Temporary changes to weather this crisis

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Temporary changes to weather this crisis

We are in the closing stages of one of the worst medical crises the world has seen. Millions have died in this once-in-century disaster. Yet many people are criticising the emergency measures put in place: health workers recalled from leave, volunteers driving ambulances, protocols for testing and isolation changed, elective surgery deferred and quality of care reduced.

It is a sign of how well we have handled the crisis that people believe we could somehow weather this calamity without the health system making significant, temporary changes.

Describing the various governments’ policies as “let it rip” and the impact as “wholly avoidable” belies an overstated level of belief in our ability to hold this wave at bay. While no doubt mistakes have been made in a complex, fast-moving crisis, these necessary adaptations do not constitute proof of failed policies or mismanagement. Let’s keep some global and historical perspective before lashing out.
Dr Gregory Hill, Brunswick

Danger of letting things take their own course

When travelling overseas, I have always understood that some countries would not be able to offer the same medical care we had come to expect in Australia. Now we are facing the same situation here. The laissez faire approach of the federal government has failed us all.
Hazel Popp, Carlton North

Vaccinated must be treated before the unvaccinated

Now that our hospitals have reached code brown, which seems to mean they are not coping, it is surely time for a serious discussion about who gets treated. If there were unlimited resources, then of course we could apply the “we will treat everyone equally” policy. But what about now, when medical and ancillary staff and hospital resources are clearly overwhelmed?

I know of staff who are suffering serious effects of overwork, as well as having to deal with people who still do not acknowledge that COVID-19 is real, for heaven’s sake, and who, along with their families, are abusing staff. And these staff spend all day in sweaty, plastic, full-protective equipment.

We must make it clear that people who are vaccinated will get priority over those who have chosen not to be. How can it be morally right to deny treatment to someone who desperately needs it, and may die without it, and instead treat an unvaccinated person with COVID-19 who has chosen to expose themselves and the community to risks?
Rod Andrew, Malmsbury

Don’t hesitate any longer. Get the jabs now.

Several of your correspondents have taken aim at government and our public health system for the “let it rip” mentality that, they believe, has been a major factor in the instigation of code brown.

What also needs to be considered for this regrettable situation is the number of hospital admissions among people who are not fully vaccinated, taking up valuable beds and resources. If ever there was a time for the “vaccine hesitant” to get vaccinated, it is now. They should do it for the exhausted medical staff, the people who are not COVID-19-positive and who need hospital treatment but cannot get a bed, and to protect themselves.
Mandy Morgan, Malvern

No heart attacks, please, for Australia’ sake

Now that we are living in the “taking personal responsibility” phase of the pandemic, I call on all sensible Australians to postpone having a heart attack, stroke or other acute medical episode for the next few weeks. This will help ameliorate the pressure on healthcare systems across the nation.
Simon Perry, Frankston

Health Minister, I would love to take a holiday too

I am a registered nurse. My desperately needed upcoming leave might not happen because there is now a code brown. This was announced by Victoria’s acting Minister for Health because the Minister for Health is on leave. Nice one.
Lee Guion, Portarlington


PM, bring in the ADF

Twenty Australian Defence Force personnel will drive Victorian ambulances from Thursday but the Prime Minister says support will be limited (The Age, 19/1). Yet again he fails to appreciate the severity of the crisis facing Victorian hospitals.

As a registered nurse, I am appalled at the breakdown of our hospital system. The nursing union is also calling for ADF support. Please reconsider the level of support, Prime Minister. It is an election year.
Mary Keating, Flemington

The untreated patients

Cathy Wilcox’s illustration (Letters, 19/1) is spot-on. Whether someone is young, old, or immunocompromised, every single death is always a tragedy. But can she also do one for cancer? Or heart attack? Or the faceless people being forced to wait for IVF treatment, or others whose condition is deteriorating as their health is put on hold?
Andrew Laird, Malvern

Brett Sutton’s wise advice

Re “Our hospital system is buckling. Did it need to?” (The Age, 19/1). I hope that the admirable Professor Brett Sutton and his deputies have kept records of every piece of advice they gave the state government since December 23, 2021. Why? Because they will probably be put under the microscope of the court of public scrutiny, needing to defend themselves in the future.

I am immunocompromised (I received my fourth booster yesterday) and need to maintain minimal contact with “the outside world”. I continue to live a positive life but at a necessary distance from everyone else. Hurrah for all modern electronic technology. It allows me to keep in touch with the outside world.
Caroline Heard, Glen Huntly

Too big a risk to take

COVID-19 and its variants got into Australia via airports and ports. Now Melbourne Airport wants the federal government to relax the testing rules for inbound international travellers (The Age, 19/1). To do so at the height of the pandemic would invite a new wave.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills

Avoiding a hospital stay

At the age of 84, I need a rapid antigen test kit and a “peaceful pill” to take if the result is positive, rather than burden the hospital system and suffer the indignities of medical treatment.
Kishor Dabke, Mount Waverley

Changing our priorities

The amount of discarded household goods on the nature strips symbolises our preferences for personal acquisitions versus higher taxes.

Now we have daily complaints about public health resource limitations, ever-increasing teacher shortages and young people without secure work in the gig economy. Will we heed the wake-up call, or just keep complaining and blaming others?
Margaret Matters, Croydon

How to lose customers

Hospitality businesses are in a load of pain these days. We would like to help them. However, not all are helping themselves.

I visited three cafe/restaurant establishments this past weekend. In only one were all of the staff wearing masks. There are venues where I have dined for many years but I have not visited in the past many months because none of their staff were wearing masks.

I enjoy eating out, but I also do not want to catch COVID-19. If hospitality establishments want our business, they need to do everything that is required to provide the safest possible environment for us to patronise.
Aaron Lenzing, Carrum Downs

For now, remote is best

Experts remind us that opening schools will cause a further increase in hospital admissions, an increase that the health system cannot bear in the current circumstances. The most prudent action is to allow schools to teach remotely until hospitals are able to operate normally.

Advocates of face-to-face teaching are certainly correct in warning of the adverse mental effects of going into lockdown mode. However, sending pupils to school while there are 20,000-plus new COVID-19 cases per day will also have negative repercussions for student wellbeing.

At opened schools, everyone will wear masks, staff will need to constantly remind students to cooperate with safety guidelines, many students will not be vaccinated, parents and teachers will be anxious, and many members of the school community will get sick. This will not be a normal learning environment and students will suffer accordingly. On balance, remote teaching is the unfortunate best option to deal with the ongoing crisis.
Philip Cassell, Malvern East

Negatives of neoliberalism

The Australian Medical Association’s Roderick McRae talks about the “magnificent underfunding” of hospitals across Australia for decades (The Age, 19/1).

A similar underfunding of virtually all public sector institutions has been the practice of both main parties – although much more efficiently by Liberal governments – since the early 80s. This can now be seen in the depredations visited upon the public health sector, the shortage of well-trained teachers in schools, the cutting of the higher education sector and the reduced financial support to the ABC.

The beneficiaries have been the consultants and the wealthy, via lower taxes.Now we witness vividly the result of government neglect and public apathy. Neoliberalism in full swing.
Greg Bailey, St Andrews

Aiming for peaceful sleeps

All hail this move from diesel-powered to electric delivery trucks (The Age, 18/1). Could the trucks’ beeping reverse signal be adjusted or safely replaced by cameras too? In the middle of the night, when deliveries are often made, the penetrating noise awakes the slumber of many. These changes could lead to an even more peaceful environment.
Karen Fitzgerald, Black Rock

Neglect of precious park

I spent Monday walking in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges National Park. While it is on the edge of a city of about 5million inhabitants, there were few people in sight and not a single child. How are children to learn to love and value nature if they are not among it on a beautiful summer’s day? The Victorian government certainly does not. Unfortunately the park is choked with invasive species, despite the best efforts of its poorly-resourced rangers.

Funding for park management has declined significantly over the past decade and the government needs to do better.
Darren McClelland, Moonee Ponds

Try kindness, not anger

What would be the reaction of the crowd to an angry tennis player about to smash his racquet if he paused, walked over to supporters and handed the racquet to a child with a comment like: “I hope you will get better results with this”?
Peter O’Connor, Bendigo

It’s only the first step

Heaven knows we need something to celebrate, but first round winners at the Australian Open on the front page (The Age, 19/1)? Are things that bad?
John Massie, Middle Park

The pressure is mounting

It will be interesting to see how far Novak Djokovic is prepared to go in his refusal to have COVID-19 vaccinations now that officials have said unvaccinated players will not be permitted to compete in the French Open (The Age, 19/1). Still, the detention centre in Paris might be a lot more pleasant than the one in Melbourne.
Tony Healy, Balwyn

Importance of spotters

Luke Pickett’s otherwise excellent article on the bench press (Life, 17/1) included a photo without a “spotter” (a person positioned at the head end to rescue the presser who cannot get the bar back on to the brackets) and failed to mention the risk, potentially lethal, of bench pressing without one.
Dr Greg Malcher, Hepburn Springs

Part of the big city

I miss hearing train horns. I lived for years on the train line between two level crossings. Train noise was the welcome sound of middle suburbia being connected to the rest of the world.
Catherine Miller, Chewton

Tale of socialism and …

Your correspondent (Letters, 19/1) obviously shares my love of Wind in the Willows, but it seems to me that he views the story through a distorted socialist prism. The stoats and the weasels were never “admirable creatures”; their habitat, the Wild Wood was always a scary place for other creatures to go, as Mole found out.

The appropriation of Toad Hall was accomplished with Trotskyite violence and, once they were in occupation of Toad’s property, the weasels abandoned all pretence of egality. The Chief Weasel was obviously (in Orwellian terms) “more equal” than the other weasels. As for the inferior stoats, they were left outside on guard duty while the weasels celebrated their chief’s birthday in the Hall. Socialist heaven if you like.
Arthur Roberts, Elwood

…middle-class values?

Your correspondent is a tad harsh on Badger, Ratty and Mole. The extravagant behaviour of Toad (a wealthy land owner) is moderated by the “middle class” values and beliefs, in the form of Badger, Ratty and Mole.

The elitists of the 19th century, the squattocracy, has been replaced in the 21st century by the political class. A mob who never let the “greater good” get in the way of self-interest. Wind in the Willows provides us with a strategy for navigating a pathway through the current tangled web of self-interest. Anyway, that is my interpretation that I am sharing with the grandkids.
Kevin Brown, Castlemaine

Ongoing pain of refugees

This federal government’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees at the Park Hotel is mistreatment. It is wrong, it is cruel, it is shameful and it is tragic. Please stop punishing them for wanting to live their lives.
Caroline Stinear, Berwick


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


A code brown emergency. I can only think of John McEnroe. You cannot be serious.
Michael O’Brien, Buffalo River

If the state government wanted to “let it rip”, it should have ensured our health system could cope.
Sylvia Kappadais, East Ivanhoe

Be careful what you wish for. You got your freedom, but at what cost?
Ross Beamsley, Moe

What’s more important? Getting RATs to work effectively on a free to all basis or more tax relief for the wealthy?
Robert Geary, Brighton

Hawke should turn his attention to others, like Coalition MPs, inciting anti-vax sentiment.
Libby Cooper, East Bentleigh

Can anyone explain what the QR check-in requirement is now achieving?
Ed Crowther, Mulgrave

Guy wanted Victoria to open up and let it rip. Now he complains about the hospital crisis.
Ross Beale, Moonee Ponds

When there was a “supply issue” in 1975, the governor-general sacked the PM and the opposition leader became caretaker PM.
Judy Ryan, Abbotsford

Dwindling faith in our PM might improve if he said, “I’m sorry, I got that wrong”. I see the flying pigs.
Murray Stapleton, Darraweit Guim

In 2021 we had a mouse plague. In 2022 we have a desperate shortage of RATs.
Gaell Hildebrand, Cohuna


Release the refugees from Park Hotel, Mr Morrison.
Irene Morley, Seaford

Noelean Best (19/1) nails it on the ALP’s abandonment of its traditional principles. I won’t support Liberal-lite.
John Taylor, Cobram

“Aspiration”: when something you swallow goes down the wrong way.
Geoff Perston, Yarram

Thank you for another lovely Odd Spot (18/1). Is there a journalism award for word play and puns, perhaps presented in a sealed envelope?
Ivan Watson, Cockatoo

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