Not an inducement to get tested, I’m afraid.
Dave Torr, Werribee

An unrealistic expectation
For Australia to expect host countries to test passengers bound for Australia for COVID-19 before they leave, as suggested by some correspondents (Letters, 14/12), may be desirable but would not in itself provide any greater safeguards. Many host countries are currently under-resourced to test their own residents, let alone asymptomatic departing travellers.

Testing is only the start: if the intention is that those who test positive are not allowed to enter Australia, that would depend on reciprocal agreements with host countries and presumably require the host to allocate quarantine facilities, which could be even more problematic.

In the current circumstances it seems rather unrealistic for any country to seek to impose such unilateral constraints.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Drastic action had to be taken
Fiona McKenzie has been through a hard time (‘‘Government must stop illegal detention in aged care’’, Comment, 14/12) and I feel deeply for her and her family. However, I think she has judged some aged-care facilities too harshly. I can only imagine the situation aged care managements found themselves in eight or nine months ago. In the early stages of the pandemic many things were not known. What did become clear very quickly was any outbreak in these facilities could be disastrous. Managements and clinicians had to take drastic action to protect their clients and, ultimately, their businesses.

We can now look back and see the results of the measures that were put in place. Certainly, some restrictions could be classed as too tough and the price paid in terms of wellbeing was high. By and large, however, most facilities have remained COVID-free and restrictions have now been relaxed. Hopefully, lessons have also been learnt if drastic actions need to be taken again.

We have a close family member in a facility that did not record a case. It has been a difficult time but we are grateful we have come out the other side.
Shaun Quinn, Yarrawonga

Sometimes, it’s more than just a meal
There have been some rather impatient responses to Julie Moffat’s ‘‘review’’ of the culinary delights of Sydney hotel quarantine (Letters, 10/12). From a gentle suggestion she may be protesting too much (Letters, 11/12) to the somewhat testy, ‘‘Why this focus on what returned travellers in hotel quarantine are being served for meals? It’s only two weeks’’ (Furthermore, 14/12)

Has Ms Moffat protested unnecessarily, and too vociferously? Or is her graphic culinary description of unacceptable meals, disappointingly and unappetisingly accurate?

Most of us may not have experienced the joys of two weeks’ hotel quarantine, but may perhaps have experienced being ‘‘trapped’’ in the one space – long-haul flights, lengthy hospital stays – where meals can take on an inordinate importance, becoming the highlight of long restricted days, a significant break in dreary tedium, and acquiring the elevated status of ‘‘something to look forward to’’.

Unsurprisingly, the humble meal can become overly fraught with the potential for bitter disappointment. Even more so during a $3000-a-pop, sole-person quarantine.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

THE FORUM

The people have spoken
Scott Morrison is correct when he says that it is the Australian people who determine Coalition climate and energy policy. Australians have voted for the Coalition, under three different leaders, for the past three elections. At each of these elections the Coalition’s lack of real policies to address climate change was evident and yet they were given office.

All the letters to the paper, the marches in the streets, talking heads and opinion pieces, TV documentaries, bushfires, droughts and storms, all the action being taken around the world, all the rapidly reducing costs of renewables. All this means nothing if Australians keep electing a government that not only does not take climate change seriously but actively weaponises the issue to win elections.

In the end, politicians respond to only one thing, and that is threats to their hold on power.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

They’re setting the rules
The Prime Minister says that nobody will tell us what to do regarding climate change. No doubt he is trying to project himself as a strong leader appealing to the Australian egalitarian spirit.

But when push comes to shove if Australia wants to trade in the big league we will have to play by their rules. Unless the PM and many of his colleagues change their stand quickly they will become a liability to the future prosperity of all Australians.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North

Yes, but not me…
I wonder what kind of “action” the 84 per cent of the population who are willing to take action on climate change are referring to? Getting a car with a smaller engine? Turning off the airconditioner? Paying more for petrol, electricity and gas? Walking to the shops? Using public transport?

I suspect that a large percentage of these people would only be willing to take action as long as it doesn’t affect them in any way, at all, ever.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

This bill is flawed
The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020, though well intentioned, has a glaring flaw in its conception. It has lumped two very different situations into one piece of proposed legislation. Same-sex orientation and gender identity are completely different phenomena.

While it is to be applauded that recognising any attempt to coercively convert individuals with same-sex orientation is wrong, the same does not apply to gender identity issues that arise in children and adolescents, because it is much more complex.

Many children that develop confusion over their gender identity will naturally grow out of it, but some parents would rather have their child, when unsure of their gender, be seen by a therapist who can help the child explore their feelings and see if they may or may not feel differently about their gender over time, rather than being referred for gender reassignment. This process should not fall foul of the law.

Children and young adolescents, and their concerned parents, still need to have a basic right to be able to explore what can be confusing times in their development. Any bill that would prosecute therapists providing treatment in this context would be a major misstep.
Larry Hermann, South Yarra

Vale Charley Pride
COVID-19 has claimed the life of country singer Charley Pride, who had 52 top 10 country hits and countless accolades over his lifetime. Seventy million records sold and four Grammy Awards. His legacy is a career to be proud of and his velvet tones will be missed on the country music scene.

He recently performed in Nashville and those who attended experienced a country music legend. He still had life to live and his unique voice will be sadly missed. His voice has been silenced but the songs still remain with us, thank you, Charley.
Cecily Falkingham, Donvale

It’s a big ask
Andrew Baird’s letter (The Age, 14/12) airs the very real concern held by public health experts around people with COVID-19-like symptoms not being tested.

To his list of potential reasons, might we add the need to self-quarantine until a result is available? When everyone else is “out-and-about” and employers don’t look kindly on ‘‘preventive absence”, it is a big ask.

Many more people might test if there can be a compromise solution.
Laurine Hurley, Northcote

Exorbitant money
My local shop advertised on their window that Trent Cotchin would appear with back to back premiership cups, a great opportunity I thought to see these glorious items and to have a photo taken with the cups and our captain.

On inquiring to book a timeslot I was informed by the retail owner who was hosting the two-hour event that the cost to come along have your photo taken and get an autograph was going to be a whopping $395.

I was told the Richmond Football Club sets the price. I paid $290 for my 2020 membership and was one of thousands who did not ask for a refund, I have also paid for my 2021 membership recently. Supporters have not had any physical involvement this season and for the club to now ask for such exorbitant money to see the cups is not only disappointing but is outrageous.
Sharon Rushbury, Cheltenham

Worrying questions
It is with increasing alarm that we read of the threatening thuggery efforts of some Trump supporters, tacitly and openly encouraged by the President himself, to thwart the democratic process that recently resulted in electoral victory by Joe Biden (‘‘Trump loyalists in clashes over poll result’’, The Age, 14/12).

The situation has now escalated to the point that people are being physically injured and it looks like a death is simply a matter of time.
To Donald Trump’s obvious chagrin, the Supreme Court appears to be upholding the law when it comes to his baseless lawsuits, but this appears to be fuelling the madness, not calming it.

Where are the forces of law and order? What could the military do? Is the country really at the mercy of this man and his violent followers? And if the answer to that is ‘‘yes’’, then the democratic system has not just failed, it’s dead and buried.
Judith Taylor, Clematis

He should be concerned
‘‘Climate change is one of the great global challenges … our actions as leaders must be driven … by ambition on a truly grand scale’’, said Britain’s Boris Johnson at the opening of the virtual climate summit of more than 70 world leaders who have committed to ambitious new climate targets. Britain has committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 68 per cent by 2030.

Nations invited to speak included Belize, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru and Cambodia – but not Australia (nor Brazil). In classic Morrison-speak, he said the snub was ‘‘not something that troubles me or concerns me’’.

But he should be concerned, the Coalition has spent the past decade hostile to any meaningful action to reduce global warming, which is why Australia is viewed as a climate change laggard today.

Australia has the opportunity to become a ‘‘renewable energy and economic superpower’’, says NSW Liberal minister Matt Kean. All Australians should reflect on (and be embarrassed by) the Morrison government’s failure to align our climate policies to a carbon-neutral world.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

Measuring productivity
Ross Gittins’ article on productivity (‘‘Productivity is almost magical, but don’t forget the side effects’’, Business, 12/12) rightly includes environmental impact at the end of the article. Any measurement of increased productivity that ignores this is incomplete.

A productivity increase is valid if it is profit making (financial domain), socially acceptable (social domain) and most significantly, environmentally beneficial. Not achieving these factors results in externalities, eventually turning apparent productivity increases into losses or, at best, lower increases.
Erik Ligtermoet, Heathmont

Small fry in comparison
In her most recent piece in The Age (‘‘Potshots won’t help the stranded’’, Comment, 14/12), Amanda Vanstone lambasts Labor for having the temerity to criticise the Morrison government’s handling of the repatriation of Australians from overseas, arguing ‘‘a cheap type of politics uses the sad predicament of other people’s lives to promote themselves’’.

She obviously hasn’t been conversant with the unfolding situation in Victoria over the past few months. The Morrison government and the Victorian state opposition made an art form out of criticising the Andrews government over the suffering of Victorians during the pandemic for what surely were political motives.

Indeed, Josh Frydenberg attributed increased psychological problems faced by students as due to the lockdown measures introduced by Daniel Andrews and went so far as stating an acquaintance’s suicide resulted from these measures.

Federal Labor’s criticism of the Morrison government’s attempt to bring Australians home is small fry in comparison.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Showing her true colours
Amanda Vanstone in her regular column again shows her true colours and biases.

Her statements concerning some sour-faced, lemon-sucking opposition person taking potshots at the government instantly reminded me of Michael O’Brien during Victoria’s lockdown.
She is correct to say it is a very cheap type of politics, but when it’s someone from your own side of the political divide taking the potshot to get themselves some publicity, it appears to be acceptable.
Peter Roche, Carlton

A better choice
We can only hope Cecilia Malmstrom from Sweden, with her level of commitment to climate change, is made the next secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) over former finance minister Mathias Cormann.

Cormann was a senior member in the Morrison government that continues to drag its heels on not treating climate change as a human crisis.

Malmstrom’s appointment would be further global repudiation of our government’s feeble approach and lack of action on the matter.
Peter McIntosh, Ballarat

AND ANOTHER THING

Climate change
Rather than feeling snubbed at not receiving a speaking spot at the climate summit, I’m sure the Morrison government felt a wave of relief at not having to try to find yet more marketing fluff to make poor policies look bright and shiny.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Credit:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says, ‘‘The only approval I seek for the policies of my government is the Australian people’’; what about the 68 per cent of us who want more done about climate change?
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Scott Morrison has every right to feel snubbed about not getting a speaking role at the UN climate summit. I recall he does this great number with a lump of coal, the delegates would love it.
Rob Ward, Lake Tyers Beach

Politics
If only Scott Morrison had a minister for the environment like Matt Kean in Liberal NSW he might be invited to appear on the world stage.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Pot-shot peddler par excellence Amanda Vanstone can’t see that calling opposition politicians “sour-faced faced, lemon-sucking” people is a supreme irony.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

Donald Trump is looking more and more like Monty Python’s Black Knight, won’t be long before he says, ‘‘We’ll call it a draw, then’’.
Andy Wain, Rosebud

Duck hunting
Well said, Tony Delaney (Letters, 14/12). The needless cruelty of shooting our defenceless waterbirds is barbaric in this day and age, especially when so many other states have banned it.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

For duck’s sake, Victoria, stop shooting our native waterbirds.
Graham Cadd, Dromana

Furthermore
Why can’t we open with Finch and Wade?
John Uren, Blackburn

Finally
I find one half-page ad gets my attention far more than two full pages.
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine

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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