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Let’s focus on keeping local businesses afloat

It is not helpful for various industry bodies to be quick to tell me what damage this will do to an already battered Victorian economy. What would be helpful is for these organisations to use their considerable communications expertise to tell me what I can do to help local businesses that are hit hard. The government is being nimble in introducing restrictions. We consumers need to be equally nimble to support small business.
Lyn Harper, Clifton Hill

Don’t look at me, it wasn’t my responsibility

Daniel Andrews and his Labor government do not rule by truth or transparency. They rule by media advice of how to say nothing meaningful or direct so that they can remain in power. We knew about the new strain of virus many weeks before it came here, but it is now being blamed for the current quarantine and contact tracing failures. It has escaped our “best, gold-standard” quarantine. No one in this government remembers anyone who may have had any responsibility – again.
Ross Kroger, Barwon Heads

It is unfair to scapegoat the ’regular people’

Let us stop blaming individuals in the risky quarantine system. These workers and guests are vulnerable. I do not think many of us would choose to work or isolate in these hotels. Federal and state governments have a duty to keep us safe. It is why we elect them and pay taxes. We need to hold to account the decision-makers. It is time for a fair go. No more scapegoating of regular people.
Cindy O’Connor, Brunswick

When will Scott Morrison show leadership?

If we had a competent prime minister who was able to negotiate Australia getting vaccines in the same time frame as other countries, our quarantine and border force workers would already have been vaccinated and these lockdowns across the country would not have happened. If we had a prime minister who accepted his constitutional responsibility for quarantine, we could be using under-utilised and more appropriate commonwealth facilities for quarantine. But that would require taking responsibility – not our Prime Minister’s strong suit.
Kerry Lewis, Williamstown

We repurposed Portsea once, let’s do it again

In 1999 we repurposed the Portsea quarantine facility, which had become an army barracks (retired), into a safe house for hundreds of Kosova refugees. It took only a few weeks as all the infrastructure existed – and it still does. We even put in a medical centre on site with X-ray and pathology services. It is close to services and also isolated. Is there a single reason to not repurpose it again as a quarantine facility for the next few months?
Andrew Taylor, Mount Martha

Positivity and joy amid gloom of lockdown

Amid the depressing sense of “here we go again”, the apparent inability of Victoria’s public health team to establish rapid and accurate contact tracing and understand the consequences of COVID-positive people using nebulisers in quarantine hotels, how wonderful to read of two couples successfully moving their weddings forward to beat the lockdown – “Tears and beers as two weddings are saved” (The Age, 13/2). What great stories they will tell their grandchildren, so succinctly summing up our years of living with COVID-19. Best wishes to them.
Pam Cupper, Dimboola

The importance of doing your job properly

It would seem that the only people who are not getting the Premier’s message about this “wickedly infectious virus” are those who are tasked and paid to contain it.
Dr Janet Mould, Safety Beach

THE FORUM

Wearing a mask correctly

I work in residential aged care and have to abide by more stringent regulations regarding masks than does the general populace. I do not resent this, but I do resent that so many people feel it is OK to not wear their mask properly.

I am astonished at the number of people who are unable to mould a nose wire, knot ear elastics to make them tighter, or adjust the sit of the mask so that it stays firmly over their noses and mouth. Likewise, a growing number of people feel no responsibility to replace a cloth mask that is too small or badly designed.

When will we see public announcements and advertisements that address this situation, make people ashamed not to act responsibly in the matter of proper and effective mask wearing, and direct them about how to achieve this?
Florence Thomson, Surrey Hills

Importance of hygiene

It was disturbing to see the photo of a cleaner wearing a torn glove, exposing most of their hand and a large ring, while disinfecting the Holiday Inn Hotel (The Age, 13/2). Are these people given inadequate training in infection control, is there poor supervision, or just a lack of care? We in Victoria are in our third lockdown, and it is frustrating to see such a disregard for basic standards. We can only hope that this was a one-off, and not the norm.
Robyn Smyth, Doncaster

Federal role in quarantine

Who can blame the public if they are confused by the mixed messages from state and federal governments about the control of quarantine facilities? The Premier wants the number of returning citizens to be reduced to reduce the risk of the virus spreading but the federal Health Minister has rejected that (The Age, 14/02). If he wants the intake to remain at the current levels, it follows that the federal government must accept responsibility for the quarantining of all arrivals.
Bruce Mackenzie, South Kingsville

One-stop quarantine city

Leakage of the coronavirus from the hotels in populous cities has continued to be a problem. In reality, these hotels are not capable of providing infection control that you would find even in a dental surgery that can treat a plethora of patients each day without any untoward outcomes.

A sensible solution would be for Australians returning from overseas to quarantine in Canberra, which has a small, often transient, population, mostly living in quality accommodation in addition to having quality hospitals, skilled medical staff and an airport. They would need to have been vaccinated and have tested negative for COVID-19. This would not compromise the Prime Minister’s wish to not be involved in quarantine.
Brian McGuinness, Richmond

The end for the Premier

The problem with common sense is that it is not very common. Daniel Andrews and his helpers have proved that, once again, with their mismanagement of hotel quarantine, all at the cost of the community. Time to go, Mr Andrews.
Melissa Ort, Fitzroy North

Unwarranted blame

People are human, and make mistakes, even in the most perfectly designed and operated system. The state government dealt with the Black Rock cluster without a lockdown: different actions for different strains of the virus. Our knowledge is constantly being updated, and sometimes we are learning from a mishap.

Over the future course of this pandemic, there will be outbreaks, mutations, new health advice and new knowledge about vaccines. Our lives will be different and challenging for some time, and we must accept there will be restrictions, short lockdowns, and reviews of processes and actions when something goes wrong.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

When will they learn?

Another failure in our quarantine system, which experts have been warning governments about for months now. It almost certainly will not be the last. We could have had a purpose-built facility that would have avoided this problem operating at a fraction of the cost of these lockdowns. Governments needs to get their priorities right. Funds could have been diverted from some of our mega-infrastructure projects of dubious value with which the Victorian government seems obsessed.
Roger Taylor, Camberwell

Small comfort in lockdown

The public health lockdown advice is for people to use the phone and reach out to others. It is happening – we had eight calls in one day about solar panels and shower heads. Thank goodness we are on the Do Not Call Register.
Murray MacLachlan, Altona Meadows

Respecting all workers

The Premier has declared AFLW games as a workplace and says AFLW players are essential workers. Isn’t it time for the AFL to acknowledge their female workers deserve a living wage so they do not have to work multiple jobs to support themselves?
Ruth Ryan, Smythesdale

Don’t Jeff the Hawks

We are still feeling the effects of Jeff Kennett’s attitude during the 1990s that Victoria was his personal fiefdom to sell off as he wished and destroy institutions which had taken many decades to build. Now, as president of Hawthorn Football Club, he sees fit to make a suggestion that would wipe out nearly a century of tradition (Sport, 12/2).

Many current-day members are descendants of Hawk players and supporters who endured nearly three decades of misery while the foundations were laid to be the most successful club since 1961. His suggestion that Hawthorn could move to Tasmania is an insult to those Hawk pioneers.
Bill King, Camberwell

An abrogation of duty

The American people have been let down by those they elected to uphold the constitution. Forty-three senators seemingly voted in contradiction of the evidence presented in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Many declared their intention not to convict before hearing and listening to the evidence. Surely this is a contravention of the purpose of a trial.

Their abrogation of duty displays their lack of moral fortitude and honesty in upholding their oath of office. The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, clearly laid the responsibility for the insurrection on Donald Trump. This outcome, although predicted, is a disturbing indication of the self-serving nature of many of today’s politicians. The future for legitimate democracy is on very shaky ground.
Marie Spokes, Ascot Vale

Exposing the horrors

It has been suggested that the Trump impeachment was a waste of time and money but at least it brought out more of the horrors of the last days of his terrible administration and exposed how spineless the morally compromised Republicans are.
Terry Kelly, Fitzroy North

Yet more fake Trump news

Donald Trump’s defence lawyers have cast him as a “peace-loving victim”. Will the Trump lies never end?
Rod Williams, Surrey Hills

More please, Mr Silvester

Naked City is always a “must read” column but “Uncovering the crime bombshell” (The Age, 13/2) was outstanding. Somehow John Silvester manages to make what could be a dry topic into one where I am reading sentences out to my husband, marvelling at his clever use of humour to make a point. The titles for the top 10 reasons for crime’s decline – pure gold.
Gaynor Sheahan, Wantirna South

Punish the dangerous

Don Weatherburn, the former director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Research and now a professor at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, says “tougher penalties don’t work” (Naked City, 13/2). True – not as a deterrent. But, if actually implemented, serious jail time is effective as quarantine. The best policy might be to send fewer people to prison but to lock up dangerous, violent and the worst habitual criminals for longer.
Claude Forell, Glenlyon

The truly ugly Australians

I attended the Nick Kyrgios tennis match on Friday night and left after two sets because the crowd’s behaviour was so appalling and disturbing. The ugly Aussie male was in full force, fists pumping, yelling out abusive comments during points, applauding Dominic Thiem’s errors. I felt like I was among a Trump cult crowd. Thank goodness Thiem won, restoring dignity and graciousness to the Australian Open.
Anna Daniel, Canterbury

Theatre at the AO

Now that Daniel Andrews has explained that the tennis is a workplace (in this case, I assume, part of the entertainment industry) I am beginning to accept the actions of some star players. Glaring and yelling, arguing with the umpire, hitting balls into the crowd and smashing racquets on the court is just part of the performance. Moreover, the weird hairstyles, tattoos, jazzy outfits and facial expressions are simply there to add a bit of theatricality to the show. Thanks Daniel, it all makes sense now.
Ken Barnes, Glen Iris

We need our conductors

I was in the city on Friday. People wore masks and socially distanced, and there was hand sanitiser in the shops. But why was more care not taken on the trams? I caught the number 57 tram from the city to North Melbourne at about 2pm and it became crowded very quickly – no social distancing there. Surely it would be logical to have a system of controlling the number of people on all public transport during these times of uncertainty around COVID-19. Maybe we need to bring back the old system of conductors to control the number of passengers.
Avril Green, Montrose

AND ANOTHER THING

Illustration Matt Golding THE AGE Letters cartoon for Pub date Monday 15th February

Illustration Matt Golding THE AGE Letters cartoon for Pub date Monday 15th FebruaryCredit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Coronavirus

I no longer fear the epidemic. I fear Dan’s lack of competence and political spin in handling it,
Susie Holt, South Yarra

I won’t take on hotel quarantine, says PM. Another case of not holding the hose?
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills

PM, all care and no responsibility. No help either as he waits for Andrews to confront another crisis.
Michael Church, Hadfield

Close all borders and no more passengers or planes from overseas.
Christine Hammett, Richmond

One floats on water but, apart from that, what’s the difference between quarantine hotels and cruise ships?
John Coulter, Murrumbeena

Talk’s fine, Prime Minister, but where’s the vaccine?
Pamela Pilgrim, Highett

Trump

Senators who voted for Trump’s acquittal are unfit to serve their nation.
Jim Spithill, Ashburton

The Gormless Obsequious Party.
David Johnston, Healesville

Republican political expediency acquitted him but the court of public opinion has convicted him millions of times over.
Lorraine Parkinson, Doncaster

If Trump had been carrying a weapon at the Capitol, he would have been acquitted. Poor America.
Peter Monk, Woodend

Does being Trump mean never having to say you’re sorry?
Alistair Davies, Thornbury

Furthermore

The highlight of my week is Robin Coucher’s delightful (and clever) water colour drawing in Spectrum.
Helen Elliot, Hawthorn

Come on, Pete Evans running for the Senate? Maybe he’ll become the Un-science Minister.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

Dutton prides himself on his integrity. One hopes such an emotion comes just before his fall.
Stewart Monckton, Mont Albert

Note from the Editor

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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