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Common sense please in our Orwellian circus

Restrictions bearable as long as numbers fall
Professor Duncan Maskell (‘‘Fallout worse than virus, says uni chief’’, 21/8) deplores people commenting on matters outside their area of expertise. He then immediately moves beyond his own knowledge of infectious diseases to comment on social and economic aspects of the lockdown where his opinion has no more credibility than that of any other educated person.

We are all suffering at the moment but in general are willing to wear these galling restrictions so long as we continue to see the daily numbers fall. We have seen what can be achieved in other states and NZ. It’s not a pipe dream.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Peregrine falcons provide lockdown joy
How delightful to see Melbourne’s favourite birds of prey again. The peregrine falcons nesting atop 367 Collins Street are back being live-streamed on their website, with clean, new nest boxes to lay eggs and raise their chicks in. Thanks to the Victorian Peregrine Project for its work on this charismatic species. We can look forward to many hours of unmissable viewing – a lovely prospect for those in this lockdown. Here’s hoping for a successful season.
Debbie Lustig, Elsternwick

Lockdown use-by date fast approaching
We are an undisciplined mob. We have had it too good, as a society, over the past 70 years and are not used to sacrifice and are unwilling to accept any form of dislocation to our mollycoddled lives. It is called selfishness.

Lockdowns and self-isolation have a definite use-by date in our society and in the electorate, as a result. Any government that does not recognise this is headed for the political garbage bin.
Michael J. Gamble, Belmont

Play by the rules for a quicker recovery
Lockdown should go for the full, regulated period. I live in a tourist area and when the first lockdown was lifted tourists came up in their droves, disregarding all social distancing rules. It was ridiculous seeing eateries only allowing the prescribed number of people on the premises to order takeaway while waiting patrons outside all huddled together. If everyone just plays by the rules, it will end sooner.
Amanda Plater, Launching Place

THE FORUM

Immunity freeloaders
Two key points need to be made about the possibility of mandatory vaccination should a coronavirus vaccine become available. Yes, all vaccines carry the possibility of some side effects, usually very minor. It must be noted that herd immunity against any infectious disease has only ever been achieved through vaccination. Those refusing vaccination are therefore freeloaders who rely on others taking the very tiny risk in order to protect them and the community.

It is not that long ago that travel to most countries required one to carry a vaccination certificate. The vaccines required depended on the country one wished to visit. No vaccine, no entry. It was as simple as that and was an accepted aspect of international travel.
Emeritus Professor Ben Adler, Department of Microbiology, Monash University

Mental health support
I support Lesley Osenieks’ (Letters, 21/8) advocating for government-funded community mental health services, staffed by multidisciplinary teams. As a solo private provider, I have long seen the necessity for such a program – and advocated it.

There are in our community many people who struggle to maintain medication and form healthy long-lasting relationships, and who fall into all sorts of strife because of this. Although Better Access is not designed for nor sufficient for this demographic, they are frequently referred under it for lack of any alternative. The proposed community mental health centres could be the answer as long as they are adequately funded to attract and retain quality staff.

The NDIS offers another glimpse of hope, but getting the process rolling depends on considerable pro bono work on the part of solo providers who are often not consulted. An expansion of the Local Area Co-ordination Services’ capacity to handle these applications would be welcome, with the assessments being carried out by mental health professionals.
Charlotte Brewer, accredited mental health social worker

Vehicle emission levels
Would it not be a greater help to clean up the air if the federal government introduced a vehicle emissions standard, which has been studied for years? Instead it has been sitting on its hands.
David Robertson, Wheatsheaf

Ban fruit stickers
Stickers on fruit are not biodegradable. An apple is an apple and we know what an avocado is. Signage above fruit indicating variety means individual stickers are unnecessary. We learnt to live without plastic bags, so let’s petition for a ban on these bits of rubbish that cannot be composted.
Joan Logan, South Melbourne

Trouble was brewing
While I have sympathy for Dianne Posthuma (Letters, 22/8) and her daughter who is having trouble returning from the UK, I cannot help but wonder why she did not return in late March when the government issued advice for Australians overseas to return immediately, or as soon as possible.

Our son also had a two-year UK work visa due to expire in November. He had a good job and accommodation, and plenty more travel plans. Due to the advice being issued by DFAT, which included statements such as ‘‘DFAT is warning travellers they may not be able to return home at a later stage’’, and under some pressure from us, he reluctantly returned eight months early. At the same time Qantas and Jetstar announced they were slashing international capacity by 80 per cent. Surely one could foretell some trouble brewing.
Amanda Nix, Montrose

Denials seem arbitrary
I am not against someone like Jost Stollmann (‘‘Exemption given to pick up yacht’’, 23/8) receiving permission to travel to, among other things, pick up his luxury yacht that he will live on until he can return home. A perfectly reasonable thing to do and affects no one except himself. However, the seemingly arbitrary denials for others whose cases are at least as compelling, if not more so, make it appear that there are different rules for the wealthy or well-connected people. I feel for all those people who have been denied perfectly reasonable requests who have missed out on significant events in their lives at the whim of some bureaucrat.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Crowds of tourists
With the crowds of tourists driving to Stanley and Beechworth at the weekend to ‘‘see the snow’’ (hardly essential travel) can someone explain why I should still wear a mask to walk up to the shops here?
Mick Webster, Chiltern

Pass the parcel
I have been waiting for a parcel in recent days, got the usual text, it’s on the way, then it is going to be delivered tomorrow, make sure someone is home. Then I got, ‘‘no one was home’’ (I was) ‘‘your item was delivered to the Mount Hutton LPO, please pick up there’’. Mount Hutton is 827.3 kilometres from Violet Town in another state. I am eagerly awaiting the usual ‘‘how did we do?’’ email.
David Kitchen, Violet Town

Minister unprepared
Commonwealth Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck’s stumbling inability to answer basic questions on aged care deaths from the Senate select committee, raises questions about either his competence and/or whether his department or staff prepared him adequately for his committee appearance. Either way the result was yet another case of poor public administration by both federal and state governments.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne

Hats off to AFL
What an absolute delight the Doug Nicholls Round has been. I ‘‘dips my lid’’ to all involved. One could be forgiven for thinking this special day would be the lesser given the COVID-19 pandemic. Not so. I, like so many non-Indigenous Australians, have been swept up in this fabulous weekend (the atmosphere at those Northern Territory games was electric. The Indigenous AFL programs enhance a sense of optimism that continues to build.
Noel Butterfield, Montmorency

Bold deal required
Adam Bandt is right to call on Labor to join together to fight climate change (‘‘Bandt calls for opposition pact on climate action’’, 21/8). According to the Department of Environment and Energy, Australia’s emissions fell under the Labor/Greens deal. Since then, under the Coalition, emissions have risen at more than 1per cent a year and continue to rise. The strong majority of Australians, including a majority of Coalition voters, want action on climate change. Like the struggle to overcome COVID-19, combating climate change requires a united front. A bold new deal involving all political parties is required.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Solid-fuel ban welcome
I hope Bayside City Council adopts its proposed outdoor solid-fuel burn ban (‘‘Council grilled over BBQ ban’’, 16/8). Others should follow. Much wood sold for barbecues and pizza ovens is actually much-needed native forest. VicForests have a licence to sell 26,500 tonnes of Gippsland eucalyptus forest, including mountain ash, alpine ash, messmate and shining gum, for firewood. This forest survived the summer’s megafires and is a refuge for animals. Moreover, as the Victorian government receives public submissions on the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems decline in Victoria its agency, VicForests, is hard at work accelerating that decline.
Lawrence Pope, president, Friends of Bats and Bushcare Inc.

Hygienic borrowers
Thanks for the article on privately run hygienic libraries (‘‘Quirky old sign a precursor to today’s fear’’, 21/8). As children, we would occasionally open a book to find the stamp of the Western Hygienic Library, which my grandparents had run from their newsagency in West Brunswick. In the 1960s the worry over books transmitting diseases was all but eliminated and we borrowed from municipal libraries. However, your article reminded us that things were not always that way.
Clare Gleeson, Prahran

Economic reset lost
A chorus of calls to increase the immigration rate (‘‘Call for new policies to attract skilled migrants’’, 22/8), represents an opportunity lost, to reset economic policy coming out of the pandemic. Having seen the results of excessive immigration levels in capital cities already, such as transport congestion, stretched services and defective construction, hitting the resume button on high immigration seems a lazy response lacking in vision.

The pandemic coupled with recent trade tensions, have highlighted our over-reliance on essential imported goods. Accordingly, focus should turn to sovereign manufacturing capacity, which can also provide both security of supply and economic stimulus in the years ahead.
Mathew Knight, Malvern East

Fossil fuel shadow lingers
Yes, Peter Hartcher (‘‘A drain on the nation’s energy’’, 22/8), the Liberal Party, which boasts at every election it is the best manager of the economy, has, since Tony Abbott’s accession, drained our economy of energy – literally and figuratively. In the face of a tremendous opportunity to build the infrastructure and industries that will prosper in a sustainable future, its governments have stood with the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry – ‘‘defending Blockbuster in a Netflix world’’.

Even now, when the opportunity beckons brighter than ever, and the shadow of fossil fuels fades globally, the government’s approach has been to pick a National COVID-19 Commission panel filled with gas industry executives to plan a future based on gas. Never has the pernicious influence of vested interest been seen so clearly.
Christopher Young, Surrey Hills

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Credit:

Coronavirus
Morrison’s defence of Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck is almost as concerning as the failings of the minister.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

So … masks don’t protect you if you’re a singer?
Pete Sands, Monbulk

Would Peter Rushen (Letters, 22/8) care to put a number on how many COVID-19 deaths are required for a catastrophic consequence?
Rob Warren, Ivanhoe

Could we refrain from referring to recycling labels as a ‘‘dog’s breakfast’’ (20/8). My dog’s breakfast is readily identifiable and consumer friendly.
Jim Pilmer, Camberwell

Where is Zits and why is there a mundane 10-year old cartoon in place of it? Unacceptable.
Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley

The Prime Minister’s position on a vaccine is perfectly clear – it will be mandatory but not compulsory.
Denny Meadows, Hawthorn

It ain’t easy being Albanese with Joel on a roll over coal.
David Jones, Essendon

I knew there was a Divided States of America but now we have the Divided States of Australia.
Lyn Mitchell, Black Rock

Now I know why we have a minister at both federal and state level overseeing the same thing, as in health. So when things go wrong they can point the finger at each other.
Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir

Tomorrow I’m starting to prepare for stage five lockdown. I’m staying in bed for the whole day.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

Exemptions to travel restrictions, and quarantine rules, seem to be more about who you are and who you know, than what your reason might be.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

Sir Humphrey Appleby once said that secrecy must surround the actions of ministers to protect them from their own stupidity.
Ian Powell, Glen Waverley

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

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