Enough with appeals, it’s time for a firmer hand

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THE PANDEMIC

Enough with appeals, it’s time for a firmer hand
For several weeks, Gladys Berejiklian has been “urging”, “requesting”, and pleading with Sydneysiders to stay at home, while at the same time permitting non-essential retail businesses, such as lighting and furniture stores, to remain open.

Why? Permitting these businesses to remain open only muddies the waters, at best serving to confuse, and at worst providing further temptation for people to leave their homes.

Until NSW switches from cajoling to exercising a stronger hand in the form of a genuine lockdown, exposure sites will grow, cases will increase, contact tracers will struggle and more lives will be lost. Come on, Gladys Berejiklian, how about an actual lockdown?
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Locking us out is a puzzling decision
I find it very puzzling, even inexplicable, that residents of the ACT are barred from entering your state (“Victoria locks out NSW, ACT”, The Age, 12/7). As of 11.30am, July 11, the ACT government’s official statistics show that there were no active cases of COVID-19 in the ACT. To me, lumping the ACT in with Sydney, 247 kilometres away, makes no sense.

Now that Victoria has opened up to much of the country, I was so looking forward to visiting once more my alma mater, the University of Melbourne, which awarded me my PhD back in 1980, and is still home to a long-standing geologist colleague and co-researcher.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT

Home quarantine for overseas travellers could work
We are on our fourth day of 14 days’ quarantine. A small price to pay for two very happy weeks with children and grandchildren in Bondi.

Being in our own home is so much easier than being in one hotel room would be. With careful monitoring we believe home quarantine could work for fully vaccinated passengers returning from overseas.
Christine Bradbeer, Mont Albert North

What’s in a name?
The merits of manually checking in must surely be called into question given what I witnessed at the weekend.

Casually perusing the register revealed more than one questionable entry. Under name, one wag had put down “Donald Duck” and at least two people had entered “Daniel Andrews”.

It is almost certain that the corresponding phone numbers are fictitious as well. Clearly, any future contact tracing would prove futile in such cases.
Jeremy Browne, Ripponlea

The virus doesn’t do political showmanship
Scott Morrison reduced the vaccine rollout to a shambles and switched to showmanship to disguise the failures. Now it seems another political showman, Kevin Rudd, is seeking the limelight with a claim he played a behind-the-scenes part in bringing Pfizer vaccine deliveries to Australia ahead of schedule.

There has been political grandstanding to a dangerous degree throughout the pandemic and no more is welcome.

GPs and chemist networks were sidelined from the outset of the vaccine rollout and we now have the odd army lieutenant-general or COVID commander thrown into the vaudeville mix when it’s clearly a medical emergency, as NSW is demonstrating.

The virus doesn’t do political showmanship.
Des Files, Brunswick

It must be serious, he’s wearing a uniform
It is just Marketing 101 (“Horses for courses”, Letters, 12/7). There would be numerous people in government departments qualified to handle the logistics of the vaccine rollout , but having a lieutenant-general in charge and in uniform for the cameras shows how seriously the government is taking vaccination.

Even though it is not a race and they didn’t get in early enough to order sufficient vaccine, just look at the serious man in the uniform.
Bob Graham, Yarragon

THE FORUM

They own the company
Your correspondent made the case (“A careful course is called for, Crown is a large employer”, Letters, 12/7) that shareholders, as well as employees and government tax receipts, would be unfairly disadvantaged by any adverse findings against Crown casino when it was only a small number of people who had done the wrong thing.

Shareholders are owners of the company, who delegate oversight to the board and thence to senior management.

But delegation is not abrogation. Shareholders must take responsibility for their companies; shareholders accept dividends and share price increases, and they must also accept the financial results of poor governance.

Many shareholders avoid investing in companies they deem unacceptable for various reasons: arms manufacture, tobacco, alcohol, contributing to climate change and gambling. If you don’t want your money supporting these types of organisations then don’t invest. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s right.
Peter Moore, Clifton Hill

Lost in space
In 2020 Virgin Australia placed itself into voluntary administration costing the Australian public hundreds of millions of dollars.

Nevertheless, billionaire Richard Branson plays with his Virgin Galactic rocket plane – an exercise which, I’ll wager, costs more than the hundreds of millions of dollars lost by shareholders, bondholders, employees and suppliers here in Australia. Clearly, the man has no shame.
George Greenberg, Malvern

Incompetent, irrelevant
We have a military man overseeing our vaccine rollout, a Defence Minister espousing on foreign affairs, a former prime minister trying to influence our vaccine supply and a Prime Minister whose announcements and positions are at best confusing.

Couple this with other members of both the major parties being almost invisible, leaving us with no one except state premiers taking responsibility.

The situation indicates that the federal government is not only incompetent but irrelevant.
Peter Roche, Carlton

The lockdown trap
While he made some salient points regarding state verses federal government vaccine responsibilities, I feel that Sean Kelly has over-egged the pudding in affirming that lockdowns work and are the only alternative to letting a virus run loose (“Remove us from the Delta blues”, Comment, 12/7).

At best, lockdowns are something of a blunt instrument. Yes, effectively shutting down society will naturally eliminate the virus, but they are an extremely one-dimensional approach, and don’t give adequate consideration to other social metrics concerning the wider communal welfare of a population.

The overall impact of lockdowns will only be known fully with hindsight in years to come, but what is now becoming abundantly apparent is that there have been a legion of unintended social consequences, such as mental stress, isolation anxiety, increases in drug abuse, suicide attempts and domestic violence, and missed cancer screenings.

In short, there is a tendency for the cure to become worse than the disease itself.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly rightly recently affirmed that the all-dramatic daily coronavirus cases number needs to stop being the be-all and end-all of COVID policy; rather the severity of illness should be the predominant focus.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn

We know where they stand
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley will appeal the Federal Court ruling that she has a duty of care to protect children from climate harm.

When it comes to a choice between a survivable future for minors and immediate profits of natural resource companies, the Morrison government leaves no doubt whose side it’s on.
Jenny Herbert, Metung

Dow we really need it?
Just how many more wrongdoings at Crown casino have to be discovered for it to lose its licence? Do we really need a casino?

We all know how to leave one of them with a small fortune. Enter with a large one.
Geoff Lipton, Caulfield North

A mind-boggling list
The list of wrongdoings and failures to comply with prudential requirements by Chronos Care is mind boggling (“Aged care operator on notice to repay bonds”, The Age, 12/7).

Two men founded the company while they were both bankrupt, hid their roles with the company using aliases and dummy directors and funnelled funds from the business for personal luxuries.

Now the business is failing to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits to their clients.
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson says: “The Commission will continue to closely monitor the provider and, should we have further concerns, may consider further regulatory action.”

Further concerns? I am instantly reminded of the Fawlty Towers scene in which, after the health inspector has read out a list of 17 breaches of the food handling and preparation regulations, including two dead pigeons in the water tank, Basil Fawlty responds with a cheerful “But everything else OK?”
Vivienne Bond, Warburton

Who’s serving what?
We read regularly now that full-time office work may be a thing of the past (“Bosses say remote work here to stay”, The Age, 12/7) – workers are happier in hybrid work models, output is up. Yet we are constantly being encouraged to get back to the city.

It makes one wonder whether the city and its amenities are there to serve the people, or whether the people are there to serve the city.
Chris Wilson, Poowong

A bit of a stretch
Your correspondent (“Choosing not to be a burden on the state coffers”, Letters, 9/7) is stretching credibility to suggest that parents who choose private-school education for their children are choosing to not be a financial burden on the state. Of all the reasons I have heard – “there’s no good public school nearby”, “X private school has a wider curriculum”, “my kids need the discipline” – no one has ever suggested they chose for altruistic reasons.

In any case, the assumption behind the assertion is not supported by the data. Education researcher David Zyngier reported in 2014 that private schools in Australia received 75 per cent of all federal education funding. The federal Department of Education website notes that in 2019 the Commonwealth provided about $3000 per student for government schools, nearly $10,000 per student for Catholic schools and more than $8000 per student for independent schools. These are not minuscule amounts.

If you want to send your children to private school, fine. Just don’t pretend you are doing the taxpayer a favour.
Richard Aspland, Rosanna

Hold the shootout first
It seems a bit odd to me that the result of a team game is determined by the teams competing for 90 minutes, and then, if the scores are tied for a further 30 minutes, and then if there’s still no result, a penalty shootout – as the recent European Euro 2020 final illustrated. No doubt the low-scoring nature of the game contributes to this.

I’d suggest the penalty shootout be performed at the start of each match. If the next 90 minutes of play by itself determines a winner then the result of the penalty shootout is ignored. Otherwise, its result would decide the winner of the match.

This, among other advantages, would allow the penalty shootout (some would say the most exciting part of a match) to take place in every match.
Richard Fisher, Armadale

We need more time
Malcolm Elliott’s call for Australia to simply “get behind its teachers and recognise the contribution” we make, is a platitude trotted out by leaders disconnected from the reality of classroom teaching (“Virus fears add to load on teachers”, Comment, 10/7).

Calling for a pious attitude shift is a Band-Aid solution to the surgery-sized problem: the ever-increasing teacher’s workload. One immediate solution would be a mandated two-hour cap on staff meetings each week. Many schools neglect the age-old aphorism “less is more”, sometimes scheduling four hours of meetings a week, creating information overload, stifling preparation time and exhausting teachers.

Less is more must also be applied to the wider system. Finland, home of the world’s leading education system, has considerably fewer formal lessons per week. Professor Pasi Sahlberg, a former Finnish education leader, now deputy director of the Gonski Institute, announced his intention to reduce formal-lesson hours for Australian teachers.

A two-hour reduction per week would provide time for comprehensive planning and preparation, while supporting teacher wellbeing.

Malcolm Elliott fears teachers “will … leave the system” but the estimates of 50 per cent of teachers leaving the profession within the first five years indicates that we already are.
Sam Bentley, South Yarra

Thanks for the laughs
“Oh no,” I just exclaimed loudly with sadness as I read Danny Katz’s last column for The Age (“Weekly wild ride winds up with riffs and reflection”, 12/7).

I can’t thank you enough for the laughs, joy and happiness you’ve brought to us, so consistently, over all these years.

Thanks too, to The Age, for giving the young Danny a go.
Carole Meade, Kyneton

Placing the nation at risk
The actions of the NSW government in its handling of the Delta variant of COVID-19 have placed the nation at risk.

Some better system needs to be in place so that lockdowns are mandatory for any new variant of COVID-19. These problems will keep happening as the virus keeps mutating and the egos of leaders should not be allowed to override the safety of our nation.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

AND ANOTHER THING

Vaccines
Former PM boosts Scott Morrison’s rudderless COVID response.
Tony Lenten, Glen Waverley

Credit:

How will “Operation Arm Yourself” work if it runs out of ammunition?
Julie Conquest, Brighton

I know it’s not a race, but I do hope Scott Morrison has us all vaccinated before we are exposed to variant Omega.
Kevan Porter, Alphington

It looks like Scott Morrison took credit for Kevin 07’s achievement in speeding up the extra supplies of Pfizer vaccine: not a good look.
James Ogilvie, Kew

North of the border
Has NSW become our very own fly-over state?
John Mosig, Kew

Memo to Gladys Berejiklian: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Terry White, Lilydale

Politics
The Liberal Party doesn’t have a glass ceiling, it has a cement ceiling.
Anne Maki, Alphington

What goes around?
Given that England turned its back on Europe with the Brexit vote I think the result of the European Cup was somewhat appropriate.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Furthermore
Share the tax-supported sporting facilities and Olympic-sized pools at private schools with the local public schools, and with the community during holiday times. A win-win for all.
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

I am glad that Qantas pilots have decided not to work from home.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Finally
Thank you, Danny Katz, for showing that the absurd, mundane and beautiful aspects of life, coated with humour and goodwill, are normal.
Mary Cole, Richmond

Danny’s columns have always brightened my day. I will miss them.
Dianne Lewis, Mount Martha

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