It’s a health and safety issue, it’s not apartheid

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It’s a health and safety issue, it’s not apartheid
I find the Amnesty International comment about a vaccine passport being like “vaccine apartheid” offensive (“Opposition to vaccine proof growing”, The Age, 30/8). With apartheid you are discriminated against because of something you cannot change, like skin colour.

Once there are enough vaccines in Australia those who want it can have it. Will we see Amnesty international now complaining about “driver’s licence apartheid” because those who do not have a driver’s licence are not allowed to drive a car?

A vaccine passport, like a driver’s licence, is a health-and-safety issue. In a society there are rules that restrict individual actions to protect the greater society.
Laurens Meyer, Richmond

At this point, passports should be compulsory …
Later in the year, when vaccines have been made available to everyone, vaccine certificates (or vaccine exemption certificates) need to be made a compulsory requirement for attending functions where social distancing is impossible or large numbers are in attendance.

It is ludicrous that a small percentage of the population who choose not to have the vaccine get to restrict the movements of the vast majority.
Phil Mackenzie, Eaglemont

The principle has already been agreed to
What’s with all these parliamentarians vacillating about the rights of employees and business owners to deny entry to the unvaccinated (“Opposition to vaccine proof growing”, The Age, 30/8)?

We already have a system where only those who are vaccinated can attend kindergarten – rightfully so – and I fail to see the difference in the case of COVID-19.

I want to be able to enjoy life knowing that the people around me in a restaurant, theatre, workplace, concert or store are less likely to spread the disease because they are vaccinated.

What everyone seems to forget is that even though we might be fully vaccinated we can still get COVID, still get sick and pass on the disease, and so any way of limiting it should be welcomed by everyone, even by our politicians.
Nathan Feld, Glen Iris

Our children also need protection
Fair enough, Andrew Laming, unvaccinated people should not be denied goods and services, but our kids should be protected from them roaming our supermarkets.
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully

The virus is what is curtailing our freedoms
The freedom brigade of the Coalition MPs comes out fighting about so-called vaccination passports.

Our freedoms have been curtailed not by politicians but a deadly virus. Get the virus under control and our freedom will be re-established. But surely we have the right to put limitations on people who do not take the opportunity to vaccinate and in doing so slow down the community’s right to regain our freedom.

It is called the greater good, and the concept has been around since time immemorial.
John Rome, Mount Lawley, WA

This is approaching science-fiction territory
The science fiction movie Gattaca, where humans born with genetically modified DNA are guaranteed success, while those who arrive the “natural” way are not, makes me think about where our society is heading with the notion of vaccine passports.

While I don’t necessarily disagree with having to show proof of vaccination in certain circumstances, surely the priority focus now should be on ensuring all people are immunised with the vaccine of their choice (including those aged over 60).

I believe the federal government has a moral duty to do so before creating a two-tiered society.
Sharon Rishel, Toorak


The real race of our time
At last, climate action is again front-page news and has two pages of accompanying analysis. The new Australian Conservation Foundation survey found “67 per cent of voters believed the government should be doing more to address climate change” (“Voters demand climate action”, The Age, 30/8).

This may well be the social tipping point for stimulating a reformed or new government to bring about the speedy climate action needed from this year, this decade. Very obviously, it must include clean jobs with contracts for workers displaced in coal and other fossil fuel jobs.

As far-sighted climate scientist James Hansen wrote, “this will be the most urgent fight of our lives” (Storms of my grandchildren, 2009). Our Prime Minister must understand that it is also the real race of our time for survival.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

Overlooked hot spots
Amid the widespread commentary on the need to prioritise COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care, health workers, teachers, essential services, etc – all of which I agree with – there seems to be one group who have greater contact with more of the public, more frequently than any other but are missing from these priorities.

Supermarkets are a regular visiting point for most of the community, with frontline (checkouts, etc) supermarket staff having more interaction with customers than other permitted access points.

During every period of high infection risk and lockdown since the pandemic began, supermarkets have been among the most frequent of nominated exposure sites.

For the sake of the supermarket workers, and the members of the community who need to come into contact with them regularly, some vaccination priority of supermarket staff should be overseen and encouraged.
Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley

It’s a good idea, but …
As a trial, Port Phillip Council has introduced communal food waste recycling hubs, one of them near me. When I went there on Sunday with my food waste, the bins were totally and disgustingly overflowing, forcing me to take my stuff back home. Messy and demotivating.

While the overflow shows public interest, the trial can only be a success if the council finds a way of emptying the bins as needed instead of to some rigid schedule.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West

Brilliant service
On Saturday morning I went for a COVID test, my sixth since this pandemic took over our lives. Each experience has been subtly different; the consistent trend is towards increasing ease and efficiency.

As I queued this time, I was struck by how mass screening for COVID-19 – so unimaginable two years ago – has become unremarkable. Just the sort of thing you might do on a Saturday morning.

My symptoms were mild and I am double-vaxxed but, press conference junkie that I am, I felt duty bound to submit to the probing swab. And promptly.

Afterwards, confined to barracks, I found myself thinking about the workers in the pathology labs across Melbourne. I tried to picture them at work and wondered how many there were and how many worked night shifts in order to turn the samples into reassuring SMS messages for individuals like me and invaluable data for the public health team.

On Sunday morning, only 21 hours after my test, my negative result arrived by SMS. Amazing. Thank you to all those workers behind the scenes who provide this brilliant screening service. Bravo.
Alison Kirk, Blackburn

An elitist idea of freedom
We have “freedom loving” mask-refusers and lockdown protesters who gather together to demand their right to do what they like, rather than obey current restrictions.

Perhaps these people might look at the photo of the 539 migrants crammed into a horrendously overcrowded fishing boat, travelling 300 kilometres from Libya to Lampedusa in search of “freedom” (“Decrepit boat packed with 539 migrants”, World, 30/8).

That might give the mask-refusers an idea of how much freedom Australians actually have, and how self-centred and elitist they are.
Jacki Burgess, Port Melbourne

The evidence is in
So now we know. The Prime Minister is a bully.

Julia Banks, a Liberal MP, first spilled the beans by describing how he bullied her and other female ministers. Niki Savva has confirmed that colleagues and staff have called his aggressive streak “bullying” (“A cranky man in need of a plan”, Comment, 12/8). Peter Hartcher (“When teamwork takes a tumble”, Comment, 28/8) now reveals that Gladys Berejiklian describes him as “evil” and a “bully”. One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is quoted as describing him as a “bully”.

No wonder so little progress is being made on the treatment of women, toxic workplace cultures and even climate change with Scott Morrison in charge.

Bullies operate through intimidation and fear rather than negotiation and admitting to mistakes. They make poor leaders. Company boards now realise that bully CEOs destroy cultures and send them packing. Voters should do the same.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

It’s been done elsewhere
It would be so good if the op shops could reopen (Letters, 30/8). I have for many years been a volunteer at Vinnies and, of course, I miss it.

It should not be too difficult to organise a regime for the customers to come in a few at a time. It has been done elsewhere. It may also help with the problem of people leaving piles of clothes, etc outside the shops, causing problems for passing people on the street.
Jacqueline O’Donnell, Ashburton

These are the priorities
The economy is important (“Economy must be part of plans to reopen”, Editorial, 30/8), but the pandemic has shown that the economy has been given too high a priority for too long.

It must remain further down the priority list until genuine political effort has been made to undo the widespread damage that has resulted from giving the economy too high a priority: to young people, through the casualisation of the workforce; to women, by undervaluing the jobs that they do; and to the elderly, as set out in the aged care royal commission’s final report, to list only a few.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

It won’t work
Stephen Duckett (“Where to next with Victoria’s lockdowns”, Comment, 30/8) suggests Victoria relaxes some restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

This sounds great in principle, but it ignores one of the principal lessons NSW has learnt from its recent COVID experience: people do not like being treated inequitably, and they will be encouraged to violate restrictions if they are.

At this stage most people are not unvaccinated because they want to be; it is because there is inadequate supply, so discriminating against these people is unfair.

It will also be impossible to police picnics or sitting down for coffees with supposedly fully vaccinated friends. If we really are “all in this together”, we will avoid the social divisiveness we see in NSW, and we will get to the end quicker.
Brewis Atkinson, Tyabb

What were they thinking?
At a busy park on the edge of Armadale/Prahran on Saturday afternoon, a group of a dozen or so young women were gathered under trees, wine glasses in hand.

Finally aware that a couple of us had noticed them, one of the group walked over to explain they were there to farewell a friend who was off to London yesterday. No amount of admonishing affected her argument that they wouldn’t see their friend for ages and it was important to give her a farewell hug. She qualified her argument on the grounds that none of them stayed very long but were coming and going.

Getting nowhere with us, she said as she walked away in a huff, “I came over to apologise, but if that’s your attitude, I’m sorry I bothered.” The possible ramifications of that gathering, with one of them flying overseas, invites the question: stupidity or just entitlement?
Di White, Armadale

A message of sacrifice
Thank you, Melissa Coburn, for reminding us of the beautiful story The Last Leaf (“Dreams blossom as the last leaf falls”, Comment, 30/8). It sends a message of hope but also of sacrifice, a willingness to risk yourself in order to assist others.

No better example was the fate of the 13 US soldiers who were among the many victims of the suicide bomber at the airport in Kabul.

The exodus may be a chaotic debacle, but they were simply doing their duty and helping those desperate to leave.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone

Where are the police?
I am so tired of seeing the lockdown rules being flouted, hearing others complain about the rules being flouted, people’s efforts to contact police being thwarted.

Where are the police? Why is there absolutely no presence?
Charlotte Murphy, Mount Eliza

For the record
I agree with much of what your correspondent says, but unfortunately his mathematics is way out (“MPs undermining Andrews need to pipe down”, Letters, 30/8).

The area of a five-kilometre-radius circle is 78.5 square kilometres (not 19.6) and the area of a 10-kilometre-radius circle is 314.2 square kilometres (not 78.6), which he correctly identifies as four times bigger.
Alan Inchley, Frankston


The pandemic
Your correspondent (And another thing, 30/8) wants an anthem for each state. May I suggest NSW adopts “I did it my way”.
Andy Wain, Rosebud


Lock down, lock up, lock in, lock out, lock away? We need a locksmith.
Andrew Smith, Leongatha

Whether some Coalition politicians object to a vaccination passport system will be irrelevant, because the overwhelming majority of Australians support having some form of vaccination ID.
Anne Maki, Alphington

Climate change
The reason too little climate action is being taken is down to how the voters vote (“Voters demand climate action”, The Age, 30/8).
Graeme Perry, Skye

The Australian Conservation Foundation climate survey is enlightening. Will the Coalition see the light? Will Labor’s “Light on the Hill” be solar powered? A race to the top is welcomed.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Scott Morrison, you are our leader, follow us.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

Craig Kelly: a spammer in the works.
Heather D’Cruz, Geelong West

If mask wearing is not enforced it will be disregarded.
Susie Holt, South Yarra

Forget road rage. What I fear next is mask rage.
Barbara Greenaway, Mount Eliza

Great to read a footy story by Martin Flanagan in The Age again (“Dogs find will to shine through gloom”, 30/8). Even more enjoyable for us Doggies fans.
Ross Bardin, Williamstown

The people who are doing the right thing don’t get rewarded and the people who aren’t doing the right thing don’t get punished. What hope have we got?
Ron Mather, Melbourne

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