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It will be no comfort to the thousands of businesses and millions of Victorians who can now pick up the pieces, after Daniel Andrews’ latest “snap” lockdown (“Victoria’s lockdown to end tonight, Premier announces”, The Age, 17/2), to realise their sacrifices were for nothing, as the spread of infections from the Holiday Inn had already been contained within the small circle of close family contacts before it started. This upsetting fact emerged when the Chief Health Officer noted on the fourth day of the lockdown that the most recent and last two cases had acquired the infection eight days earlier. No positive cases have been reported from any of the dozens of “exposure sites” listed, nor among the tens of thousands of people tested. It’s past time to lift all the continuing restrictions on our daily lives.
David Macilwain, Sandy Creek
Quarantine breaches remain rare
Professor Lindsay Grayson is justifiably incensed that so many recommendations of the inquiry into hotel quarantine in Victoria are yet to be implemented (“Push to shut down state’s ‘risky’ hotel quarantine”, The Age, 17/2). However, the number of breaches are very small in proportion to the number of those quarantined. We are not told what statistical confidence we can have that the higher figures in Victoria did not arise by chance. And we don’t know whether other states where breakouts have occurred have themselves implemented every recommendation in the Victorian inquiry.
This is very important information if we are contemplating a total shutdown of the quarantine program in Victoria. Establishing national guidelines for quarantine by our federal government would materially help to inform such decisions.
Mike Sanderson, Drouin
Modified hotels better option than airport
Sorry Daniel Andrews, but I disagree with your thoughts on a safe environmental structure at Avalon for those needing quarantine (“Avalon firms as airport plan takes off”, The Age, 17/2).
Let’s make an investment in a structure that will pay for itself. Buy and modify, or build a hotel that fits all the requirements for safe quarantining, which will obviously include the correct airconditioning, balconies, etc. Its location is important so that it can be operated as a hotel when not required and will give a return on the investment. It must be run by a professional management team or leased out to a hotel chain with the quarantine proviso.
Your aim should be to bring a hotel complex into the system every six months until you can be sure you have sufficient safe accommodation for this and any future pandemic.
Bruce Cormack, Kilsyth
Can Canberra outdo the states?
How about a quarantine hospital in Canberra for returning Australians? And isn’t quarantine a federal responsibility?
Diane Maddison, Parkdale
Lessons from adversity
What have we learnt from this pandemic? We know we can work from home and in some cases move to and work from regional areas. We don’t have to sit for ages on the suburban transport system, we can walk to work. Three kilometres isn’t so far and it helps with our fitness levels. There must be many more ways of benefiting from this horror. So, think and enjoy the new ways.
Bruce Dudon, Woodend
Invest now to protect against future diseases
Having run them for decades to combat the likes of tuberculosis, we have gradually seen infectious diseases hospitals closed “because there were no more infectious diseases”. This has degraded an essential resource for the training of infectious diseases nurses. It would be great if this potential quarantine facility at Avalon Airport could go ahead with trained staff and not untrained security guards. More will be needed as the world will continue to experience more new viruses. Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North
Scott Morrison has apologised that Brittany Higgins felt unsupported while working with his government. An apology was the least that could be expected, but going into damage control about who in his office knew what and when, saying, “… in situations like this, information can become confused over time about who makes contact and things like that” (“PM disputes timeline on rape claim,” The Age, 16/2) renders this a hollow apology.
Claire Merry, Wantirna
Reviews of workplace culture in Federal Parliament (“Reviews to ensure a higher standard”, The Age, 17/2) will not address the real cause of the problem – young people who gain employment on the staff of MPs are in a vulnerable position. As Jenna Price says, staffers are the Uber drivers of politics – they have no rights at work (Comment, 16/2). Despite this, these positions are highly prized. Brittany Higgins said it was her dream job. Ideally, it might have led to her becoming the next Michaelia Cash or Linda Reynolds. We have sufficient evidence to know that nothing much will change.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
Out of touch
So let’s get this straight, an alleged rape occurs in the office of one of Scott Morrison’s ministers in 2019 and he learns of it only a week ago. Either Scott Morrison doesn’t have his finger on the pulse or he is not being straight with the Australian public.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
Here we go again. Another inquiry by the Liberals into the Liberals with a predictable Liberal non-result. Is an inquiry by someone with teeth and who isn’t paid by the subject of the inquiry too much to ask?
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
PM is listening
Scott Morrison has admitted to listening to his spouse on an important matter for Australia. A change! His concept of governance is, he claims, that he talks to everyone. At last he admits he can listen to at least one.
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham
High spirits at tennis
What justification can there be for the Australian Open to advertise Guojiao 1573 for five years on Rod Laver Arena, where some of the world’s most health-conscious athletes are performing? Baijiu may be the favoured alcoholic drink in China, but this advertising on the backdrop to the Australian Open is incongruous. At around 50-65 per cent alcohol, Baijiu is much stronger than the beverages advertised through our AFL and NRL clubs.
Many Australian sporting bodies have recognised the harm alcohol does, and are moving to reduce or ban such advertising and dependency. Perhaps our government could protect Australians by outlawing advertising of these high-alcohol products.
Helen Jordan, Highton
The federal government’s policy of wiping its hands of troublesome dual citizens by revoking their Australian citizenship (“Row over mother who fled Syria camp”, The Age, 17/2) is an abrogation of responsibility. In many of these instances the majority of that person’s life, including their formative years, has been here in Australia and we have therefore helped shaped who they are for better or for worse.
Revoking their citizenship is a bit like saying to an adopted child you are no longer part of this family and pushing any legal responsibility back onto their birth parents who they have no connection with. If Scott Morrison is genuine about putting Australians’ safety first, how about focusing on the reasons why these individuals get radicalised and set in motion programs that address these.
Ian Moore, St Kilda East
Time to stand up
How come Daniel Andrews has time in his busy day to waffle on for 90 minutes at his press conferences? Surely on his salary, which is higher than that of the US President, the Premier can delegate a spokesperson for press conferences, leaving him more time to focus on running the state.
Charles Davis, Hawthorn
I had a dream last night. It was a phone call. “Hi Dan, it’s Michael. Seems like the lockdown has worked. Good call. I know you and your team are doing your utmost to keep Corona and his cousins at bay. On this issue, myself and the Coalition are putting politics aside. How can we help?” Then I woke up. There was Michael O’Brien on the nightly news carping again. I know that Opposition Leader is a tough gig, but surely now is the time for a bit of bipartisanship and support.
Geoff Goonan, Glen Iris
Your correspondent has highlighted the widespread confusion over how franking credits work (Letters, 17/2). For those who do pay tax, franking credits on dividends reduce the recipient’s taxable income by the amount of the franking credit to allow for the tax the company has paid, and thereby prevents double taxation of the profits/dividends.
However, for recipients who do not pay any tax, the government pays the amount of the franking credit to them, in effect handing over the related company tax paid, resulting in no taxation of the company profit and a windfall gain for the shareholder. The Howard government is responsible for this absurdity.
Richard Fone, Camberwell
Your correspondent’s letter about the use of franking credits (Letters, 17/2) represents the difficulty experienced by Labor in explaining their policy. Labor was not intending to abolish franking credits but wanted to abolish what is termed excess franking credits. These were introduced in 2000 by the Howard government and represented a refund of any franking credits not used after the recipient’s personal tax liability reached nil. This payment is not taxable in the hands of either the recipient or the company that paid the dividends. The government just didn’t want recipients to know that they were getting tax-free dollars – another form of welfare.
John Rome, Mt Lawley, WA
References to the extinction of coal-based power (“What are big batteries and how could they reshape the electricity grid?”, The Age, 15/2) are premature. Nobody making these claims can tell us how electricity will be provided when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Furthermore, statements that electricity can be provided at close to zero cost from renewables is post-modernist nonsense ignoring the current level of massive cross subsidies from taxpayers.
Oversupply of electricity due to the transient nature of renewables is impacting on the profitability of coal-based power while coal-based power is not being compensated for providing the complementary source of power at night and when the wind is not blowing. This so-called competitive outcome is because pricing decisions do not reflect opportunity cost of supply.
To even the playing field, renewable energy suppliers should be required to contract supply on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year, thereby absorbing the cost of non-renewable energy supply when renewables do not provide the necessary amount of power. At the moment renewable suppliers are cherry picking the market without having to provide 24/7/365 power delivery guarantees.
Greg Angelo, Balwyn North
If only …
If only I knew when I returned to Egypt last August … that the virus would get worse across the world. That daily infections and deaths would make the first wave in 2020 look like the common cold. That lockdowns would become more prevalent and for longer periods. That schools would close and revert to online teaching. That Australia would reduce the number of returning Australians. That Australia would continue to not arrange repatriation flights for Australians stranded overseas. That Australian embassies overseas would be telling jobless, homeless and visaless Australians to just “beg and borrow” to survive while they wait a year or years to get on a flight to Australia.
That Prime Minister Scott Morrison would abrogate his responsibilities in regard to both quarantine and the security and safety of desperate stranded Australians overseas. That Daniel Andrews would say that he doesn’t want any Australians returning to Victoria. That there would be rising public opinion in Australia that desperate stranded Australians overseas deserve no sympathy and definitely no assistance in getting to Australia. That Australia would turn its back on its own citizens overseas who are desperate to return home. That I would find myself not actually just looking for a job but, in reality, more looking for another country to take me in so I have somewhere to live.
I would never have left Australia!
Mark Harrington, Giza, Egypt
Needled by footage
While your correspondent (Letters, 17/2) calls for vaccinations to be called “shots”, could TV news services cease showing file pictures of patients getting these shots? This is probably doubly distressing for those who fear needles and excessively repetitive for all viewers.
Rod Watson, East Brighton
Who wants to be shot?
Speak for yourself (Letters, 17/2). Personally I would rather be jabbed than shot.
Tony Healy, Balwyn North
When such large sums are involved, surely the tennis authorities should ensure that both players are treated fairly (“Within her rights to take that time’: Barty on controversial time out in loss”, The Age, 17/2). To allow one player egress to a treatment room, ice packs, etc. while leaving the other to sit out in the heat on the court smacks of incompetence. The medical break is used by savvy players to obtain advantage.
Doris Leroy, Altona
AND ANOTHER THING…
Critics of the lockdown appear to believe that if nothing bad happens, then it was not necessary to do anything in the first place.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne
A big thank you to those who will be continuing to self-isolate until their 14 days are up while the rest of us are free.
Marsha Merory, Ivanhoe East
So many asthmatic and caffeine deprived pedestrians in Bayside. Who would have thought?
Loucille McGinley, Brighton East
Thanks for the past five days. I’ve done the washing and ironing, mowed the lawns, cleaned the car, washed all the windows and watched every ball of the India/England test. Now back to the golf course.
John Handley, Cheltenham
A leadership award for Daniel Andrews? (The Age, 16/2) A more appropriate award would be the wooden spoon award or the sack in light of the continuing fiascos in hotel quarantine.
Stanley Petzall, Ashburton
Does wife Jenny’s counselling of Scott Morrison mean that the PM’s empathy coach is now out of a job?
Peter Martina, Warrnambool
The PM should just say he can’t remember; it works a treat down here in Victoria.
Josephine Bant, Collingwood
As calls for purpose-built quarantine centres grow, Scott Morrison continues to sit on his hands. Perhaps he should donate some of his salary to the state premiers.
Geoff Phillips, Wonga Park
How can the PM be so angry about Cartier watches, but needs to be told by his wife to get angry about an alleged rape?
Andy Wain, Rosebud
So, we have all the tennis players in Melbourne, let’s keep them here and get this year’s grand slam series over and done with in one fell swoop.
Ian Baker, Castlemaine
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