New freedoms require continued vigilance

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OPENING UP

New freedoms require continued vigilance

As Victorians emerge into the light of restored freedoms after the enforced hibernation of the long, dark winter of lockdown, it will be essential to remember that the battle against COVID-19 is not over. Just as a successful terrorist attack takes only one person, so too does an outbreak of COVID-19. As has been amply demonstrated, one person’s ignorance, incompetence, insouciance, defiance, or non-compliance can begin the avalanche of infection.

Whatever the defence: lockdown, testing, contact tracing, isolation facilities, mask-wearing, physical distancing, or a combination of all – in the final analysis, success or otherwise depends upon everyone’s vigilant compliance.

A real problem needing a solution in any ongoing defence is although most people are compliant others are not. It is these people who are the weak link, the chink in any armour set up to protect and defend us all against the ravages of an unleashed COVID-19.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

Opponents to safeguards should be called out
The end of the lockdown highlights the extraordinary efforts of Daniel Andrews and the Health Department in getting us to this stage. It’s also time to call out the Trump-like opponents to the strategy that put health and safety first. Their vitriol and exaggerated assertions did nothing to assist throughout the period.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool

Premier is like a burglar, who deserves no thanks
I am astonished at the letters thanking Daniel Andrews. For what exactly? His administration caused these weeks of hardship by the incompetent handling of hotel quarantine. And he claimed ‘‘the buck stops with him’’. No, it stopped with Jenny Mikakos.

We still have no admission of responsibility from anyone involved. To thank Andrews for lifting restrictions is akin to thanking the burglar who returns your stolen property.
Lesley Black, Frankston

Victoria held firm despite constant undermining
Thank you for staying the course and controlling COVID-19 in Victoria. In controlling an outbreak of this size you have achieved something nowhere else in the world has managed. The fact that you managed this in the face of deliberate undermining from the federal government and mainstream media speaks volumes. Thank you for saving hundreds of thousands of Australian lives. And thank you for avoiding the economic devastation an uncontrolled outbreak would have wrought.
Dr Bart Fielden, Lindfield, NSW

Time to prepare for the onset of winter
You could see the relief on Daniel Andrews’ face as he announced the long-awaited rollbacks of strict lockdowns. Victoria will now be able to enjoy the summer in similar fashion to Europe this year.

However, he should keep an eye on this continent coming into their winter and the slow train wreck that it is becoming due to complacency and lack of preparedness. There is a real chance there will not be a vaccine by the time next winter arrives here. Dan and the team should begin their Winter 2021 COVID-19 Preparedness exercises now and communicate it regularly to the public throughout summer. This will reinforce and/or regain the trust of the public that we will never have to endure a 2020-style lockdown again.
Pat Rankin, South Melbourne

Dear diary, here’s what I did today
For more than 100 days, the majority of people in Melbourne have admirably tried to do the right thing. But we all know that COVID-19 is going to be sneaking around for a long time. So here is a simple and practical suggestion. Science tells us that the key to suppressing the inevitable future cases is rapid and accurate contact tracing. This could be made simpler and more efficient if we all did one thing: keep a diary of where we went each day. Make it a regular habit and write it down each evening just before Happy Hour to beat this wicked virus. Let’s start now to save future lives. David Davies, Research

THE FORUM

Integrity at the heart
Two letters (27/10) plead with Waleed Aly (‘‘Does anyone care about integrity?’’, 23/10) to provide guidance as to how we can force the hand of our leaders to value and apply integrity in governing. The Coalition has made it clear it does not favour a national integrity commission with ‘‘teeth’’. The government has finally, after much kicking and screaming, drafted legislation, but is obfuscatory as to its release and debate.

There is little doubt that the legislation proposed will be a ‘‘toothless tiger’’ and ineffective in bringing sorely needed integrity into the parliamentary system. Little wonder that issues of a lack of integrity in the corporate, financial and institutional arenas are prominent.

Our elected government has failed to lead by example. Integrity lies at the heart of a fair and just society and proper governance.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill

Contact your local MP
The question is being asked; what can we do about integrity in government?

The answer is to contact your local MP and ask them to support Helen Haines’ bills [introduced to Parliament on Monday] to establish a national integrity commission and an integrity officer.
Heather McKean, Wangaratta

Cuts must not go ahead
While we wait, and wait, for a federal integrity commission, let us make sure that the Morrison government does not go ahead with funding cuts to the Auditor-General’s Office so it, at least, can continue to expose corrupt behaviour.
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside

Sincere thanks for nothing
People around Australia must be wondering why, to Victorians, nothing seems to matter, but it matters so much here. Tongue in cheek we say to Dan Andrews, ‘‘Thanks for nothing!’’ Nothing, perversely, gives us hope. Nothing; and nothing more needs to be said for nothing is something that we have worked so hard for. Yes, all that work, time and effort amounts to nothing. And these past two days nothing could be better.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

No time for spouting
Michael O’Brien, as leader of the opposition, seems to think that he has to hostilely oppose everything done by the government. He does not realise that the opposition is so named just because it sits opposite the government in Parliament.

If O’Brien were a leader, he would have offered bipartisan assistance to the government during the coronavirus crisis. Instead, he and his cronies have stamped their feet in childish petulance, just to be noticed. He should remember the whale. The only time it gets harpooned is when it comes up to spout.
Greg Eccleston, Malvern

Night final too late
I agree with the people who say a night grand final finishes too late for young children. After decades of experience with children, grandchildren, a foster child and various blow-ins and sleepovers, they all have one thing in common. About 8pm they raise their hand and say ‘‘can I please go to bed now?’’
John Rawson, Mernda

Fire safety warning
At the Royal Children’s Hospital since the start of March, we have seen 16 children with severe burns admitted to our intensive care unit. In a year where the word ‘‘unprecedented’’ has been used so often, it is also true in this case; most years we expect to see three or four children with severe burns in our ICU.

Many children in 2020 have been injured when accelerant – such as petrol – was thrown on a fire, or an accelerant was used to start an outdoor barbecue or fire pit. Children who were standing near the fire explosion suffered severe burns to their face, chest, limbs, and inhalation burns to the throat, airways and lungs. Many have needed months in the ICU on a ventilator, they require numerous surgeries, and carry deep scars for life, physical and mental.

There is an urgent need to get the message out of the responsibility we have for ensuring children are safe near fire. As our community opens up, there will be more gatherings, outdoor fire-pits and barbecues. Parents and responsible adults must teach their children about the dangers of fire, and never use an accelerant on or near a flame.
Professor Trevor Duke, acting director, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit,
Royal Children’s Hospital

Just deliver the mail
While the Australia Post CEO is stood down and an investigation is conducted in relation to giving expensive watches to senior executives, the Licensed Post Offices Group’s executive director, Angela Cramp, is quoted (‘‘Post office licensees back Holgate’’, 26/10) as saying ‘‘Whatever this is about, it has got nothing to do with bloody watches’’. For millions of us, it’s about delivering the bloody mail the next day.
Paul Haarburger, Traralgon

Global reality check
We live in a global world which has felt smaller and larger in this time of pandemic. We forget how normally we are lucky to travel to countries with different cultures and traditions.

However, the recent incident in Qatar where women were body searched without being given a reason is a reality check that not all countries are the same. I cannot believe that the women had to be submitted to such behaviour.

Unfortunately it shows the lack of rights women have in that country. It made me realise how vulnerable we are when we travel in countries with different laws to our own. This will make me choose carefully the airline and airports I will travel within in future, if we ever are able to travel again.
Jane Cheong, Aspendale Gardens

Time for change
As we rejoice after 100 days of lockdown, now is a good time to spare a thought for asylum seekers held in their own lockdown for an average of more than 800 days. Many of these people have been held for much longer, and denied any reasonable prospect of release anywhere but the land from which they fled.

The federal government has relied on the pandemic to divert our attention, but every Australian citizen should now have greater empathy and renewed energy to push for change.
Gail Greatorex, Ormond

Seven dropped the ball
Channel Seven was given a monopoly of the AFL grand final telecast. It responded by filling half-time with as many ads as possible, many on its own shows. Fans want an analysis of the game. We got about a minute!
Tom James, South Yarra

Analysis half-right
Jacqueline Maley is about half right (‘‘Most love the ABC and only tolerate politicians’’, 27/10). Perhaps the ABC is indeed loved by Maley and her friends, but among the wider community it is often seen as (a) costly and (b) irrelevant. The ratings attest to this and are hardly an endorsement of an adoring public.

Politicians? Sadly Maley is right on the money in that regard.
Al Morris, Doncaster

Veteran care first
The Prime Minister insists that no money will be taken from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in order to spend $500 million on an expansion of the National War Memorial. This comes as a relief, as not enough is spent on looking after veterans now. There are many calls for better care of traumatised, and injured veterans and a recent study found Australia has 5800 war veterans sleeping rough over a 12-month period.

Until each one of those has somewhere to live and services for wounded and trauma affected veterans are readily available how can anyone think about building the new section of a memorial.
Marianne Dalton, Balnarring

Cautious steps
Well, it’s a relief that on Monday Victoria reached a day with no new cases and no deaths from COVID-19. It’s also a relief that in Melbourne we are beginning to be allowed out of such a tight lockdown.

The Premier has told us that the steps out of lockdown will be ‘‘slow, safe and steady’’, all due to ‘‘an abundance of caution’’. For my own part, out of an abundance of caution, I intend to take slow, safe and steady steps towards gratitude and joy for our greater freedoms. Just as the population of Melbourne was constantly encouraged to work towards ever lower daily cases and an ever lower rolling 14-day average, so I feel the need to work up gradually to a fully aware, happy realisation that we are, in fact, on our way back to ‘‘normality’’.
Ruth Hilton, Mount Martha

Vision lacking
I can’t help but wonder why despite the well-documented deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef and the rise in global temperatures largely abetted by our use of fossil fuels that the federal government places its priority in short-term, insignificant employment creation so far above the longer term tourism dollars and employment the reef brings to the country.

Well at least Josh Frydenberg can report more good news about the unemployment figures which by its very redefinition is becoming largely irrelevant as a measure of economic wellbeing in Australia.
The total lack of a strategic long-term vision for our economy is simply mind bending in its implications for future generations.
John Morris, Lorne

And now, the job is …
What we’ve done in Victoria is amazing. And exhausting. Now that we’re coming out the other side, our thoughts should turn to our fellow Australians who are overseas and wanting to come back.
No offence, Dan, but if Victoria is going to be part of any returned traveller quarantine program from now on, I think we’d all like a chance to review the management plan.
Angus Smallwood, Northcote

AND ANOTHER THING …

Credit:

Coronavirus
It’s double doughnut day and everybody’s happy – except, guess who, The Grinch M. O’B.
Richard Wilson, Croydon

The best thing about the doughnut numbers is that we might not hear from Michael O’Brien or Josh Frydenberg for a day or two.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South

0, 0: what a beautiful set of no numbers.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

I’d have to agree with Michael O’Brien’s disbelief with the recent leadership poll. His approval rating surely can’t be as high as 15per cent. I’d give him the big doughnut.
John Bye, Elwood

As Churchill might have said ‘‘maybe it’s the end of the beginning’’. COVID has some time to play out.
Joanna Wriedt, Eaglemont

Welcome back Melbourne. Please take care and stay well.
Teresa Mcintosh, Keysborough

Scomo, your congratulations to Victorians for their strength, resilience and sacrifice, for the greater good was embarrassingly underwhelming.
Louise Zattelman, Box Hill

Despite two waves the tide is out for the Victorian Liberal Party and with only 15 per cent approval, a pile of sand has been dumped on its negative leader.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Hey Josh! There might soon be an opening as Victorian opposition leader.
Don Hyatt, Dingley Village

No more ‘‘Look, down there’’ from the Canberra Pantomime Players pointing at Victoria.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda

Furthermore
Rorting? For shame – if it’s within the rules, it’s an entitlement and if it’s an entitlement, it’s a human right and if it’s a human right, it’s a sacred duty.
Andrew Raivars, Fitzroy North

Finally
The historic Corkman Hotel was demolished on a weekend; the iconic Djab Wurrung ‘‘directions tree’’ was removed during COVID lockdown. Different demographics, similar MO, same disbelief. Wendy Knight, Little River


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