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First an unvaccinated doctor, now the infection of an unvaccinated nurse trigger the current lockdowns (“Red zone Brisbane in snap lockdown,” The Age, 30/3). And the response of the Queensland Premier is to applaud an 80 per cent vaccination rate among healthcare workers. For heaven’s sake, these two individuals were working with COVID-19 patients. There is no excuse for not having enforced a 100 per cent mandatory vaccination rate for such high-risk individuals.
Dr Ralph Frank, Malvern East
How can front-line workers in Brisbane who are exposed daily to multiple COVID cases still not be vaccinated? (“More than 40 per cent of COVID doctors surveyed by AMAQ had no jab”, The Age, 30/3.) The vaccine has been available for weeks. Surely you would move heaven and earth for all these workers to be vaccinated first. Who is going to stand up and say we got this wrong and we will fix it today.
Jeff Cox, Glen Waverley
The contagion factor
As I understand it, the vaccine prevents you from getting very sick if you are infected by helping your body to develop antibodies. We should bear in mind that while the vaccine may reduce the level of contagion, we don’t yet know whether it completely stops you from being infectious.
Julian Robertson, Mount Eliza
Restore pandemic supplements
Brisbane is in lockdown and the whole of Queensland is likely to experience less tourism than hoped for over Easter because of COVID-19. With that in mind, it would be agile and intelligent of the federal government to continue JobKeeper and the JobSeeker supplement because we are not through the pandemic yet. The premature cessation of these income supports assumes that the pandemic is over and everything is business as usual, but it is not. We still have no international tourism, the education industry has fewer students and hospitality and entertainment are extremely stressed. The vaccine won’t be fully rolled out until the end of the year and lockdowns anywhere can be called at any time. JobKeeper and the JobSeeker supplement should be restored until the end of 2021.
Di Cousens, Mount Waverley
October deadline for first doses optimistic
Minister Hunt, I think your maths is a little off when you say we “remain on track for all the first doses before the end of October” (“No excuse for slow vaccine rollout to healthcare workers: experts”, The Age, 30/3). If CSL produces 1 million vaccine doses a week, in 12 weeks roughly half Australia’s population of 25 million will have their first doses, For the next 12 weeks, those Australians will need to have their second doses, with no capacity for others to have their first doses.
So, by the start of October, half the population will be fully vaccinated, and half will have had none. If the minister means the adult population, not including children, will have had their first dose, he should say so.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster
CSL remains crucial Australian health service
Some say we are lucky to have an Australian company, CSL, manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. But it was planning, not luck. CSL was created to do the job. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories was established in 1916 by the Billy Hughes government to service the health needs of Australia isolated by war. CSL provided Australians with rapid access to medical advances including insulin, penicillin, vaccines against influenza, polio, and other infectious diseases. The AstraZeneca vaccine now joins the list. CSL Ltd was privatised by the Paul Keating government in 1994 at $2.30 a share, and is now worth $265.39 a share. Hopefully CSL will stay in Australia.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell
Now that Michaelia Cash is Attorney-General (“Morrison shakes up cabinet in a plea to women”, The Age, 30/3), does she qualify for a larger whiteboard? As the new Minister for Industrial Relations, in her negotiations with unions, will she use the same “diplomacy skills” that were apparent in the 2018 Senate estimates hearing when she threatened to “name every young woman in Mr Shorten’s office over which rumours in this place abound”?
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
No amount of cabinet reshuffle can hide the fact that Scott Morrison values power over the rights of women. Why else does a misogynist like Andrew Laming, even under police investigation, still have his job? Is it because the PM needs him to avoid a minority government situation? Scott Morrison, your motives are obvious and women aren’t that stupid.
Debra Shill, Nicholson
Read the script
Letters criticising Liberal and National Party women MPs for “replying from the same party script” miss the point. It is our party-based system of government that is at fault. If we had a real democracy, politicians would represent their constituents and not just the mindless ideology of a party that exists only to gain and keep power.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove
To adopt a metaphor from chess, Labor needs to counter the government’s tactical move of installing more women into leadership roles by installing someone who can win the next election. That person is Tanya Plibersek. It’s time.
Monty Arnhold, Port Melbourne
It’s refreshing and affirming to read the business section. There I read about corruption being called out and punished, incompetent leaders and executives sacked and replaced, women leaders appointed and taking action in the global community. In contrast, the front section of the paper tells me about inept, evasive, cunning politicians again telling us about what could happen if and when. In the business section we read articles written by successful and resourceful women and see empowered shareholder communities take action against sexual harassment and climate change. If journalists can tell us about morality, shame and consequence in our business community, why can’t they report the same accountability in our courts and political offices? Why are politicians able to prevaricate and take sick leave?
Suzanne Miles, Frankston South
Alcohol and violence
Yes, alcohol should be prohibited in our Parliament building (“PM open to limits on alcohol at Parliament,” The Age, 29/3) but it would be wrong to suggest that banning alcohol will necessarily prevent violence and abuse towards women in any setting, including our Parliament. Men who use alcohol to excess and then disrespect and abuse women have two problems: their inability to control their alcohol consumption and their ability to use power and control over women. The two are not necessarily connected but in our Parliament both should not be tolerated.
Geoff Selby, Moorooduc
I commend Health Minister Martin Foley and the Victorian government for the building of the new Footscray Hospital. Minister Foley notes: “With a strong focus on sustainability, the design will enable the future electrification of the hospital to support Victoria’s transition to a net zero carbon economy by 2050.” However, the hospital is being built with a gas supply. With such clear goals for electrification, why not build this infrastructure to be run on electricity from the outset? What are we waiting for? Others are doing it, the new hospital built in Canberra being one example. As a doctor who will work in this hospital, I do not want this building to contribute to harm at a time when we have the technology to do it better. I have many colleagues who are equally concerned. Our job is to care for patients and to reduce adverse health outcomes. Burning fossil gas in a new hospital is directly antagonistic to the ethos of our purpose.
Dr Georgina Imberger, consultant anaesthetist
End of JobKeeper
Five economists suggest that there are better ways to provide stimulus than to continue JobKeeper (“‘Better way to provide stimulus’: Experts back end of JobKeeper,” The Age, 30/3). They, along with the federal Treasurer, suggest targeting assistance, which the government failed to do when they devised the plan that allowed many companies to retain JobKeeper benefits instead of repaying the government. Why should we have confidence the government will do better next time? The five economists may have a better understanding of what it means not to have a liveable income if they were to visit a Centrelink office and speak to those in the waiting queue, or visit an emergency relief centre and discuss with those seeking food parcels or vouchers.
Bruce MacKenzie, South Kingsville
The end of JobKeeper reaffirms the view that the federal government looks at statistics as an overview only and believes that everywhere in Australia is the same and that people’s situations across Australia are all the same. Do they even recognise that numbers equate to real people? “150,000 people to become suddenly unemployed” is treated almost flippantly. That is 150,000 households who will drop below the poverty line, will struggle to pay the mortgage and be seeking help from charities. The last time that this government realised that real people were involved was when a human graph was made by long queues outside Centrelink offices.
Greg Tuck, Warragul
Donald Trump thought the stock exchange was the economy. In Australia we think the housing market is the economy. We need another poorly educated Paul Keating to pull some levers.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
Having a laugh
While recognising that humour is a personal taste, I beg to differ with your correspondent on their comparison of modern comedy with Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Letters, 30/3). Comedy writer Rebecca Shaw should be justifiably proud to be associated with shows of the calibre of Hard Quiz and The Weekly, the two favourite and must-see shows in my household – both are incisive, witty and very funny. Daryl Somers, unlike his fellow cast members, was distinctly unfunny and Hey Hey was more in the vein of Funniest Home Videos. For anyone who wants a real laugh, watch the first episode of Fisk. It’s hilarious.
Peter Knight, St Arnaud
Turn a new leaf
Congratulations Minister Karen Andrews on your appointment to the Ministry for Home Affairs. I’m hoping that with your appointment you will bring a sense of fairness, compassion and humanity into the ministry. I believe Australians want to stop dehumanising refugees. Unless we are of Aboriginal or Islander descent, we are highly likely to be descendants of some sort of refugee. Our ancestors were convicts or refugees from wars or communism or poverty, or simply looking for better circumstances. Isn’t it time that Priya, Nades and their two daughters were taken off Christmas Island and returned to Biloela? They were settled in Biloela and were productive and valued by their community. I sense that more and more Australians feel uncomfortable with the way refugees/asylum seekers are treated in our name. Please minister, lead the way.
Helen Trueman, Blackburn
Get what you pay for
Your correspondent (Letters, 30/3) thinks $2299 was too much for 3½ hours’ work by an anaesthetist. l’d be happy to do it for $300 all up. Of course, I haven’t been to medical school. But I’d say if he felt no pain and came round OK, $2299 was a bargain.
Caroline Miley, Heidelberg
Perhaps your correspondent should reconsider his opinion on the anaesthetist’s fee he paid. This highly trained specialist who treated him probably studied hard for 12 years of high school, five or six years of medical school, worked double shifts as a young doctor, then completed 10 years of specialist training. She kept her patient pain-free for 3½ hours during his operation, no easy job. For this he begrudges her fee. Maybe a piece of stick and a bottle of scotch would suffice for his next life-saving surgery?
Angus McLeod, Cremorne
The selling off school sites (“‘Sale of the century’: Dozens of former school sites earmarked for market”, The Age, 24/3) by the Andrews Labor government repeats the mistakes of the Cain-Kirner governments of the 1980s and ’90s that rationalised government schooling across the state. The government abolished and closed more than 120secondary technical schools across Victoria.
Country schools, primary and secondary were also closed and former rural schools that had been reused by state schools for school camps were sold off. When Kirner was voted out, the incoming Kennett government finished selling the unsold rationalised schools sites. This under-recognised history reveals that Labor governments are not automatic friends of quality state-provided education.
Sunshine Technical School opened in 1913 and became a secondary college in 1990 after the closure of four other secondary schools in the district. The site is now prime real estate slated for future liquidation. Government sales of state schools are not just short-sighted but fail to recognise these schools and sites as important community resources. They are instead viewed narrowly as assets to be sold to the highest bidding developer.
Dr John Pardy, president, Sunshine and District Historical Society
AND ANOTHER THING…
Will limiting access to alcohol in Federal Parliament pass the pub test?
Bill Pell, Emerald
It’s no wonder Fiona Patten changed the name of her party, the LNP has stolen her thunder.
Francis Bainbridge, Fitzroy North
Scott Morrison’s “plea to women” (The Age, 30/3) is that they vote for him so he can continue advancing the cause of, and providing a smokescreen for, middle-aged white blokes.
Helen Moss, Croydon
Christine Holgate must be delighted Andrew Laming has been allowed to keep his job.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South
Mr Morrison, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Andrew Laming would be out of a job in any real-world business.
John Fowler, Inverloch
Sexual harassment has been around just a bit longer than Facebook.
Claire Cooper, Maldon
Scott Morrison promised 4 million vaccinations by the end of March. The 31st is going to be a very busy day.
Richard Hughes, Woodend
Lockdowns and border closures continue while the vaccination rollout progresses at a canter.
Ken Machin, Grovedale
Your correspondent (Letters, 30/3), seems outraged at the sight of people behaving normally and not wearing (useless) masks on public transport. Would they prefer us to hide under the doona indefinitely?
Lesley Black, Frankston
Your correspondent’s anaesthetist (Letters, 30/3) charged him more than $656 an hour! That rate would certainly keep you awake at night – and during the day.
Geoff Allen, Mount Eliza
Now that parcel deliveries have returned to normal, when can we expect Australia Post to resume daily letter deliveries? Or was the pandemic a convenient excuse to limit letter deliveries permanently?
Muriel Porter, Camberwell
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