These payments should have gone to the workers
5th September 2021

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JOBKEEPER PROGRAM

These payments should have gone to the workers
Your report “Big profits, but firms keep handouts” (The Age, 4/9) once again shows the government’s gross mishandling of the COVID job support scheme. Like in some EU countries, those job-ensuring income subsidies should have been paid directly to the workers by the Australian Taxation Office and been carefully accounted for by thorough examination of employers’ claims of not being able to pay their wages.

Are those workers whose employers made increased profits after all now entitled to claim the missing wage component many of them experienced?
Henk van Leeuwen, Elwood

Imagine the ruckus if these were Labor programs
While JobKeeper was soundly abused by larger companies, surely it was a lifesaver for a lot of smaller businesses and helped them to survive the worst of the lockdowns last year. JobSeeker kept millions of people from losing their mortgages; from being thrown out onto the street because they couldn’t afford to pay rental fees; and it meant that many were simply able to feed their children from one week to the next during that difficult time.

I consider JobKeeper and JobSeeker to be the sole redeeming factors of the present Coalition government last year, however it is, of course, returning to true form and now refusing to aid those in genuine need of assistance, no different from the same situation they faced last year.

I am so glad that it was a Coalition government that implemented this strategy, because I cannot even begin to imagine the vitriol that would be cascading forth from the Coalition had a Labor government delivered JobKeeper and JobSeeker to the nation.
Jeanette Bunn, Menzies Creek

Think of it as a loan
Josh Frydenberg says that JobKeeper payments need not be paid back. As a taxpayer I do not agree.

If I lend you five litres of petrol to help you get a job, it would seem reasonable that you returned that amount of petrol after you have a job.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy

Forgive the welfare debt
Perhaps some of the more than 11,000 welfare recipients the government has issued JobKeeper payment debt notices to were not entitled to receive the $32 million being sought but I am sure they all needed it.

But more than $13 billion in such payments were given to businesses – many of which provided bonuses and issued dividends, some going overseas – that recorded increases in revenue in the first six months of the program and this astronomical national debt to manage the pandemic is being passed on to future generations to overhaul.

A gesture to assist our future generations would be for the government to forgive the welfare debt, demand payback from the appropriate businesses and direct those funds for free childcare now, get more children into early education and also benefit so many struggling parents.
John McNabb, Jennifer Gomes, West Melbourne

Reinstate JobKeeper, with clawbacks attached
The real reason for JobKeeper not coming back, when desperately needed by businesses suffering badly, is because of the federal government’s initial mishandling.

The government, having dug itself in a hole by allowing public funds to remain with those not in need, will not face up to it and reinstate JobKeeper with clawbacks attached.

It’s just as needed now, these lockdowns show no end in sight. Government stubbornness has destroyed a lot of people.
Doug Perry, Mount Martha

THE FORUM

They should know better
Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan has called on Australia to boycott Glasgow because the nuclear industry has been excluded from exhibiting. Retiring Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd agreed with Canavan because “Britain, the US and Canada use nuclear power” (“Business pushes PM on net zero goal”, The Age, 2/9). While Senator Canavan is happy to smear coal dust on his face for photo ops, there’s no way he’d do that with radioactive nuclear fuel.

Clearly, Senator Canavan and Mr O’Dowd haven’t read the annual CSIRO GenCost, reports, which consistently show that nuclear power in Australia is more expensive than solar and wind, including storage.

Australia is blessed with an abundance of renewables and should be moving out of fossil fuels quickly, as requested by the International Energy Agency and the G7.

To suggest that Australia should not participate in the Glasgow climate conference is grossly irresponsible and both men should know better.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

A disingenuous plan
It’s untenable that Barnaby Joyce’s price for pledging net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is a railway for increasing coal exports (“Urban Australia pays: Barnaby Joyce names his price for net zero commitment”, online, The Age, 3/9).

The electorate deserves better than a highly disingenuous plan to rubber stamp new emissions at a time we need to be weaning off fossil fuels.

Please do better. Our kids deserve a stable climate.
Jasper Lee, Norwood, SA

Horses for courses
It’s bemusing that business people like Paul Guerra (Comment, 4/9) feel entitled to advise the government and its health experts what action they should take to “get off this COVID treadmill”. Without all the data and any expertise in the field, these business people think they know better.

I wonder if Mr Guerra and his mates would welcome our Chief Health Officer or some of his advisers to come and tell them how to run their businesses.
Margaret Ludowyk, Brunswick

Bracing for the next wave
Australia is about to have a further explosion of the unvaccinated getting very sick from the COVID-19 virus, and in Victoria our hospital system is bracing for the next wave (“Strained hospitals bracing for virus wave”, The Age, 4/9).

With an inability to see the bigger picture, Scott Morrison famously said there was no race to get vaccinated, and, subsequently, the rollout was abysmally slow, until now.

Australia still doesn’t have enough Pfizer supply, so deals are being done with other countries in an attempt to reach our targets so the states can look to open up our economy and our borders.

Information from vaccine producers suggests protection will persist for at least six months. As this next wave hits, many of those who were vaccinated earlier in the year will be well and truly hitting that six-month mark, where it is possible their immunity will begin to wane and they may need a booster shot.

Will there be any supply available, as all of this will coincide with returning Australia’s November/December supply to Singapore and Britain as per the federal government’s recent deals?
Failing to see the bigger picture from the very start may well prolong this disastrous vaccination rollout even further.
Cathy Anderson, Mount Waverley

Stay the course, Victoria
When one considers all the flouting of restrictions visible every day since the start of the pandemic, clearly the only reason we contained it in 2020 and early 2021 was that earlier versions of the virus were not as infectious as the Delta variant.

Then Delta arrived and the non-compliance was sufficient to let it get away. That’s human nature I guess.

It raises serious doubts about the widespread calls for early “freedoms” for the vaccinated. Who will check that everyone moving around and gathering is vaccinated?

Experience shows that any checking will be patchy and there will be those with no scruples about forging a certificate.

Let’s hope that the Victorian government can resist the pressure to open inappropriately before 80-plus per cent of people are fully vaccinated.
Laurie McCormack, Northcote

Proof positive
Recent developments in how state governments are handling the COVID pandemic have given me more cause for wondering if lockdowns are worth it?

Last week I was phoned by a very close friend and he told me he was going in for open-heart surgery the next day and had been fast-tracked from diagnosis on Tuesday.

I expected him to get the very best of treatment and care. The hospital was able to perform up to its usual very high standard and was not distracted, or worse, overwhelmed, by a crush of infectious COVID patients. He has come through successfully and is recovering well.

So I would say to Daniel Andrews and his fantastic team, yes the lockdowns are important and help greatly, and thank you so much for your clear priorities in looking after the people of Victoria.
Rob Ward, Lake Tyers Beach

Just what I needed
Thank you, Tony Wright, for taking me back to Paris and the love of literature (“Store a magical world of the imagination”, Insight, 4/9).

It was just what my imagination needed in this dreary lockdown weekend.
Elizabeth Chipman, Seaford

Unfortunately, this works
Peter Hartcher (“PM spruiking partial truths”, Comment, 4/9) writing about the political responses to the pandemic around the country rightly highlights one of the main plights of our political system: “Asking a confederacy of dunces to get smart, when they think they can profit politically by campaigning dumb, is a fool’s errand.”

Alarmingly, “campaigning dumb” is much wider than COVID. Look at Anthony Albanese’s ditching of all those major reform policies from the last election to “keep it simple”. Look at most of the things that Scott Morrison or Barnaby Joyce say.

The key question for Australians is why is this condescending and disastrous approach so commonplace? Answer: because it works. That is really scary but needn’t be the case.

The best solution? A highly engaged, highly informed community. We can do it.
Steve Malcolm, Ringwood

Inspiring examples
With all the coverage given to entitled and selfish behaviour in our society of late it is difficult not to begin to lose faith in humanity.

Fortunately along came the Paralympics, and we were privileged to witness on a daily basis the most amazing examples of skill, courage, empathy (and sheer athleticism). The back stories of these athletes frequently beggared belief in the obstacles they had overcome.

To top it off, there were numerous examples of the most sublime acts of sportsmanship imaginable – something we all can learn much from.

Congratulations to all the athletes for restoring my flagging spirits.
Dave Rabl, Ocean Grove

Grateful for the challenge
Thank you, Gay Alcorn, for emailing me about last Thursday’s editorial (“Victoria can’t go on like this”, The Age, 2/9).

I happen to be one of those who agreed with the thrust of the editorial, but that’s not why your letter reminded me why I subscribe to The Age. It is because it shares a range of views.

As I grow even older I want more than ever to be challenged to think, in some situations to think differently, not only to have my own thoughts echoed back to me.

Very glad to read that although you had some cancellations, sign-ups were higher.
Christine Bradbeer, Mont Albert North

A sad day for loyal readers
Your editorial (“Victoria can’t go on like this”, 2/9) advocated “I, me, my” ahead of considering the wellbeing of others in our life plans. Then a letter to subscribers boasts that this particular editorial created more new accounts than cancellations.

Woebegone, those of us who have looked to The Age editorial for considered narrative and which put informed and considered opinion before shooting from the hip. A sad day for loyal readers.
Robyn Robinson, Carlton North

Chip in with some help
I understand that our Premier is a golfer of some repute, so maybe a sympathetic ear?

We play the game in rather well-ventilated conditions and it is a game well-suited to social distancing. While a small group may congregate briefly on the tee (wearing masks), we quickly disperse in different directions.

One or two may arrogantly hit their ball onto the fairway, while the rest of us wander into the long grass or seek the shade of the trees. On the green, we refrain from touching the COVID-coated flagstick.

We are even prepared to forgo the responsibility of solving the world’s problems at the 19th hole. So, Daniel Andrews, can you chip us back onto the fairway?
Jon Smith, Leongatha

What’s he claiming?
With Josh Frydenberg keeping Scott Morrison company at The Lodge, I assume that he is staying there as a guest and the lodgings are gratis.

As such, can we be satisfied that he isn’t claiming a living away from home allowance? As taxpayers, we have a right to know.
Frank Stipic, Mentone

AND ANOTHER THING

Climate change
The Prime Minister urges us to “get out of the cave”. Is he including his climate change denial MPs huddled at the back?
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills

Credit:

The pandemic
Someone said getting us vaccinated was not a race. Let’s turn it into a stampede.
Peter Caffin, Ringwood North

Opening up
I’d rather a doctor say when it’s safe for me to travel before the election rather than a Prime Minister.
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra

With all Victorians suffering from the low-down lockdown blues, why on earth aren’t more people adhering to the restrictions to help us open up?
Vikki O’Neill, Ashburton

Given the proposed eased restrictions, including a 10-kilometre travel limit and outdoor personal training, surely golf courses should be opened for nine holes.
Roger Goldsmith, Hawthorn

Praise for PEN
Bravo, Arnold Zable and PEN Melbourne (“How the PEN can be as mighty as the sword”, Extra, 5/9), for your compassionate, inspiring and humbling work for persecuted writers worldwide.
Vince Corbett, Essendon

Furthermore
The article by the anonymous nurse (“Nursing on COVID’s front line takes a toll”, Comment, 2/9) was heartbreaking. As nursing is still a predominantly female-dominated field, enough said.
Marcia Roche, Mill Park

Finally
Great. Now I’ve got a whole lot of ABBA songs in my head I can’t get rid of (“ABBA are back, and they’re on song”, The Age, 4/9).
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick

With tracks from their forthcoming ABBA album with the names Don’t Shut Me Down, Keep an Eye on Dan and Ode to Freedom, it’s almost as if Benny and Bjorn have been keeping an eye on Victoria lately.
Alex Judd, Blackburn North

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