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We have become used to these absurd demands

One would have expected more empathy
Shame on you, Novak Djokovic. You came to Australia to play tennis for your own reasons – namely to make a lot of money.

You do not have the right to make demands of our government for special treatment because things don’t suit you. You knew the conditions before you applied to come here. Even that hard quarantine was a possibility. One would have thought that you would have been more empathetic after your own experience with COVID-19 last year. You and others tested positive after you hosted a tournament in the Balkans. You even admitted you were wrong to do that.

As a Melburnian who spent half of last year in lockdown I strongly support the measures being taken to prevent another breakout. Show yourself to be a more thoughtful and unselfish person rather than a prima donna and gracefully accept your time under these restrictions in a first-class hotel.
Rhonda Ward, Mont Albert

This bubble is different
What the overseas players need to understand is that the Australian Open bubble is different from the other ones, like the US Open. They were done to protect the players from everyone else, our bubble is to protect all of us from the players and their entourages.

I’m sure they cannot comprehend how hard we worked for zero cases.
Kirsty Page, Ivanhoe

Stick to what you know
Novak Djokovic – a top tennis player? Yes. An epidemiologist? No.
Stick to what you know, Novak, and leave the control of the pandemic to the experts.
Margaret Smith, Point Lonsdale

Anxious, resentful and disappointed
Why do I feel so anxious, resentful and disappointed that the 2021 Australian Open tennis has been brought to Melbourne?

In 2020, our young people were subject to compromised education, loss of opportunities for social growth and treasured rites of passage. They were deprived of all community sports and recreation.

Yet here we are, risking a return to such measures for the stated aim of not wanting to lose our grand slam status. Where is our ‘‘proportionate’’ response? Where is leadership that puts the true needs of people first?
Terry Harrison, Mount Waverley

Weighing up the risks
It is somewhat simplistic to assert that, in justifying the Australian Open, we should be confident that there is no greater risk in the quarantine of tennis players and their entourages than the risks related to the return of overseas Australians (Letters, 19/1).

In either case there are potentially significant adverse consequences if quarantine is breached. On the one hand there is the imperative of safely and expeditiously returning overseas Australians in the context of protecting the Australian community as a whole. On the other merely an economic benefit of holding a sporting event in the same context. Hardly a balancing exercise of equal merit.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill


A distressing about-face
An article in The Age on Monday (18/1) gave hope to many Victorians that Victoria Police would let people off COVID fines with a warning in less serious cases after police had changed their internal guidelines to issue cautions and diversions for most people with COVID fines. Police then issued a statement in response to the article saying the guidelines were ‘‘poorly worded’’ and that this was not the case.

The about-face was a distressing blow for members of the community who have been fined unfairly.

Fitzroy Legal Service has been running an advice line for COVID fines – almost everyone we’ve spoken to has tried to comply with Victoria’s restrictions and been fined anyway. Reviews of fines are almost always refused without reasons. There is no way of getting your situation properly reviewed without going in front of a magistrate and risking a criminal conviction.

We are urging police to ensure people who have been fined unfairly aren’t forced to go to court to have their fine withdrawn. There are already significant delays in Victoria’s courts. Forcing people to use the court system to sort out fines is a huge extra burden for the Victorian community to bear.
Adrian Snodgrass, Principal Lawyer, Fitzroy Legal Service

Vote these people out
The lawyer and writer Josh Bornstein could not have been more succinct when he wrote ‘‘Unlike many other politicians across the world, the members of the Morrison government refuse to condemn Trump for his incitement of a fascist coup and the terrorist acts that he inspired precisely because the Coalition is now riddled with Trumpists’’ (‘‘Voltaire would applaud Trump ban’’, Comment, The Age, 19/1).

The Australian voters should remember that at the next elections. We can’t have these sorts of supporters in our system of democratic governance. We must get rid of them with our vote just as the American voters did by getting rid of Trump in America.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

It’s not a free-for-all
Josh Bornstein provides a sensible recalibration of the emotive debate on free speech in Australia precipitated by the titanic force of outgoing US President Donald Trump’s ‘‘hate speech’’ and the ubiquitous spread of ‘‘digital disinformation’’ by ‘‘digital behemoths’’.

Indeed, the salient point missed by a lot of us is that ‘‘speech has never been free’’ under the law, because there are legal boundaries to what you can say or write: It’s not a free-speech free-for-all.

It goes without saying that untruthful and unfettered words cause ‘‘immense [reputational] harm’’ that once toxically spread (and facilitated by digital platforms), can not be readily reversed.

So, as Bornstein incisively discerns ‘‘The fastest way to arrest the enormous damage done’’ by digital platforms is to repeal their ‘‘statutory immunity’’, so that they are rendered liable for any spurious fiction that they spread with impunity.

And for all of us to quietly pause for thought that freedom of speech is not a given and not without consequence.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Players knew the deal
Bernard Tomic and co could educate themselves a little by reading a newspaper or watching the ABC rather than playing video games for hours on end. They would see what the real world is experiencing rather than the eternal bubble they exist in.

Stop complaining or leave. You were all informed about the requirements before you decided to play this Australian Open, it was your choice.
Ron Reynolds, Templestowe

They’re keeping us safe
Roberto Bautista-Agut, the Victorian government may not have a clue about tennis and practice courts (‘‘‘These people have no idea’: Spanish star Bautista-Agut says lockdown like prison’’, online 19/1) – why would they? But they do know about how to keep their citizens safe, which is why you and others are all in quarantine. Tennis Australia also supported this.

We did 112 days hard lockdown last year and none of us want to go back to that. That’s frankly more important than allowing you all just to breeze in and get on with playing a tennis tournament.

Everyone else needs to quarantine – why are you any different?
Alison McLeod, Cremorne

Donation reform a must …
Your editorial is so timely (‘‘Laxity on donations reeks of self-interest’’, The Age, 19/1). Yes, transparency, vigilance and integrity are keys to preserving democracy. Recent events elsewhere show its fragility.

Clearly votes can be bought by vested interests at all levels of government. The lazy view that ‘‘it couldn’t happen here’’ is unconvincing.

We here in Australia have led the world with arm’s length voting and electoral matters but in financing political parties we are far from prudent. We are lazy and complacent.

My suggestion is that only individuals be permitted to make donations with a ceiling of $1500 a year for all three levels of government. Of the balance required to promote policies at elections, this should be publicly funded through the Electoral Commission.

This would clean up our system – reducing the present undue influence of the donor organisations, whether business or unions – giving us the level playing field inherent in a true democracy .
John Miller, Toorak

… as I have seen
The High Court finding that ‘‘the basic human tendency towards reciprocity means that payments all too readily tend to result in favours’’, is consistent with the pattern in my street (‘‘Laxity on donations reeks of self-interest’’, The Age, 19/1)

My very productive apricot tree has allowed me to happily give bundles of fruit to neighbours. In return, despite expecting nothing, I have recently received biscuits, plums, fresh garlic and zucchinis, all clearly as a direct consequence of the apricots.

This strong human tendency has made for a more varied and healthy diet (maybe excluding the delicious biscuits), but is cause for worry when the most generous donors to our governments are mining companies that rely on federal government approvals.
Lesley Walker, Northcote

It didn’t cross my mind
When Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, I naively thought that when he found out what the job entailed, he would quickly become bored and leave to go off on his next glorious conquest.

We had all seen the images of Barack Obama working late into the night, reading and responding to correspondence and working through briefing papers, and I, quite rightly, thought that there was no way that Mr Trump was going to be up for this.

It didn’t cross my mind that he would completely reshape and redefine what it meant to be the US president.

Gone from the job description were being well informed, holding sound values and any form of strategic planning. New KPIs seemed to go little beyond ensuring a plethora of activities designed to generate frequent large-scale personal adulation opportunities.

The last four years have at best been a circus; at worst, a dangerous rollercoaster that the world appears to have survived.

Thank goodness that from January 20 the US will have an actual president; one who will have dusted off and breathed life into the previous position description.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

The failure is ours
The laws aren’t failing our wildlife at all (‘‘Laws failing our wildlife’’, The Age, 18/1), we have been failing our wildlife for 200 years.

All Australians are guilty of ignoring and putting their heads in the sand to the fact that Australia has the dubious distinction of the highest rate of vertebrate mammal distinction in the world.
We are all guilty, no excuses.
Judy Martin, McCrae

We need this watchdog
The Centre for Public Integrity highlights the desperate need for an effective anti-corruption body in Australia (‘‘Miners splash $136m on political donations’’, The Age, 18/2) and yet again the Coalition, is found wanting.

Only fools or the naive would believe donations do not buy access or influence. Just consider the detrimental influence of the gambling, food, alcohol, coal and petroleum industries, or the unions, on government legislation in recent times.

Australia trails nearly all Western nations in regulating political donations and, sadly, we are not one of the of the 114 countries that totally ban them from foreign interests.
When politicians are open to exploitation, voters become cynical, democracy is undermined and society is degraded.

It is arguable that the lack of a strong anti-corruption body is the greatest inhibitor of representative democracy in Australia. The creation of a federal anti-corruption body, the banning of political donations and the public funding of elections would be a small price to pay to regain democracy and the electorate’s trust.
Bryan Long, Balwyn

Thanks for the story
Thank you Bernadette Florence (‘‘My happy story’’, Letters, 19/1), for your beautiful little story about your grandson and Matilda the duck.

It reminds us all of the innocence of the very young, and the importance of having these moments brought to our attention, so we can go about our day with a smile and a chuckle.
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully

Why has it taken so long?
Please don’t tell me that I have been carefully sorting waste into landfill, recycle and organics bins for the majority of the material to end up in landfill. The article ‘‘Victoria doubles capacity to recycle glass into jars’’ (The Age, 19/1) is most disheartening.

Responsible citizens are diligently sorting their waste, municipal councils are sending around three different trucks to collect the material and the best we can do is recycle 61,000 tonnes of the 606,000 tonnes of plastic, leaving the rest to go to landfill. For glass, the figures quoted are 181,000 tonnes recycled against 205,000 tonnes to landfill.

It is heartening to find that there are moves afoot to increase Victoria’s recycling facilities, and therefore reduce landfill, but why has it taken so long?
Ralph Lewis, Canterbury


The Australian Open
I must say, the antics of some entitled tennis stars and their companions are more entertaining than the actual tennis.
Marlene Lee, Mount Eliza


Novak Djokovic, you chose to come here for the AO, you knew the rules, you knew no favours would be given, so if you don’t like it then go home. Let those who obey, stay and play.
Margaret Sullivan, Caulfield North

Early release? Give Novak Djokovic the tennis elbow.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

Spot on articles, Chip Le Grand and Tony Wright (The Age, 19/1). Novak Djokovic is a great tennis player and players’ advocate, but seems to lack perspective: pandemic, what pandemic?
Mary Cole, Richmond

Memo to Novak Djokovic: We call the shots.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale

What a wonderful ambassador for tennis is Russian-born NZ doubles player Artem Sitak.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

Simple maths. The amount of government interest in climate change policy is inversely proportional to the resource industry’s donations to the Coalition.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda

Scott Morrison will be pleased. After evading any responsibility or blame for robo-debt by his ministers and himself he has found that ‘‘the buck stops’’ with the Dutch government. That’s a miracle.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

Americans had the chance to get rid of a megalomaniac leader after four years. Russians and Chinese have no such luxury.
John Walsh, Watsonia

I think Vladimir Putin is an exceptional person. I wouldn’t have the nerve to say otherwise.
John Rawson, Mernda

I have no problem wearing a mask. It protects me, the people I love and the people I don’t even know. If nothing else it is a statement of solidarity.
Gerry Danckert, Armstrong Creek

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