In their call for a royal commission into the COVID-19 outbreak (‘‘Call for royal commission into handling of COVID-19’’, 29/12), Messrs Kennett and Beattie would do well to heed Waleed Aly’s comment piece (‘‘Get to the root of the mess’’, 26/12). Aly cites credible science that attributes the movement of dangerous viruses from animals to humans, to the relentless destruction around the world, of forests and animal habitat, to expand agriculture and industrialisation. If we want a safer future, we should not assume that pandemics ‘‘just happen’’.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn
Money goes around
Scott Morrison and the LNP are happy to provide tax cuts to those of us that earn a decent income. I know from experience that if I (or my friends) get more in my pay packet I pay more into debt reduction, savings, investments and super. Giving low income people more welfare means that they are much more likely to spend it on day to day living, food, clothes etc thereby increasing the likelihood that the money goes back into the economy, ergo stimulating it. Trickle down economics simply doesn’t work.
Nic Beredimas, Sunbury
Surely governments are there to support the most vulnerable in society, for the good of society. Cutting back the JobSeeker supplement and the like undermines society.
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully
Cost of borrowing
PPPs (public-private partnerships) have been demonstrated to be more expensive than directly government-funded projects – governments can borrow at much less cost than private companies being just one factor.
Governments persist with them, not because they are less costly for the taxpayer, but because the debt is moved from government to private companies – at a considerably higher ongoing cost to government.
We voters have long been schooled by the ‘‘better economic managers’’ that government debt is evil, so as long as we continue to believe the propaganda governments will continue with PPPs.
Chris Thompson, Mont Albert North
Just at the time the Victorian government decided that PPPs were the way to fund and manage government services, overseas studies were showing that they were not value for money. What a pity that our government ignored these inconvenient facts and followed the failed path despite the evidence.
Megan Stoyles, Aireys Inlet
Scale of outbreaks
Thomas Hogg (Letters, 26/12) blames the ‘‘inexcusable incompetence’’ of the Andrews government for his estimate of 630 deaths in aged care in Victoria due to COVID-19. If Victoria had ‘‘achieved control’’ like the rest of Australia, deaths in aged care might have been only 25, he says. What humbug. Hogg cannot have read the special report of the royal commission into aged care which highlights the Morrison government’s lack of planning for the aged care sector. Brendan Murphy, secretary of the federal health department, has said, ‘‘if the public health response had been more prompt after Victoria was gripped by the second wave, we might have avoided … the scale of the outbreaks in Victoria’’.
During the second wave, almost 2000 COVID-19 cases and 655 deaths were recorded in the (Commonwealth-funded and regulated) 612 private nursing homes in Victoria. By contrast, there were only three COVID-19 cases in Victoria’s 156 state-run aged-care homes with zero deaths. The key difference was only state-run homes had legislated minimum staffing ratios. The aged care tragedy has been years in the making.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne
The federal government’s move to tear up research agreements with China is unwise (‘‘State deal with China on research facing axe’’, 28/12). Most research carried out at universities is Blue sky research or basic research. Real world applications of such research are not immediately evident.
More than a thousand years ago, Chinese alchemists found that when three commonly available ingredients are mixed together, they could burn or explode. The Chinese used it for fireworks. It took another 500 years before Europeans used gun powder in cannon and in guns which changed the nature of warfare. This is the story of most inventions.
The real loser in banning co-operative research with China will be Australia. One would hope that the government will change its mind.
Bill Mathew, Parkville
The federal government is considering tearing up research agreements between Australian and Chinese research institutions because of potential risks to intellectual property and links to the Chinese high-tech military sector. While at one level this may be a pragmatic reaction to recent Chinese aggression, it ignores the underlying reasons for Australian researchers to seek external funding.
The Australian government funding for science research is at 1.79 per cent of GDP, well below the OECD average of 2.37 per cent. Poor venture capital investment in Australia relative to other nations limits commercialisation of research. With huge financial losses from COVID-19 and government unwillingness to provide support, the university sector is retrenching thousands of researchers and will seek other mechanisms to fund research capability to maintain its global rankings.
Australian researchers now have no option but to seek funding elsewhere, particularly from China that has the capacity to pay and to bring innovations to market. The government should redress the underlying problem by increasing research funding and underwriting product development for Australian business.
Dr Tim Davis, Heidelberg
It seems the main qualification to be a Test umpire is ‘‘Can you count to six?’’ For more than 100 years we had great cricket without technology interfering. All it does is make umpires lose their confidence. The umpires did make mistakes but so does technology. Let us hope the AFL does not introduce it.
Geoffrey Lane, Mornington
Congratulations to The Age for continuing to publish letters about the disgraceful treatment being imposed in our name upon refugees languishing in PNG and in hotel rooms in Melbourne. The government too often avoids proper censure or investigation by lying low until the news cycle moves on and their misdeeds are forgotten – they hope. Our national treasure, Barry Jones, in his latest book, advises that political paralysis – on the issues of refugees, climate change, open democratic practices and many others – can only be overcome if ‘‘well-informed citizens … engage, engage, engage’’. We must continue to maintain the rage until the government is shamed into action.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick
AND ANOTHER THING …
Spotted in a Gippsland supermarket, hot cross buns, the first item that greets you in the entry to the store.
Doug Springall, Yarragon
Avoid the hot cross bunfight. Just add another cross and you get a hotstar bun.
Ed Featherston, Torquay
Something to be grateful for in 2020: Jeff Kennett wasn’t in charge during the COVID-19 crisis.
Kym Tonkin, Preston
Now that I have 2020 vision I can’t wait for 2021!
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine
The Eskimo Pie ice-cream has not melted away but is available in a six pack at supermarkets, hiding in clear sight.
Peter Barry, Marysville
I remember Two-in-One’s. That’s what I call an ice-cream.
Pamela Pilgrim, Highett
It must be getting harder and harder for Morrison and his crew as they row against the tidal wave of support for action on emissions reduction.
John Walsh, Watsonia
No surprise that welfare cuts will hit needier areas … after all those ‘‘leaners’’ have to be taught a lesson.
Marie Nash, Balwyn
Australian citizens stranded overseas must be regretting they are not tennis players.
Terry Harrison, Mount Waverley
Joe Burns could move to Victoria, we are getting used to zero days here.
Andy Wain, Rosebud
Who would play golf with Donald Trump? He wouldn’t count the strokes that didn’t help him win.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick
Brexit will not Make Britain Great Again, the empire is long gone, the Kingdom is looking decidedly disUnited and they are left with Boris, the court jester.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
History repeating? The Plague, and now the Norman Conquest of our Age?
Ray Way, Blackburn South
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