Now, it seems we are to welcome hundreds of tennis players and their entourages to our city from countries where the virus is rampant. Experiences such as the current events in Sydney suggest that quarantine and containment measures are at best quite fragile.

I believe that the staging of this sporting event poses an unacceptable and unnecessary risk to the wellbeing of the people of Victoria.
Terry Harrison, Mount Waverley

Canberra needs to lend a hand
I cannot understand the logic of those who we pay to govern and protect us. Who in their right mind would convey and house potential COVID -19 carriers in the most densely populated centres of the country? What are they thinking?

Do we not have plenty of isolated islands or country centres capable of housing these risks? It only takes one slip to open Pandora’s box and we’ll all be in lockdown again. Methinks the federal government should take a hand in this.
Morgan van Ketwich, Mount Waverley

Hotel quarantine is not fit for purpose
After the months of lockdown in Victoria due to COVID-19 escaping into the community followed by an outbreak in Adelaide and now a disturbing cluster growing in Sydney it is high time to acknowledge that hotel quarantine is an unmitigated disaster and not fit for purpose.

The federal government should send the Christmas Island refugees back to Biloela, where they belong, and use the centre to quarantine returning Australians. Likewise the centre in Darwin could be used for the same purpose. For the overflow it would be simple enough to get the military to set up makeshift accommodation in paddocks away from population centres, which they are trained to do, and for the government to pay medical professionals to stay on site for two weeks at a time to ensure proper infection control.

These simple measures would keep infections away from populated areas and the costs would be minuscule compared to the lives lost and billions of dollars of debt incurred when outbreaks occur.
Tim Davis, Heidelberg

A puzzling position
It is puzzling that Australia is deemed to be in a comfortable epidemiological position and not requiring urgent vaccine authorisation when what we have is a ‘‘sitting duck’’ population, and a leaky border with deficiencies starkly evident when community transmission is low.

In the absence of a large outbreak changing the epidemiology, or safety concerns emerging, border control and COVID health workers should be vaccinated first, including quarantine, air crew and their hotel staff, airport, COVID-19 ward and ICU staff. It could be argued their personal risk of contracting the virus is higher than the average Australians and they deserve the choice of immunisation in February, offering southern states a little insurance as weather cools mid March.

The best quarantine program is one in which all staff at the coal face are immunised.
Anita White, Kew

Consider closing our international borders
After nearly a year of dealing with COVID-19 it appears that with what is happening in NSW, and may happen again in Victoria because of NSW, we can’t manage to properly quarantine overseas arrivals.

The only solution may be to close our borders and keep them closed.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

THE FORUM

Grasp the opportunity
Ross Gittins is on song in his two recent articles regarding casual work (‘‘Work law change we really need’’, 16/12 and ‘‘Don’t blame gig economy for job insecurity, that’s only half the story’’, 19/12).

Whether it’s damned lies or statistics (in the well-worn definition), he uncovers the reality of long-term casual workers classified as self-employed when their record shows they are more permanent than many who are classified as employees.

If ever we needed evidence of the dangers of job insecurity, in 2020 we need look no further than the unfolding disasters of aged care and hotel quarantine. The government should grasp the opportunity to stop tinkering and enact real structural workforce reform to set the economy on the road to post-COVID recovery.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Strange bedfellows
I never thought I would be on the same team as Liberals Andrew Bragg and Tim Wilson, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s asinine support for an inquiry into decisions by banks and finance companies to stop lending to or insuring mining projects has made us fellow travellers.

As Bragg says, ‘‘Environmental risk is no different from any other sort of risk – it’s an economic risk … ultimately the judgment banks and financial institutions make on lending is a matter for those institutions’’.

At a time when Australia’s climate denialism is under the intense glare of global opinion, Frydenberg’s support for this inquiry is incomprehensible and sure to attract the interest of environmental campaigners in his Kooyong electorate.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

A lost opportunity
As the Christian feast of Christmas coincided with the end of the Mantra Hotel’s contract to confine refugees and asylum seekers, the government was given a perfect opportunity to show grace and compassion, but instead of releasing these desperate people into the care of their families and friends, it chose to inflict further distress by transferring them to yet another place of detention.

In a season of hope, it destroyed hope, and shamed us all.
Lucille Forbes, Brighton East

Enough is enough
As we know, the refugees from the Mantra Hotel in Preston were transferred to the Park Hotel on Swanston Street last week. These men were brought to Australia under the now defunct medevac legislation because they urgently needed medical treatment unavailable on Manus Island, where they were held for up to seven years.

The decision to medically evacuate them was made by doctors, not by them, under legislation passed by our government. Yet it is clear they are being singled out for punishment. Anyone who heard Scott Morrison’s ugly, angry language about the medevac legislation would be in no doubt that this was very personal for him.

Now we find (The Hotel Conversation, 26/11) the hotel will be ‘‘refurbished … into the world-class upscale Crowne Plaza brand’’ and will reopen in the first half of 2021. This means the men will be subject to all the noise, dust and disruption of a major renovation. When the hotel reopens they will be removed, no doubt to yet another ‘‘alternative place of detention’’.

When will we as a nation say ‘‘Enough’’ to this brutal, inhumane treatment of people who did nothing wrong by simply seeking refuge in our country?
Jill Dixon, Northcote

It would cost him nothing
Premier Daniel Andrews displayed decisive leadership by guiding us to safety since explosive mid-year COVID-19 figures. Now he has an opportunity to demonstrate graciousness and humility by sincerely apologising to 3000 vulnerable inner-city housing towers residents for the unintended ‘‘harm and distress’’ caused by the immediacy of the July lockdown.

Accepting this recommendation of Ombudsman Deborah Glass would be greatly appreciated by the residents and cost him nothing.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Mind your language
I have been a little disturbed about comments I’ve heard very recently made regarding the new NSW COVID-19 outbreak by fellow Melburnians.

The comments vary but basically are to do with the Prime Minister’s comments not that long ago about the ‘‘gold standard’’ of NSW in controlling the problem in that state coupled with his constant harassment of the Victorian Premier and his government’s efforts in bringing our long, hard winter of COVID-19 to an end. The Prime Minister, and others, were commonly seen to be praising of NSW actions and critical of Victoria’s efforts.

The comments I’ve been hearing are unfortunate but understandable given the Prime Minister’s lack of diplomacy over this and other recent international issues. The complete lack of any criticisms of NSW issues re COVID-19, for example, the Ruby Princess debacle, can itself be seen as going easy on a ‘‘gold standard’’ state and should be avoided so there is no perception of favouritism.

Scott Morrison needs to urgently learn a few basic diplomatic skills or he risks further dividing our country’s population, which is the very opposite to what is needed for us to get through this difficult time in a united manner.
Peter O’Keefe, Collingwood

It’s not over
It is so heartening to see 50 days of no community transmission in Victoria but many are acting as if we are free from the pandemic. Crowded venues with no masks; cafes with no attendance registration and few masks to be seen.

The Christmas period is high risk and it is crucial that we have simple, clear and frequent messaging on how we can avoid a COVID resurgence.
Ruth Borenstein, Hawthorn East

An insensitive concept
As well as razing the last remnants of Lorne’s shipping and fishing history (‘‘Lorne plan raises heritage fears’’, The Age, 19/12) the ‘‘tourist experience’’ being proposed for Point Grey would replace coastal vegetation and picnic lawns with extensive car parking across most of this prominent headland. It also risks compromising a recognised Indigenous feasting site.

The fate of this insensitive concept is the first test of an experimental new governance model: the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority, which is taking over a broad suite of roles ranging from managing public foreshores and national parks to promoting economic development. It also inherits this poorly conceived project from a now-defunct local committee.

Can this powerful new multi-task agency resist the temptations of commercial revenue generation and marginal seat grant funding when this conflicts with responsible management of our precious coastline?
Rod Duncan, Brunswick East

NSW needs him
Some months ago, you published my letter as a New South Welshwoman, thanking and honouring your Premier, Dan Andrews, in the midst of federal and state criticism and scapegoating.

How times change. I live in Manly, on Sydney’s northern beaches, a certified ‘‘hot spot’’ for all the wrong reasons. I haven’t heard Prime Minister Scott Morrison say much about our COVID-19 chaos or about Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s somewhat wanting restrictions.

Despite experts pleading for some time for mandated mask-wearing, especially in closed spaces and on public transport, it has not happened. Why not? It’s madness.

Dan, NSW needs you to take charge, ‘‘go early and hard’’, for our and our country’s sake. How we want to be able to say, ‘‘We are all Victorians’’.
Jennifer Fergus, Manly

We need spending caps
Principled politicians find fund-raising dinners distasteful, knowing most donors hope their gifts will bring favourable approvals, regulations and contracts (‘‘Treasurer dined with land lobbyist’’, The Age, 19/12). These politicians know that to grant favours is to undermine the public interest MPs must serve.

Caps on political campaign spending are already known to remove the pressures on politicians to raise funds and for donors to donate. Such caps are long established in NSW elections law and now exist in most states and territories but not federally.

Repeated inquiries in NSW have received evidence from experts, including political party officials, that spending caps take away the pressure to raise funds and their corrupting influence. The Prime Minister as a former state director of the NSW Liberals organisation and the many parliamentarians from NSW cannot but be aware of the success of the NSW model. Other MPs have more recent experience of newer models, e.g. in Queensland.

Why are caps so strongly resisted federally? They have been recommended in many submissions to parliamentary inquiries but stonewalled without explanation.

Treasurer and deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg should demonstrate he supports integrity in political campaign finance including the introduction of caps on federal campaign spending.
Ken Coghill, former speaker, Victorian Parliament

He’s no Gough Whitlam
After the much vaunted cabinet reshuffle the level of talent on Scott ‘‘the slogan’’ Morrison’s frontbench is now on a par with Gough Whitlam’s first frontbench in 1972, which was probably the nadir of all frontbenches, the major difference being Scott Morrison is no Gough Whitlam.
Ian Hetherington, Moama

Hoping for some empathy
For months since the COVID lockdowns and quarantine in Victoria, people have been writing letters and opinion pieces complaining that these restrictions make them or their loved ones feel they are in prison.

Campaigners and activists for actual imprisoned people, who may be jailed due to criminal activity or simply because they are asylum seekers and refugees, might hope to find more supporters for their causes among those whose direct experiences of temporary inconvenience might raise their empathy for people whose enforced incarceration might otherwise never be of interest to them.

Here’s hoping.
Heather D’Cruz, Geelong West

AND ANOTHER THING

A whole new level
Bumbling Boris turns it up to 11.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

Credit:

The pandemic
If the NSW COVID numbers keep increasing, Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt may have to come back to being Victorians.
Russell Ogden, Inverloch

Surely it won’t be long before Daniel Andrews is blamed for the Sydney COVID outbreak.
Jeremy Sallmann, Crib Point

That Sydney surge should encourage even more mask mindedness here.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury

Strange, not a derogatory word from Messrs Morrison, Frydenberg and Hunt about Gladys Berejiklian and this current outbreak, they weren’t exactly lost for words when chastising Daniel Andrews.
Greg Bardin, Altona North

Politics
A new children’s book released, just in time for Christmas, Where’s Scotty? – volume 2.
Andy Wain, Rosebud

A few public commentators have belatedly endorsed the no finger-pointing principle over COVID-19; if the federal government had applied it to China, our export markets would be in better health.
Scott Poynting, Newtown, NSW

The cricket
The worst thing about winning the Test so early is I now have no excuse for sitting and watching TV all day.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy

Indian second innings, Mitchell Starc 0/7, drop him.
Ron Townsend, Wheelers Hill

Furthermore
Eddie Everywhere may be leaving Collingwood and breakfast radio but he’s still sizzling on Hot Seat.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Finally
The Australian Open is a wonderful spectacle but will the tennis players and their entourage stick to the bubble rules? One mistake and we are all at risk: The Open could become the game that literally ‘‘stops a nation’’.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North

Note from the Editor

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

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