Unhelpful angry outbursts
Some current criticisms of the hard lockdown of high-rise public housing reflect a fair degree of misunderstanding of the seriousness of the risk.
Perhaps those confined to quarters for five days could be encouraged to focus on the upsides rather than the obvious downside. The former include health protection, access to social workers and medical staff, free testing, free food, free rent, and a bonus payment of $750 if unemployed or $1500 if normally working.
Angry outbursts are unhelpful to both the residents and the public officials trying to protect the Victorian community.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills
An invasive pest species
The story on the brumby populations in the Australian alps (‘‘Battle over brumbies stirs up old anger’’, Insight, 4/7) raised important questions about the nature of debate, the trivial politicisation of critical environmental issues, and what constitutes Australian culture.
In this case, at the heart of all these questions are the free-running brumbies ruining the relatively small alpine ecosystem in Australia.
Supporters of the brumbies say the horses ‘‘deserve more respect’’, and that, by demanding the removal of brumbies from the region, city people are attacking ‘‘the culture of high country people’’. How long have the brumbies and this culture been part of the high country – 100 to 200 years?
If there is a genuine desire to focus on the culture of the high country, let’s consider that Indigenous Australians have, very conservatively, called this continent their home for 50,000 years. And the native marsupials, reptiles and amphibians have evolved in Australia for many millions of years.
The brumbies, by contrast, need to be recognised for what they really are: an invasive pest species that, like all other invasives, cause untold damage to Australian environments, and are the known major threat to species diversity in Australia.
Ken McColl, East Geelong
The Cormann legacy
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann can look back on seven years of stagnant wage growth, underinvestment and a failure to develop an economy that addresses climate change and a changing world – all in a time of economic growth.
Now that the economy is facing its first real challenge in the form of the COVID-19 recession, he decides it’s time to jump ship.
Thanks, Mathias. The OECD can do without your economic vision.
Nic Barnard, Fitzroy North
Unrealistic and cruel
The idea of increasing the GST is unrealistic and cruel, with so many without employment, students without a casual job, many superannuants suffering a cutback in retirement income, the JobSeeker allowance and JobKeeper facing termination, massive queues at Centrelink, costs increasing, the homeless still with no home, hundreds of refugees awaiting citizenship, stranded overseas workers with no work and pensioners struggling.
How can comfortable employees on high pay and politicians past and present dare to even suggest increasing the GST?
The poorest in society must not bear the brunt of the economy’s woes. Raise the tax on high incomes, chase the businesses that pay no tax, stop negative gearing, legislate to force those linked to tax havens to pay. Tax the churches.
Let politicians turn this economy into a society again. A nation is judged by the way it cares for its most vulnerable. Do not talk, just do.
Jill Bryant, Malvern East
It’s not their job
The readiness with which people call for the army to guard those in quarantine (“Bring the ADF in now”, Letters, 6/7) is frightening.
The defence forces exist to protect Australia from external attack. While they have particular skills and equipment that allow them to be called upon in natural emergencies to provide logistics, communication and medical support, they should never be used to perform police functions in a democratic society.
Chris Curtis, Hurstbridge
I’m glad I live in a liberal democracy – I wouldn’t want it any other way – but lately I’ve begun to wonder whether our version of this form of government works at a time like this when we must pull together in solidarity and co-operation.
We need leadership well informed by medical expertise, communicating our predicament while providing reassurance.
In Victoria we have been blessed with such leadership. Daniel Andrews, his colleagues and our Chief Health Officer have been tireless, resolute and balanced. Like everyone they are capable of mistakes and not foreseeing what later becomes evident.
We have been habituated to accept an opposition that carps and criticises every move made by those in power. Of course we need opposition politicians and journalists to hold government to account, but I fear the degree of disparagement we are experiencing is counterproductive to the outcome for which we all yearn – that this insidious virus be contained.
Some who stand on the sidelines tearing down could better use their time contributing to the common good.
Digby Hannah, Balaclava
A pile-on won’t help
Tempting as it is to blame someone, we should all look to our own behaviour that has allowed the quarantine mistakes to spread the virus. All the back-slapping and mixed messaging from the media and many politicians, combined with the unbelievably complacent behaviour of the general public, hascertainly played a large part inthe community spread.
This virus is unforgiving and the world is in it for the long haul. There will always be human error but it is up to each of us to change our own behaviour to not make this worse. I have hardly seen any social distancing or mask-wearing since the start of the pandemic.
Piling onto the Victorian government or different groups now will be just an unhelpful distraction to all those people working day and night to try to keep us safe and doing an extremely difficult job. Can we all please work together?
Karen Trist, St Kilda
Keep the border open
The closure of state borders rather than zones or regions relevant to the pandemic illustrates the wisdom of section 92 of the constitution, which was intended to ensure that movement between and among the states should be absolutely free at all times, as befits a federation.
These border closures now culminating in the closure of the Victorian/NSW border will cause incredible disruption and inconvenience, particularly for the twin and virtually inseparable cities of Albury and Wodonga, and along the Murray River generally.
It would be better to set up check-points some distance back from the border on the Victorian side. This would facilitate the disease control aim less divisively and more effectively than what is now envisaged.
These blanket closures are creating an unfortunate precedent for the orderly conduct of the federation in future.
Andrew Farran, Edenhope
Not serving the community
In discussing higher levels of the Australian judiciary, Ray Steinwall argues ‘‘racism is alive in the law. Merit is the prerogative of privilege’’ (‘‘Black lives also matter in our judiciary’’, Comment, 6/7). He notes Asian Australians make up almost 10per cent of the population, but less than 1 per cent of the judiciary.
Britain has provided a good model. Robert Verkaik, in Posh Boys: How English Public Schools Ruin Britain, observes that 7 per cent of the population attend private schools, yet three-quarters of High Court judges come from these schools – one in seven judges attended one of just five independent schools.
Lack of cultural diversity in Australian judicial appointments may not be serving the community well. In a broader sense, our education system is helping to entrench privilege. It is inequitable, makes a mockery of rhetoric about ‘‘a fair go’’, and is leading to a tragic waste of talent languishing in under-resourced state schools.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne
The buck stops with them
A few of your correspondents are saying stop the blame game and let Daniel Andrews get on with the difficult job of flattening the curve again.
The government’s poor handling of the quarantine process has created this difficult situation all by itself. If that doesn’t draw some legitimate questions of its performance, what would?
Murray Horne, Cressy
We’re working on it
The Law Institute of Victoria agrees that there needs to be more diversity in our judiciary and the law (‘‘Black lives also matter in our judiciary’’, Comment, 6/7), and in Victoria we are for the first time taking steps to measure cultural diversity in our legal profession.
This year, legal practitioners are being asked questions about their ethnic and cultural background on practising certificate renewal forms for 2020-21.
As the first president of the Law Institute of Victoria of Indian heritage in more than 160 years I have been working with the Law Council of Australia and others to include cultural diversity questions on all state and territory practising and renewal forms.
Victorian Legal Services Commissioner Fiona McLeay agreed this year to include four diversity questions on practising certificate renewals for the state’s 23,000 legal practitioners.
This is a huge advance in understanding the cultural and ethnic demography of our profession so that we can provide equal opportunity for all our lawyers, especially in light of the growing diversity of the Australian community.
I am passionate about advancing cultural diversity within the legal profession so that it better reflects and represents the community in which we live and work.
Sam Pandya, president, Law Institute of Victoria
They will spend it
If we are not to have a large swath of the population living in misery for years, the JobSeeker payment will have to be lifted from its previous abysmal level. For the next five years at least, there will be more people out of work than in the pre-coronavirus era. Most will be desperate for work. To raise the government support permanently by $100 per week would apparently cost up to $7.6billion extra a year. All of this would be immediately spent by recipients and boost the economy.
Interest rates are predicted to remain very low for the coming decade and the government has $60billion up its sleeve it was ready to borrow for JobKeeper until it found it had miscalculated.
In light of this, surely we can afford to provide more generous long-term support to those who will be doing it tough in the years ahead.
Peter Barry, Marysville
It makes you wonder
I read about a $600 million fund for recycling, 300,000 meals for poor, $500 million for regional road and rail. That’s just this week.
It all sounds very good, but doesn’t it make you wonder what they could have been doing for years and haven’t?
Pamela Wallbridge, Vermont South
AND ANOTHER THING
At a time when so many Victorians are doing it hard, Lindsay Fox’s bid to lay claim to a large slice of public beach to add to his already luxurious Portsea estate is particularly distasteful.
Linda Stern, Alphington