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I could not agree more with your editorial (“Canberra must play key role in quarantine”, The Age, 9/2). Howard Springs in the Northern Territory is incredibly well run and undoubtedly a much safer and enjoyable experience than being locked in a city high rise. Sending all international arrivals to Darwin would also create tourism for the Northern Territory.
Australians see straight through Scott Morrison’s “savvy politics” veneer, it’s time he stepped up to the plate.
Charlie Hurley, Richmond
Build quarantine camps with dongas
There is a word for continuing to do something even though it keeps going wrong. The word is particularly apt when there is a proven alternative that would surely cost a lot less than dealing with the fallout from the failures. I refer to the use of work camp dongas at Howard Springs. These are manufactured in factories with whatever facilities are specified but all to a size that allows their delivery by ordinary truck anywhere.
Mines in remote areas use them for fly-in, fly-out workers and service them with staff located on site. The units are isolated from one another and could be equipped with isolating fences to allow the occupants to enjoy fresh air. They need not be sited remote from cities, but could utilise large grass areas to be found in most cities, at international airports, where there are many kitchens available, would seem ideal. If supplying sewage and power seem problematic use composting toilets and stand alone solar with battery. As well as airport grass we could use defence bases near cities, Agriculture Department quarantine areas, or even the large grass areas still surrounding the old infectious diseases hospital, which was disgracefully closed.
By now everyone should be aware that quarantine and associated biosecurity are very much federal responsibilities under the constitution and the Biosecurity Act.
At the end of May this year I will have lived in Australia for 60 years. I have been out and back many times, but have never been met by state officials, always by Federal, Immigration, Customs, Biosecurity, Border Force. All have apparently been replaced by some lonely state officer.
Loch Wilson, Northcote
Where is Peter Dutton on quarantine?
If the federal government is to take control of our quarantine regime, surely its time for the invisible man Peter Dutton to stand up. As the responsible minister for keeping our borders safe he has been remarkable for his lack of comment and leadership.
Peter Roche, Carlton
Avalon could handle arrivals
There must be room at Avalon Airport to build state-of-the-art quarantine facilities, and it can handle international flights.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale
Build the infrastructure we really need
Premier Andrews’ lockdown directive to “work from home where possible”, is fortunately the key to quickly and efficiently solving Melbourne’s returning traffic problems. Working remotely (“Home office life just as suite”, The Age, 9/2) has made mega tollways and highways as outdated as DVD/video shops in the face of online streaming.
Further, the enormous tracts of public land earmarked for new, but already outdated, road infrastructure projects such as the $16 billion North East Link, could then be redirected to new job creating infrastructure we actually need; special purpose quarantine facilities, waste recycling plants and public housing to name but a few.
Please, can we have infrastructure for the 21st century, and finally move on from Victorian planners’ 20th century penchant for environmentally disastrous projects.
Helen Tsoutsouvas, Balwyn North
Help heritage homeowners
Although Moreland Council does not want to allow heritage to disappear, they do nothing to assist the preservation of privately owned heritage homes (“Last stand for derelict house as council refuses ‘demolish by neglect’”, The Age, 6/2).
In traditionally working-class Moreland, many heritage homes are still owned by people on low incomes who cannot afford to renovate. Heritage features gradually fall into disrepair. The only remaining option for many people is to sell for the value of the land alone and move away from their community. Such properties tend to attract profit-driven developers who may engage in the practice of “demolition by neglect”. They replace these homes with overpriced dwellings that only people on higher incomes can afford and the local community becomes less socio-economically diverse.
Moreland Council should come up with strategies to support people to restore homes that have council-imposed heritage overlays, rather than simply exercising the power to stop demolition.
Preservation of local heritage is for the benefit of the whole community, yet there are no grants or other material forms of assistance to encourage restoration. Everyone says they want to preserve heritage and maintain a diverse local community, but nobody wants to pay for it.
Michael Mifsud, Brunswick West
Why not Wuhan?
There is now a UK, a South African, and a Brazilian variant strain of the COVID-19 virus. All suspected of being more infectious. Following normal nomenclature practice they have been named after the areas or countries in which they were first detected. There is also the West Nile virus, the Zika virus from the Ugandan Zika forest, Ebola after the Congolese Ebola River, MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – and, of course, everyone speaks of the deadly Spanish flu. Yet the Chinese government has kicked up a fuss when it has been suggested that this new virus should be called the Wuhan virus, where it is generally agreed it first emerged.
China is now financially punishing Australia following its call for an investigation into the virus outbreak. China’s hypersensitivity and bullying responses reflect its worrying authoritarian tendencies.
Malcolm Just, St Kilda East
The monthly magazine of a well-known supermarket chain includes an advertisement for “wheat free oats”, which implies that some oats contain wheat. I don’t think so. It’s on the same level as the label I once saw at a buffet breakfast for “gluten free eggs”.
Christine Hurwood, Newport
Unfortunately, it seems that die-hard US Republican senators will not allow Donald Trump to be convicted for what he did on January 6, simply because he is no longer president. They sigh piously that this would be unconstitutional.
They need to think about what would therefore become completely constitutional. For example: Joe Biden will leave office in four or eight years. The Trump loyalists are saying that the day before Biden’s Presidency ends, Biden may quite safely go to New York and shoot someone dead on Fifth Avenue. Because, of course, he can’t be prosecuted in the ordinary way while he’s still President, and impeachment for the murder could not happen until after he’s no longer President.
As Commander in Chief, Biden could order a squad of army snipers to kill several people on Fifth Avenue, and he would still be safe – wouldn’t he? That too would be constitutional, wouldn’t it? That is something which America’s Founding Fathers had in mind – right?
Grant Agnew, Coopers Plains, Qld
Vaccines in a shot
The health department could learn a lot from the veterinary industry. We use multi-dose vials for various vaccines and other drugs routinely with minimal waste, and we can provide a vaccination certificate within less than a minute.
Dr Kerry Bail, Upper Beaconsfield
Science is worth defending
Leunig’s cartoon where a character states while looking at an atomic bomb blast “It must be a good thing. It was created by scientists” (The Age, 8/2) is an ill-considered work that with its all-encompassing statement plays directly into the hands of the anti-science cohort: anti-vaxxers, climate denialists, supporters of unproven COVID-19 treatments.
Ben Witham, Warrnambool
Shane Wright’s description of The Sydney Institute is incorrect (“RBA to reassess funding to think tanks”, The Age, 6/2). The Sydney Institute is not a think tank – it is a forum for debate and discussion. Moreover, it is not a “right-aligned institute”. Speakers at The Sydney Institute annual dinners have included Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. Also, all pre-pandemic Greens leaders have addressed our public functions. Recent speakers on our current “virtual” meetings list include Tanya Plibersek. The Sydney Institute is not aligned to any political parties or organisations.
Gerard Henderson, executive director, The Sydney Institute
McCormack’s lost touch
The latest bizarre comments concerning climate change “strategy” from the National Party leader Michael McCormack (“Farmers ahead of Nationals on emissions push”, The Age, 9/2) is further proof that his party has completely lost touch with its alleged grass roots.
Apparently everyone else in Australia, except the Nationals, knows the farmers and their relevant organisations have previously indicated they want to be a part of any climate change plan. Ignoring their input won’t make life any easier for them.
Given the National Party’s obsession with itself, it comes as no surprise that the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party is increasing its vote in rural areas, particularly from the farmers.
Kevin Ward, Preston
Farmers just middlemen
The lack of fruit pickers and resultant loss of so much of our fruit has one main cause, the supermarkets. They force the farmers to reduce prices to a minimum and the farmers of course can’t afford to pay decent wages. Don’t blame the farmers.
Peter Cash, Lake Wendouree
Super tax doesn’t add up
So the proposal from the Australian Council of Social Service is to tax super payouts by 15 per cent (“Tax retirees’ super to pay for aged care: ACOSS”, The Age, 9/2). This is money on which tax has already been paid, and is intended to fund retirement. Wouldn’t this mean that more retirees will not have enough super after paying this additional impost to fund their retirement and therefore have to draw a pension thereby costing the government maybe more than it seeks to gain from this?
Doug Springall, Yarragon
Ducking the issue
I invite Premier Daniel Andrews and his shotgun-wielding constituents to attend Victoria Street, Sandringham. Two or more ducks will soon appear. Within weeks there will be seven or eight ducklings that waddle around with mum and dad opposite the school. They used to command our child’s clamshell wading pool and our wilderness habitat of garden, but now favour the swimming pools and nature strips of Victoria Street.
These formidable creatures hold inquisitive labradors at bay and require us to slow down in a 40km/h zone.
The premier’s hunting party could open the “season” here and the carnage will offer a global audience of millions an understanding of everything that the Australian Labor Party represents.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham
Inclusive means everyone
Education Minister James Merlino cannot be portrayed as a champion of inclusive education when he supports the continued segregation of students with disability in special schools (“Behind the $1.6b promise to make every school an inclusive school”, The Age, 8/2). Segregating students in separate settings because they have disability is exclusion at its most basic level.
Inclusive education is a human right of all students with disability as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which Australia is a signatory. It is not an optional right afforded to those deemed appropriate to fit in.
Research overwhelmingly shows that done properly, inclusive education provides the best learning, social and communication outcomes for students with and without disability.
Stephanie Gotlib, Collingwood
Break habits, not racquets
Tennis is a safe, non-contact, graceful, athletic sport, delightfully played and watched around the world, only requiring a constantly held, treasured racquet to hit a bouncy ball on a court against a usually friendly opponent. Occasionally, one contestant, usually male, violently and frustratedly destroys his precious racquet against the ground or an object and then may hurl it away. This behaviour is always highlighted and rarely criticised. Why? It is against the rules and ethos of the game, dangerous, and sets incredibly bad examples. Initial episodes should be punished and repeat behaviour should lead to forfeiture.
Will Darvall, Ivanhoe East
But it’s not “one ill-considered comment” from Collingwood president Eddie McGuire is it, as suggested by your correspondents. It isn’t really even about making one ill-considered comment after another, for years.
It is presiding over years of systemic racism. They had an issue for years, and he and the board did nothing. He never said anything regarding the actual issue of the report: systemic racism.
Pauline Galvin, Coburg
As a passionate Collingwood member and supporter for over 60 years I thank Eddie McGuire for all he has done for the Pies. There are thousands of us who know and appreciate all he has been and done for our great club.
As always he has put the Collingwood Football Club before himself. You will be missed Eddie. Floreat Pica.
Helen Buckley, Richmond
AND ANOTHER THING
The National Party is disingenuous in insisting plans should be provided before setting a target 2050 for zero emissions. Did president John Kennedy have specific plans when he announced in 1962 that the US will have a man on the moon by 1969? It was an aspiration that led to great works.
Louis Roiller, Fitzroy North
Many farmers do look to the future. Many have planted numerous trees to help the planet and country. Michael McCormack, who purports to be their political leader, seems to see advantage only in short-term gain.
David Meggs, Beaumaris
I think the issue of carbon emissions in the agriculture industry is just a load of bullshit.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen
How foolish are those fossilised politicians, thinking they can rewrite science in the same way they rewrite history.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East
Amanda Vanstone, you say Kennedy’s womanising would not be tolerated today (“Give us the pleasure of civil discourse”, The Age, 8/2), yet it was mild compared with Trump’s disgusting treatment of women.
Judy Hosfal, East Malvern
Vanstone didn’t mention the large part Donald Trump played in the deterioration of American society, and the flow-on to other countries.
Lorraine Bates, Surrey Hills
The Hawk-Eye Live system at the tennis might replace calls of “out” and “fault” with sponsors’ names. They cannot be serious.
John Rawson, Mernda
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers for a pittance.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda
Does Canberra play a key role in anything difficult or does it just handball it to the states?
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra
“Politics of envy” is a term used when politics of greed is being called out.
Judy Kevill, Ringwood
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