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National oversight of protocols long overdue

Furthermore, it seems equally clear that the location of quarantine facilities should be outside densely populated areas. Hotel quarantine in big cities has been the main weak link in managing and preventing viral infection from those entering Australia. The most recent instance being the infection of a hotel quarantine worker with the highly infectious variant who, unknowingly, before testing positive, mingled and visited many locations in and around Melbourne.

So far, as far as is known, there have been no further infections, but this is pure chance and things could have been very different with another serious outbreak and all the consequences of that.

Howard Springs in the Northern Territory has proved to be successful and should be the preferred model. If the federal government refuses to undertake this responsibility, perhaps each state needs to establish its own regional facility based on Howard Springs.
Dr Leslie Chester, Brighton

Living wage for quarantine guards essential
I was shocked to learn that states and territories, other than Victoria, still enable their quarantine guards to hold other jobs outside their roles in the hotels. Forget about whether or not ScoMo needs to bring hotel quarantine under the Federal banner – why is the question not being asked of the State Premiers as to why these guards are not being remunerated fairly so they don’t need to take on concurrent employment in the community?

Paying them a decent wage recognises the gravity of the work they’re doing on behalf of the community.
Monica Young, Airport West

Protect our treasure
One might well wonder why hotel quarantine in cities is still continuing, given the more infectious strains of COVID-19 emerging overseas, and the increased rate of arrivals. Australia’s situation is like a rare treasure that needs to be protected.

Hotel quarantine in cities makes little scientific sense. Is hotel quarantine the preferred option because the Commonwealth government is propping up the struggling tourism industry?
Pia Brous, Prahran

Move forward with the science
Scott Morrison has never had a particularly good track record of listening to the science, vis-a-vis climate change and carbon emissions, but at the start of the pandemic he made some strong, well-advised decisions, and proudly donned the badge of being “⁣guided by the science”. Not so any longer.

In the 12 months since Morrison ticked that box and mentally moved on, science has also moved on, coming to understand the significance of airborne transmission and more appropriate approaches to quarantine.

If Mr Morrison wants to continue to wear his badge, he must listen, heed what he hears and move forward with the science.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Keep feds at arm’s length
The last thing we need is federal responsibility for COVID-19 quarantine facilities. Left to our bumbling, undermining feds, we’d be in the same mess as Europe and the US.

The states haven’t been perfect but thank goodness we’re a federation with states putting local wellbeing first. The feds should, however, pay for COVID-19 protections and do so gladly as it’s our money and it keeps them at arm’s length from responsibility – which is just how they like it.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

THE FORUM

Ambition lacking
The Andrews government’s position on electric vehicles and combating vehicle pollution would confuse the most hardy ALP supporter. On the one hand claiming leadership on progressive energy and climate polices, while introducing a new tax on electric vehicles and conducting a one-year trial of a single electric bus. There are thousands of electric buses on the road across Europe, Russia and China. What happened to ambition Dan?
Nick Roberts, Shepparton

No hanging offence
A small number of relatively high-profile individuals in the community have called on Collingwood Football Club president Eddie McGuire to resign or be sacked for the use of poorly chosen words to describe the finding of a report which found systemic racism at the club.

It is to be hoped that these unctuous individuals, self-appointed exemplars or pillars of society have no skeletons in their own cupboards. McGuire’s language was poorly chosen – inappropriate – but it is not a hanging offence.
Michael J. Gamble, Belmont

Myanmar hypocrisy
Once again, the civil disobedience campaign and international media attention of the Myanmar coup goes to show democracy and human rights in that country only matter when they are stripped from the Burmese majority.

The coup is simply a macro level extension of what has been continually inflicted upon ethnic communities by the military and Burmese nationalists across Myanmar for generations.
James O’Keefe, East Melbourne

Line up the ducks
Saturday’s announcement of yet another Victorian duck-shooting season simply doesn’t add up for those concerned about conservation. Yes, it’s a short season with a small daily quota. But it will likely deliver similar carnage as last year’s limited season, which slaughtered 60,000 waterbirds despite tough COVID-19 restrictions on travel and camping.

The Game Management Authority admits duck breeding has been generally suppressed since the millennium drought broke a decade ago. They also say the average lifespan of a duck is four years. Has the Andrews government done the maths? No wonder duck populations are falling off a cliff.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills

Planning loophole
Good on Moreland Council for supporting, if only by a slim majority, Green councillor James Conlan’s motion to block the demolition of the now derelict house at 65 The Grove, Coburg (“⁣Last stand for derelict house as council refuses ‘demolition by neglect’”⁣⁣, 6/2). Cr Conlan’s pungent phrase, “demolition by neglect”⁣, well describes how unscrupulous developers too often try to punch a loophole in heritage orders.

If, as Cr Conlan acknowledges, there is nothing in the 1987 Planning and Environment Act to require owners to repair damage to heritage-listed properties, then the act should be amended to deter those who would exploit its vulnerabilities. Surely, the vast majority of neighbours who are now reported to support the building’s demolition would not do so if it had been properly maintained.
Dirk den Hartog, Smiths Beach

Duck season
At my local wetland this morning, there were 20 ducks, of three different species. They swam, dabbled and preened. If only life for all ducks were so uneventful.

But it won’t be, because the state government has just announced a 2021 duck-shooting season. From May 26 on thousands of Victorian wetlands, ducks will endure the noise of shotguns, yelling, fake duck calls and hunters’ dogs. As prey animals, they experience terror and panic, not to mention pain when shot and wounded.

Are we comfortable with this in the 21st century? Does the Victorian government care about animal welfare or not?
Debbie Lustig, Elsternwick

Carbon crab gait
Our paternalistic Prime Minister crab-walks towards a “carbon neutral by 2050”⁣ declaration. He knows this undertaking is essential to avoid Australia being seen as a pariah, but he cannot upset the grunting fossil-fuel-loving troglodytes in the Coalition.

Instead of fully implementing proven clean energy solutions, he intones solemnly about technology breakthroughs down the track that somehow exonerate him from making hard but necessary decisions now. While waiting for these fantastic solutions to magically appear, greenhouse gases are pouring irreversibly into the stratosphere.

We will weep in 20 years at our stupidity. We will be on our knees to our terrified grandchildren, bowing our heads and begging their forgiveness.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Face mask defiance
On Friday evening when ordering my glass of wine at the local hotel, I asked the attendant (politely) to cover his nose. Choosing not to place his mask correctly, he adopted a belligerent and defiant attitude. When I asked to speak to the manager, he declared that he was the person in charge. He then demanded that I leave the premises. After engaging my wife in banter about nearby patrons not wearing masks (not about politics), his parting words to her were: “You must love Dan.”⁣

He used his authority irresponsibly to bully me, to express a defiant and politicised attitude about face masks, and to force me to leave the premises.

Masks help contain the epidemic and save lives, yet non-compliance is widespread. We need a little leadership and a little enforcement to encourage the correct use of face masks.
Stephen Mills, Blackburn South

You first, Tim
It is all well and good for Tim Wilson to propose allowing people to raid their superannuation to help buy a house and to also recommend that the contribution rate remain at 9 per cent. None of this affects him personally. The government will contribute 15.4per cent into his nominated superannuation fund or self-managed fund and he will be all right Jack!

When he puts forward a proposal to lower the government superannuation contribution to the same level of everyone else, then I may pay attention to his proposals – not before.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Difference welcome
Nicholas Reece (“How to foster an Australian Elon Musk”⁣, 6/2) is rightly in awe of the United States because it has eight of the world’s richest entrepreneurs from the technology sector. How might Australia become like that, he asks. For Australia to create an economic environment comparable to America’s, it would have to cease to be the Australia we know: the egalitarian Australia. The much-breached “mateship” Australia is still a felt ideal as former prime minister John Howard asserted. Another prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, made the point that Australia is a more compassionate country than America. Australia does encourage entrepreneurship and achieves it in many fields but without worshipping it.
Paul Ormonde, Northcote

Low-hanging fruit
Why would the government not allow jobseekers to keep their fortnightly payments and be paid for picking fruit. It would make the job more appealing, it would be COVID-safe and far easier than using charter flights and hotel quarantine to fly in workers. It is seasonal work so it is likely that most participants would inevitably return to JobSeeker but would also result in some workers finding and liking their new vocation.

If it is acceptable for the government to book out entire hotels and not use them, and pay an entire hotel quarantine workforce to be on standby but not work, then it should be acceptable to allow jobseekers to help our producers harvest their crops. In doing so, it keeps prices down, producers in business and prevents outbreaks of fruit flies and other pests.
Tim Bailey, Highton

Footy colours
Peter Ryan’s article (“How a club unwelcome to Indigenous players became a safe place”⁣, 7/2) about explicit racial discrimination at Hawthorn Football Club, until John Turnbull came along in the late ’90s and recruited Chance Bateman, came as a shock. It shouldn’t have, of course, given what has been revealed at Collingwood.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing about ourselves it is this simple fact: we really are all the same under the skin. The virus affects everyone equally and indiscriminately, regardless of colour, language, religion or political leaning.

Let’s recognise that basic truth and respect everyone no matter how they look, speak, think or which footy team they support.
Michael Feeney, Malvern

Fire prevention
Something needs to be done about the bushfire situation in Australia. It does not need yet another inquiry. There are about 150,000 dedicated voluntary firefighters in Australia whose job is to fight fires and protect life and property. And each year it is the same old story.

Country towns have footy teams, cricket clubs, the CWA, and sometimes an RSL. Where is the group for fire prevention? Putting out the fire is vital, so should stopping it from starting in the
first place.

A fire-prevention group should receive government funding to cover equipment costs, which will save the taxpayer money in the long run. We should get off the back foot and stop accepting that bushfires are with us and do something about it. Towns should have a management plan for the removal of fire fuel from roadsides.

Householders should be given advice on removing trees close to their homes. Children should be taught fire protection in schools.

There should be an annual Prime Minister’s award for the Best Fire Protection Town.
Barry Revill, Moorabbin

AND ANOTHER THING …

Surf pro move
Bells Beach: the surfing icon; you can transfer the tournament but not the waves.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

Clearly the Andrews government prefers tennis to surfing.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Politics
Is Craig Kelly forgetting the placebo effect when he looks at his favourite COVID-19 treatments?
Joan Peverell, Malvern

When is Facebook going to take responsibility and shut down Craig Kelly’s account?
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear

Will we follow America’s example and stop selling weapons of war to Saudi Arabia?
Terry Malone, Warburton

I support the continued government funding for private schools because we all need more Tim Wilsons. Not sure, well ask Eric.
Peter McNicol, Sandringham

So Mr Morrison, given that technology is the way to go, where are we at with electric vehicles? Light years behind the rest of the world as usual?
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie

Craig Kelly, doltish superspreader of climate and COVID-19 misinformation. Destined for de-selection.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Premier danseur Scott Morrison is secretly honing his pirouettes and pivots for the long-awaited premiere of his next big hit: “⁣Climate Change: The U Turn”.
Tony Lenten, Glen Waverley

Tim Wilson, a great supporter of free speech, unless you’re the RBA governor and support policies of fairness.
Peter Baddeley, Portland

Morrison finally slaps Kelly with a wet fish. A great example of leading from behind.
Jack Morris, Kennington

Finally
If Victoria’s “fruit bowl”⁣ was in marginal Melbourne electorates and not regional areas, the problem (“Rotting fruit risks urban fruit fly plague”⁣, 7/12) would have been solved eight months ago.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill


The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

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