Our leaders must put our health before the economy

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Our leaders must put our health before the economy

2022 is shaping up as the year of the donkey. While case numbers skyrocket in NSW and Victoria due to exponential growth, the national cabinet, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is ramping down the need for isolating after direct contact with a positive case until a negative test is returned (The Age, 31/12).

The national cabinet seems to be now telling us it will take four hours of up close and personal contact for the virus to be transmitted. We do not need the experts to tell us that this is contrary to common sense and a crock of donkey manure. What can the national cabinet fail to comprehend about the words virus, invisible and extremely contagious? When will it get the fact that public health has got nothing to do with politics or sucking up to the business sector?
Cheri Lee, Brunswick East

Governments have abandoned their people

The new rules on close contacts and testing, together with backtracking on free rapid antigen tests, seem designed to make governments and their budgets look better, while the people get sicker. No doubt the worrying COVID-19 statistics will drop so the liars in power can claim success but in reality more people will be getting it.

I have never felt so abandoned by my governments. Until now I had faith in the Victorian government’s overall good sense, but not any more following these outrageous decisions of the national cabinet.
Denny Meadows, Hawthorn

Will everyone do the right thing if they self-test?

Rolling out rapid antigen testing to households is potentially open to abuse. It is not unreasonable to assume many people will either not act on a positive result, will get someone else to take the test for them or will photograph someone else’s negative result to send to schools or employers. Depending on how much someone has to lose in testing positive (loss of work, isolation etc), why authorities think such a rollout presents a great investment in public health is open to debate.
Joanna Wriedt, Eaglemont

Danger when politicians make health decisions

Has “don’t ask, don’t tell” become “don’t test, don’t tell”? If the testing numbers are reduced, so will the number of people who are found to be positive and more people will become ill and COVID-19 will spread further. There should be more medical decisions and less political ones.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

Did anyone really think these rules through?

Well done, national cabinet. Right in the middle of the holiday season, change the rules. Yesterday on Phillip Island the Cowes testing centre closed for a week. The Wonthaggi centre was due to close at 1pm but was overloaded by midday. Rapid antigen tests were sold out on the island and San Remo, with supplies not expected for a couple of weeks. So the choice for Bass Coast residents, if symptomatic or a close contact, is to wait until Sunday or drive to Melbourne for a PCR test. Who really thought this through?
Sue Bertucci, Sunset Strip

The ABC of avoiding becoming a close contact

In redefining the concept of a close contact, the national cabinet appears to have provided a form of “natural immunity” to single-person households (nearly 25per cent of all Australian households), provided they limit visitors to their homes and their visits to other households to less than four hours. If they do this, they will not be considered to be a close contact should there be a positive case from either scenario.

Also, if those who live alone and are able to work part-time from there then limit their office-based work to less than four hours, they will not be deemed close contacts should a colleague become a positive case.

Who would have thought it was this easy to “immunise” a large proportion of the population? Then again, upon reflection, perhaps the original strategy of staying under the doona had merit.
Michael Cowan, Wheelers Hill


A population at risk

It seems it is everyone for herself in the brave new world of letting COVID-19 rip and seeing what eventuates. Concern for every citizen has been replaced by primary concern for business interests. The neoliberal ideology of small government takes a lead as government changes definitions of infectious contact to suit its purposes.

Next, will they change the definition of illness and death? All totalitarian states change history and meaning to maintain their agenda. The agenda is the capitalist machine above all without even ensuring adequate free home testing kits. I am imposing my own personal safety measures now that government has resigned and put the population at risk.
Janice Florence, Preston

Reckless rule changes

Dan Andrews has disappointed me by not standing up to Scott Morrison like South Australian Premier Steven Marshall did. Since Omicron is much more contagious than Delta, why would you redefine a close contact to make it a lot looser?

There were 21,000 new cases in Australia on Thursday. There is evidence that Omicron targets young children who are not vaccinated. How much longer do we expect our nurses and doctors to be Superman or Wonder Woman? It is not good enough. In fact, it is reckless.
Peter Ramadge, Newport

Too late to act, again

We have been reading for weeks about mutations and differing strains of this virus that will definitely happen but have not happened yet. What are we going to do about it – and the federal government just seems to shrug its shoulders.

Now it has happened and the government is still shrugging its shoulders, blaming the states and holding its collective breath. No rapid antigen testing for you, people of Australia, we did not see the point. They do now and it is too late. Why must we remain such a backwater?
David Jeffery, East Geelong

Orwell’s vision is here

Omicron is far more contagious than Delta, with case numbers increasing exponentially. The solution: redefine close contacts to family members and extended time contacts only, to save the economy before the election. Is anyone else reminded of 1984 and Newspeak?
Chris Appleby, Fairfield

It’s discrimination

I think your correspondent (Letters, 30/12) misses the point. A gay person cannot stop being gay in order to “align with the values and mission statements” of an organisation, any more than a black person can stop being black to appease racial bigots. If religious organisations do not preclude people of colour from employment, why should they be permitted to deny a gay person an opportunity to work regardless of whether they are married or not?
David Marsden, Glen Iris

Amoral and shameful

Re “Film prizes a study in ’moral depravity‴⁣⁣ (Opinion, 31/12). The Australian government’s campaign, “Zero Chance”, aimed at bribing Sri Lankans to encourage their fellow Sri Lankans to give up their human rights smacks of what you get when you have a former marketing man in charge. It is amoral, disrespectful and utterly shameful. Australians need to vote Scott Morrison out.
Marian Allison, Northcote

Let’s show hospitality

It was very distressing to be reminded by Shankar Kasynathan of our government’s “Zero Chance” campaign to deter persecuted Sri Lankans from seeking safety and protection in Australia. Where has the message of goodwill and love of neighbour gone?

When we see the wonderful contribution that newcomers have made to our nation over many years, we can only be thankful. We implore our Prime Minister and Immigration Minister to show compassion and welcome to the good people who seek safety and wish to make Australia their home.
John and Marita Lukies, Rye

A question of manners

Virginia Reddaway asks why “waiting staff nowadays whisk away the plates of those diners at a table who have finished a course, leaving the slower eaters conscious of ’lagging behind‴⁣⁣ (Letters, 31/12).

In the 1960s, I did a diploma of catering and hotel management, which included food service. In those “good old days”, we were taught to wait until the last person had finished before we cleared the plates away. Why? It was thought to be good manners.
Graham Reynolds, Soldiers Hill

Small dining mercies

Virginia Reddaway, at least our waiting staff have not yet adopted the American practice of asking slower eaters, “Are you still working on that?“
Joe Wilder, Caulfield North

Try a targeted approach

If the metric for success of the investment of $120 million by the Victorian government in new speed cameras is reducing the road toll, that investment has been an abject failure.

It has, however, been an outstanding success in raising revenue with the number of fines having doubled (The Age, 30/12). Victorians deserve a targeted, nuanced response to minimising road trauma with genuine intent, not a fundraising exercise under a false guise.
David Van Ryn, Canterbury

How many people pay?

It would be interesting to know what percentage of “victims” actually pay their speeding fines. We are assured by Professor Stuart Newstead from the Monash University Accident Research Centre that the fines are not revenue raising.

However, the evidence of the pandemic leads me to believe that by far the majority of people fined for COVID-19 offences do not pay them – and that there is no pursuit of non-payers. Is it the same with traffic offences?
Peter Valder, Toorak

A radical suggestion

It seems that lithium for electric vehicles is the new “coal” – “Lithium miners are in pole position with EVs” (Business, 29/12). Has anyone thought about car sharing or even not owning a car? Actually cutting the number of cars on the roads?
Chris Hooper, Castlemaine

A perilous train trip

We, as elderly people, are worried about COVID-19, so to protect ourselves before going on a small holiday, we received the third vaccination. The problem was on our return to Melbourne after catching the train to Hurstbridge, and were trying to alight at Macleod Station. The driver did not allow enough time for two elderly and disabled passengers to safely exit the train.

As a result, the elderly gentleman has a 15centimetre by 7.5centimetre bruise on his right arm where the doors kept slamming on him as he tried to get out. Fortunately with the aid of two other passengers, he was able to get free and alight on to the platform. An apology, at least, is needed.
Lynne Moore, Watsonia

The richness of life

Diana Reid’s article (Comment, 31/12) highlights that when we are all so busy, wrung out from the ripple effects of COVID-19 and increasingly anxious, it is understandable to want pithy diagnoses of people and situations. We crave certainty now more than ever. But we all have our own history, biology and relationships which shape our habits and tendencies. We are much more than being reduced to a one-line diagnosis or personality type. That is what makes people and life so rich.
Mark Raymond, Northcote

A new year shock?

Public Transport Victoria’s advertisement for 2022 myki fares says “the daily fare for weekends and public holidays” will be $3.35 concession. It would appear the government has sneaked in the removal of free travel on weekends for concession holders. No announcements, just do it.
Glenn Murphy, Hampton Park

The democratic way

Up in flames (The Age, 31/12). Are these the same sacred steps of Parliament House where our Prime Minister Gough Whitlam informed us of the dissolution of both houses after supply was blocked, and the subsequent election on December 13, 1975? We were incandescent with rage, but in our constitutional monarchy we voted. We did not incinerate Parliament House.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham

When Crawford did it

Your correspondent (Letters, 30/12) was critical of this year’s Carols by Candlelight. I also could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. As a young secretary, I had the privilege of working with Hector Crawford and Glenda Raymond who gave us so many memorable and true Carols by Candlelight. This year’s event was a travesty compared to their wonderful Christmas Carols for huge and grateful family audiences.
Margery Joan, Lower Templestowe

The US’s double standard

It is great to see the United States instruct the Chinese that “journalism is not sedition” (with reference to the arrest of Hong Kong newspaper publishers). Can we perhaps look forward to the US following its own advice and giving up the persecution of Julian Assange?
Kairen Harris, Brunswick

Calling it like it is

Your correspondent (Letters, 30/12) who was upset at Oliver Brown’s description of the English cricket team’s “gutlessness” may not have understand that Brown is an English cricket correspondent writing for the The Daily Telegraph. And anyway, it was a gutless performance.
Melvin Furd, Armadale


COVID changes

In this mad, mad, mad world, with contact tracing scaled back and a redefinition of close contacts, why are we still checking in?
Andrew Brown, McKenzie Hill

Is there any chance governments’ determination to change ways of defining the reality of the virus will modify its progress?
Dorothy Waterfield, Seaholme

Lower your standards and you’ll never be disappointed.
Ed Veber, Malvern East

COVID-19, 20, 21, 22…
Christine Borgeest, Briar Hill

The PM has gone fully Trumpian. If we have fewer tests, we will have fewer confirmed cases.
Rob King, Carrum

It looks like 2022 will be a repeat of 2020. Should we call it 2020 too?
Kate Wilkinson, Elsternwick

Have rapid antigen testing kits become the new toilet paper?
Pamela Lloyd, Brunswick West

The Russian roulette of COVID. Black you lose, red you’re still losing.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton

How does Morrison think people will afford RAT kits, with food and petrol costing more and wages not rising?
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne

National cabinet’s confusing “close contact” rules will result in more infected people not getting tested and spreading the virus even further.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

We have CAT scans, LAB tests and now the RAT. A medical menagerie.
Geoff Wenham, Malvern East


A government appoints an expert panel whose views it wants to hear.
Sue Currie, Northcote

How about The Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly Gazette?
Denis Evans, Coburg

Poor Scott Boland (six wickets, five runs). It’s all downhill from now on.
Barrie Bales, Woorinen North

Let’s not forget our feathered friends. Ice cubes in water dishes all over.
Tris Raouf, Hadfield

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