Lockdown is hardly a state control ploy
If federal Treasurer Frydenberg really believes that ‘‘Victorians need hope. We need to hear more about the road out, than a longer road in’’, then he has to stop pretending that the economy can be planned and opened up as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist. He is adding to the stress of many suggesting that the lockdown is a ploy by the Victorian government to exert undue control.
There can be no relaxation until the outbreak is under control, then road maps out can appear. Treasurer Frydenberg is fomenting dissatisfaction for political purposes and giving oxygen to conspiracy theorists. Attend to your own failings first and stop the dog whistling Mr Frydenberg. Graeme Thornton, Yallambie
Dealing with circumstances, not a calendar
Federal and state Coalition politicians and their proxies are being disingenuous by demanding the Victorian government immediately provide a road map for COVID-19 reopening. Lifting of any restrictions is circumstance based and not date based. To be credible and to demonstrate they are not diverting attention from branch stacking and aged care failures, they must detail the circumstances under which they would ease/remove restrictions.
For instance, how many daily infections are tolerable, how many mystery infections are acceptable? Under what circumstances should schools reopen, numbers in indoor venues, which industries should reopen and how to contain any infections to these workplaces to prevent community spread and so on.
Given ‘‘ring-fencing’’ and ‘‘hotspot’’ management hasn’t seemed to have worked, they must detail if any future outbreaks should be merely managed with contact tracing, and as Scott Morrison has demanded ‘‘to hold our nerve’’ or instead impose lockdowns, new restrictions and border closures. Carlo Ursida, Kensington
Not good governance
After pledging to remove red tape to facilitate business the Morrison government is now creating an extra layer of compliance by introducing legislation that can bar a ‘‘negotiation or arrangement’’ with a foreign entity that is ‘‘inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy’’. This is aimed at China but given the government’s own inconsistent policy towards China how can this work?
The Victorian government’s Belt and Road Initiative agreement with China is now on the nose but when it was signed in 2018 cabinet ministers spoke approvingly of it. Also, in 2017 the Turnbull government signed a similar, confidential deal, with China and as recently as 2019 Morrison said his government was ‘‘neutral’’ on the BRI. These inconsistencies are a result of Morrison making foreign policy decisions based on the pressure he is under in domestic politics. If foreign policy is created on the run it can potentially fluctuate from week to week. This is inefficient and unworkable, creates unnecessary red tape and is inconsistent with good governance.
Peter Martina, Warrnambool
Divergent tax moves
What a difference a day, or in this case a few pages and a change in hemisphere, makes. On yesterday’s front page we have the call by an Australian business lobby group to bring forward tax cuts (that favour higher income earners) ‘‘regardless of cost’’ and, it could be added, economic benefit (‘‘Business chiefs call for faster tax cuts’’, 31/8), while a few pages later we read that ‘‘Treasury officials in Britain are planning for tax hikes to plug holes blown in public finances by the coronavirus pandemic’’ (‘‘Treasury officials ‘pushing for tax hikes’’’, 31/8).
Maurice Critchley, Kenthurst, NSW
Look to the future
I am 79. Though I see the risks and sadnesses of coronavirus, I would rather see our leaders looking more to the future of our children and young people, and a bit less at the vulnerability of older people. History has shown that after a recession it is the young who can’t get jobs and who suffer.
We need to keep balancing the costs of the good intentions of lockdown, of testing and developing vaccines, with the costs of the effects: the loss of jobs; the lack of mobility; the lack of real social interactions; the loss to the arts and artists; the loss of freedoms thought essential to a democracy; the loss of fullness of life.
I see the lockdown has had benefits. But this is a plea now to look to the future and be cautious and thoughtful in extending the lockdown and in spending billions on efforts which may not succeed in preventing infections.
Elsa Martin, Warrandyte
Clarity on China needed
Shaun Carney (‘‘China veto is clothed in doubt’’, 31/8), exposes the federal government’s illogical anti-China campaign which threatens to undermine Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery. Viewing trade and educational relationships with an economic superpower as effectively dispensable makes no sense, especially as the given rationale – China’s poor human rights record and defence manoeuvres – has not been allowed to impair relations over a number of years.
Indeed, Coalition supporters with long memories will remember how Robert Menzies prospered politically in the 1950s and 1960s due, in large part, to his pragmatic willingness to forge a trading alliance with so-called ‘‘Red China’’. More latterly, the lease given to China to control the Port of Darwin makes a mockery of the Morrison government’s pretensions to have a values-based foreign policy. Clarity is needed urgently.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
One amazing goal
Just one goal kicked in the entire third quarter of the Collingwood-Carlton game and Bruce McAvaney tells us it has been a fabulous quarter of footy. Really. The commentary these days is as bad as the modern game itself.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
Give women a break
Jennifer Duke (‘‘Female-focused recovery stimulus package needed’’, 31/8) describes multiple disadvantages suffered by female employees even before the pandemic, including salary disparity, parental leave, earning capacity and superannuation. Women are now over-represented in the casual and part-time workers ineligible for JobKeeper. In addition, those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 include aged care workers, nurses, retail and hospitality workers, all predominantly female occupations.
As Dr Chandra Shah of Monash University also highlights (‘‘Higher education reforms are missing the point’’, 31/8), there is a lack of foresight in the federal government’s proposed higher education reforms, which are also heavily biased against women. Society needs graduates in social sciences, history, economics and languages – the very arts subjects which women favour and that the government is cutting back and increasing fees.
Clarice Ballenden, North Caulfield
Education as a cost
The federal government proposals to increase university fees are likely to have many unintended consequences. While Fergus Hunter (‘‘Fee changes mean years of uni debt’’, 31/8) highlights the disproportionate impact on women this additional burden will entail, there are other broader negative long-term societal impacts: the potential for the additional costs of university education to further widen existing socio-economic and gender divisions.
For the past 50 years, university education has been a democratising force, offering one pathway for low-income, low socio-economic students up and out of multi-generational poverty. In addition, the proposed government legislation proposes to cherry-pick courses they deem as ‘‘job-relevant’’ by reducing fees for particular degrees.
The proposals, if passed, will consign some students to a working life shackled by student debt, impacting more heavily on those groups already marginalised and therefore least able to overcome the increased debts.
David M. Kennedy, Balwyn North
An American dependency
Russell Brims (Letters, 31/8), says Morrison will be on the road to greatness as a PM if he can stop foreign interference in Australia. The problem is that the greatest interference in Australia has come from the US – occupying spying facilities at Pine Gap, basing troops in the Northern Territory, dictating our defence policy, influencing our foreign policy and our voting in the UN on issues such as Palestine/Israel, Iran and of course China.
As Shaun Carney quotes US Conservative David Frum: ‘‘The Trump government’s unstated policy manifesto … Canada, Australia and Mexico should be treated as dependencies.’’
A truly independent Australia could be a mediator in pan-Pacific tensions. If instead we continue to be a ‘‘dependency’’ of America, we will be seen as an enemy by China. That is not a great idea at all.
Danny Cole, Essendon
The PM’s hairy-chested defiance of China is, as Shaun Carney suggests, a dangerous game. One that may lose its appeal for Australian voters if a Chinese push back begins to further damage our pandemic-weakened economy.
If our greatest ally, the US, can find a way of co-operating with one of the world’s most brutal and misogynistic regimes – Saudi Arabia – then surely, we can find a way of getting along with China when so much is at stake.
Patrice McCarthy, Bendigo
Hoping for a recovery
To paraphrase the annointed ‘‘saviour’’ of our economic malaise: A recession is when your neighbour loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. A recovery is when Frydenberg loses his.
Kim van den Berghe, Tolmie
How refreshing to hear Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius use down to earth relatable language to describe the minuscule minority of Victorians who subscribe to idea that COVID-19 is a conspiracy theory. The Assistant Commissioner’s exasperation with the ‘‘batshit crazy tin-foil hat-wearing brigade’’ was loud and clear. For the vast majority of hand washing, socially distancing, lockdown rule-abiding Victorians, the Assistant Commissioner gave us an opportunity for a real belly laugh.
Note to politicians and others in high-public profile positions; the use of plain English with strong embellishments is very welcome.
Prue Blackmore, Carlton North
Pass the parcel
There has been much criticism of Australia Post’s reduction of mail deliveries but little comment on the changes to collection times from letter boxes and post offices, from 6pm to 4pm, and in some cases to 12pm. Despite the widespread use of digital technology, most businesses still post mail and, once life opens up again, it is not practical for offices to have mail ready to post by 4pm.
Assuming that the explanation for this reduction in service would be the increased demand in parcel delivery, I was surprised when three postal workers each said, ‘‘No, it means we can go home earlier.’’ So is this another cost-saving exercise?
Elizabeth Douglas, Melbourne
Arts creators ignored
When did the word arts, as used frequently in the media, have the definition restricted to include only theatre and music performance? What happened to painting and sculpture and all the other artforms practised by individuals? The real art is in the creation. Without the creative part, done by writers and composers and others, there would be nothing to perform. The reason for my concern is that governments who want to support ‘‘the arts’’ now seem to restrict their support to this performance concept and ignore the real artists – the creators.
Owen Rye, Boolarra South
AND ANOTHER THING …
Morrison, the Trump mini-me wannabe?
Denis Liubinas, Blairgowrie
OK Josh, you are behaving as if you know the answer. So, why not join Victoria’s Opposition Leader and explain to Premier Andrews the direction he should be moving in?
Bruce Dudon, Woodend
Fortunately, Mr Frydenberg, it is not your job to keep Victorians safe.
Ruben Buttigieg, Mount Martha
Stimulating the economy by reducing the restrictions imposed by lockdowns implies that the Coalition has a cut-off figure of daily deaths which it finds acceptable.
Jack Lilley, Kennington
Can’t wait to get my MADA hat. Make America Divided Again.
Tony Newport, Hillwood
It seems the answer to that ‘‘meaning of life’’ question is no longer 42. It’s now gas.
Ian Wilkinson, Mount Martha
Rob Willis (Letters, 31/8), the bottles should go in the recycle bin. Try mixing these with your newspapers, cartons from online shopping and supermarket packaging. That should shut them up. John Marks, Werribee
I blame Gil and the AFL for none of us knowing what day it is. Does anyone know what round this is and what happened to just weekend football?
Linton Edwards, Ivanhoe East
I have discovered a new use for face masks. Other drivers cannot decipher what you are mouthing at them when they cut you off.
David Kitchen, Violet Town
The last question you ask anyone in Russia: What’s your poison?
Bill Trestrail, St Kilda
Ahh. That familiar chant from the business lobby groups. ‘‘What do we want? Tax cuts! When do we want them? Now!’’
Robert Niall, Fitzroy North
As part of a Brexit trade deal could we export Pauline Hanson as well as a ‘‘two for the price for one’’ deal?
Ruth Davis, Carrum
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