Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Balancing our rights and responsibilities
The hysterical ranting about freedom of choice, the extremist and violent use of the gallows and the comparison of Victoria to Hitler’s Germany shows the twisted mindset of people who refuse to understand that in a democracy we have responsibilities as well as rights. This small but vocal group is not standing up for freedom of choice but is demonstrating a total disregard for our right to live safely. The elected government has a responsibility to protect the community in a pandemic not seen for 100 years, and to think that its actions are part of some worldwide or local conspiracy beggars belief.
Susan Southan, Ocean Grove
We need rational debate about this critical issue
Why is media coverage of opposition to the pandemic legislation focused on several hundred protesters at Parliament House? This distracts attention from the legitimate and informed concerns of a much broader constituency including lawyers, human rights groups, non-government politicians and the Victorian Ombudsman.
At best, it diminishes the rational debate and public discourse of a critical issue. At worst, it opens the door for anyone voicing concerns over the bill to be demonised as a right-wing conspiracy theorist or indifferent to threats to public health. This mirrors the situation during the year when lockdown measures were criticised.
Supporters of the bill point to greater transparency measures providing a safeguard through promoting public debate over pandemic declarations and orders, and pressure on a government that misuses these powers. We are now witnessing what this debate would look like, and how difficult it would be to express rational opposition that is both heard and not wilfully misrepresented.
Rick Dixon, Mount Eliza
Politicians’ duty to denounce violent protests
All leaders of all our political parties and all independent MPs should stand up and publicly denounce the abhorrent and anti-democratic behaviour in Melbourne where people are calling for the killing of others because of their political views. Remember, it is the behaviour you walk past that is the behaviour you condone.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn
A Victorian MP’s surprising choice of ’friends’
Bernie Finn, if the right-wing conspiracies theorists and anarchists occupying the steps of State Parliament are your “closest friends”, your enemies must be the rational and reputable.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha
Seeking a better understanding of the legislation
Thank you, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass (Opinion, 17/11), for a clear discussion about the proposed pandemic laws. There has been so much emotion and misinformation, which has led to disturbing scenes outside Parliament House. Seeing Liberal MPs supporting this makes it worse.
Deborah Glass’ article, where she acknowledges improvements to the bill but feels independent oversight is essential, is a welcome change. I would certainly like a deeper understanding of the legislation and would urge The Age to help to provide this.
Fanny Hoffman, Ormond
Majority of MPs, independent or not, pass bills
Your correspondent says, “Something is wrong with our democratic process when three independents can decide a most significant issue for the state” (Letters, 17/11). This misrepresents the process of voting on the pandemic legislation in Victoria’s upper house.
Any bill passed will be by a majority of members. Any analysis of the particular make-up of that majority may be instructive but is irrelevant to questions of fairness or legitimacy. That is how our democracy works. The public’s perception of the state of the two major political parties may well increase the number and power of independents. That is also how democracy works.
Alister McKenzie, Lake Wendouree
Trumpism has arrived
Demonstrations demanding violence against democratically elected MPs are worrying. More worrying is that such behaviour is being cheered on by opportunistic politicians who should know better. The exception is Bernie Finn who knows no better.
The Trump contagion is gaining strength in Australia. Social media is lighting up with assurances that our next elections, state and federal, will be rigged. Such comments are usually met with many likes and comments in agreement. Leaders of all parties must affirm their faith in our system and institutions in the run-up to the elections to quell this unfounded and damaging unrest.
Tony Devereux, Nunawading
MPs must stay away
Politicians attending the rally at Parliament House claimed not to have seen or heard any acts or calls for violence. They are now aware – further attendance at the protests equals condoning the behaviour.
Tom Stafford, Wheelers Hill
The pandemic is not over
Within five days, I have had a language class returned to Zoom instead of in person, and a lunch and a dental appointment cancelled, all due to fully vaccinated staff contracting COVID-19. My friends in Dublin are fearful of another wave coming after a good summer, despite high levels of vaccination.
This pandemic will have a long tail and I for one am grateful that specific legislation is being enacted in Victoria. We will need to live under health orders for the foreseeable future, whether issued by the chief health officer on public health advice, or the health minister on public health advice.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster
If the Coalition wins …
Many of the provisions in Victoria’s proposed pandemic laws exist in other states and territories, and the crossbenchers have negotiated for greater accountability, transparency and observance of human rights. If there is a change of government, these powers could transfer to Matthew Guy whose contribution in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis is a matter of record and who has promised to tear up these laws without offering an alternative.
Gary Roulston Endeavour Hills
When unvaccinated visit
I am vaccinated, but cannot visit my family in aged care because the home is locked down. One positive resident, nine days ago, due to transmission from an unvaccinated visitor has locked my family away from me and also their social contact within the home. The number of infections among residents, worryingly, is now 10.
Freedoms for unvaccinated visitors has resulted in restrictions, anxiety and hardship for everyone in that home. Vulnerable residents suffer isolation and potentially serious disease. Staff suffer with the increased workload. Where is the logic and public health evidence for allowing unvaccinated visitors into aged care facilities?
Vivien Williams, Canterbury
Desperately seeking help
On Saturday I woke with a sore throat and runny nose. I immediately went for a COVID test which was negative. For me, colds have a tendency to develop into bronchitis and asthma.
I phoned a medical clinic and asked to see a doctor. I was refused because I have a respiratory infection. COVID-19 negative or positive was irrelevant. I was offered a phone consultation, or a consultation with me in the car and the doctor outside. Not much opportunity for an examination. The doctor prescribed medication over the phone.
At the pharmacy there was a notice saying “Don’t enter if you have a respiratory infection”. There was no mention of COVID-19 test results. From the door, I tried to frantically signal the staff at the other end of the shop. It took some time. Getting adequate medical attention for a non-COVID respiratory infection has become difficult.
Marilyn Hewish, Darley
National pandemic laws
Victoria’s proposed pandemic legislation has become controversial despite vast improvements to existing laws whether here or interstate.
COVID-19 has revealed that all jurisdictions’ public health frameworks are far-reaching: extending beyond quarantining cases to curtailing freedoms such as rights to leave and re-enter Australia, “stay-home” orders, etc. Since a pandemic is not fleeting, these powers last for multiple years. All controlled by the executive with limited parliamentary oversight or even joint government/opposition “war” committees.
To address this extraordinary situation, the national cabinet should engage the Australian Law Reform Commission to develop model pandemic legislation for adoption by all jurisdictions.
Carlo Ursida, Kensington
Collective safety first
Michael Gleeson says Carlton footballer Liam Jones took a “principled and yet unfathomably bizarre” stand for choosing to remain unvaccinated (Sport, 16/11).
I disagree. It is a strange sort of “principle” that elevates individual choice over collective safety. People who are not vaccinated run a significantly higher risk of not only catching COVID-19 but passing it on to others around them. Where is the “principle” in that?
Mick Webster, Chiltern
Please just deliver our mail
Really, Australia Post? The public would prefer you spend less money on frivolous Christmas advertising and more on actually getting the mail and parcels delivered on time.
Sheryl Lyons, Reservoir
Hold the guilty to account
Fiona Nelson’s article – “Truth told, now to make amends” (Opinion, 16/11) – should ring bells to the Australian community. The Brereton report (heavily redacted) found credible evidence of war crimes committed by members of our special forces including unlawful killing of prisoners. Scott Morrison warned Australians to brace for brutal truths. A month after Peter Dutton became defence minister, the report was dispelled. Then Mr Morrison backtracked. Shame on our leaders.
Breta Cohen, Blackburn North
Another tale of waiting
I noted the poignant comment re how long it has taken to reopen the Lydiard Street railway crossing in Ballarat (Letters, 17/11).
We have a private residence in our street that has been under construction for more than 2000 days (6 years), and there is no sign of completion. Where is council, building management competence, and any sense of respecting the local community through this process? A large waste bin is permanently in the street and trade vehicles have lined both sides of the road for the duration. (The magnificent, 12-storey, art deco Manchester Unity building was built in 1932 in less than 12 months.)
Peter Elliot, Hawthorn
Why we should buy Aussie
Re not buying products that are made in China (Letters, 16/11). In reality, most products made there are manufactured for large Western corporations, including those from Australia. It is, in fact, the direct result of a capitalist society with an economy based on endless consumption of material goods. The larger profits (because of cheaper labour costs) result in higher share prices and excessive executives pay and bonuses.
If consumers are serious about voting with their pockets, then buy Aussie-made products (hard to find due to the dying manufacturing sector) at a much higher price, and boycott the companies which outsource their manufacturing to other countries. Then be happy to pay more and for companies to make less profit, otherwise talk is cheap too.
Felicity Laing, Clayton
It must be Taiwan’s choice
China’s claim to Taiwan is a colonial relic from the late 1600s. It should have no modern credence.
At the time the Dutch and Portuguese also had stakes in Taiwan. The people living there were the long-standing inhabitants, with several thousand years of presence, and more recent settlers from China with at best several hundred years of presence. Those Chinese settlers had mostly fled Chinese authority, not brought it with them. It should not matter. The determinant of a modern country ought to be what the people in the area prefer.
Conor King, Pascoe Vale South
A plea for tolerance
The letter from 19 faith leaders about the Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill (The Age contains some glaring omissions about the care of, and concern for, “the most vulnerable”.
Coming from a Catholic background, I am most concerned that Melbourne’s archbishop and two regional bishops signed this. It is the prerogative of Catholic leaders not to allow their schools to employ teachers who do not fit in with strict Catholic decisions on what is ethical. Just one example: teachers who are known to be LGBTIA+ are not given a chance in the Catholic education system and any on the staff who are discovered to be so can be dismissed.
Surely the comparison between the government and religious organisations is false here. Governments are made up of all sorts of parties, all of them out there, whatever their beliefs and opinions. For this religious group to say “the rights of all people – including people of faith – should be respected” flies in the face of tolerance, understanding and respect.
Jan Coleman, Glen Iris
Stop ’doing a ScoMo’
Now that “strollout” has been named word of the year by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, and first coined by a woman (The Age, 17/11), I would like to put in a late entry in the “new verbs” category. I claimed credit for fixing our mower, only to have my wife point out that I broke it in the first place and accuse me of trying to “ScoMo” my way out of it.
Peter Bear, Mitcham
Such illogical ’logic’
Nature has been capturing and storing carbon forever – as coal, gas and oil – so why do we want to liberate it and then have to invent ways to capture and store it again? Are we mad or just perverse?
John Annison, Yering
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Can we sanction rabble-rousers and those who spread false information? Best not go down the US path any further.
Joan Peverell, Malvern
David Davis, remember, it was the support of violence in protests that resulted in The Capitol riots.
Nicole Lukins, Camberwell
Shameful Liberal MPs, the ballot box awaits you.
Nola Cormick, Albert Park
The opposition can’t find a leader who is able to control its right-wing rabble.
Andrew Fawcett, Warrnambool
The government’s request for greater autonomy is worrying given its recent use of police to aggressively quash dissent.
Bill Burns, Bendigo
Regardless of the side of politics, this sort of demonstration is very un-Australian.
Diana Goetz, Mornington
A question for Bernie Finn and his protesting friends: Who won, Biden or Trump?
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor
Come on, Australia, you are so much better than this.
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully
When ScoMo suggests interest rates will rise under Labor, he’s encouraging retirees to vote for it.
David O’Reilly, Park Orchards
No sharing of developing technologies (17/11) with China: Reds under the bed again?
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra
ABC attack. Is this another Christine Holgate moment for Scott?
Don Stewart, Port Fairy
ABC – Anything But Conservative.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
Our defence is compromised by inadequate fuel reserves and refining capacity and a lack of Australian-owned shipping.
Robert Gordon, Melbourne
Dutton talks of war with China while Biden meets amicably with Xi. Who are we trying to upset this time?
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale
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