Our freedoms aren’t the main concern right now

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Our freedoms aren’t the main concern right now

Yes, of course human rights are important. Yes, of course we all want to get back to our normal lives. However, managing this virus is paramount and it should not be about political point-scoring.

Individual freedoms at times like this should not come before community freedoms. As a community we all have the right to feel safe, not only from the virus, but from those who seem hell bent on putting our health at risk by flouting rules and demanding we open up right now.

The case numbers are decreasing we have all waited this long, we need to hang in there so that this lockdown has not all been for nothing.
Georgina Manger, Hawthorn East

It’s keeping the tinfoil-hat brigade off the streets

I couldn’t give a toss that Julian Burnside believes the CCTV and other surveillance devices are a breach of Victorians’ human rights (‘‘Premier cops flak from all sides over human rights,’’ The Age, 12/9). I’m even less concerned about what Tim Wilson has to say, ever.

If these devices are protecting my rights and the rights of the majority of Victorians who back Daniel Andrews from us contracting the virus, then well and good, because it will keep the recalcitrant tinfoil-hat brigade off the streets.

Well done, Dan. As Theodore Roosevelt said, speak softly, but carry a big stick. My rights are just as important.
John Cain, McCrae

His timing was fitting

What is disturbing is not that the Premier said ‘‘It’s not a matter of human rights, it’s about human life’’, he has, after all, signed Victoria up to the Belt and Road Initiative.

It’s that he felt he could say it. That the public are willing to forgo a centuries-old tradition of hard fought-for freedom in the name of the modern shibboleth ‘‘safety’’. It is fitting that this was said on the anniversary of 9/11 – the event that has ironically done the most to undermine the Western tradition of civil liberty.
Robert Bostock, Kooyong

Lives mean little if our rights are torpedoed

I think Daniel Andrews has lost the plot. Human lives mean little if human rights are torpedoed and basic liberties such as freedom of movement have been curtailed.

Julian Burnside is right to be worried about CCTV cameras, and possibly drones, as instruments of surveillance. George Orwell’s nightmare world of 1984 is now here, and all Victorians are right to feel alarmed and angry.

They are tired of curfews and continued lockdowns affecting their lives, imposed by a government concerned only with statistics.
Helen Scheller, Benalla

Can’t the critics see what’s happening elsewhere?

Note to armchair experts and political opportunists: given the circumstances, I care more about my life and the lives of others than I care about perceived breaches of human rights and civil liberties.

Can they not see what is happening in England, France and Spain?
Geoff McNamara, Newry

The finishing line is in sight

I am disheartened but hopeful. Infection numbers are steadily decreasing and the finishing line is in sight. Yet some Victorians are still intent to have restrictions lifted only for us all to fall before the race is run.

The selfish few, voicing and acting out their discontent about transient restrictions of rights and liberties, should take a step back and let the majority of Victorians finish and win the race that we commenced. Only then can we all truly celebrate lives spared and lives well lived with the accompanied resumption of all our rights and liberties.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill


It’s hard, but it can be done

David Crowe writes a good article about the need for a national contact tracing system for COVID-19 (‘‘Colac teaches Andrews a lesson’’, Comment, 11/9). This will be no small task and the longer the existing systems remain in place the harder it will be to make the change.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service showed you can do it, when it moved from six state and two territory blood bank systems to a national system for blood donation, testing and processing in 1996. The change to one national system, including a new national computer system, took 10 years to achieve and was only possible with incredible staff commitment, bureaucrat support and teamwork across the nation.

Without a consistent approach to COVID tracing and vaccination, how can we ever expect the state borders be relaxed?

And our political leaders have no hope of achieving a national system while they engage in that national pastime of throwing brickbats at each other.Dr Robert Hetzel, CEO Australian Red Cross Blood Service 1996-2009, Moonee Ponds

So many ways to use them

I’ve learnt lots about mask wearing by observation.

You can’t spread COVID while huffing and puffing out running, carrying your takeaway coffee, talking on the phone or talking to other people. Also masks are apparently totally effective if just worn covering only the mouth or on the chin or throat or, in one case, on the forehead.

Does it work if I just keep it in my pocket?
Robin Anderson, Mentone

It’s hard to be hopeful

WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020 is grim reading (‘‘‘Wake-up call’: Wildlife in decline’’, The Age, 11/9), and given the recent debacle in the NSW Parliament over koala habitat, it’s hard to be hopeful.

The dire decline in wildlife populations, particularly in Australia, is why Graeme Samuel’s review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is so critically important.

The biodiversity modelling described in the WWF report has shown that we can halt and reverse the loss of nature, but it will require change in the way we produce and consume food, and in how we manage and conserve nature.

Sussan Ley should call a national summit to discuss how the report’s recommendations can be implemented.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Careful what you wish for

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has belatedly outlined what he would do as a road out of lockdown.

As soon as this week he would introduce stage three restrictions. So he is in basic agreement with the Premier with a minor difference over timing – albeit without the health advice that the Premier is privy to.

Mr O’Brien is also calling for a royal commission into the response to the COVID crisis, a worthy call perhaps. But he might need to be wary of what he wishes for, as any such commission would surely look into the disaster in aged care – a Commonwealth responsibility. His federal colleagues in Canberra may well be discomforted by any findings in that area.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Harsh measures are needed

Barbara Burns (Letters, 12/9) claims that Daniel Andrews and his advisers have lost perspective on the pandemic out of fear of making another mistake.
Has she studied the devastating results in other countries caused by opening too soon? Does she really want us to risk another wave?

Laypeople have suddenly become experts in epidemiology. I prefer to put my trust in a decent, hard-working, committed Labor Premier and his medical and scientific team.

Your correspondent claims the virus can be defeated with a more reasonable set of rules. This virus is not reasonable. It requires harsh measures in order to defeat it.

Surely we Victorians can suffer some further inconvenience for a while longer?
Gloria Meltzer, Chewton

Lessons for the PM

Sean Kelly (‘‘PM loses playing second grade’’, Comment, 12/9) exposes the extent to which Scott Morrison’s politicised commentary on the states’ responses to the pandemic has rendered him largely impotent.

In an inversion of the normal way federalism operates in Australia, a prime minister lacking in gravitas and nuanced intellect has been outperformed by a group of state premiers who, irrespective of their political allegiances, have dealt with an extraordinary war-like workload.

Of course, they have stumbled at times and overplayed their parochialism; but, overall, their balance of authority, local knowledge and empathy for their citizens has impressed.

Will a post-COVID Australian federation perhaps reflect better the crucial value of devolution to the states in areas of service delivery, with the Canberra federal government playing a crucial non-politically partisan co-ordination role? Put bluntly, prime ministers may have to become more humble and of practical use.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Three cheers for our ‘hub’

As a couple in their 80s and 90s we would like to give three cheers for the residents in our little hub of Vermont South.

We have had various offers of help and delicious roast dinners have arrived at our door. On our daily walks, we participate in mutual nods ,waves and smiles under the masks.

Most other ‘‘hubs’’ would have the same experiences. We would like to hear more of them rather than of the publicity-seeking naysayers.
Margaret and Stuart Gordon-Addison, Vermont South

It’s a win-win

If the extant modelling of COVID-19 is too harsh, as suggested by critics, doesn’t that mean we will reach the targets earlier and get out of this sooner? If on the other hand it proves correct, we will be grateful for averting a third wave.

We can’t lose.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

The ‘old boys’ are nervous

The increasing activist role taken by industry superannuation funds, as seen for example in recent moves to push for the removal of Rio Tinto executives over the Juukan Gorge debacle, may go some way to explaining why Liberal parliamentarians are looking to reduce money held within industry superannuation funds by whatever means possible.

As industry funds have grown, they have become significant shareholders in Australia’s largest public companies and, as such, have found themselves in a position where they can exercise influence when it comes to issues of corporate governance.

This would concern many at the top end of town who would like nothing more than to keep the ‘‘old boys club’’ going when it comes to management of these public companies.

Hence government policies such as allowing early release of superannuation balances and moves to again defer or cancel the legislated rise in the superannuation guarantee.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

An uplifting read

How uplifting to read of farmers getting together to sell from the farm gate (‘‘Old gates open new doors to farmers’’, The Age, 12/9) as their response to COVID-19, enabling them to reap the full cost of their produce rather than the prices offered to them by price-cutting retail outlets.

This is another example of the creative ways that small businesses are adapting to a very different economic climate. It’s up to us to ensure that as we emerge from the pandemic, we support these local initiatives, building hope and community as we go.

It’s a far cry from Maggie Thatcher’s view that ‘‘there is no such thing as society’’. Josh Frydenberg, take note.
Prue Gill, Carlton North

Self-serving demands

So Greg Hunt thinks that the Victorian public will support pressure by Scott Morrison on Daniel Andrews to move quickly from lockdown and lift curfew.

Many might agree, but I believe that the majority of Victorians, although weary of the current constraints, are made of sufficiently stern stuff to see this fight to the finish. Gratuitous demands from Canberra are obviously self-serving, politically charged and therefore unwelcome.

The curfew is, after all, the least punitive of our restrictions and is almost certainly short term. The police find it helpful and if it assists them I remain unperturbed by a minor and temporary breach of our rights.

To those who complain of past errors in judgment — we know that quarantine management and private aged care have been badly handled by both governments, but that was yesterday and this challenge won’t be won by looking backwards. A flexible Andrews can make the right decisions.
The victory can’t be won by pussyfooting.
Noel North, Malvern East

Covering the bases

I had a letter sent to me on 23/6 from Finland, arriving in Australia on 12/7. It reached my nearest town’s post office on 14/8 and my mailbox (20 kilometres out of town) on 28/8.

To be on safe side I included a Christmas card in my answering letter.
Anja Toikka, Callignee

The fuss seems overblown

Many are expressing alarm at a restriction of human rights in relation to the COVID-19 city curfew.
Human rights are fundamentally personal or autonomous rights, but they need to be balanced at certain times with community rights. We saw this with the introduction of seatbelts, and speed and alcohol restrictions in the road traffic epidemic.

Quarantine is a human right violation that is accepted to protect the community, and the curfew is a quarantine measure imposed in a serious crisis.

Given that no pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants are open (and this is reluctantly accepted) and there is no evidence of harm from this measure, the fuss over human rights seems overblown.
Rodney Syme, Yandoit Hills


A question for Santa

Does Santa have a COVID-safe work plan in the workshop and are there any confirmed cases at the North Pole?
Greg Lee, Red Hill


Life in lockdown

I could barely stay awake until the old curfew start time.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda

I’m not sure that human rights are any advantage to the newly departed.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

Speaking with my friend from San Francisco about our lockdown situation, her immediate response was: ‘‘God, I wish we had that here.’’
Marie Teagie, Ocean Grove

To those would-be crusaders protesting about the use of CCTV, “get over it”. The proposed measures cause no physical harm and are in the best interest of everyone.
Neville Wilson, Rosanna


A leader who places more importance on protecting my health than they do on protecting their political career gets my vote.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

How good is not having to make a decision, yet constantly being able to criticise those who do.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

Ross Beale and Ellen Ryan (Letters, 12/9), I’m with you. More people need to walk in the Premier’s shoes before they criticise, thank you.
Pauline Driscoll, Burwood


The very noticeable increase in maskless people (with and without the pretend coffee cup) on the walk along the Yarra between Victoria Street and Bridge Road on Sunday is a sure sign that Daniel Andrews needs to hold the line on restrictions.
Bruce McQualter, Richmond


Danny Katz, you made me laugh till I cried (Comment, The Age, 12/9). Thank you.
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully

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