outlook
We’ve had an announcement about special consideration for VCE students but the silence around equal consideration for VCAL students has been deafening. VCAL students signed up for ‘‘hands-on learning’’ but are about to enter their 10th week of remote learning. These students are set to suffer even more than their VCE counterparts if no special consideration is granted. They don’t get a score, they simply pass or fail their certificate based on the number of units they have achieved. Less than 10 units means no school leaving certificate. Surely the future of work is bleak enough. Allow them the dignity of leaving school with a certificate.
Sue Tyrie, VCAL co-ordinator, Princes Hill Secondary College

Heritage dropped
It is significant that the Boroondara Council abandoned the 2015 heritage study that may have protected 26 properties and four precincts in Balwyn and Balwyn North, including the Tannock Street residence (‘‘Row erupts in a bid to save Boyd house’’, 19/8). Many residents opposed heritage protection of these properties on the grounds that it would lessen property valuations. I asked the council whether in its view the granting of heritage protection reduces the value of the properties affected. The answer was generally no.

Many of the post-World War II dwellings continue to be lost to large-scale ‘‘McMansions’’, which are contributing to the heat island and which lack design characteristics of any merit. Boroondara Council appears frozen to the spot in its failure to identify better options for the residential built environment, and the Victorian government, which holds the regulatory whip hand on planning and building standards, does not care.
Ian Hundley, Balwyn North

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Credit:

Coronavirus
Wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard ‘‘I do not accept the premise of your question’’. I might be able to afford a course on leadership in public policy, or maybe ethics.
Peter McNicol, Sandringham

Do swimmers have to wear a mask?
Patricia Munro, Ivanhoe

So we won’t be out of lockdown until there are more tests. We can get a test only if we have symptoms. So we need more people with symptoms before we get out of lockdown?
Dave Torr, Werribee

Testing numbers will continue to drop as long as we only test people with symptoms. As many people as possible need to be tested, including those without symptoms.
Tony Wright, South Melbourne

All’s well with my life. Jon Faine told me a bedtime story and Prince Charles has sent me a poem. All I need now is a letter from Trump (post office permitting).
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Football
The AFL penalty of $1000 for Tom Lynch was weak. He should have been suspended one match to discourage this kind of behaviour.
Albert Braunstein, Highett

If all Victorians make a magnificent effort, is there time to defeat the virus and be rewarded with a Melbourne grand final?
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

Furthermore
What is really likely to flatten wage growth? Super increases or employer wage theft.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills

China has initiated dumping allegations against Australian barley, beef and now wine. Why don’t they do the same for our gas? That would be a win for China and Australian consumers.
Ray Pilbeam, Canterbury

Finally
Dear Balwyn, So sorry to hear that your heart is being ripped out to development and greed. We too have this problem. It seems as though this is our pandemic to fight. Love, Brighton
Lucrezia Mecca, Brighton

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

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