We need khaki and boots on the ground
Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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THE STORM DAMAGE
We need khaki and boots on the ground
In the aftermath of the recent storms, support for those with the huge task of cleaning up rings silently through the Macedon Ranges. My heartfelt thanks goes to the State Emergency Service, other emergency services and our utility providers who have done such an amazing job to clear roads, and to restore power and phone in the immediate days after the storm.
However, all has now gone quiet as we try to recover from the most severe storm in memory. The number of large trees that have fallen on multitudes of private properties is so overwhelming that many people just do not know where to start. Even if they do, the task is beyond many landholders, and it will cost thousands of dollars to have these removed by the limited number of arborists.
I am insured but the majority of the clean up of my property is not covered by insurance. Many trees are caught in other trees, making their removal highly dangerous and presenting real risk to those who are tasked with their removal. The clean up will be an ongoing danger to people and property.
I saw first hand the damage of the 2020 East Gippsland fires, and the damage in my home area now is not dissimilar in extent. It is time for a similar recovery response as occurred in East Gippsland supported by the Australian Defence Forces, who did a wonderful job. It is pleasing that the Acting Premier and Deputy Prime Minister are, at last, discussing bringing in members of the ADF – but this should happen as soon as possible. Please let the silence be broken and let us get some khaki and boots on the ground.
John Williamson, Woodend
Removing tall trees before they become dangerous
Many of the recent power outages were caused by tall gum trees falling on power lines. The outcome would have been even more catastrophic if the lines had landed on tinder-dry undergrowth. Any trees that are tall enough to take out adjacent power lines should be lopped or removed. If it were thought necessary or desirable, they could be replaced with trees of a suitable maximum height.
Brian Kilday, Jeeralang
No power, phone or showers, and limited food
A week on from a storm front that locked down outer areas of Melbourne, I have been surprised at the lack of interest or compassion shown by our media. There are families in Healesville and, of course, many other areas which are still without power, phone or internet access. In our own personal three days without any outside access, we emerged from the COVID-19 lockdown only to find that all businesses were unable to operate without power. No showers, no television, no internet. This is real lockdown.
The final straw was seeing all milk, meat, cheese, frozen goods and baked bread off the shelves at Coles in Healesville, just when you really needed more as your fridge and freezer stock was no longer safe to consume. These are stories that should be shared. Surely it is now apparent that Healesville and other outer areas are not part of metropolitan Melbourne. We are definitely regional Victoria.
Trish Roath, Healesville
When governments don’t heed climate scientists
The fact that so many poor Victorians are still without power a week after the storm is an indication of its unusual severity. Our emergency services are overburdened. This is the sort of extreme weather event which our scientists have been telling us will happen with increasing frequency. It is hot on the heels of the devastating fires, some in forests which have never before been burnt.
The games played in Canberra over the last couple of decades have prevented any attempts to reduce emissions and limit the rise in temperature. Australians are now seeing the consequences of political incompetence and dereliction of duty. When power and the internet are restored, affected citizens should contact the Prime Minister and ministers responsible, and demand real and immediate action rather than spin.
Chris Pearson, Kyneton
Are we paying the price?
Considering the recent storm damage throughout Victoria, how do the numbers of maintenance people employed by the privatised electrical companies compare with our once publicly owned State Electricity Commission?
Rod Oaten, North Carlton
We need a fuller picture
Re “Voters shun Labor over handling of COVID crisis” (The Age, 17/6). Given the last 18 months, the suggestion that the Andrews government has lost some favour is hardly surprising particularly as its last election win was an absolute trouncing of the opposition. Labor could never repeat that.
It is very disappointing that Resolve Political Monitor’s poll for The Age left out the most important metric – the two-party preferred vote. Because we have a preferential voting system, it is the only real indicator of the likely result in an election. Focusing on the preferred prime minister or premier is misleading since we do not have a presidential system of government. We do not directly vote for the premier.
Ian McKenzie, Canterbury
More information, please
Did I read that right? Was the sample used for the headline-grabbing news that Labor’s stock is down over the COVID-19 crisis really only 1103 people? It would have been helpful to have that information in the article’s second paragraph, not the second-last.
Shannon Brand, Carnegie
Our right to be at home
If home quarantine is appropriate for the Prime Minister after his visit to the United Kingdom, then it should also be appropriate for vaccinated Australians on their return home. No need for double standards in these trying times when we are all supposed to be in this together.
Patsy Sanaghan, North Geelong
Choosing our vaccines
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s new advice to government should be: “Pfizer or Moderna are the preferred vaccines for all age groups but, due to a failure of government, there are not enough of those for everyone, so the oldies will have to have something else.“
Dr Guy Toner, Brighton
Mixing and mingling
As lockdown restrictions are relaxed, people aged 20 to 39 will almost certainly be out and about more than other age groups. Wouldn’t it make sense to treat them as a vaccination priority?
Claire Merry, Wantirna
A lack of control
A nurse who contracted COVID-19 after working with coronavirus patients at one hospital worked two shifts at another one while infectious and also attended a vaccination clinic (The Age, 17/6). Surely regular testing for high-risk staff should be mandatory. Eighteen months into a pandemic and we have learnt nothing.
Louise Zattelman, Box Hill
Exploiting the vulnerable
There was a time when the Empire brought people from India and the subcontinent to work on farms in Fiji, South Africa and the erstwhile west Indies. They did the back-breaking jobs – not the “jobs of the masters” – and were not allowed to bring their wives or families.
We are reinventing the same trend with a new class of visa to bring agriculture workers from south-east Asia to work on farms (The Age, 17/6). Under the new deal, British citizens on a Working Holiday Maker visa will be exempted from the requirement to complete 88 days of “specified work” – typically farm labour – to obtain a second year’s stay.
The era of importing cheap labour based on country of origin should not be touted as a win-win policy. It is exploitation of the vulnerable.
Saji Damodaran, Glen Iris
What will really change?
In explaining why the United Kingdom demanded the withdrawal of the requirement of British backpackers to work in the farm sector for about three months if they wanted to extend their stay in Australia, Boris Johnson said “they were being routinely exploited and abused”.
No doubt the new visa scheme for south-east Asian workers proposed by the federal government is designed specifically to ensure that the exploitation and abuse can continue, regardless of the farm workers’ nationalities. What was once good for the Brits will be good for our nearer neighbours … and us.
Kevin Bailey, Croydon
Education through play
Mattel has given Julie Bishop a one-off Barbie doll (The Age, 17/6). I suggest it make a Julia Gillard doll. I am sure it would sell very well. They could be used to introduce children to her famous “misogyny speech”.
Suzanne Palmer-Holton, Seaford
Praise for the global view
Congratulations, Sam Roggeveen (Opinion, 6/6) for such an articulate, insightful, big-picture view of the direction in which Australian governments must tread. It provides an intelligent global perspective and serves to subtly counter the anti-China bias so sadly present within Australia.
Geoffrey Warren, Anglesea
Importance of debate
No student should be subject to intimidation or humiliation. Nevertheless banning or restricting serious discussion regarding gender identity can only be counterproductive. This is what the University of Melbourne is proposing in its draft of the “gender affirmation policy” (The Age, 16/6).
Biologists, psychologists and medical practitioners recognise that more research in the relevant fields is still needed to properly understand the complexities of this issue. Furthermore, the attendant socio-political implications need to be teased out as a result of a growing understanding.
It is inevitable that at university, students will find their most cherished beliefs challenged. Moreover, being challenged in this way does not constitute harm, no matter how offended one feels. Students should be encouraged to appreciate that a robust intellect needs the whetstone of opposition to sharpen itself against.
Jane Grano, Blackburn
Danger of ’open borders’
I agree with Carol Evans (Letters, 15/6) that our treatment of the Tamil family, and indeed all refugees in detention, is appalling.
However, I am cautious of the statement, “we’re a big country, we have room”. Most of our infrastructure is confined to the narrow, coastal areas. Until we find a way to establish large cities in our arid heartland, we will never be able to have the population of the United States, a country of comparable land mass.
There needs to be some restrictions on who comes here and when. An “open borders” policy would be disastrous as millions of people would want to relocate in a country where the rule of law prevails, the standard of living is high, the health system is world class, and welfare payments are generous by world standards. The UN Refugee Convention does not cover “country shopping” but sanctions a person moving to a safe place within their own region. Regardless, we must show respect and compassion to those refugees who are already here and end this heartless treatment.
Lance Sterling, Nunawading
The society we want
Steve Biddulph (Opinion, 16/6) injects wisdom and understanding into pretty much any situation but where he truly excels is as a moderator of conflict. His books were invaluable to me when my children were growing up.
I am so happy to see him writing for The Age on broader matters. At their heart, they represent an extension of family and the critical things that keep families and communities healthy and sane.
These are sorely missing from politics and governance where kindness and compassion are seen as weaknesses. We need to raise the standard. Some evidence of heart, please, and recognition that a pitiless, soulless approach is dysfunctional and can only tear apart. We all need to ask what kind of society do we want to live in?
Marina Dobbyn, Glen Waverley
Seeking better lives for all
Thank you, Steve Biddulph. As a society we must ensure that the politicians who make the rules do so with compassion and empathy, not just hide behind “weasel words”. How long can we allow this government to lock up refugees on Manus Island or in hotel rooms? The Murugappan family have shown us that most people coming here only want what we all want: security, peace and a better life for our children.
When thinking of the cruelty towards refugees, the saying “there but for the grace of God go I” comes to mind. It would be good if all people thought of this when making judgments about people less fortunate than themselves.
Pauline Duncan, Maffra
As green as I can be
I received a letter from VicRoads. The bottom part says: “The Victorian government is committed to zero emissions by 2050. [With] increased availability of electric and plug-in hybrids, the government is realigning financial incentives to ensure the uptake of environmentally friendly alternatives to fuel.“
What I find contradictory is that it is cancelling the $100 credit on registration and plans to impose a road user charge on electric and plug-in hybrids. I have 33 solar panels and a battery. My petrol usage is 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres. I charge my electric car up for free. I do not know how I can be more environmentally friendly.
Mary McCleary, Research
No exploration, full stop
The International Energy Agency says its “viable” but “narrow” path to net zero carbon emissions is dependent on zero investment in new fossil fuel projects, with no exploration – near Victoria’s Twelve Apostles national park (The Age, 16/6) or anywhere else.
John Hughes, Mentone
Membership? No thanks
Groucho Marx put it best: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Women, walk away from The Australian Club, this bastion of white male privilege.
Robyn Stonehouse, Camberwell
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Kennett says an autocratic leadership style doesn’t serve the public well. Boy, haven’t you mellowed, Jeff?
John Nash, Altona
I assume Scott will complete his 14-day quarantine at one of Sydney’s 99.99per cent effective quarantine hotels
John Wyatt, Armadale
OK, Michael O’Brien, I’ve heard your criticism. Tell me what you would do.
Gerry Danckert, Armstrong Creek
I still can’t visit my 98-year-old, vaccinated mother in aged care because she isn’t ″end of life″. Really?
Cathy Huse, Hampton
So, Greg Hunt, vaccine rollout. Lies, damn lies and statistics, just to obfuscate everyone.
Gayle Shacklock, Box Hill North
I wonder how many autographs Morrison managed to get on his trip to the G7.
Ron Mather, Melbourne
I didn’t know Karen Andrews was a paediatrician who could diagnose potentially fatal illnesses without examining the patient.
Janet Thomas, Armadale
So Julie Bishop has her own Barbie doll (16/6). Dreaming from a plastic box under a glass ceiling.
Emily Spiller, Harrietville
Breaking news: the source of the foot-in-mouth outbreak in Canberra identified as the deputy PM.
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont
Hawke speaks of the “trade in human misery” but doesn’t include in that “trade” the government’s dealing with the Biloela family.
Christopher Mayor, Kennington
What “new technology”? Perpetual motion?
Brian Burleigh, Cowwrarr
Net zero emissions by 2050? The way the planet is warming up, we won’t be here by then.
Trevor Emmett, Glen Iris
“Morrison calls for global effort on China” (17/6)? What about “Globe calls for Morrison effort on climate change”?
Chris Thomson, Soldiers Hill
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