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A TALE OF TWO LOCKDOWNS
Positions on Victoria and NSW a study in contrasts
It was with great interest I heard Prime Minister Scott Morrison on NSW’s decision to go into lockdown. He was sympathetic and understanding and agreed it was necessary. His offer of compensation for workers was immediate.
How different to his attitude to Victoria when we went into lockdown recently. All we heard were criticism and the impact it was having on the economy. He was also slow to offer compensation and did so only when pressured by the Victorian government. He needs to stop playing politics when it comes to the coronavirus and use his leadership to support all of Australia.
We also keep hearing how marvellous NSW’s contact tracing is – the best in Australia and probably the world. I can’t comment on the accuracy of this, but I think Victoria has been doing a great job with contact tracing since updating its system. I’m sure it’s not perfect but I doubt that NSW’s is either.
Do your job, Mr Morrison, and help us get back to a normal life. If you had handled the vaccine rollout properly, we may have been in a situation where closed borders and lockdowns would not be necessary.
Fanny Hoffman, Ormond
History is ignored and we might all be affected
Tom Cowie makes a valid point that a year ago authorities in Victoria may have taken too long to react to the number of COVID-19 infections before locking down (“Melbourne’s advice: go hard or stay home”, The Sunday Age, 28/7).
He notes that “there was a lesson to be learnt from Victoria’s woes: the earlier you lock down, the sooner you come out” and, indeed, in subsequent situations the Victorian authorities were not so hesitant and implemented relevant restrictions quickly.
The authorities in NSW in 2021 have ignored what happened in Victoria in 2020 and it would seem they have reacted way too slowly to a new, far more virulent virus. Once again, ignoring history and refusing to learn from it might affect the health and lifestyle of all of us.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir
Gambling with the health of residents
It’s difficult to have sympathy for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant for not introducing a more widespread lockdown just days into the outbreak. By not doing so they have effectively gambled with the health of NSW residents.
“The horse has bolted, but the horse started bolting last week,” said epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws (“Sydney will be ‘lucky’ if lockdown isn’t extended”, The Sunday Age, 27/6).
Despite the Delta variant being far more infectious than previous variants, NSW was loath to use lockdowns like other states did, said Professor McLaws, which reflects an overwhelming hubris by Ms Berejiklian, for which she should be held to account – as should the Morrison government, which has absolutely butchered the path out of the pandemic.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne
Their job is to keep the whole community safe
I wish Sydney well with the lockdown and hope that it is over for them as soon as possible.
I can empathise with them and would not wish these difficulties upon them. I am sure also that they will now be able to empathise with Victorians and understand that when governments follow necessary, science-based epidemiological processes, as cumbersome as they may appear, it is not because they are stupid or philosophically flawed; it is because they are tasked with keeping the whole community safe.
Julian Guy, Mount Eliza
Give Victoria some credit
The evolving panic in NSW should be enough for all Victorians, including the opposition, to acknowledge the great job done by our health advice team and contact tracers in stopping our recent outbreak of the Delta variant.
Bruce McQualter, Richmond
Your correspondent (“A lack of transparency and accountability in planning”, Letters, 26/6) describes a number of lost opportunities in the planning of the Mont Albert-Surrey Hills railway project. I, too, ask why cycling is not being treated properly in this project.
Many people are wary of trains now; many are likely to go by car to avoid public transport. Here was a perfect opportunity to provide an alternative first-class facility for moving people around on bikes, with a wide, level, safe trail that is underground at the main roads, just as the train is to be. Instead a stop-start, upsy-downsy route is on the plans.
The petitions for the trail, and bicycle advocacy group plans, have been enormously supported in the local community; a good trail will benefit people all along the Belgrave-Lilydale line.
It is time that the government stepped up to treat cycling as the brilliant option it is for commuting; it is increasingly attractive to more people now, with the popularity of e-bikes soaring. Why create obstacles to cycling on Mont Albert and Surrey Hills main roads when you could provide excellence?
Elaine Hopper, Blackburn
A foreign concept
Despite 75 per cent of all COVID deaths coming from aged care it is beyond belief that we are halfway through 2021, and despite being a priority group, only a pathetic 33 per cent of aged care workers have been vaccinated.
How is this even remotely possible? This was a federal responsibility and the kindest thing you could say is that the vaccination of aged care workers has been completely stuffed up.
Heads should roll over this but nothing will happen, in the same way that no one will lose their jobs over the robo-debt disaster. Accountability is a foreign concept to the Morrison government.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
Missing in action
I am pretty sure I am not the only one wondering “where is the federal opposition?” I cannot imagine any other developed nation’s political opposition not demanding the resignation of responsible ministers when aged care staff and other front-line workers have still not been vaccinated months into a vaccination program.
This, combined with one of the slowest vaccination rollouts in the OECD and the lack of federal quarantine facilities, is possibly the biggest health crisis ever faced in Australia.
If federal Labor cannot live up to being effective in opposition, why on earth should they be in government?
Nick Roberts, Shepparton
It’s not good enough
The fact that only one-third of workers in aged care homes across the country have been vaccinated is an extraordinary indictment on the federal government vaccine rollout. Another cohort that I expect may have an even lower vaccination rate is those who provide in-home services for people on a My Aged Care Home Care package.
I have a friend on a level four package, who, with a carer for one hour each morning and evening, plus a cleaner, receives at least 15visits each week – not necessarily 15 different people, but still a significant number of people coming into her home.
As all are casual workers, they will no doubt be visiting multiple other homes each week themselves. When she asks the carers, they appear to have little knowledge of the need for vaccination.
The large provider managing her package apparently has provided little if any encouragement for these workers to be vaccinated. A relative who receives daily in-home nursing care through the same provider says they were told to arrange vaccination in their own time.
This is not good enough.
Christine Pinniger, Fairfield
There’s no magic bullet
COVID-19 vaccination is, obviously, a very good thing. The resultant herd immunity reduces the ability of the virus to multiply and mutate.
But vaccinated people can still be infected, though suffering less serious effects. When infected they are also contagious, albeit less so than an unvaccinated person.
In a nutshell, vaccinated or not, you can still get it and you can still pass it on. While COVID-19 is around, we need to be vigilant about not catching it and not spreading it – social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding large gathering and perhaps most of all effective quarantine.
If we treat vaccination like a magic bullet, we’re all likely to end up shot.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
Both men found wanting
The unscheduled and scheduled returns of Barnaby Joyce and Dan Andrews respectively nicely illustrate both the ambit and the limits of the current Australian political spectrum.
The one with a focus firmly on the past, the other with more of focus on the future. Neither, however, with effective answers to the scale and threat of global warming or the challenges of intensifying inequalities.
Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, SA
I’m sure all Victorians are keen to support NSW in their lockdown.
We need to banish those feelings of schadenfreude and, in the spirit of generosity, allow our own Rachel Baxendale and Peta Credlin to spend the next two weeks in Sydney so they can attend all the press conferences, ask the hard-hitting questions and help the Premier, Health Minister and Chief Health Officer manage the pandemic.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
It’s (still) in the mail
On Saturday, June 12, I posted a parcel from my suburb to someone in the Melbourne CBD. Just a quick thank you, nothing major but important to me.
When it still hadn’t arrived 12days later I tracked my parcel to find that it was delayed in Launceston, Tasmania. Yes, truly. I spent an hour on the phone to Australia Post trying to suppress my disappointment and frustration. On Friday night (13 days after posting it) I saw that it was on its way back to Melbourne. Whew, you might think, but no. On checking again on Saturday (the 26th), I find that my parcel is now in Brisbane.
Could whoever is in charge of Australia Post these days maybe sacrifice some of their multimillion-dollar salary to launch an investigation into the current systems that allow this kind of farce to happen? I’d be very grateful.
Gabrielle Gardner, Montmorency
I’m glad to live here
I’m curious as to why NSW contact tracers, dubbed “the best in the world” by their Premier, did not contact the Victorian man who visited his daughter’s event in Sydney that has been at the heart of the virus outbreak.
The question has to be asked, as NSW has been very quick to criticise the Victorian response to the virus, including our contact tracers. I’m so glad I live in Victoria and have medical authorities and state leaders who are brave enough to make very tough calls to protect our citizens.
Clare Canty, Shepparton
Roll up your sleeve
To all those over 60 who are “waiting for Pfizer”, please consider the young people for whom COVID poses little risk.
While you are “waiting for Pfizer” they are waiting to attend a lecture at university, or to travel. They are waiting to work in an environment where they won’t be without a wage next week if there is another lockdown.
Last year they gave up their rites of passage: the school show, the year 12 formal, the university ball … all to keep you safe.
The least you can do for them is roll your sleeve up and be vaccinated with a vaccine that for your age group presents less risk than crossing the road, and allow the nation to be vaccinated as soon as possible before these people miss out on their youth.
Tonya Hackett, Wonthaggi
A chance to help
Now that Scott Morrison has finally woken up to reality and endorsed Mickleham as the preferred site for a Victorian quarantine centre, we look forward to it being built as soon as possible.
It occurs to me that Gerry Harvey might be persuaded to donate the furnishings for the facilities from his Harvey Norman stores. This could be in lieu of returning the JobKeeper money his company received last year and seems unwilling to return, despite the enormous profits his stores made.
The stores stock just about everything that would be required, from white goods and furniture through to bed linen.
He might even be eligible for a nice fat tax deduction for such generosity.
Hilary Lamacraft, Kew East
Fighting the same battle
While recognising that life will be difficult for many in Sydney now, there is also a sense of schadenfreude that Gladys Berejiklian’s hubristic declaration, in the middle of Victoria’s lockdown, that they would handle their COVID issue “the New South Wales way” has backfired so comprehensively.
Victorians are not irresponsible, and our government is not stupid. Next time, Ms Berejiklian, remember: we’re all fighting the same battle.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills
The facts say otherwise
How does the Andrews government justify spending $530 million on the Hurstbridge line upgrade (Stage 2) when there are no level crossings to be removed and all that’s being delivered are two extra train services during the morning peak with no changes in the evening peak?
They promised “More trains, more often’, but the facts tell us otherwise. The facts are that lack of transparency and genuine consultation have left communities and wildlife corridors devastated.
Jane Plunkett, Montmorency
Past its use-by date
One of the things I love most about reading is to learn something new, especially if this can make me a better person.
Erik Denison’s piece (“Where are the gay AFL stars?”, Comment, 26/6) on homosexuality and homophobia in sport – with a focus on the AFL – led me to understand that as a collective we still have much to do, but as an individual any sense of complacency and ignorance is past its use-by date and needs to be addressed.
Jae Sconce, Moonee Ponds
AND ANOTHER THING
I’d support subsidising farmers to introduce more climate change practices if miners pay for it.
Robert Semmens, East Brunswick
Finally, inevitably, Sydney shuts down. Let’s hope it’s not too late. Thank goodness Victoria has a more decisive and proactive government.
Terry Kelly, Fitzroy North
NSW contact tracers: rolled gold.
Joan Segrave, Healesville
Seems it was really the fool’s gold standard in COVID-19 management.
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick
Gladys Berejiklian, tell it like it is: If it walks like a duck, has feathers and quacks … it is a duck.
John Paine, Kew East
Can’t wait to hear Josh Frydenberg give Gladys Berejiklian a spray. He could do it at that same time as he castigates Michael Gunner of the Northern Territory.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo
If I understand Scott Morrison correctly, the NSW lockdown is a necessary decision in contrast to the Victorian lockdown, which was frivolous, unnecessary and an overreaction.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
The 2021 Australian COVID Cup: Delta Strain 1 – Political Hubris 0.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
Australia may emit only 1.3 per cent of global emissions (Letters, 24/6), but its exports contribute a good deal more than that.
Bill Pell, Emerald
Thank you, Jon Faine, for the article “Good, the bad, and COVID” (The Sunday Age, 27/6), it is what most Melburnians were thinking.
Jane Cheong, Aspendale Gardens
Since when was the coach’s box neither a workplace nor inside? Not a good example. If I have to wear a mask …
Bruce Severns, Toorak
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