My biannual UK ‘‘holidays’’ in 2018-19 were to provide palliative care to my mother then move my 96-year-old father into residential care and settle their affairs. If the pandemic had hit in mid-2018, I could not possibly have flown home on a whim.
Our father received no visits in 2020 from his Melbourne daughters, his only immediate family, taking a huge toll on us all. At this stage, it appears unlikely we can visit him again until late 2021, if then.
Many Australians got trapped interstate and overseas in similar circumstances. Shortening a holiday is an easy decision. Abandoning a career or your vulnerable loved ones is a much tougher choice.
Caroline Leslie, Hawthorn
They should welcome it
International airlines are complaining about Melbourne’s COVID testing and requiring all staff to test negative before being allowed to leave quarantine (‘‘Airlines threaten to abandon Melbourne over COVID-19 test requirement’’, The Age online, 24/12).
Shouldn’t they be thankful they have assurance none of their crew will be COVID-positive, and avoid expensive lawsuits if they were responsible for exposing passengers to COVID-19, such as what United airlines may now face? Keep up the good work, Victoria. We need to continue to be tough with anyone coming in.
Nick Shugg, Blackburn
The population problem
Waleed Aly began his article (‘‘Get to the root of the mess’’, Comment, 26/12) by describing what many people thought was the ‘‘word’ of the year’’ and then went on to talk mostly about the ever present issues associated with climate change, deforestation and the destruction of indigenous species in our own and other countries.
Associated with both climate change and deforestation was the unmentioned elephant in the room. The word no one seems to be able to say now at Christmas or, it seems, at any time soon. The word that screamed out at me all through Waleed’s article is overpopulation of the planet.
I guess David Attenborough talks about it but I can’t think of a government of any country that is talking about it or taking any action to deal with overpopulation, let alone our own government. All I can say with deep sincerity is may God help us all, as we seem unable to help ourselves.
Pamela Bores, Eltham North
We are the enemy
To think COVID-19 could be a precursor to future global pandemics is unbearable. Have we so lost respect for our planet’s wildlife by willfully destroying its habitat, immune to the impact upon ourselves?
That we are not immune is desperately clear. No vaccine will protect us from hardness of heart, greed or lack of political will. No lockdown will preserve our vulnerable biodiversity or forest-life from depletion while humans continue to contaminate and eradicate.
We are the enemy who have lost our way. “Live and let live” in the right relationship is our duty of care and our pathway to future survival.
Gail Pritchard, Templestowe
A troubling sight
The sight of the NSW Premier and Minister of Health ‘‘imploring’’ people to follow public health advice in the light of the potential super spreader behaviour on Sydney beaches and elsewhere is deeply troubling (The Age, 26/12).
It seems we now have a Liberal government so determined to maintain its spin as ‘‘not being Victoria’’ or another one of those so-called restrictive and reactive Labor state governments that the NSW political authorities are taking unacceptable and dangerous risks. Even more troubling, it seems that the NSW public health authorities are being dragged into the political framing.
The picture of the NSW political leaders being dragged day by day, or is it hour by hour, to the level and form of safeguards actually required provides a stark contrast with the clarity, consistency and resolution exhibited by Daniel Andrews and his team.
If Australia is to get through this long summer with the minimum incidence and impact of coronavirus, it would be constructive for the political leaders and elements in the media to set aside this potentially deadly political point-scoring and turn that well-worn cliche of being in this together back into a practical basis of policy, media framing and on-the-ground reality.
Stewart Sweeney, North Adelaide, SA
Hard to take seriously
How can anyone – including their No. 1 fan, Scott Morrison – take the NSW authorities seriously when they refuse to mandate mask wearing as a very necessary part of controlling COVID-19?
Doris LeRoy, Altona
The only conclusion
The Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, was originally reported as saying the Australia Post gifts investigation would be made public. It is now reported we will not be allowed to see the results of the inquiry.
I fail to see why such a decision has now been made. There is only one conclusion: that the government wishes to hide the finding because of the way Christine Holgate was pilloried by the Prime Minister in Parliament, where she had no defence. I find this so disappointing and unjust but it seems to be becoming the modus operandi of the Coalition government.
Mel Green, Glen Waverley
Co-opting the pandemic
Despite appearances, Tom Switzer’s purpose is to engender a sentiment of gratitude not so much for where we live and the way we have so far escaped the worst of the pandemic, as for the free market, which he claims will ultimately deliver us from it completely (‘‘A happier new year, born of renewed perspective’’, Comment, The Age online, 26/12).
In other words, Switzer’s purpose is ideological rather than sentimental. He enlists a pandemic to peddle an ideological cure-all – our wellbeing depends on free market competition, and anything that impedes that also harms us.
As the problems caused by neoliberal ideology mount around the world, Switzer increasingly reminds me of Monty Python’s Black Knight (‘‘it’s just a flesh wound’’), fighting on despite the odds, and the obvious.
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton, NSW
Christmas Island beckons
I could not agree more with Julie Conquest (Letters, 26/12). It was ‘‘appalling judgment to pull down Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital’’.
We need specially designed quarantine centres, (not hotels), facilities well away from major population concentrations. But wait, don’t we already have such a remote place, on an island off the West Australian coast?
Of course, the present family of two adults and two young children would need relocating from their residence on Christmas Island. I believe a home and a warm welcome would be waiting for them in Biloela, Queensland
Robyn Frost, Kenmore, Qld
Devaluing the day
Purveyors of unseasonal hot cross buns clearly misunderstand the special nature of those Easter holiday treats in their headlong plunge for additional sales, but the customers are equally at fault.
The value of a holy day is a clear differentiation from ordinary activity – buyer and seller, please take note.
David d’Lima, Sturt, SA
AND ANOTHER THING
Had those unmasked Sydney frolickers been through our COVID-19 stint, they would be playing a safer game.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury
Australian cricket commentators are the reason the mute button was invented.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
I was surprised that border patrols weren’t the army’s priority (The Age, 24/12) until I read it was a plan worked out with the Morrison government. Enough said.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
What’s the chance of Christine Holgate getting her old job back? Seems that she acted too hastily in resigning after Scott Morrison goaded her in Parliament before the investigation into the Cartier watches had even commenced.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh
How many federal, state and territory parliamentary and electorate staff got Christmas presents paid for by taxpayers?
Graeme Lindsay, Deloraine, Tas
The Morrison government (and the opposition) should adopt Radio National’s slogan and “think bigger”. On the coronavirus, China and, especially, climate change.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
Signed, sealed, delivered
Parcel sent on 12/12, arrived at its London address on 24/12. Well done, Australia Post and partners, this is the fastest time in nine months.
Jen Gladstones, Heidelberg
Little did we realise our luck with what we had before 2020. Let’s value what we still have in 2021 by caring for our earth, its climate and our people.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell
What exactly is ‘‘revert back’’ except being really irritating?
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra
After reading of Cecilia Chuah and her work, she would be an outstanding nominee for Victorian of the year (‘‘Help for homeless hits the spot’’, The Age, 23/12). What an unbelievably selfless, amazing person.
Alan Muir, Mount Eliza
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.