This virus does not run to any fixed timetable
26th October 2020

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:


This virus does not run to any fixed timetable
A standard AFL match takes 112 minutes including the breaks between each quarter, plus an unknown amount of time-on to compensate for when the game gets interrupted. There’s a plan and a schedule, but everyone knows that “stuff happens” and delays occur. The game isn’t over until it’s over, and you have to wait for the final siren. A horse race takes however long it takes – you don’t declare the Melbourne Cup to be finished until the horses cross the line.

Why, then, do so many people seem to think that suppressing an outbreak of a contagious (and too-often debilitating or lethal) disease is something that can be run to a fixed timetable? We’re into time-on in this match, and the end will be worth the wait. The unpleasant alternative is we call it a draw, abandon the match, and look forward to a rematch with the virus very soon.

The footy season is over. Let’s make sure this virus season is properly over too.
Ian Powell, Elsternwick

You have to be flexible
Just over a week ago, Daniel Andrews indicated that the easing of restrictions could be brought forward if the downward trend continued. But when the outbreak in Melbourne’s north occurred, I believe most Melburnians realised that was not going to happen.

Some journalists at Sunday’s media briefing clearly had no idea what a road map, or plan, with its inherent need for flexibility, is, or what it is for. Their relentlessly negative, unhelpful questions reflected a denial of the realities of this pandemic, and a lack of insight into the wisdom of prioritising health and safety, before addressing other vitally important issues of survival.

Yes, they’re not perfect and mistakes have been made. But to all the naysayers, I’d say I’d rather have Dan Andrews and his team leading us through this, than any others. I, for one, respect and trust their recommendations.
Ros de Bruin, Balwyn

They’re not setting a good example
If COVID-19 was a disease that predominantly killed young people, parents and grandparents across the state would be following the isolation rules to the letter. These thoughtless, disrespectful young people who are protesting about doing what is required to keep the whole community safe need to grow up.

What goes around, comes around. The example they are setting for those who will eventually be their carers doesn’t bode well for them in their old age.
Dianne Powell, Ivanhoe

Prosperity must be earned
As Baby Boomers and beyond, we have grown to assume that we will bequeath prosperity and certainty to the next generation as a birthright, and that the stories of suffering and hardship our parents and grandparents told us are merely oral history.

But after what they had to endure, previous generations would consider that, even in lockdown, we are enviably well off. They would tell us that if we want prosperity and certainty for our children we will have to earn it as a society. They would consider lockdown to be a small price to pay for our children. We have to learn to live with harder times as they did.
Mike Sanderson, Drouin

We know we’re in better shape
I am fed up with hearing the voices of vested interests tell me how my ‘‘heart has been broken’’ by Daniel Andrews.

Repeated polls show Victorians are still behind Daniel Andrews and we understand Victoria is in a far better situation than most of the world. The views expressed by Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Greg Hunt, Michael O’Brien, Tim Smith, the various voices of the conservative media (including Jeff Kennett), and now Neil Mitchell, are the views of a minority. Why do they receive a disproportionate amount of coverage?
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove


They’ve had years to do it
Once again we see a rash of appalling behaviour brought to our attention in the media. Surely some sort of systemic change is needed at the bureaucratic and government level to upgrade detection, prevention and punishments for this poor behaviour from the political and business classes. In most cases they are using taxpayers’ dollars for their excesses.

Quite frankly I found the Prime Minister’s outrage to be fake. For years now he has been well aware of various types of bad behaviour. Who can forget the sports rorts, and the many cases of politicians cheating on their office expenses reimbursements. Add to this the electoral office rorts, helicopter trips and bargain sales of airport property etc. This is all about the management of public funds and deserves better treatment from our decision makers.

One wonders why the Coalition government at the federal level will not bring in an independent integrity commission to tackle this. They have had seven years to do so and many are now doubting their judgment and motives.
Rob McDonald, Sailors Falls

A dreadful prospect
The possibility that the courts may strike down sections of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act (‘‘Courts may overrule lockdown’’, Comment, 26/10) fills me with dread.

If any government, Labor or Liberal, is unable to pass laws and regulations to protect the health of its citizens in an emergency, what is left? I really want decisions about public health to be made by medical experts, not lawyers and judges.

Given that other countries have or are introducing curfews, limits on how far citizens can travel and what businesses can and cannot open, all on health advice, I can’t understand why some Australians are taking legal action that, if successful, effectively means we could follow the American example of a free-for-all.

Please, public health must take medical advice, not legal advice.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Exemplars of support
Like most Australians, I watched Monday’s press conference by Daniel Andrews announcing the easing of lockdown conditions for Victorians, with avid interest.

I firmly believe that when the worldwide history of the COVID-19 virus pandemic is written, the people of the state of Victoria will be shown to have been world-leading exemplars of community support.

All people in the state should rightly feel very proud of themselves – and their neighbours.
I, for one, wish them a calm and prosperous reopening of businesses.
David Nolan, Holder, ACT

Who do they speak for?
I’m looking at the ‘‘Victoria – Let’s Be Open’’ full-page ad in Sunday’s paper and the story ‘‘State split on support for easing rules’’ in the same issue (25/10). It would seem the average support across the six points is 54 per cent, opposition at 35 per cent and ‘‘neither’’ at 11 per cent.

So, are the 94 signatories, who infer they are speaking for all Victorians, actually only speaking for a minority of 35 per cent, or are they really interested in their own commercial interests?

I have spent more than three months isolated from my family, friends and normal life, stoically, patiently and resolutely compliant. How I personally would handle the crisis is of little account – I have neither the knowledge or competence to make the vital decisions required for the good of all.

I am grateful that we in Australia, even here in Victoria, are not experiencing the woes of the US, Brazil, India, Iran and many countries in Europe. I appreciate the economic outlook is bleak at this stage but make the point that a heavily infected population won’t support any kind of economy at all.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

It’s all about the team
We remember the talent of the 2007 Geelong team, which won 106 Brownlow votes, the highest number of any premiership team this millennium. At the bottom of the list are a) the 2019 Richmond team (72 votes), b) the 2020 Richmond team (72.5 votes adjusted) and c) the 2017 Richmond team (80 votes).

This speaks volumes for organisation and effort over individual brilliance.
Barry Thompson, Castlemaine

I should have done more
I am one of those, Glenda Addicott (‘‘Is the time coming?’’, Letters, 26/10), who made a ‘‘passionate and painful’’ submission to the royal commission into aged care. I read your letter with a face still wet from tears as again I have been hit with the periodic guilt I get two years after the death of my father.

I should have done more, I should have paid more attention, I should have visited more, I should have realised the implications of funding cuts, I shouldn’t have trusted a service that wasn’t coping with caring for the elderly to look after my vulnerable father. As you say, there are thousands of us, and our lives have been made miserable.

It takes a certain degree of optimism to think things will change.
Name withheld

Listen to the experts
I have read that some people are touting Melbourne lockdown restrictions as a human rights breach. Maybe the virus went away by itself, but I’m inclined to think that the composite restrictions had something to do with the case load drop.

The road map was built by elected officials from expert advice so it seems strange to vilify them for it. I presume the road map was built on the premise that the average voter values physical health over personal liberty enough to acquiesce.

There are countries where perceived freedom trumps health, and rhetoric seemingly trumps advice, although Joe Biden might win in November to undermine that statement. If not, I think America’s green card lottery is still open for interested parties.
Marcus Robinson, Bentleigh

The PM’s selective outrage
‘‘Selout’’, a shortened form of ‘‘selective outrage’’, is our Prime Minister’s mode of the moment.
His outrage at Christine Holgate’s egregious gifting of Cartier timepieces to four of her personnel who apparently did their jobs, was pleasing to see.

But where was that same outrage at Bridget McKenzie’s sports rorts affair, at Angus Taylor’s outrageous attack on Clover Moore, at the Leppington Triangle purchase, and a passing mention to the Community Development Grants which over the past seven years have shown a huge and consistent bias in favour of Coalition seats.

Some of us, Prime Minister, are listening less to what you say, but watching closely what you do.
Alan Whittaker, Kew East

Move forward on this
Speaking of ‘‘profound disappointment’’ and failure to ‘‘move forward’’, as expressed by Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt about Victoria, I’d hazard a red-hot guess that many Australians are more than profoundly disappointed in their failure to act on climate change.

Our mental health suffers contemplating a future on a damaged overheated planet, where fires and drought become more terrifyingly destructive, and our young people know full well they will bear the brunt of climate change for the rest of their lives.

When are they going to ‘‘move forward’’ on climate?
Catherine Miller, Chewton

It’s easy to be critical
I am not surprised that Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt have banded together to be critical of Daniel Andrews’ management of the coronavirus strategies.

I suppose it’s pretty easy to be critical of others and not make any positive contribution to resolving the day to day issues of the pandemic crisis, when one does not have any responsibility or accountability for the outcomes.
Frank Stipic, Mentone

Who’ll take responsibility?
Well said, Corinne Haber (‘‘This is a bad idea’’, Letters 26/10). Who will accept responsibility if this ill-considered contact-tracing ‘‘thought bubble’’ is taken up, resulting in regressive health outcomes?
Mary Cole, Richmond

Some guidance, please
Waleed Aly is one of my favourite writers. His article on corruption was, as usual, very thoughtful (‘‘Does anyone care about integrity’’, Comment, 23/10).

What would be very helpful though, is a follow-up article from him on what the public can effectively do to make some elements of government and business change their corrupt ways. Periodic elections, letter writing to politicians, shareholder meetings and the like just do not cut the mustard. How for instance do we force a government to establish an ICAC with teeth?

Please, Waleed, give some guidance to a fairly time-consumed and disenfranchised public.
Philip Labrum, Flemington

Unanswered questions
Angus Taylor continues his threats that the government will build its own gas-fired power plant if private companies do not commit to a gas-fired plant by April 2021 to replace the Liddell coal power plant (‘‘Gas-fuelled energy ambitions a ‘risk’’’, 24/10). The budget also announced a taxpayer-funded upgrade of the Vales Point coal power plant.

The ‘‘why?’’ is unanswered in both announcements. They seem unnecessary, ideological interventions to subsidise high emission power sources that would normally be replaced in a free market by more economical, low emission, large-scale solar and wind generation backed up by batteries.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

A dereliction of duty
Scott Morrison should keep his head well down under the ramparts when he tries to lay blame to the Victorian government over the COVID spread. The dereliction of duty in aged care facilities – which can be traced back directly to John Howard’s intervention in the “industry” – is well known.

This should not be an industry designed to pay profits to rapacious owners of so-called care establishments. These are our valued parents, aunts, uncles, etc.

All the commissions will not do anything until the government, of its own volition, assumes the responsibilities it should have been exercising for many years.
Doris LeRoy, Altona


The sporting life
If the night grand final was so good, when can we expect a night Melbourne Cup?
John Mosig, Kew


Isn’t it amazing – Melbourne teams have just won the AFL, NRL and Super Netball – all played away from Melbourne. Maybe we should insist in the future that no finals are to be played in Melbourne.
David Ginsbourg, Bentleigh East

Vixens, Richmond, Storm … you can take sport away from Melbourne but you can’t take Melbourne away from sport.
Astrid Browne, Wantirna South

Let’s change our number plates to ‘‘Victoria – the Premiership State’’. Three out of three ain’t bad.
Noel Butterfield, Montmorency

Great having the grand final in Queensland, however a night final deprives thousands of children from watching live.
Kerry Larkan, Keilor

The public purse
Some hypocrisy is inevitable in politics but the display of it by Liberal Party members of this government in lecturing others about inappropriate spending of public money must set some sort of world record.
David Clemson, Glen Iris

Many of us do care about the (lack of) integrity in government. Please, Waleed Aly, could you write another article advising us how to change it?
Betty Russell, North Warrandyte

I remember Jeff Kennett’s reign. He’s hardly one to be calling anyone else a dictator. Pots and kettles come to mind.
Robyn Lovell, Epping

Josh Frydenberg wants answers from others but is sparing of his own.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

If we must persist in awarding a bonus for people actually just doing their job, the bonus should be given to the recipient’s choice of charity.
Jill Stevenson, Big Hill

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.

Most Viewed in National

Source: Read Full Article