We had a masked ball on our cruise up and down the coast

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We had a masked ball on our cruise up and down the coast
After all the letters, articles, and protests, what a pleasure it has been to just return from a cruise up and down the Queensland coast on a ship for 10 days during which the 1500 passengers and 800 crew diligently wore masks whenever they were roaming the ship’s interior. No one complained, and everybody was happy to be back on the water, (even though we could not see the smiles).

Yes there were COVID cases on board, but they were efficiently dealt with by the crew and the on-board health experts, and the cruise continued without drama. Wearing masks was, and should be for everyone, a small burden to bear to reduce the spread.
Brian Siddles, Heathmont

Conformity not necessarily bad in this case
Will Bennett suggests that Australians “enjoy being governed” and that our “conformist culture welcomed the imposition of draconian curfews” during COVID. He cites England’s “Freedom Day” as an example of how England dealt with the same issues as a country where “individual responsibility is championed” (“‘She’ll be right’ Australia is a myth”, Comment, 5/8).

First I would suggest that the conformity that he describes is our most British characteristic and is not necessarily a bad thing in a circumstance where a disease with no known cure threatens its population.

Further I would argue that, while all governments should have done better, leaving management of a pandemic to the individual responsibility of a medically illiterate community resulted in many unnecessary deaths.
Julian Guy, Mount Eliza

These people need to set an example
At a time when we still have a public health emergency and when all the expert advice suggests that the wearing of masks in public places is important, we have the federal Coalition trying to make a political point by refusing to do so.

We need our political leaders to set an example, not to undermine the health advice. This was the kind of behaviour we saw in the US under Donald Trump and the consequences were dreadful.
Rod Evans, Parkville

Not so much ‘sticklers for rules’ as terrified
If Will Bennett were to return to Australia tomorrow he would quickly realise that Australians are no longer “sticklers for rules”. Even in the face of one of the highest per capita COVID death rates in the world, they can’t be bothered to put on a face mask where objectively it is clearly appropriate.

There were two vast differences between the “270-day lockdown” he escaped from, and the “Freedom Day” he escaped to – some 125,000 deaths in the UK despite its much higher vaccination rate. At that time, less than 20 per cent of Australians were fully vaccinated; we were not “sticklers for rules”, we were terrified, and rightly so.

The UK’s Hallett inquiry will takes years to complete and will likely not be finished in time for the next pandemic. Given that it was signed off on by Boris Johnson, it is as much about politics as public policy. Australia would do better to set up a federal centre for disease control, to prioritise communication, teamwork and the depoliticisation of critical decision making.
Mike Sanderson, Drouin


Don’t blame the Greens
Paul Keating is wrong when he claims the Greens destroyed Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and thus led the country into “a decades-long political morass on climate” (“Greens are ‘the enemy of Labor’: Keating”, The Age, 4/8).

The Greens rejected the CPRS because it would “lock in failure” – being advised that any future attempt to raise its low targets would result in huge claims for compensation from vested interests. Anyhow, Rudd refused to negotiate with them, instead making huge concessions to the Coalition – which almost backed the scheme before deciding to install Tony “climate change is crap” Abbott as its leader.

But the Greens went on – in a stronger position after 2010 – to negotiate the “clean energy package” with Julia Gillard – a package that was already delivering emissions reductions in 2013 when the Coalition repealed it.

Keating’s accusation repeats Labor’s line – a brazen shifting of blame onto the one party that has been raising the alarm on climate for 25 years and which was instrumental in Australia’s one achievement of legislation that worked.
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley

An absurd claim
After the damning report of the royal commission, it is shameful that the Catholic Church continues to spend enormous amounts of money in the hope of reducing its liability to victims.

For it to argue that the Legal Identity of Defendants Act was designed to apply to survivors and not their families (“Church argues law does not include family”, The Age, 5/8) is absurd – families suffer greatly. Legal fees would be better spent on victims.
Anne Fitzpatrick, Abbotsford

Unnecessary trip
The “visit” by Nancy Pelosi of the United States to Taiwan was unnecessary, provocative and dangerous. It achieved nothing but deeper and wider moves to war and the world cannot afford for countries to pursue this path.

We have an environmental crisis, an economic crisis and a pandemic crisis. People are hungry, thirsty and homeless, we should be concentrating all our efforts on food, water and building, not war, destruction and misery.

If governments won’t, the people must.
Marion Harper, Reservoir

On the way at last
What a historic moment. Following a decade of inaction, Australia is now well on the way towards legislated emissions reductions targets that will provide certainty for business and industry, and send a global signal about our national trajectory.

Unfortunately, Peter Dutton’s “gloomy” Coalition refused to engage with the government’s climate bill and therefore risks rendering itself irrelevant (“Coalition out of step in the dance of climate partners”, The Age, 5/8).

In contrast, it was heartening to observe several independent MPs proposing sensible amendments that were supported by the Labor Party. Collaboration, it seems, has finally reached the House.

As we move forward in a way that seemed unlikely three months ago, many still grapple with visualising and embracing a net zero future. Fortunately, the “Electrify 2515” initiative in NSW’s northern Illawarra seems set to create a world first fully electrified community that will demonstrate a clean, abundant, affordable future.

Let’s take the lead from Canberra and such visionary projects and get on with the task of emissions reductions.
Amy Hiller, Kew

The complete champion
Eddie Betts must have cast iron intestinal fortitude to have endured all he did, yet still play so very well under extreme duress.

The complete champion inside and out.
Tris Raouf, Hadfield

Taken for a ride
The Interim Gas Inquiry report released this week by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that there is no gas production shortage in eastern Australia. In fact, production has trebled since 2015, with domestic consumers using less than one-third of this production. However, two-thirds of east Australia’s fossil gas production is exported overseas.

As there is lack of effective national regulation, Australians have had to pay premium prices for gas (at or above export price parity) while the gas industry profiteers from a manufactured east Australia energy crisis.

Don’t be fooled. We do not need to open up more gas fields in Australia; we just need the federal government to put in place policies and taxes that will ensure that we will no longer be taken for an expensive ride by the gas industry.
Ching Ang, Magill, SA

Keep it simple
I disagree with those who want detail in a referendum question about the Indigenous Voice to parliament (“Voice model needs ‘flesh on bones’ to move public”, The Age, 5/8).

Just let’s ask the simple question “Do you want the Voice?” That will get this through, because the majority of us do. How can you possibly vote no?

Once you put detail on it you’ll get people who don’t want that particular type of voice and the thing is dead, like the republic referendum. Most of us wanted that too, but the detail in the question killed it.
David Marshall, Brunswick West

A bigger issue at play
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has conducted a three-year investigation and found the Bakers Delight chain “has breached nation leading laws designed to prevent workplace discrimination”. Specifically, Bakers Delight “did not have a sexual harassment prevention plan” for the isolated incidents that were reported. At the commission’s instigation, a plan is now being put in place (“Bakers Delight may serve warnings”, 5/8).

There seems to be a bigger issue for the commission here, not isolated to Bakers Delight. That is, “the gendered nature of bakery work” where “men are usually employed as bakers and young women as servers”.

The difference in roles implies a difference in pay. We are left wondering what the commission might be intending to do about this. For example, investigating whether recruitment, staff development, retention and remuneration policies and practices in the industry discriminate against women.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Ban it once and for all
Why does the Victorian government imagine duck hunters will follow rules and regulations? These are people who kill and maim defenceless animals just for the fun of it, and they largely ignore hunting laws. An independent review of the Game Management Authority found “commonplace and widespread non-compliance with hunting laws” including the shooting of endangered and legally protected species.

Now, freedom of information documents have shown that illegal lead ammunition, banned in Victoria since 2001, is still being used to shoot ducks. Wedge-tailed eagles and other protected species are at risk of being paralysed by lead poisoning, with lead levels in ducks “well above” food safety standards at four Victorian duck-hunting waterways.

Animals wounded with lead shot, or later eating the carcasses of ducks who died in agony from their injuries, will suffer a horrific death, becoming paralysed, unable to eat and slowly dying of starvation. It’s time this barbaric hunt was banned once and for all in Victoria, as it has been in other states.
Desmond Bellamy, PETA Australia, Northcote

Now for the next step
The passage of the government’s Climate Change Bill 2022 through the lower house (and its expected passage in Senate) will be a historic political turning point for climate, but the knotty sticking point of ending new coal and gas projects and their unstoppable deadly emissions still remains (“Labor and Greens to clash over fossil fuels”, The Age, 5/8).

The Greens are urging “a climate trigger” in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act that would “require all fossil fuel projects to be assessed on their contribution to global warming”. This would be a sensible recognition of the interconnection of emissions, environment and deadly climate change.

The government should agree to this science-based reasoning and next reforming step. The broad benefits flowing from such agreement would be enormous.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood


Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy’s phrase “maintain the perception of integrity” really says it all.
Marie Nash, Balwyn


I see Matthew Guy is channelling Julia Gillard by saying he will not be “lectured to by some corrupt government” (“Can Guy survive integrity scandal?”, The Age, 5/8). However his statement lacks the strength and integrity of Gillard’s famous misogyny speech.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Forget Cannes walkouts (“‘I love a good walkout’: The big screen squirm”, The Age, 5/8), nothing beats Bridget Archer giving the Coalition climate horror show the flick in Canberra (“Labor and Greens to clash over fossil fuels”, The Age, 5/8).
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Chris Wallace (“Labor must right a shameful wrong on welfare”, Comment, 4/8) reminds us of Bob Hawke’s failed pledge that “no child should live in poverty by 1990″. Please, Labor, fix this.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen

Listening to Peter Dutton recently one might think as opposition leader he’s taking a long view – even six to nine years.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn

The Games
It’s not the Olympics, but the Commonwealth Games are a wonderful multi-nation, multi-sports festival. Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

How lovely to see the photo of Bendigo electorate’s Lisa Chesters’ toddler in parliament. Can we have more of this please?
Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk

Record coal and gas exports, logging of the rare glider habitat at Nowa Nowa, lights on all over the city all night. No one cares about the climate. Bugger it: I’m buying a V8.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

Instead of bursting our eardrums with loud and inane messaging and commentary at the half-time break in the next round of AFL, they could play a selection of Archie Roach’s songs as a tribute to this great Indigenous Australian.
Corrado Tavella, Rosslyn Park, SA

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