It is clear the mighty dollar is driving the decision to proceed, despite the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak (we’re still not confident our government has learnt its lessons from the second wave), and many Victorians stranded interstate not allowed back in, while about 1200 tennis stars and their entourages arrive.
Poor form, Premier Andrews, and poor form, AO officials. You’ve both left a bad taste in the mouths of those of us who have supported this tournament for years. A taste that will linger long after the event is over.
Andrew Laird, Malvern
This time, we know who will be accountable
The Melbourne Grand Prix was prudently postponed owing to fears of overseas COVID-19 contagion, yet tennis’ Australian Open, to be held five kilometres from the Albert Park circuit, has been allowed to proceed.
If there is another COVID-19 outbreak as a result, Daniel Andrews, there will be only one person to be held accountable and no inquiry will be necessary.
George Greenberg, Malvern
Holding the event beggars belief
Why oh why were the great god Sport and the great god Money allowed to call the shots on the Australian Open? It beggars belief that having been so resolute for months, the Victorian government has allowed the tennis to go ahead.
One can only assume that extreme pressure was put on the health officials to support the decision. The costs to the taxpayer must be astonishing; the implications for our health system are heartbreaking.
Deborah Rogers, Seaton
This is like playing with fire
We spend months trying to deal with this dreadful pandemic while having thousands and thousands of Victorians lose their jobs, businesses, freedoms and literally their minds.
After all the sacrifices and when we eventually see the light, we risk it all for the sake of a two-week tennis tournament that will pack up and potentially leave us with another nightmare scenario?
I thought the government’s responsibility was to protect Victorians so we don’t replicate the disaster of 2020. This is like playing with fire.
Sam Rosenberg, Malvern
A win-win for the Opposition Leader
The Australian Open issue has been a gift to the ever-carping Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien. Now that the Open is going ahead, Mr O’Brien can attack Premier Daniel Andrews for ‘‘increasing the COVID risk to Victorians’’.
If Mr Andrews had prevented the tournament, we can be sure that MrO’Brien would now be complaining about ‘‘the loss of an iconic sporting event that would bring much-needed revenue to Victoria’’.
Mike Puleston, Brunswick
All organised sport should be over for the time being
It’s time for sensible decisions from sporting organisations and TV broadcast rights holders. In Port Phillip, the Formula One Grand Prix was cancelled in March 2020 and Port Phillip Council cancelled the St Kilda Music Festival originally scheduled for February 2021. Just wind up the cricket, cancel the Australian Open and the F1-GP planned for November 2021. The IOC should cancel the Tokyo Olympics as well.
All organised sport should be over for the time being. Lock down, masks on, keep your distance and let’s wait out the coronavirus so more people don’t get sick or die every time we relax restrictions.
Adrian Jackson, Middle Park
At odds with the claim
The City of Melbourne council claims to be a Refugee Welcome Zone while colluding with police to intimidate and silence protests to defend refugee rights (“Threat to fine ‘noisy’ refugee protesters”, The Age, 16/1).
The council also employs Serco to manage its parks and gardens, a company that profits from the detention of refugees and whose employees have been accused of multiple incidents of abuse and mistreatment of refugees going back years.
When you offer welcome to people in need of protection, you don’t get to pick and choose based on political expedience, and you can’t ethically pay companies that make their living by keeping innocent people in detention.
Eleanor Davey, Blairgowrie
A tale of two …
The Dutch government has resigned over a welfare fraud scandal. Thousands of families were wrongfully forced to repay thousands of euros, leading to family breakdowns, bankruptcies and worse.
The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, stated ‘‘The buck stops here. Innocent people have been criminalised and their lives ruined’’.
Contrast that with our robo-debt scandal. Tens of thousands of people on government support were sent letters from the federal government alleging they had been overpaid.
The Federal Court found the scheme to be unlawful and the total cost to taxpayers is now more than $1.2 billion.
The Prime Minister, who was social services minister when the scheme was flagged and then announced in the 2015 budget, has not resigned, nor has his government and none of the other relevant ministers has resigned or been sacked.
The contrast could not be more stark.
Peter Lord, Box Hill
… government responses
I could not help but compare and contrast the behaviour of the Dutch government, which has resigned en masse over a child welfare scandal.
‘‘The buck stops here’’ were the words uttered by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Words we will never hear from Scott Morrison with regards to the robo-debt scandal. Not one minister has been held accountable over this disgraceful episode.
I note the Dutch government’s gesture is being seen as symbolic by some but at least they had the guts to admit they got it horribly wrong. We have as much hope as hearing those words from Scott Morrison as we have of seeing him depart Parliament House on a bike …
Ann Maginness, Cheltenham
Be careful what we censor
Absolute truth is found only in mathematics. Science, largely based on mathematics, sometimes promotes a version of reality quite at odds with our personal experience of the world. Our individual version of truth is generally based on feelings, beliefs, perceptions, education and upbringing. We even have a startling and widely accepted version of truth based on ‘‘faith’’, where no scientific evidence is required to back assertions.
Censorship should be limited to statements urging physical violence against people or property. We should bolster our education system to promote science, clear thinking, ethics, kindness and tolerance. The dangerously ill informed will always be with us, spouting their nonsense, but a broad education with training in logic is surely the best remedy.
Peter Barry, Marysville
We already have the power
If the people of a state want a dedicated representative of that state in the Senate (“The party always rules”, Letters, 16/1), all they have to do is vote for one, as the South Australians did with Nick Xenophon and the Tasmanians with Jacqui Lambie.
They can even choose major party candidates outside the parties’ preferred order, as the Tasmanians did with Labor’s Lisa Singh in 2016. Most voters, however, are perfectly happy to be represented by major party candidates in the order those parties want.
Chris Curtis, Hurstbridge
Time to switch jobs?
The Australian population has just spent the last year in and out of hard lockdowns, with lives severely disrupted the majority followed all the rules, isolated and unable to pursue their normal activities or interact with the people they love.
Then, out of the blue, overseas tennis players and their crew, who are apparently more important than the entire Australian population, cross our border on two charter flights bringing with them four cases of COVID-19. Now some of the tennis cohort are whingeing that they can’t practise their ball game while in quarantine, but that will be fixed with the delivery of exercise equipment to their accommodation.
Meanwhile, thousands of Australians are still locked out of the country forced to follow the government’s rules, many in dire straits. Perhaps those locked-out Australians should resubmit their occupation as tennis player or racquet stringer, their kids as ball boys/girls.
Pieter van Wessem, Balwyn
The joy of missing out
Marnie Vinall’s ‘‘Unplug and feel the JOMO right now’’ (Comment, The Age, 15/1) is an eye-opener on the ways that social media can largely influence how much we appreciate the present.
For teenagers like me, social media is ubiquitous in our lives. I won’t last one minute at a beautiful beach without having to document it on an Instagram story for all my few-hundred followers to see. Too many precious moments in my life have been marred by the constant need to scroll, and like, and scroll again … the endless, mundane cycle of FOMO: the fear of missing out.
Surprisingly, one of my favourite trips was to Wilsons Prom – 18-kilometre hikes, sleeping in tents and being forced to ‘‘unplug’’. Had those four bars been present, I may never have learnt the stories of my dad’s past that I will later tell to my children.
The lesson to learn is that social media really is a double-edged sword; like anything, too much use will deprive us of the simple movements we take for granted.
Sara Huq, Burwood
Still holding out
You report that Climate Council expert Professor Will Steffen said he was encouraged to see state and territory governments stepping up their climate commitments (‘‘Past seven years hottest on record’’, The Age,16/1) .
Professor Steffen was doubtless referring to the commitment by all state and territory governments to net-zero emissions by 2050 (he now says net-zero emissions by 2030 is vital). Regardless, the Morrison government has made a vague ‘‘commitment’’ to net-zero emissions sometime in the second half of this century.
Professor Steffen also insists that the burning of coal, oil and gas ‘‘must stop’’. Yet the Morrison government backs a ‘‘gas-led recovery’’ from the coronavirus pandemic and encourages – or funds – the construction of new coal and/or gas-fuelled power plants.
After January 20, Mr Morrison will remain, along with Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, one of only two leaders of developed countries who do not recognise the danger and refuse to take immediate action on the greatest threats to civilisation: global warming and climate change.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
A frivolous euphemism
Whose bright idea was it to rename quarantine hotels as “health hotels”? “Quarantine hotel” has a serious ring to it, befitting the seriousness of its function – to prevent people spreading a deadly infection to others.
“Health hotel” is a silly, frivolous euphemism – a place you go to drink alfalfa juice and do yoga exercises to the sound of New Age music.
Mike Puleston, Brunswick
Relief at last
These past few weeks I have watched the staff in my local coffee shop strictly reinforce the rule that customers – mostly visitors to the town – must wear a mask when entering the shop, even if it is only to order takeaway.
They have been glared at, argued with and some simply walk away to find somewhere else. I asked one of the owners if he was looking forward to Monday, when the mask rule is relaxed.
He rolled his eyes and said: ‘‘I can’t wait – I didn’t start this business to become a policeman. It has been very stressful for all of us. It will be a huge relief.’’
John Cummings, Anglesea
Dropping the ball
It’s amazing that the tennis players get chartered flights into Australia while thousands of Australians are stranded overseas. Why can’t the Australian government charter enough flights for our citizens stranded overseas?
And if the government had built quality quarantine centres close to major airports in Australia then more Australians could return.
The federal government has dropped the ball in terms of quarantine of our borders. It has sat on its hands and left all the heavy lifting to the states and territories.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North
Kept in the dark
Your report ‘‘Government secrecy hurting environment’’ (The Age, 15/1) provides further damning evidence of the federal government’s continued deliberate and orchestrated determination to keep us in the dark and avoid scrutiny, especially about the environment.
Attempts by the Australian Conservation Foundation for information about climate change, biodiversity collapse and water security, through FOI, have met with delays, denial and obfuscation. This is shameful. Why is this government so secretive about what it is doing in our name? What is it trying to hide?
This lack of transparency has become the government’s modus operandi.
We have every right to make the government accountable. We are not mushrooms, to be kept in the dark and fed you know what.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris
AND ANOTHER THING
Those pesky facts
‘‘Alternative facts’’ are either true, in which case they are facts, or not true, in which case they can be wishful thinking, fictions, lies or falsehoods. What they are not, is facts, alternative or otherwise.
Anne Rutland, Brunswick West
Why doesn’t Australia just open the batting with Labuschagne and Smith and call it ‘‘two down’’. Save a lot of time.
Brian Morley, Donvale
What an excellent letter from Greg Chappell to Tim Paine in The Age’s Saturday sports section (16/1) describing how difficult the role of the Test captain can be, and how easily respect can be lost by one brain-fade.
Andrew Ramsey, Lorne
Positive cases and more severe restrictions with players not allowed to train. What on earth is it going to take to cancel this event and keep this state safe?
Doug Springall, Yarragon
Anyone for tennis?
Stan Marks, Caulfield
The Australian Open should close before it begins.
Sally Holt, Balwyn
The Dutch government recently stepped down after thousands of families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud and told to pay money back. Does this sound familiar to robo-debt?
Peng Ee, Castle Cove, NSW
Scott Morrison and Michael McCormack are allowing these far-right MPs to undermine extremely important government decisions during a health crisis: You wanted the job, accept the responsibilities that go with it.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick
Joe Biden, make America great again.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Your correspondent says ‘‘we deserve better’’ (Letters, 17/1) referring to responsible government owning up to mistakes without being dragged there kicking and screaming. Perhaps we would have had this if people hadn’t voted with their hip pockets.
Marie Nash, Balwyn
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