There must be a better way of dealing with this

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HANDLING QUARANTINE

There must be a better way of dealing with this
It seems that returning travellers will be enduring hotel quarantine for some time now, and there has been much commentary about the best way of managing it.

There are many unused conference centres in Australia, away from the cities but close enough should medical assistance or other help be required. Why not house detainees there, where they may at the very least have some fresh air and exercise in a controlled environment? Many are the stories of those who have suffered both physically and mentally due to being incarcerated in rooms where the windows don’t open and they have no access to fresh air.

Staffing could be organised by way of dedicated teams that remain on site for the duration of each cohort’s detention and would thus not be exposing their families and the public to any risk.

Clearly there would need to be regular testing and it may be that any positive cases are sent to dedicated sites, but there must be a better way of dealing with this rather than locking people up as currently happens.
Debbie Wiener, St Kilda East

What has happened must not be repeated
Joy Stapleton (Letters, 28/11) notes the ‘‘blatantly non-compliant’’ and ‘‘plain stupid’’ wearing of masks ‘‘well below the nose, and sometimes just around the chin’’, at Northland – behaviour replicated at other indoor shopping complexes – and notes this ‘‘stupidity’’ might ‘‘put us on the back foot once more’’.

Arguably, it was a lethal combination of such ‘‘stupidity’’, with non-compliance, ignorance and human error, that set loose Victoria’s second COVID-19 wave. On the other hand, however, it was the admirable, co-operative unity of (most) Victorians that achieved the state’s current COVID-free status, which is worthy of celebration – but with the caveat that it cannot, and must not, be taken for granted.

Likewise cause for celebration is the return of Australians from overseas, but again with a caveat – the risk of new infections. Hence the absolute necessity of effective quarantine, and compliance with any mandated behaviour – such as mask-wearing.

Yes, let us celebrate our current status, but let us also remember the 800 people who suffered the ravages and loss of life of an unleashed COVID-19, and their grieving families and friends – and ensure as much as we are able to, that such loss is not repeated.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

We cannot be complacent without a vaccine
Thanks to the advice given by scientists and enforced resolutely by the government, we’ve made it to 30 days with no new cases, a target that only recently seemed a mirage.

Professor Tony Blakely’s excellent summary (‘‘Elimination: How Victoria made it’’, Comment, 27/11) offers the necessary caution that ‘‘elimination is not forever’’. There are too many examples elsewhere of the risk we run.

We must still accept the need for strict observance of quarantine for returning travellers: we all share this responsibility. We cannot afford to let the euphoria of new-found freedom mask the reality that we cannot be complacent without a vaccine.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Let Canberra take over
Victoria has officially eliminated the virus, despite the chorus of naysayers in the federal government and the opposition. This required amazing stamina and hard work from the Premier, public health officials and all Victorians.

The other states have also worked hard to get the pandemic under control. So perhaps it’s time for the states to hand responsibility for quarantine of all new arrivals to the Commonwealth so that they actually take some responsibility instead of sitting on the sidelines and criticising all the time.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye

THE FORUM

A perfect choice
Joe Biden’s choice of John Kerry as US international envoy is a perfect pick (‘‘Climate envoy the surprise pick’’, Insight, The Age, 28/11). Kerry is well suited to this role for promoting international action on climate change.

He is a long-time experienced senator and environmentalist, and he expressed his immediate purpose in the following memorable words: ‘‘At the global meeting in Glasgow one year from now, all nations must raise ambition together – or we will all fail, together. And failure is not an option.’’

This includes Australia and it will be up to the Morrison government to participate fully.
The sketch of John Kerry – holding our entire globe in his hand – speaks volumes about this unique historic moment for climate leadership, agreement and action.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

Delay the introduction
Electric vehicles (EVs) currently make up only 0.1 per cent of cars on Australian roads, so a mileage tax would earn negligible revenue in the short term. Delay its introduction until EVs account for maybe 5 per cent of cars, with the full tax waiting for it to hit the 20per cent mark.

his would provide certainty to car buyers and sellers, certainty around tax revenues and avoid squashing the sector in its infancy.

EVs should be encouraged not only for their benefits to local health and CO2 emissions, but also to enhance our resilience to another oil shock.

The fewer people dependent on foreign liquid fuels for their transport and supply chains, the better we’ll cope in the event of a disruption to imports.
Andrew Reddaway, Kew

A condition of entry …
Future wars should be debated and decided by Parliament, Anne Sgro (Letters, 28/11), with one proviso – that the children and/or grandchildren of those who decide this country is to engage in a foreign war are among the first of our people to be sent to the front lines.

This may encourage some deeper thinking.
Sam Poyas, St Kilda

Focus on the future
It goes without saying that “We have no choice but to get quarantine right” (Editorial, The Age, 28/11), and we should be confident this can be achieved now Victoria, and Australia more widely, have had nine-plus months to experiment with different approaches to quarantining, both within the community and for returning travellers.

Since the initial hasty hotel quarantine arrangements were put in place in March, a number of different models have been used, from self-quarantining through continued use of CBD hotels, the early Rottnest Island arrangements in WA and, more recently, at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory.

We still read a lot about hotel quarantine failings in the context of Victoria, and while mistakes may have been made, lessons have been learnt and successes celebrated.

The outcomes of the Victorian inquiry will be crucial for future planning, and, rather than current analysis continuing to pursue the ‘‘whodunit’’ approach to the decision-making process (“Coate inquiry’s failure to answer key question offers little security”, The Age, 28/11), a more constructive analysis would be to examine the strengths and weaknesses of all the models that have been trialed during 2020, to assist in establishing the most effective form of quarantining for all Australian states over the coming months.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Postmodernism’s problem
Reports of impending emotional collapse concerning the employees of a Canadian publisher at the prospect of their company publishing a book by Jordan Peterson (‘‘Are some books just too hot to touch?’’, The Age, 27/11) is just another example of the iron grip of postmodernism conditioning on otherwise sensible individuals leading them to become shrivelling snowflakes in the face of any opinion that doesn’t agree with their cosseted upbringing.

Tense and emotional employees crying and expressing dismay that their employer is publishing a book with which they may personally disagree is a classic example of postmodernist conditioning requiring emotional collapse at the first sign of disagreement.

It would be appropriate for these sensitive individuals to return to the point of their indoctrination and permanently inhabit one of the ‘‘safe spaces’’ created for the protection of their delicate intellects.
Greg Angelo, Balwyn North

Praise was over the top
I do believe Bruce Wolpe’s praise for Barak Obama is a little too fulsome (‘‘Casting a long shadow’’, Insight, The Age, 28/11).

Certainly, he had all the talk, but his words sounded increasingly hollow when there were so few actual memorable achievements in his presidency, except for limited health care reforms. By contrast, Lyndon Johnson inaugurated the war on poverty and passed the Civil Rights Act, both no mean achievements.

There can be no doubt that Obama is a man of principle and integrity, but to conceive of him as becoming America’s Nelson Mandela is a stretch too far.
Helen Scheller, Benalla

Out of the shadows
China has moved out of the diplomatic shadows and ‘‘outed’’ itself by revealing publicly to all Australians its 14 items of dispute with our government. They have followed up with draconian trade punishments.

We can now legitimately respond publicly as to why we have taken these actions. Revealing further evidence and analysis to back up our concerns over cyber-attacks, unlawful developments in the South China Sea, foreign investment decisions, our COVID-19 requests, etc would put the ball back into the Chinese camp to justify its stance.

Australia’s position may be weak on some items. Our inhumane treatment of refugees makes any attack on China’s treatment of the Uighurs legitimate but hypocritical. Being shamed into telling Eric Abetz to pull his head in, however, would be a win-win.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

A predictable outcome
The economic disaster that has hit south-west Victoria (‘‘Crisis looms in sea and forest as China tightens export bans’’, The Sunday Age, 29/11) is a further predictable and tragic example of the enormous cost of the Prime Minister’s most unwise, very public attack on China on the origins of the COVID-19.

In following the Trump/Pompeo line he exposed Australia to the expected fierce and continuing response from China, now affecting all our export industries but iron ore. This is a crisis of worse long-term economic consequences than the pandemic.

There is ample expertise in both the private sector and the diplomatic corps to plan a recovery strategy. Unfortunately there is a core of China haters on the back bench who see political advantage in their posturing, which is detrimental to our business interests.

Business has never approved China’s human rights attitudes, but in prior years the disagreement has been well managed.

The challenge of repair is huge but must begin. Listening to our business leaders would be a good first step.
John Miller, Toorak

It’s hard to keep up
Quiet diplomacy was the method that brought Kylie Moore-Gilbert home for us to celebrate. Megaphone diplomacy is seeing our trade with China tumble and we struggle. Turning a blind eye to Julian Assange’s predicament is inconsistent with stated concern for Australian citizens and is sad.

It’s getting pretty hard to keep up with what our government’s approach is.
Geoff Cheong, Aspendale Gardens

Don’t forget Assange
I am delighted that the federal government pulled out all stops to free Kylie Moore-Gilbert from Iran. How about a fraction of that energy being applied to freeing another Australian political prisoner?

Julian Assange continues to languish in a UK jail for no valid reason.
Andrew Blyth, Eaglemont

Right where they belong
Michael O’Brien, it is precisely because Victorians know what your party stands for that they don’t vote for it (‘‘Youth the key to Coalition ‘turn around’, says O’Brien’’, The Age, 28/11).

The Liberals have not been a progressive party since the Dick Hamer era of the 1970s. Until they give Victorians a reason to vote for them, they will remain exactly where they belong – on the opposition benches.
Colin Smith, Mount Waverley

O’Brien’s comment an insult
Michael O’Brien’s comment that “if people understood what the Liberal Party stood for we would never lose an election, and if people understood what the Labor Party stood for, they’d never win one”, is apart from being breathtakingly arrogant, an insult to the intelligence of the majority of Victorians, who knew clearly what both parties stood for in the last election and voted accordingly.

Regardless of which political party is in power we need a strong and effective opposition and it must be of grave concern for the Victorian Liberal Party to have their leader spend so much of his time extracting his foot from his mouth.
Neil McDonald, Berwick

Learning by numbers
The idea of doctrinal gobbledegook struck a chord with me as an early literacy teacher (Letters, 28/11).

These days, even six- and seven-year-olds are denied the opportunity to explore their own ideas through reading and writing. Instead, NAPLAN demands they attend to the surface features of writing while some young learners are still struggling to hold a pencil.

As a consequence a lot of very young children are rewarded for mastering a formulaic process rather than expressing ideas. With solid NAPLAN scores in mind, they even learn by numbers – numbers of simple and compound sentences, numbers of adjectives used, numbers of full stops and numbers of paragraphs etc as well as the number of times a topical word is repeated.

Unfortunately original ideas and critical thinking are much harder to measure.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North

AND ANOTHER THING

The pandemic
Your correspondent’s demand (Letters, 28/11) for Daniel Andrews to ‘‘make good on his promise’’ implies the COVID-19 virus plays by the same rules. It doesn’t.
Peter McGill, Lancefield

Credit:

What a true front-line hero (‘‘Nursing COVID patients from Wuhan to Darwin’’, The Age, 28/11): Nurse Cherylynn McGurgan deserves a medal and the gratitude of all.
Anne Phillips, New Town, Tas

Victoria’s coat of arms should be replaced by a big fat doughnut. Miraculous results, well done, Vic.
Mokhles Sidden, South
Strathfield, NSW

Politics
Michael O’Brien, Victorians do understand what the Liberal Party stands for and what the Labor Party stands for (‘‘Youth the key to Coalition ‘turn around’, says O’Brien’’, The Age, 28/11), that’s why you are Leader of the Opposition.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Why don’t we just tell China to ‘‘nick off’’, stop importing their products and learn how to manufacture our own stuff again?
John Cain, McCrae

Superannuation
Superannuation contributions enjoy tax advantages. If those monies are to be allowed to be used for the purchase of property then, in effect, we have yet another government subsidy on property investment.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn

Furthermore
Pleased to see Harvey Norman called it Big Friday.
Julian Robertson, Mount Eliza

In wanting to accuse Australia of being a lackey of the US, China needs to look no further that the ridiculous, mindless adoption of the Black Friday campaign and promotion, which is completely irrelevant to this country.
Trevor Street, Park Orchards

Finally
Perhaps ‘‘cancel culture’’ can kill free speech, Julie Szego (Comment 28/11); but free speech can also kill culture, big time.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Note from the Editor

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