These acts are an insult to front-line workers

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These acts are an insult to front-line workers
For the many healthcare workers who are working long hours under difficult conditions, the regular sight of these so-called “anti-lockdown protesters” must be a slap in the face.

I wonder if it would make a difference if, instead of thousands of police blocking Melbourne’s streets, thousands of healthcare workers confronted Melbourne’s “protesters” next time?

Would the protesters throw bottles at them, would they charge at them, would they spit in their faces? Because that’s essentially what they are doing week after week anyway.

For every one of the protesters, there are many thousands of Victorians who show their appreciation and support for health workers by following health advice. You may not be able to see or hear us at the moment, but we are here.
Joel Oakley, Templestowe Lower

They’re not winning our sympathy
I know I am reacting so vehemently to the sight of grown men protesting by taking their tables and chairs outside because, as a secondary school teacher, I have had to teach my students via screens for more than 220 days without being able to see them. Many students are so anxious they don’t put their screens on, and the impact of these disruptions to tertiary students is not to be underestimated, either; my son, a student at RMIT, has only had 20 days on campus since the beginning of 2020.

However, can these workers not look inside themselves and see complaining about not being able to sit together for “smoko” does not garner the sympathy of any of us who have not been able to work with our teams and colleagues for months on end or, worse still, all our children who have not been able to learn together.

Phil Dwyer from the Builders Collective says it all when he suggests these workers are only concerned when COVID-19 directly impacts them.

Ironically, when Victorian COVID response commander Jeroen Weimar proposes the workers take their sandwiches outside (we all know by now that activities outside are the safest) their protest shows this can easily be done.
Nerilee Rinkquest, Nunawading

Perhaps we should ignore them
In my early youth my father taught me that meeting a pigheaded challenge with a pigheaded response was not clever. Failure would largely be the outcome of that tactic.

State Premier Daniel Andrews might consider whether asking the journalists and the police to not attend lockdown protests might be the smartest way to take the wind out of the sails of the pigheaded protesters.
Stubbornness is only harming our police and giving the protesters the attention they crave.
Robert Millar, Kew

Lack of government response is concerning
I am concerned, as I think many Victorians are, at the Victorian government’s response or lack of to the tea-break sit downs by members of the CFMEU across numerous Melbourne intersections last Friday.

Apart from causing major disruption to pedestrians and traffic, the action by hundreds of workers defied government health orders. It is currently an offence to hold a protest, be unmasked in streets and not maintain social distancing. The CFMEU members blatantly offended against all three last week. The police have move-on powers and public nuisance provisions.

The government needs to explain to the community its position about last week’s offending and seeming lack of any action compared with how it acts in some other instances. Chief Commissioner of Police Shane Patton, needs to explain to the community Victoria Police’s position. The health orders are clear and he does not need, in my view, a directive to take action.
Michael Potter, Prahran


Not all gloom and doom
It is disappointing to read that some families have been dissatisfied with the quality of education for their children during this period of remote learning (“Parents mark down schools on remote learning”, The Age, 18/9).

As a secondary school teacher, I would like to show my public thanks to the teachers in my school and beyond who have adapted their curriculum to maintain excellent teaching and learning that is sensitive to the needs of their students.

We have without hesitation: run hundreds of online classes; scheduled individual online tuition for students who needed additional help; made videos and run competitions to boost students’ morale; provided electronic resources for those without; dropped resources at students’ doors; made hundreds of phone calls to check how students are faring and sent thousands of emails to keep students involved if they fail to connect.

All this, alongside countless hours adapting activities for online platforms and giving feedback to our students. I am so proud to be a teacher during this time and so proud of the resilience of our students.
Remote learning is not all doom and gloom.
Shirley Doomernik, Strathmore

Disingenuous at best
Regardless of the wisdom or otherwise of the government’s decision regarding submarines, the French response of high dudgeon, with its claims of back-stabbing at Shakespearean levels, overlooks Australia’s deep concerns, publicly debated over the last few years, about contract delivery being already behind schedule and not providing the local employment and engineering skills that were promised.

These matters, backed by ministerial and prime ministerial meetings with French counterparts, would surely have made apparent the possibility that this contract might be terminated early. To claim to be completely surprised is disingenuous at best, and political theatre at worst.

Methinks the French protest too much.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills

He has to go
One thing for sure has come out of this submarine debacle – Anthony Albanese has to go.

Immediately supporting the government, without debate, without waiting for the blindingly obvious fallout, without considering implications of the manner of decision-making, leaves Labor impotent to gain any advantage at all from the government’s blatant incompetence. In fact, Mr Albanese has volunteered Labor to share the culpability.

His earlier response to Christian Porter, quoting the “pub test” (pubs are where you find a lot of characters in various states of inebriation) was typically inept. He’s met every opportunity (and there have been plenty) with nothing but a cringeworthy zinger and a stupid grin but this latest failure is surely the last straw.
John Laurie, Riddells Creek

More of this, please
What a beautiful story (“United effort smoothed rocky path”, The Age, 18/9). I’m humbled by the forward thinking and generosity of organisations and individuals. For Afghans arriving in Australia after the chaos of Kabul, being able to have care packs designed especially for their culture is amazing.

I loved reading this feel-good story and ask that more of these are published – I know they are out there, amazing people doing amazing things. I’m so over reading all the negative stuff.
Di Whitehead, Traralgon

Sign up to this pledge
Given methane has more than 80 times the warming effect of CO2, the news the world’s methane emissions have “risen rapidly” is disturbing (“US, EU to urge global offensive against methane”, The Age, 18/9).
While about 40 per cent of methane emissions are natural, most are from anthropogenic sources, in particular agriculture and gas.

Given Australia is now the world’s largest exporter of gas, we have a clear role to play and must sign the forthcoming Global Methane Pledge initiated by the US, EU and UK.

However, given Scott Morrison’s refusal last year to join 88 other countries and sign the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, that seems unlikely. Perhaps if the pledge was stapled to the AUKUS agreement, he wouldn’t notice.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

In praise of adaptability
Your correspondent (“Oh, to chat together”, Letters 18/9) prompts conversation about what constitutes valuable conversation during this pandemic, when conversation is one of the few activities at our disposal.

The two examples given of impediments to conversation, the ghastly shared experience of lockdown that there is no point in talking about and the grievous situation of a regular partner in conversations becoming impaired by disability, both show that the art and pleasure of conversation are dependent on constant adaptation. When things are comfortable, we fall into habits of thinking as to what kinds of conversation and activity are worthwhile, but when life closes doors, the capacity of humans to adapt to new challenges is extraordinary, and the richness and variety of life on the planet around us are limitless.

Human survival and happiness will always depend on finding ways to think and act “outside the square”, but the great thing is that human beings specialise and excel in this skill.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

What an understatement
Rodney Boys from Australia Post states: “We know that delays are frustrating , but we are asking our customers for their patience and to allow an extra couple of days for their parcels.”

That would have to be the understatement of the year (“Warning to shop early for Christmas”, The Age, 18/9). I ordered an item from Myer as I could not click and collect from Dandenong or Southland.

I received a message after a week saying it was being processed in Penrith, NSW. It is not even in transit yet. Probably still has to go via Darwin.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Aren’t they all illegal?
So, when is a protest a good protest and when is it bad?

A protest in support of Black Lives Matter is OK, no fines issued, the cause is too important to delay. A protest in support of construction workers’ smoko rooms is OK, no fines issued, no arrests made, police attend and observe from the sidelines. But a protest in support of citizens’ rights is bad, mounted police and hundreds of police on foot deployed, pepper spray is used and arrests made.

I thought all protests were illegal during lockdown, if so how does Victoria Police decide which protests are OK and which are to be shut down? Does the government tell them how to respond?

When is the citizen an enemy of the state and when does the state become the enemy?
Wayne Alexander, Eltham

It’s time to tee off
I accept that our activities need to be restricted to control the spread of COVID-19. But I am disappointed that we have to wait for 80 per cent single-dose vaccination coverage before we can again play golf, which ticks all the boxes for a COVID-safe activity.

When people in the UK flocked to beaches in the middle of last year it was predicted to cause a wave of COVID-19 infections. Now that the data has been analysed, epidemiologist Professor Mark Woolhouse says, “There has never been an outbreak linked to people being on beaches” (“It turns out that COVID is not so keen to be beside the seaside”, The Sunday Age, 19/9).

Apparently this is because the virus “does not transmit well outdoors” and people getting infected outdoors is “extremely rare in the absence of intimate physical contact”. What does the government think golfers get up to?
Bill King, Camberwell

A blatant double standard
As long as Australian men and women continue to value the idea of “the good bloke”, and give credence to “the lovable rogue” and that most precious of Australian titles, “the larrikin”, poor behaviour by men will be largely ignored, forgiven and ultimately rewarded.

That’s not to say there aren’t good blokes around, it’s just that these titles, attributed exclusively to men, also hide a heck of a lot of sins women would never get away with unscathed. Many “good blokes” only appear as such in front of their mates, not at home.

The argument is an old one, but Kate Halfpenny is right to continue to question and call out this blatant societal double standard that never seems to find a resolution (“Gender offender: Why is it that when women falter, they are not easily forgiven?”, Comment, 18/9). Men are rarely pilloried as women are.

I would add Julia Gillard to top the list of Halfpenny’s list of female casualties. To think Alan Jones et al kept their jobs after the vitriol they hurled at our first female PM is galling.

It’s time for genuine good blokes to stand up and call the double standard out as well.
Marisa Spiller, Harrietville

Buck up, little campers
I’m appalled at the juvenile behaviour of the tradies protesting about the closure of their tea rooms. They are fortunate to still be working, yet some are having a tantrum because of this attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.

I live near and pass many construction sites. Compliance with masks and distancing is lacklustre. Extra measures are necessary. So buck up, little campers, it won’t last forever.
Aaron Lenzing, Carrum Downs

They’re not nuclear arms
According to some news reports, the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines is going to spark a nuclear arms race in our region.

I don’t get it. The nuclear equipment on one of these submarines makes the propellers go around and is not a weapon.

While I am sure they may be capable of carrying nuclear weapons I don’t understand that to be Australia’s ambition.

If the commentators could put aside the inflammatory language and instead talked about the extraordinary goings on around the initial awarding of this contract to the French we would all be far better off.
Don Relf, Mentone


New submarines
It seems that there is to be no discussion with the public on underwater matters either.
Paul Sands, Sunbury


It’s all OK, we’ll still get our submarines, they just won’t be as stylish.
Margaret Robinson, Point Lonsdale

China has numbers of nuclear-powered submarines already. What’s its problem with Australia having a few?
David Wright, Albert Park

Let’s hope the submarine deal goes better than the one with the Joint Strike Fighters.
Dean Virgin, Strathmore


Christian Porter – too little, too late. If you’re not fit to be a government minister, you’re not fit to be a member of parliament.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Anthony Albanese, I don’t want to go down Scott Morrison’s nuclear pathway. Please offer me an alternative one.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Life in lockdown
Union members have more issues to protest about than the closure of their tea rooms.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

A heartfelt thank you to all those tradies who blockaded Melbourne streets in protest at losing … their tea rooms. It was the best laugh I’ve had in months.
Georgina Simmons, Mornington

Time for a walk. Should I wear a mask, or carry a paper cup?
Diane Maddison, Parkdale

Weights and measures
I’m sure Shakespeare would have been relieved about England’s return to imperial units, 454 grams of flesh doesn’t have the same ring as a pound (“Weigh to go: Britain to turn back time”, The Sunday Age, 19/9).
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

Oh, gosh, now I’m going to have to learn how many pottles there are in a firkin.
Simon Thornton, Alphington

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