All ministers must be on top of their portfolios

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

To submit a letter to The Age, email [email protected] Please include your home address and telephone number.

HOTEL QUARANTINE INQUIRY

All ministers must be on top of their portfolios

While I am supportive of Daniel Andrews’ handling of the pandemic crisis, I am appalled at the lack of responsibility exhibited by Jenny Mikakos. To hear the Health Minister inform the inquiry that she had no part in, or knowledge of, the decisions made at that time beggars belief. She should have insisted on taking part. A health crisis is her responsibility. To be appointed a minister of the crown is a great privilege granted to few and carries enormous responsibilities. A minister who fails to take responsibility under our Westminster system has no other alternative than to resign. If Ms Mikakos does not do this, it will be a sad reflection on her and politics today.
Rod Mackenzie Marshall

From bipartisanship to futile finger pointing

It seems a lot of people are crying out for a scapegoat so they can say ‘‘it was your fault’’. It is not as easy that. We are experiencing a huge medical event where many decisions are made on the fly, in a hurry, in an effort to do something to combat the spread of the virus. It is easy to lose track of which idea came from whom and who said what.

It would be more constructive to have a major overview involving the entire country – what did and did not work, how well it worked and how we could share resources better. This is called bipartisanship, which was there at the beginning and then got lost on the way. Finger pointing and scapegoating serve no purpose except to make someone, somewhere feel better. I would like to think the majority of Australians are better than that.
Catherine Gerardson, Watsonia North

A step-by-step guide to where the buck stops

Note to the inquiry: Who paid the security companies? Easy, follow the money. Someone in a government department signed a cheque or sent an EFT payment. Someone authorised that payment. Someone authorised the authorisation of the payment and so on … This simple process will lead you to where the buck stops.
Mike Lake, Buninyong

Witnesses have been forced onto the defensive

This pandemic is so far outside the norm that of course mistakes are going to be made. We need to know what they are so they will not be repeated. But the inquiry seems to be looking for blame rather than answers. It has become adversarial and, as a result, every witness has been forced onto the defensive. Truth has become a casualty as they try to hide their mistakes. We need a ‘‘truth and reconciliation commission’’ but got a ‘‘lies and blame inquiry’’ and we are the poorer for it.
Tim Robinson, Bellbrae

It’s too easy for ministers to say, ‘I don’t know’

Ministers are very comfortable telling us they they were not told of decisions made by others in their departments. Clearly they believe this absolves them of responsibility. This is breathtakingly arrogant. The first and most important role of a minister is to know what is happening in their department.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Focus on the infection control processes

Why is the media focusing on who made the decision to use private security guards? Surely the focus should be on the processes set up to deal with infection control, and then why the government was unable to respond effectively when the virus was detected in the hotels. A ‘‘gotcha’’ moment might make good copy and satisfy a very human need to lay blame, but it does not solve the problem. An understanding of the procedure’s shortcomings will serve the community well when hotel quarantine is reinstated.
Jane Robins, Moonee Ponds

Surely someone took minutes at the meeting

At this special 2pm quarantine meeting, who took the minutes? If none were taken, why not? If someone did take minutes, no one would suffer memory loss as a reading of those minutes at the inquiry would be evidence enough to tell who said what.
Peter Whelan, Gladstone Park

THE FORUM

A cautious approach

It is great that case numbers are coming down, a vindication of the measures taken by the Victorian government. However, it is dangerously misleading that all governments give case numbers per day as highlights and not the percentage of tests that are positive or the number of currently known active cases, which itself is an underestimate.

One is testing only a small sample of the population every day in Victoria (about one in 500) and rarely those who are asymptomatic, but infectious and spreading the virus.

An Australian National University study concluded that in July when the data was collected from an as unbiased a sample as possible, there were more than 70,000 infected people in Australia against the 10,000 detected by tests. This ratio would probably be worse now since most infected people are younger and less likely to get tests, being asymptomatic. If we open up the economy without strict measures such as mandatory masks, worn properly, and very limited gatherings, we are likely to see a third wave in about six weeks.
Professor Trichur Vidyasaga, medical scientist, Kew East

Ah, such blessed silence

Whenever I see Michael O’Brien commenting on the performance of the government, I feel deeply grateful – for the mute button on the remote control.
Meredith Rogers, Elsternwick

Another historic disaster

In a parallel universe, the inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic found that 62per cent of affected passengers indicated confidence in the captain and crew in relation to their safety and treatment after the collision.

However when the inquiry turned to the cause of the disaster, the captain and senior crew could not identify who decided to travel at high speed, in the dark, in a sea riddled with icebergs which led to the collision. Nobody accepted blame for the disaster.
Greg Angelo, Balwyn North

Factional interference?

Is the inability of state ministers to admit the truth, in the face of clear evidence, a result of factional bullying behind the scenes? If that is the case, then the system is truly broken.
Gail Greatorex, Ormond

Guards out of nowhere

Maybe everyone is right and nobody actually appointed the security guards. Maybe there was nothing but a matter-less void, then a split-second big bang, and suddenly there were thousands of security guards.
Stuart McArthur, Fitzroy North

Collateral damage

Recently I sold an investment property. The purchaser threatened to delay settlement because I had not mown the lawn or removed some items. Stage four restrictions had prevented me from performing my obligation under the contract to deliver the property in the condition it was on the day of sale. Instead I offered a ‘‘goodwill’’ amount in an attempt to discharge my obligations.
Had there been a ‘‘force majeure’’ or similar clause in the contract (under which a party is relieved from performing its contractual obligations due to, for example, government action) this unpleasant sideshow could have been avoided.
Jennifer Took, St Andrews

Saving more businesses

Re ‘‘Bankruptcy changes to save 2000 businesses’’ (The Age, 25/9). I am a supplier to retail businesses. In the last 20 years, I have seen professional insolvency experts fail to understand the business they are closing: making disastrous decisions about stock valuation: forgoing booked income by blocking minor expenses (postage, power and water); and firing staff who hold the keys to the intellectual property that underpin the business. I welcome the proposed changes.
Tom Danby, Coburg North

The forgotten lessons

The federal government wants to ‘‘free up credit’’ and ‘‘place a greater onus on customers to provide accurate information about their ability to repay a loan’’ (The Age, 25/9). Has nothing been learnt from the GFC and the banking royal commission?
Kate McCaig, Surrey Hills

Golden film memories

The story behind Russell Drysdale’s painting, Going to the Pictures (The Age, 24/9) revived my own memories of the 1950s. In 1953, aged seven, I was entranced by Peter Pan, which we saw somewhere in Stawell. In Smithton, Tasmania, I saw Dance Little Lady with my mum. I was about 10 by then. In Devonport I saw a cheeky red-head in Smiley .With no television these films resonate for ever. My brother recalls The Inn of The Sixth Happiness with Ingrid Bergman. When life was lived in the slow lane,we really appreciated these ‘‘treats’’.
Evelyn Lawson, Karingal

Putting children first

I read with interest Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli’s vision of a ‘‘humanising horizon’’ for Victoria (Comment, 24/9). He states that ‘‘the voice of religious communities has gone largely unheeded in recent years’’. This is not surprising.

I searched in vain for the word ‘‘child’’ in his road ahead. Until religious organisations place the protection of children at the centre of their activities, the voice of churches like his will, I hope, be silenced. Just as his church silenced the voices of vulnerable and wounded children around the world, and continues to place the so-called seal of the confessional before the safety of children.
Chris Goddard, Ivanhoe

Grant’s haunting words

Thank you, Stan Grant, for your article on Cathy Freeman’s 2000 Olympic race (Comment, 25/9). You showed us another perspective on what it was like to witness that great event; your phrase, ‘‘Australia was something built on top of us’’ will stay with me for a long time.
Les Norton, Croydon North

Rio should give back

Olympian Nova Peris, a leading voice in the Free the Flag movement, says the federal government should intervene to seize the copyright of the Aboriginal flag (The Age, 24/9). As an alternative, Rio Tinto, which is concerned about ‘‘the loss of trust’’ of the Aboriginal people after its destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock paintings, should consider acquiring the copyright and then donate it back to public domain.
Alan Purton, Richmond

A legend of the game

Let me add my name to the clamour of tributes for Dean Jones. Almost single-handedly he changed the way one-day cricket batting was done. I still remember him charging the West Indies fast bowlers when they were at their peak and – almost every time – getting away with it. A man with opinions, but opinions that were well thought out and not just off the top of his head. He will be sorely missed. Much love to his family.
David Jeffery, East Geelong

The truth, Trump style

Donald Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses because he doubts the authenticity of the election (World, 25/9). That is, of course, unless he wins. In which case and by his definition, the election will be valid. I am sure his followers will concoct some spin to explain this too.
Rosie Elsass Brighton

The election’s integrity

There is one very good reason why all ballots will be tallied in the United States, whether voters stand in queues or mail them in. Donald Trump is not the only name on the ballot, even though he seems to think so. Ballots contain a multiple of other races, be they for the Senate, House of Representatives, other offices and state or citizen initiatives.

I know because as a dual citizen, I have just voted in Florida. There is no way to only invalidate the presidential election. Candidates for other offices, be they Democrat, Republican or independent, will insist all votes are counted and posted.
Michael Petit, Brunswick

Our matching systems

It is not surprising that we are now going to have a two-tiered National Broadband Network system to go with our two-tiered health system and two-tiered education system.
Gill Riley, Doncaster East

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Inquiry

Why are lawyers only questioning ‘‘Mr I don’t know’’?
Gerard van de Ven, Mount Martha

Maybe the tea lady knows something and perhaps we can ask what the butler saw.
David Price, Camberwell

Still waiting for Sir Humphrey and Manuel (‘‘I know nothing’’ ) to front the inquiry.
Linda King, Northcote

Ah, hindsight. What a wonderful thing.
Barbara Greenaway, Mount Eliza

Why don’t they ask the security company who employed it?
Ron Mather, St Kilda

I didn’t know, nobody told me, not my idea. It must have been the Phantom.
Peter Caffin, North Ringwood

Regardless of the outcome, Andrews can remain proud he cared about the people.
Meg McPherson, Brighton

Why hasn’t anyone got the guts to say: ‘‘I made the decision to employ security firms’’?
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

How absurd to employ security guards, skilled in crowd control, to deal with infection control.
Virginia Cleveland, Oakleigh South

Victorian ministers would fit snugly onto the federal Coalition’s frontbench: same modus operandi.
George Reed, Wheeler Hill

Furthermore

How many Westpac directors and managers have had convictions recorded and jail time?
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

A new slogan: ‘‘Trust our banks, no not really’’.
Bruce Dudon, Woodend

With so many roadmaps, maybe there’s a marketing opportunity for Melways.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Will the Statue of Liberty be replaced with one of Donald? Chin raised, hands on hips, self-satisfied smile.
Jon O’Neill, Waurn Ponds

Trump, the ultimate showman. But more and more, cracks are appearing and he dances his foolish jig.
Ian Cameron, Chelsea

Cross words with DA come to mind after 10 kinds of ‘‘fuss’’ clues in his quick crossword (25/9).
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

Most Viewed in National

Source: Read Full Article