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I felt much safer bowling than at the supermarket
Sunday’s announcement about the next stage of restrictions was devastating. As a 63-year-old retiree, grandparent and avid lawn bowler, I get nothing from these changes, despite adhering to the unsustainably strict laws of the latest lockdown, all brought about by the slackness of the handling of travellers in quarantine.
I cannot meet my children, families of four, in the park with my husband at the same time. I technically can’t visit my 85-year-old mother, who lives in a retirement village (with no cases) 6.1 kilometres away and I can’t bowl, the only activity that was keeping me and my fellow teammates sane until the latest lockdown.
I felt much safer at an outdoor activity where social distancing was obeyed than I did at the supermarket. I don’t believe this has been considered carefully enough and, if so, where’s the evidence that playing golf, bowling or playing tennis has led to any community transmission?
There appears to have been given no real consideration to mental health at all in this stage of the road map. I live an area with no current cases in all the surrounding postcodes.
Mandy Shochet, Caulfield North
Unhappy with the lack of consistency
Daniel Andrews, I like most of Victorians, have been behind you all the way, and abiding by the rules, but I am unhappy with the lack of consistency in the lifting of restrictions on Sunday. You are allowing five people to meet outdoors, but you are not allowing two people to play golf, tennis, or bowls.
Mr Andrews, we have all endured months of lockdown, we all need to socialise in a controlled manner, and in many cases sport is the only social outing for people. Also remember, I need to see my grandkids … soon, but they are more than five kilometres away.
Keep up the fight, but it may be time to show some more consideration.
Brian Siddles, Heathmont
The golf course would be safer
During daily walks in different directions through various parks I witness thronging crowds around playgrounds, picnic tables, sporting ovals and along walking/cycling trails
Social distancing? It would be far, far safer, on a golf course or tennis court. Look at what’s happening, Daniel Andrews. Give us a break
Peter Reeve, Kew
Look at what is happening in the suburbs
I was disappointed to hear the “easing” of restrictions on Sunday did not include golf courses. The Premier should look at the parks and playgrounds to see the crowds of adults and children. There is far less distancing in the parks than there would be at the golf courses, especially if golf was restricted to groups of two from a single tee and nine holes.
When the golf courses were allowed to open previously, the management strictly enforced the rules on all players. Their opening would allow a significant proportion of Melburnians to get their exercise in a more psychologically beneficial way. I would have thought that the same logic could be applied to tennis clubs and bowls clubs.
For golf courses alone, there are about 130 of them in the Melbourne lockdown area, and on any day, with nine-hole restrictions, there could be about 200 players on each course. That works out at 26,000 players a day, or more than 180,000 a week. If you include the tennis clubs and bowls clubs, that number could rise to somewhere near 280,000. This would have a significant effect on the psychological health of our city.
The Premier needs to have a look at what is happening in the suburbs, so he better understands which lockdown relaxations really will place the community at risk of another outbreak and which ones will not.
Roger Goldsmith, Hawthorn
They’ve set a high bar
Critics of Daniel Andrews set the bar so high that they would put virtually every world leader in the dock over faults in how they have handled the once-in-a-hundred-years coronavirus crisis.
In many of the world’s cities, second-wave infections have reached many thousands a day and are still increasing, often because of too early reopening or rules that are not as proscriptive as they should have been.
Whether or not you support Andrews, neither he nor his government is beyond error. However, it should not be forgotten that Victoria is still in a position that most other world cities would envy.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh
Here’s the real problem
Mike Sanderson writes the letter I didn’t (28/9): It’s the compounding of multiple, often imperceptible, errors in judgment that results in the disaster of a sentinel event. Community outbreak of COVID-19 from hotel quarantine is a prime example.
Over decades, essential public services have been subject to outsourcing and subcontracting. This is particularly the case in health, and more so, it seems, in Victoria than other states. We’ve been hoodwinked into thinking the public-private partnership is the best and only way: that it’s necessary to be able to afford the services; it’s more efficient; a more superior product is delivered.
What is coming to light is that with every layer of distancing from government, it becomes easier to shirk responsibility to increasingly more disenfranchised workers.
We remain vulnerable to future catastrophic impacts of COVID outbreaks until we fix the whole system: address the relentless outsourcing and subcontracting, and restore a robust public service.
Maxine Hardinge, Clunes
It’s not needed here
The smaller Bunnings in Sydney Road, Brunswick, is convenient for basic items, but we do not need an inappropriately sited large store in a residential area.
There are four large Bunnings stores within 7 kilometres of the proposed new location, two of which are full warehouse size, all in commercial areas and one of them less than 4 kilometres away. If people need bigger, bulkier items surely they are already well served by the existing stores.
This proposal will cause traffic chaos around the surrounding residential streets and the proposed building is a cut-and-paste, big-box design that pays no respect to the existing neighbourhood.
Craig Batty, Brunswick East
An admirable precedent
Bruce Johnson McLean (‘‘Vincent Namatjira’s win is a great Archibald story’’, Comment, 28/9) refers to the way in which the artist’s depiction of himself and Adam Goodes has brought ‘‘detractors who demand greater pictorial realism over narrative content’’.
Here it should be said that the confronting portrait image of two striking Indigenous men in 2020 follows a long, and arguably admirable, precedent for this competition attracting controversy.
Famously in 1943, William Dobell’s portrait of a fellow artist, Joshua Smith, for a time even pushed news of World War II from the nation’s daily papers. Outrage at the painting’s allegedly shocking ‘‘caricature’’ of its subject drew thousands of citizens to view it in a gallery setting.
All power to Vincent Namatjira.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
It’s not sustainable
Jeff Wallace is right (Letters, 28/9): our economic model is nothing but a Ponzi scheme. It is organised by the corporate class that wants an increased population as a source of cheap labour and a consumer of products for the benefit of the rich class.
There is nothing wrong with that in the short run. But what happens in the long run? It is well established that mice kept in a confined space, despite being fed nutritious food, become aggressive towards each other as their population increases. Ultimately, the mice end up eating each other.
Human beings can also behave aggressively when overpopulation results in overcrowding and competition for space and resources. Antisocial behaviours emerge when overpopulation is permitted.
Australia must look to a sustainable future in population, climate management and resources.
Bill Mathew, Parkville
Thank you, Thomas Hogg, for enlightening readers about the bureaucratic labyrinth that is the Victorian government and public service (Letters, 25/9).
This ridiculous complexity at least in part explains why at the hotel quarantine inquiry, no one knew anything. It indicates the need for a simplification of departmental structures, effective liaison between ministers and departmental heads, with clear-cut lines of accountability and accurate record keeping.
As things stand, someone must have authorised the contract with the private security firm, and someone must have signed that contract. Who?
The ramifications of this fiasco have been disastrous for every Victorian, and tragic for many.
Ros de Bruin, Balwyn
The vibe of the thing …
Anyone who has ever served on a committee, whether it be kindergarten, scouts, company or higher up the food chain, will surely have left at least one meeting where everyone is in agreement as to what was discussed/decided but no one knows who made the decision, or whose job it is to implement it. Nevertheless, someone takes it upon themselves to enact the mood of the meeting, else nothing ever gets done.
So who’s to blame? No one. We are only human after all.
Aileen Hewat, East Melbourne
A frustrating edict
I read with incredulity that many people in Northcote can roam the golf course, when, if and when we golfers are permitted back on to the course, there will only be two of us allowed on any hole at one time.
Maybe the Premier and Chief Health Officer can explain how their edict on golf under current conditions accords with hundreds roaming courses in groups, now of five, under the guise of exercise.
Frustrated is an understatement.
Chris Williams, Olinda
It’s a broad church
There may be 68 million Catholic voters in the US (‘‘The trap Democrats should try to avoid’’, The Age, 28/9) but they are far from being a monolithic group, spanning the political spectrum from socialistic left to fundamentalist right.
Many would regard the Trump presidency with abhorrence, including its latest cynical and hypocritical grab for power in the coming election by rushing to select a candidate for Supreme Court judge whose prior record of legal interpretation suggests that she would read the constitution with 18th-century biblical certainty.
Donald Trump may have the Republican votes in the Senate to push through the nomination of Amy Barrett, but her selection may encourage those Catholics who already reject the Church’s teachings on birth control and same-sex marriage to turn up en masse and vote for Joe Biden.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone
The chain of command
According to the logic used by your correspondent (‘‘It stops with Andrews’’, Letters, 28/9), the person who chairs a decision-making body is ultimately responsible for any failures in implementation of the decisions that body has made. In this case that would surely be the Prime Minister, given he chairs the national cabinet and that is the body that decided upon the hotel quarantine program.
It would also follow that to lay the blame at the feet of the Victorian government, and in particular Daniel Andrews, is an abrogation of the Prime Minister’s responsibility, and a very poor display of leadership on his part. Or do we only follow the responsibility and accountability theory up the chain as far as is convenient to justify our point?
Jim Dickson, Collingwood
A federal responsibility
Our Prime Minister seems to need reminding that the major problem in Victoria now is in aged care homes, but the trouble’s in the federally supervised ones; the state-run ones are not so much of a problem.
And before he tries to pass blame off to the Aged Care Minister, that minister has not had that portfolio long and the last minister was the one who now sits in the Indigenous Affairs portfolio, where he is doing the same poor job he did in aged care.
So less criticism of Victoria, Prime Minister, and more action in fixing the problem. The federal supervision obviously is not working, since some homes that generated large numbers were inspected weeks before these cases happened.
Mr Morrison also needs to be reminded solitary isolation such as is being inflicted on these unfortunate people could be considered cruel and inhuman treatment.
It’s time he paid attention to his own responsibilities.
Doris LeRoy, Altona
It’s in the mail …
I am 84 years old and still enjoy sending birthday cards to my children, grandchildren and greats, but it is almost impossible to estimate how early to post them.
A card I posted from Mulgrave going to Forest Hill on September 20 has still not arrived. I could have gone on the bus and delivered it myself. Oh, wait … it is more than 5 kilometres away.
Ruby King, Mulgrave
… no, really
Mike Trickett writes about the Australia Post-inspired new game of Pass the Parcel (Letters 28/9) and tracks how his parcel wanders from mail centre to mail centre.
Monday fortnight ago, I posted a parcel whose journey was Rosanna to Gisborne, both in Victoria.
Tracking shows it has now spent two weeks enjoying a peaceful holiday at the Somerton mail centre, with no sign of being sent on to Gisborne to be united with the person it is meant for. Sigh.
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights
Complaints that the path out of lockdown is too complicated and inconsistent are ill-founded. Surely it’s not too hard to turn our attention to understanding a level of detail that has been crafted out of the best public health advice and many months of data.
It’s not like we’ve got anything better to do at the moment, and what’s the alternative – open the floodgates?
Claire Merry, Wantirna
AND ANOTHER THING
Life in lockdown
No wonder dog ownership is on the rise – these delightful animals can easily learn how to sit and stay, unlike some selfish people.
Margaret Ward, Sorrento
Never was so much owed by so few to so many.
Paul Wilcock, Blairgowrie
When it comes to popularity, it seems people prefer their health rather than others’ headlines.
Denis Evans, Coburg
What a wonderful series of stories, capturing the contribution to our society of these people in your Loved and Lost series. Enriching reading.
Marian Robinson, Saint Leonards-on-Sea, UK
Why do I feel like this is just a rehearsal for a real pandemic? I hope we learn by our mistakes.
Robin George, Canterbury
State health minister Jenny Mikakos was vigorously pushed, if not ambushed, but at least her resignation demonstrates that ministerial accountability still lingers in some jurisdictions: the political masters of Richard Colbeck and Brad Hazzard should take note.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham
If Donald Trump wins the election, will he refuse to accept the decision because the voting was rigged?
Doug Shapiro, Doncaster East
The energy road map
It’s time for Joel Fitzgibbon to accept the world has moved on and will continue on the path of reducing the role of fossil fuel in its energy use.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn
I think a lot of us have been at those sort of meetings. You start to attempt to design a beautiful-looking and performing thoroughbred and only when it is out in action do you realise it is a broken-down old camel.
Bob Graham, Yarragon
Is there a Minister of Amnesia?
Michael Dillon, Woodend
Jenny Mikakos, you made some mistakes, but your absence will be missed by the Greek community – thanks for your insightful letter, George Zangalis (28/9).
Donna Tsironis, Blackburn South
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