Yes, big errors were made in Victoria which has resulted in significant hardship and the numbers could have been better. All governments made mistakes (not to excuse these mistakes), including the Prime Minister’s self-quarantine edict and the lack of border closure early on. The real culprits are those in quarantine who did everything possible to break the quarantine system.
However, the media and social media ‘‘pile on’’ on the Premier is shameful. The judicial inquiry will inform us of government incompetence and it will be time then to take appropriate action. But to suggest the economic cost is too much because deaths are about the same as a flu season misleads. We will never know the real saving in lives, but we can look to Spain, the United States, Britain, France etc for a big hint and reasonably assume it would be in the thousands.
Ron Beard, Ringwood North
The other vulnerable groups that need protection
Like Chris Uhlmann, I feel uncomfortable with strict, draconian rules brought down on our city and the huge economic and social impacts. However, I cannot agree that we need only lockdown aged care homes and let the virus run its course through the rest of the community. As we have seen overseas, the virus is not self-limiting or easily contained within an open, unrestricted community.
As cases multiply, which they surely will in Uhlmann’s vision of a freely moving city, you will see illness and death in younger age groups as well as in frail seniors. Furthermore, as we witnessed in Melbourne, the virus disproportionately impacts disadvantaged, vulnerable communities once it gains momentum – lower-paid workers in abattoirs, factories, warehouses and those living in high-rise public housing.
Just look at where the hotspots were located – the cities of Brimbank and Hume, for example, with their high level of socioeconomic disadvantage. So while Uhlmann calls for just one group to be protected, those in aged care, he forgets about how this cruel virus skews towards other vulnerable people who also have the right to be protected.
Sara Bannister, Reservoir
Highly contagious but with a low mortality rate
Chris Uhlmann’s balanced and thoughtful article should be heeded by our governments, both federal and state, and Victoria in particular. His makes the point that we now know the virus, although highly contagious, has a low overall mortality rate, targeting mostly the elderly with pre-existing medical conditions. The overall mortality rate may be lower than influenza in this selected population last year when no one talked about locking down the whole country and imposing curfews. As a medical specialist, I agree with Uhlmann that ‘‘the rest of the population should be liberated to get on with their lives while taking sensible health precautions’’.
Yean Lim, Toorak
Long-term impact of COVID-19 on younger people
Chris Uhlmann is correct that most COVID-19 deaths are in aged care and that overall deaths are down as a result of the lockdown. That there should be more emphasis on protecting aged care is a no-brainer. However, he seems to assume that the majority of younger people contracting the virus have few symptoms. This may well be misplaced. There is increasing evidence that there are longer-term, adverse effects on the brain, heart, lungs and kidneys which are not yet understood. The under 60s exposed to the virus may come to regret a premature relaxing of restrictions.
Dick Davies, North Warrandyte
A very different time
Chris Uhlmann, how can you compare deaths from COVID-19 to those from the Spanish flu?
It is 2020. With what we now know of better hygiene procedures, improved health for all ages, vaccines for life-threatening conditions and longer life, we would expect to manage a pandemic better than in earlier days.
Yes, mistakes have been made, but it is not about ‘‘authoritarianism’’. We would be in an uproar if we felt that more could have been done as our families die around us, or were left with long-term health issues, just to save the economy. Also, the economy would be in ruins if people were dying or too sick to work. I am glad my parents are safe even though I cannot see them. It will be a long road to recovery. Your final comment, ‘‘Rejoice. Dan Andrews has destroyed the village to save it’’ is provocative and without merit.
Susan Kelly, Highton
Our very caring villages
No, Chris Uhlmann, the village has not been ‘‘destroyed’’. In the multitude of villages that is Melbourne, we now know our fellow villagers much better. We stop and talk to each other through our masks on our stage four walks. We have local, online groups which message things like, ‘‘Does anyone have …?’’, ‘‘Does anyone need …?’’ and ‘‘How are you coping?’’ We are supporting each other in so many small ways. Our challenge is to maintain this into the future.
Trevor Jenkins, Fitzroy North
The real ‘destruction’
Chris Uhlmann laments that ‘‘Dan Andrews has destroyed the village to save it’’ while Jon Faine implores the federals to fix JobKeeper rorts (Comment, 16/9). There is another, less talked about problem. Hospitals – once places where we had confidence to send unwell people – have become sites of trauma and distress, where sick, elderly husbands are separated from their wives.
Where young mums with sick babies are denied the support of loved ones. Where patients with private insurance are denied access to a private bed and are left waiting in the emergency department until they first test negative to COVID-19. All these things have recently happened to my family members. To rephrase Uhlmann’s words, we are destroying the hospital to save the sick. Surely, we can do better.
Donna Wyatt, Wyndham Vale
An inconvenient truth
Jon Faine has highlighted a massive public policy failure when he says people are ripping off the JobKeeper scheme. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the economy contracted in one quarter by 7per cent, the largest fall in gross domestic product since 1959.
More interesting was a singular and inconvenient truth. As unemployment skyrocketed and COVID-19 slashed working hours by a record 9.8per cent, business profits increased.
Why? Because business subsidies and tax cuts directly increased profits. JobKeeper subsidies worth $31billion and boosting cash flow for employers worth $16billion added an additional $3.6billion to business income. The Morrison government insisted that JobKeeper was designed to enable businesses to keep workers on by subsidising the cost of wages. This has not happened. COVID-19 has delivered a windfall profit to business with no real benefit to ordinary Australians. Faine is right to ask: Will this be fixed on October 6?
Rob Watts, professor of social Policy, RMIT University
Slow death of the arts
Okay, the arts were the first to suffer, as always. As an actor, I lost a well-paid, Bollywood film and that was an obvious first casualty. It was never going to happen. We grin and bear it. But three months later, I was cast in a great role – a new SBS series due to begin filming in November. But Dan Andrews brings out his latest edicts, quashing that and every artistic enterprise and expression of freedom. Premier, you are killing musicians and actors and restaurants and galleries and so much more. And I am a die-hard Labor man.
Richard Aspel, Elwood
An odd ‘religious’ belief
The manager of Your Nursing Agency, the company employed to supply nurses to quarantine hotels, noted security guards had informed the agency ‘‘they were concerned about using hand sanitiser because it is against their religion’’ (The Age, 17/9). When I read this, I could hear John McEnroe’s voice in my ear: ‘‘You cannot be serious.’’ Perhaps other employment opportunities should be sought.
Jill D’Arcy, East Melbourne
It’s beautiful one day…
I have moved to Queensland from Melbourne and am half-way through my quarantine in Brisbane. The Queenslanders are nailing it as far as I can see. The defence force and police run a courteous and efficient security system side by side. The hotel room is extremely clean with fresh linen deliveries every four days and the food is outstanding. The processing at the airport was streamlined and there were buses on a regular basis to move us to the hotel. I also really appreciated the policewoman who, after she finished processing my entry documents, said: ‘‘Welcome to Queensland.’’
Jennifer Sjostrom, Broadbeach, Qld
Our missed opportunity
Citizens are being threatened with fines of nearly $5000 if they attempt to leave Melbourne – ‘‘City escapees face $4957 penalty’’ (The Age, 17/9). I respect that with the school holidays coming up, we need to stop those parents who are stuck at home with kids and are tempted to visit holiday homes.
However, in the early stages of the pandemic, it would have been wise if we had worked harder at keeping COVID-19 positive people in isolation at home when we really needed to. I can understand why the community is becoming a tad cynical about our Dan Andrews.
Paul Sebastiano, Strathmore
Come on, dob them in
They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Perhaps people are slipping though the police checks and getting to their holiday homes (Letters, 17/9). We need our regional brothers and sisters to inform the police if they are aware of such people. It would be good for them, and good for us poor Melburnians who are doing the right thing and are also desperate to have the lockdown lifted.
Brendan Douglas, Alphington
Bringing them all home
If stranded Aussies were to make their way to Malaysia, hire a boat, sail across the ocean and be intercepted by the navy, would they be told to go back to where they came from? Is this another way home?
Louis Piscopo, Ascot Vale
No tears with my onions
Re Richard Cornish’s advice about how to stop the tears when cutting onions – ‘‘Answering your vexing culinary questions’’ (Good Food, 15/9). I stick out my tongue as I chop my onions. Looks silly, I know, but weirdly, this works.
Apparently, when you slice off the ends, enzymes are released and form a gas. When this gas is mixed with water, it forms an acid. When you inhale the gas, it reacts with your tear ducts and nose, causing your eyes to water and your nose to burn. Stick out your tongue so that the saliva on your tongue reacts with most of the gas and so preventing it from entering your nose and eyes. Bingo.
Nancy Zamprongo, Doncaster
A fourth triple zero
We continue to place unfair expectations on our police force to deliver informed and calm medical emergency interventions to persons experiencing critical mental health events (The Age, 16/9). In so doing, we limit our capacity to empathise with, and rehumanise sufferers of mental illness. And we are losing lives.
Perhaps it is time for a ‘‘fourth line’’ to triple zero specifically for mental health emergencies, as proposed by mental health advocate Heidi Everett. This would bring together our wonderful support agencies, with their various specialisations, under an umbrella urgent-response team that provides a single point of emergency contact for sufferers and carers alike.
David Barnes, Templestowe Lower, and Hannah Friebel, Cheltenham
What’s not to love?
I do not know where Stephen Downes (Comment, 16/9) has been, but eating outdoors has been serious business around the world and in Melbourne for some time. Remove the traffic and fumes, and it will be much improved. Furthermore, we will solve the problem that restaurateurs are unable or unwilling to solve – the noise level. We will be able to actually have conversations without shouting at each other. Two birds, one stone. Bring it on.
Derrick Brown, Kew
The joy of outdoor dining
Stephen Downes, we’ve spent six months drinking takeaway coffee on street corners. We can’t wait for the luxury of outdoor seating, cutlery and yes, planter boxes.
Elizabeth Long, Collingwood
Recall the legislation
The Morrison government seems to be damaging our relationship with China in order to win points at home. A serious government does diplomacy behind closed doors. The foreign interference legislation seems to be being used to expose foreign influence. If influence were a crime, we should take a look at other nations, even ones we count as friends like the US. It has many agents peddling influence though our politicians. This legislation should be recalled.
Mick Lewin, Southbank
Following Gough’s steps
With our relationship with China at its lowest ebb, Anthony Albanese and his ‘‘cabinet’’ should seek an invitation from the Chinese for a goodwill visit. Gough Whitlam did it in opposition and set Australia on a new path of trade and peace. They could point out that Australia has an alternative governing party that does not see China as a regrettable neighbour but one that cares for its citizenry as we do with ours.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy
AND ANOTHER THING
A gas led recovery? From the frying pan into the fire.
Marsha Merory, Ivanhoe
Scott Morrison’s new gasbag for parliament? Wonderful, a blow-up teaching aid.
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham
Can we refrain from using trump, the verb, until we are rid of Trump, the (proper) noun?
Jill Little, Alfredton
Surely four years of Trump’s tweeting, cheating and bleating is enough.
Jon Smith, Leongatha
Control isn’t the thing as leadership. Someone needs to tell the Premier.
Carol Jones, Docklands
Andrews could take a few days off. He can pre-record his answers or show replays from the day before.
Mary Wise, Ringwood
Daniel’s press conferences provide vital information and are reassuring to those who care about getting out of lockdown.
Sheridan Palmer, Ivanhoe
How can you catch or spread COVID-19 by using a self-serve, automatic car wash?
David Read, Boronia
Re boots at the location of Andrews’ father’s funeral. Families should be off limits for political head kicking.
Rex Condon, Ashwood
Too many objectors demand rights but eschew the concomitant responsibilities.
Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley
Victorians, bubbling together. But distantly.
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham
With the resumption of loan repayments, banks promise to be ethical and sensitive. Fat chance.
Rod Matthews, Fairfield`
Not everyone wants to dine al fresco but I bet the flies and European wasps will be happy.
Marlene Magee, Lilydale
Thanks, Cathy Wilcox, for your burning cartoon (16/9). Its truth warmed my heart.
Dave Robson, Port Melbourne