Dr Anthony Pun, Dr Ka Sing Chua, Chinese Community Council of Australia
Dignified response required
A conservative London think tank, Henry Jackson Society, said China could be sued under 10 international health regulations regarding COVID-19, suggesting China wasn’t up front about the virus. Imagine if the virus originated in the UK or the US? Trump would probably put it in the fake news category and blame it on the Chinese anyway. Unfortunately China has become a global whipping boy. Nobody sues McDonald’s for obesity or diabetes and the possible deaths it causes, I would suggest that is a pandemic. Is it too late to sue the Spanish for the flu or the Germans for the measles? Please, can we stop lunging at each other’s throats and deal with this virus in a dignified manner.
Greg Bardin, Altona North
Trade relationships at risk
Amanda Vanstone raises an important point in our relationship with other nations at a time of unprecedented crisis (“Foreign trade must not be sacrificed to pandemic”, 6/4). A flourishing foreign trade depends on our good relationship with other countries, especially with our largest trading partner, China. Yet China bashing continues to be a main feature of right-wing newspapers and commentators in Australia. Their main complaint is that China is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. We should not be concerned with China’s communist government, for after all, China lifted nearly 700 million people from poverty to middle class. Bill Mathew, Parkville
Market controversy continues
Assistant Minister [for Multicultural Affairs] Jason Wood has shone a light on why people are dying, cities are shut, and economies upended – the unsafe practices of wet markets in China (“Push for action on market cruelty”, 5/4). No, Professor [Deborah] Cao [Chinese wildlife protection law expert], the wet market is not similar to farmers’ markets. The wet market is a public slaughter house, where people go to choose their live fish or animal to be slaughtered and taken home for their dinner. I can’t imagine that being acceptable at local farmers’ markets as Australia has safe animal handling and slaughtering practices to protect public health, and our economy. During SARS a Chinese colleague told me not to use an emotive argument when discussing the slaughter of animals. Mr Wood, then, may need to change his approach and ask the Chinese government to reflect on the 51,000 deaths, the 1,000,000 infections, the strain on the world’s health services, and the crisis in the global economy brought about by this completely avoidable virus.
Simone Livingstone, Warrandyte
How busy are our MPs?
I haven’t seen politicians queuing up outside Centrelink offices, yet Parliament looks like it has been shut down. Have they all been stood down on full pay while we have had to use up leave entitlements before being sacked? JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments will take months to materialise and we will have to survive on air until they do. Employers are demanding wage cuts from their employees so that businesses can stay afloat. As the employers of our politicians, perhaps we should do the same.
Greg Tuck, Warragul
Not the wisest action
If the members of Margaret Court’s Life Church and the Greek Orthodox Church contract COVID-19 as a result of ignoring medical and governmental advice (Opinion, 4/4), then of course they’ll neither need nor want medical treatment – they can rely on their respective deities to take care of them, freeing up hospital beds for others.
John Howes, Rowville
In support of Uncle Freddie
The two Age articles (“Elder accused of stealing identity”, “I know who my ancestors were”, 4/4) discredited both Uncle Freddie Dowling’s Aboriginality, his ancestral relationship with Mary Jane Milawa and by extension the traditional rights of the Bpangerang in the Wangaratta district.
This has caused great hurt and dismay in our community. Uncle Freddie Dowling has been tireless throughout the region in sharing his cultural Bpangerang stories and language and now he finds his place in the world questioned. He is an acknowledged elder and director of the Bpangerang Aboriginal Corporation. The articles were triggered by a complaint lodged to the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, challenging Uncle Freddie’s family history.
This is an ambush of an elderly man who has an unblemished record of engaging people in Indigenous culture, whose supposed main crime is that he never looked into his family history because he believed what his grandmother and father told him. In my opinion it is imperative the government progresses with integrity to develop processes that ensure all the voices of elders are heard in areas of conflict, including tribal boundaries. The First Peoples’ Assembly is the body that can lead this process forward.
Ian Davidson, Wangaratta
Give our elders a break
Older people have been getting a bad rap. We are blamed for the climate catastrophe, draining the public health system, supporting conservative governments, taking the jobs of younger people, and now government debt (Letters, 5/4) and grinding the social and economic system to a standstill because we are the prevailing “vulnerable” demographic at this time of pandemic. As a generation we have contributed to the climate disaster but we are also climate activists. We are encouraged to keep working and if not in the paid workforce, we provide unpaid carer services to family and as volunteers. We have educated our kids, contributed our taxes, built businesses and continue to be active participants in society. The current crisis gives us the opportunity to change the rhetoric.
Nora Vitins, Daylesford
Keep Centrelink open
Centrelink to close for Easter. Understand everyone needs a break but with queues around the block, could staff be offered incentives to keep this essential service open during weekdays.
Michelle Leeder, Seddon
Work in the garden? I wish
Costa Georgiadis (The Sunday Age, 5/4) highlights the health benefits of having a garden. This is wonderful for those who do but many, like myself, have only small apartments. Having spent the last 10 days in solitary confinement, a garden to tend would have been heaven. If the pandemic has taught us anything, rather than just building a box for people to shelter in, we should be building communities to live in, with mandatory requirements for personal and shared outdoor space.
Dr Tim Davis, Heidelberg
Public pupils miss out
When school holidays end everyone will be learning remotely. I think it is interesting that the difference between students’ socio-economic status has not been discussed. I am lucky to have access to internet resources. However, we do not have access to extensive videoconferencing facilities and high-tech resources as many private schools do. This will lead to further inequities in the VCE system and disadvantage public students.
Rosie Thyer, year 12, Northcote High School
Super not so super
Superannuation is not universal (Letters, 6/4). Employers are not required to pay superannuation to casuals on less than $450 a month. Some employers structure their payrolls to have more staff on their books than needed then divide the work, simultaneously avoiding superannuation obligations while boosting employment figures. Suggestions that casuals should have put enough aside for down times or superannuation denies the reality that casual and gig-workers spend hours of unpaid work looking for the next gig or chasing payment for the last.
Emma Borghesi, Mount Eliza
Numbers can lie
It cheers me to read that the COVID-19 numbers in Victoria appear to be levelling. But how accurate are these numbers, if we don’t do mass testing. There is also a need to carry out serological tests as knowing who is infected is one thing, but knowing who is immune is another, even more critical.
Trish Young, Hampton
The peril of mass infection
James Massola’s article (“It’s going to be very bad in the region”, 6/4), alerts us to the potential pandemic epicentre to Australia’s north. Our nation has a two-pronged COVID-19 challenge: domestic and regional. Indonesian President Joko Widodo hasn’t officially banned the imminent annual mudik, or return home to villages for a national religious festival, entailing the movement of millions of people. Given the daunting probability of coronavirus mass infection across the archipelago, together with the economic and political disintegration of some Pacific island nations, Australia may yet face the challenge of mass immigration movements.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
Overseas students dudded
Many levels of Australian society have reaped huge economic benefits from international students. How shameful that we are now saying, “Sorry can’t help you. Go home.”
Ewa Haire, Moonee Ponds
Medical staff do tough job
At 81 and having spent my working life as a nurse, I have never experienced anything but gratitude from patients and their families. I am devastated that some people have attacked nurses, doctors and other hospital workers during the current pandemic. Maybe those who complain should offer their services to assist the medical profession and see things from the inside.
Lesley Rule, Brighton East
Rethink economic system
Shaun Carney’s article (“Fear can be a great motivator”, 6/4) advances much that is worth reflecting upon. His end remarks are the most challenging, “This could be the making of us once again. Or we could just return to the dead end.”
Before the coronavirus and its impact, we were preoccupied by the existential need for continuing economic growth, no matter what. Perhaps now, it is the time to reframe that paradigm, and rethink an economic system, that is durable, sustainable and provides well-being for all.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley
Politicians could step up
As a nation, we are constantly being reminded/told on a daily basis, “we are all in this pandemic together”. Isn’t it about time ALL the governments of this country, stepped up to the “leadership plate” and joined us. How may you ask? By personally sharing the financial pain and rejecting outright (no strings attached) the “entitlement of recent pay rises”.
Phil Faulkner, Kingsville
App could hold key
I read about a smart phone app in Wuhan province, China, that residents have that displays a green virus-compliant status to enter supermarkets or restaurants. Would Australians accept this type of personal tracking in order to reduce the Level 3 restrictions before a vaccine is developed? The app would provide restaurants, workplaces, schools and dining venues with some level of confidence that people were unlikely to have COVID-19. It could be used to geo-track individuals in quarantine. Compliance checks would only require a phone call to see if the person was close to their phone. Once the quarantine period was served the app would show a green compliant status. The app could identify contacts for the previous fortnight of any person who returns a positive test. Any person who had been in close contact would then be notified to quarantine and have a test.
Bruce Campbell, Williamstown
Signers’ sterling effort
We should give three cheers of appreciation for those who stand beside our politicians and other officials and who sign for the hearing impaired. Their attention, endurance and athleticism are to be much admired.
Elizabeth Chipman, Seaford
Lighting the way
To support each other through isolation (and offset the gloomy end of daylight saving) our neighbourhood is hanging out lamps, candles or white lights for an hour daily from sunset. Using light to sustain connection without physical contact could lift spirits exponentially.
Rod Duncan, East Brunswick
Labor’s loss a win
With hindsight I am relieved the Labor Party did not win the last election. Mercifully, we are spared the constant outrage from friends who are Coalition voters if a Labor government was implementing all these rescue measures.
Margery Renwick, Brighton
I guess we are all one tiny step closer to understanding what it must be like to be locked down on Manus or Nauru for six years.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo
Recently Scott Morrison said, “In this new normal that we’re living in, it’s no longer about entitlement. It’s about need.” Assuming that we come through this before the next election, will he step back into a, “now we’re back to normal and it’s no longer about need. It’s about entitlement” stance?
Meg Stuart, Forest Hill
International workers: we drink the coffee they make, eat the food they cook and accept the taxes they pay. It’s only fair to support them.
Anne Rutland, Brunswick West
Strong wartime leadership was provided by Churchill, Roosevelt and Chifley. Today we have Johnson, Trump and Morrison.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton
Forty-two little Australians still stuck in Syria wanting repatriation, too. No hope.
Loucille McGinley, Brighton East
A sporting chance
Why has someone in TV not come up with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night “classics” for AFL, NRL and soccer.
Winston Anderson, Mornington
At this stage of sport embargoes, I’d even be interested in watching synchronised swimming.
Max F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
Recreational fishing has been banned but duck hunting season is due to start on May 2. Maybe the government will adopt the Crown Casino defence that ducks are a unique case, and nothing like fish.
Barry Seaton, Brighton East
Congratulations to the ABC for the series Stateless, illuminating the plight of refugees in Australia.
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