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We’ve already reached the point of ‘last resort’
I have read with increasing interest the number of individual rights-based and union advocates such as Sally McManus use similar language to Julia Kretzenbacher from Liberty Victoria, who said “the widespread use of vaccine mandates should be a last resort” (“State’s tough no jab, no job rule triggers labour fears”, The Age, 2/10).
I don’t think many would disagree with such a statement, except I am concerned over their inference that the government’s introduction of such mandates – or conditions of employment as they would be better coined – is not already a “last resort”.
How can it not be, in circumstances where nearly half of Australia’s population is locked down, millions of individuals are suffering economic and other pain and the rights of those at work and across industries to be safe when attending work would otherwise be compromised in the absence of such conditions of employment being introduced?
If just one of these advocates could explain when a “last resort” would be triggered – if not now – that would be much appreciated.
Jon Morley, Caulfield North
Mass vaccination is our way out of lockdown
Congratulations to Bill Shorten for endorsing mandatory vaccination for federal MPs (“Federal MPs should get jab: Shorten”, The Sunday Age, 3/10).
Their efficacy is established and mass vaccination is the country’s way out of lockdown and preventable illness and death.
Anyone who claims to be a leader of public opinion, who wants to do the best s/he can for the electorate s/he represents, should lead by example and get vaccinated.
Juliet Flesch, Kew
There is no human rights issue here
Many workers already must meet mandatory requirements for employment. There are minimum educational requirements for licensing for many jobs. Many jobs require a police check or a working with children check or a bankruptcy check. Some jobs have physical attributes and fitness requirements due to the nature of the work.
Some jobs require medical procedures before employment, for example doctors wintering in Antarctica have their appendixes removed before they go and aged care workers are required to have flu shots.
COVID vaccination is just another requirement for employment. Workers can choose to find another job if they choose not to be vaccinated, just as they can choose to find another job if they choose not to meet minimum education requirements.
There is no human rights issue here – but if there were my right to live free from illness or death trumps someone else’s right to spread disease. A precedent for mandatory vaccination has been set through no jab no pay, no jab no play policies for children. Parents can choose to not vaccinate, but they forgo Family Tax Benefits and enrolment in childcare. Choices have consequences.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster
The welfare of the community is a higher priority
We are fortunate to live in a society where the individual is expected to accept that the welfare of the community is a higher priority than the whims of the individual.
Despite cries of outrage by a few, we have accepted the need to wear seatbelts, to wear helmets while riding, to avoid smoking in public places, to surrender firearms, to have our babies inoculated against a number of serious diseases and many others. To object to any of these “rules” is either illegal or plain stupid.
Statistics already show that vaccination against COVID is saving lives and reducing the severity of the disease. Only selfishness, ignorance or gullibility are standing in the way of returning to an environment where we can enjoy real freedom.
Jon Smith, Leongatha
More harm than good
Thank you for giving a voice to the many aged care residents and their relatives who have been cruelly separated in the name of “saving lives” during the pandemic (“Aged care visits: ‘Lift bans for vaccinated’”, The Age, 2/10). Visitors play a vital role in the care and support of elderly Australians, providing love and attention that staff are not able to provide.
While sensible precautions are necessary and possible to reduce COVID risks, complete physical separation of fully vaccinated visitors from their fully vaccinated loved ones does more harm than good.
Not so long ago, a royal commission stated that elderly Australians should enjoy “rights of social participation accessible to members of society generally”.
Facilities that do not allow residents to be wheeled to a local park for fresh air, have their hand held by a loved one or receive daily visits subject to COVID protocols, appear to have forgotten this.
Carolyn Ryan, Glen Iris
A wake-up call for the PM
The resignation of Gladys Berejiklian must surely be a resounding wake-up call for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
He has lauded her as an outstanding leader, yet here she is under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and, as she said, “I have been given no option [but to resign]“. She has demonstrated great integrity.
ICAC has a very strong record of doing its job well, yet the Morrison government continues to vacillate on introducing a similar national body with identical powers despite all the evidence – ongoing – that such an organisation is desperately needed in Canberra to keep a check on our public officials.
Scott Morrison’s judgment on this should not be clouded by the fact that ICAC investigations in NSW have brought down three Liberal leaders – the organisation has also caught some very high-profile ALP offenders.
Brian Morley, Donvale
A glimpse of the future
Peter Hartcher’s article (“PM powers down, world fires up”, Comment, 2/10) shows how the Liberal government of South Australia has established a thriving economy based largely on renewable energy.
Its prospects for continued growth – in businesses and jobs not directly related to renewable energy but inspired by the sustainability that that reflects – seem exponential. This is the future that all Australians could be having if only our federal government would cast aside its dependence on fossil fuels and grasp the prosperity which now lies in plain sight.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills
A hidden agenda
Sure, criticism of Israel does not necessarily equate to anti-Semitism (“Pressure to turn a blind eye to Israel”, Insight, 2/10). No country is beyond reproach. Yet, there is likely a hidden agenda when a state is singled out more than any other.
Last year alone, the UN General Assembly upheld 17 resolutions against Israel for human rights violations and only six against the other 192 member states. Afghanistan, Libya and China were not in the UN’s spotlight.
Israel is not perfect. But it is a pluralistic society and a champion of women’s and gay rights. It continues to be a beacon of democracy in a region dominated by autocratic and murderous regimes.
The question of Palestinian statehood must be resolved. However, the Palestinians must keep their end of the bargain. Unequivocally recognising the State of Israel’s existence and abandoning their insidious campaign of terror would encourage Israel to return to the negotiating table. Until then, Israel has a right to defend its citizens. And if that cops the world’s wrath, then so be it.
Joel Feren, St Kilda East
Much wrong to be undone
Congratulations to John Lyons (Insight, 2/10). His story epitomises the perspective of how issues pertaining to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are often reflected in the media as being anti-Semitic. The reality is anti-Semitism is used to deflect any criticism of Israel and its continued occupation of Palestine.
From Israel’s inception in 1948, historical amnesia continues to this day. So often a blind eye is turned to the indefensible treatment of Palestinians. What is often forgotten is the impact of Jewish settlement on the Palestinians, who are living in an occupied land.
Much wrong needs to be undone. It is about truth, integrity and justice, not anti-Semitism.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley
It’s not about perfection
I share many of your correspondent’s experiences and feelings (“The people and economy are spent, Premier”, Letters, 2/10), but the writer confuses “not working” with “not perfect”.
Ask an epidemiologist or healthcare worker what would happen if we do as she seems to propose, and just give up.
Are the Premier and health officials supposed to say nothing? Or worse, lie and pretend things are not what they are?
World wars didn’t end because people said “I’m done”. They ended because people did what was necessary and persisted, despite governments making mistakes (e.g. the Gallipoli landings) along the way.
Richard Jamonts, Williamstown
Look at the bigger picture
I agree with your correspondent in her reaction to the use of the word “freedoms” (“No escape from ‘freedoms’”, Letters, 1/10). I am concerned beyond its annoying repetition and the sense of individual entitlement over collective good it seems to imply.
Surely we should be talking about freedom from oppression, from violence, from discrimination and from social and economic disadvantage and stop using the word to describe the lifting of burdensome but ultimately temporary public health restrictions.
In the long run, aren’t these big-ticket items laid bare by the pandemic more worthy of our attention?
Brendan O’Hanlon, Brunswick West
What’s the motivation?
Leading Liberals such as Peter Dutton have long used the argument “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear” as they expand the reach of the surveillance state.
As the case for “demonstrable integrity” (“We need a federal ICAC”, Letters, 2/10) grows ever stronger, we can only wonder at the motivation for the Morrison government dragging the chain on initiating a federal anti-corruption body with powers to investigate politicians, among others.
Jim Spithill, Ashburton
A must-read for all
The article “Tracing one life to save so many” (Saturday Reflection, Comment, 2/10), was a brilliant description of the life of the author, as a contact-tracing worker.
It should be a must-read for all, as the writer discloses the extent to which their role has overtaken nearly every aspect of their life.
The job, which sounds as horrendous as it is heroic, is one I doubt many of us have ever truly thought about in the all-consuming context described.
It brought back memories for me, working as a counsellor for many years, and how my clients’ stories, issues and dilemmas remained with me as I worked on, thought through and sought strategies to help them. It was often quite overwhelming, but nowhere near the sort of stress level that the contact tracer mentions.
I sincerely hope the author has plenty of support, supervision and debriefing available, because these are vital to anyone in such a job.
God bless the tracers and all who are responsible for making the hard calls on the lives of others.
Joyce Butcher, Williamstown
Holding us to ransom
Six years ago, three farmers of my acquaintance were “certified carbon neutral”, their properties absorbing more carbon dioxide than they emitted.
Two raised livestock, major producers of methane, a potent contributor to climate change, and one of these two was almost 80.
Instead of bleating “we’ll all be rooned”, National Party members need to acknowledge existing best farming practice among their constituents, read reports by the Grattan Institute and Farmers for Climate Action that demonstrate the pathway to climate sustainability, and accept that with less than 5 per cent of the national vote, they have no moral right to hold the nation to ransom on climate change.
Bill Hampel, Malvern East
We need this now
Last week, protesting her innocence, Gladys Berejiklian resigned. Time will now determine if it was resultant from improper conflict of interest or a courageous decision to ensure the NSW government could continue to operate effectively without distraction.
Whichever, it happened because the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has teeth. No such investigative model exists at the federal level.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised such an integrity commission almost three years ago.
We still do not have it despite a desperate need for such a body. What need? Think about the sports rorts, the car parks fiasco, undisclosed political donations, blind trusts, the list could go on.
NSW has shown us the way. We desperately need a Commonwealth ICAC to rein in breach of trust. We need it now.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton
He works for us
I am a resident of the federal electorate of Monash who has voted Liberal more often than I have voted for Labor. I was appalled to read that our local MHR, Russell Broadbent, is refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19 (“Unvaccinated veteran Liberal MP risks being locked out of office”, The Age, online, 1/10).
Our nation is at present in the greatest crisis since World War II and the only way out of this situation is to have the vast majority of our population vaccinated. Governments, both state and federal, are urging us all to get the jab yet our own federal member is refusing to do so.
Mr Broadbent was one of the few parliamentarians to vote against marriage equality in spite of a strong “yes” from his electorate. I, for one, wish to be represented at a national level by more progressive, broadminded and co-operative ideals. In short, we deserve a member for Monash not a member for Russell Broadbent.
Bruce Lester, Foster
We need some incentives
If proof of identity and vaccination can be shown at the door, why is it that galleries and cinemas cannot return to normal business? The patience of those who have taken the jab might soon run out, which would not be good for our society.
We need some lateral thinking from our leaders whereby incentives are offered to those of us willing to co-operate.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy
AND ANOTHER THING
The demise of Gladys Berejiklian is the very reason the Morrison government is dragging the chain on a federal ICAC.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
The chances of this federal government introducing an anti-corruption body with teeth are about as realistic as Emmanuel Macron sending Scott Morrison a Christmas card this year.
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie
Malcolm Turnbull is proving to be the most effective federal Labor opposition leader for some time.
Craig Jory, Glenroy, NSW
Perhaps NSW’s ICAC could be seconded to monitor the behaviour of our federal politicians.
Paul Miller, Albury, NSW
If only Gladys Berejiklian were a male federal politician. She would have been promoted, and we would be all the better for it.
Julia Macmillan, Hawthorn
Lockdown. What lockdown?
Graham Cadd, Dromana
They may be great tennis players which does not, of course, validate their opinions on anything but tennis.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
Given we’re about to break the lockdown record, do all Melburnians get a commemorative gold medal?
Rob King, Carrum
Freedom of choice that restricts the freedom of others is clearly not about freedom.
David Champion, St Andrews Beach
Midday Sunday, Eaton Mall, Oakleigh, hundreds of people gathering, milling and clustering around with less than half wearing masks. Only luck will prevent the next cluster in my suburb.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South
I was of the same opinion about WorkSafe charging the Health Department over the hotel quarantine program as your correspondent (And another thing, 2/10). No loss to the taxpayer. All good. Then I factored in lawyers’ fees and court costs. All bad.
John Kellett, Bundoora
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