Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
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We can have confidence in safety of the vaccines
A relatively large number of people are concerned about potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. Common side effects of all vaccines may be: transient injection or site reactions (pain, redness, itching, swelling or burning), transient fever, and fainting (more common in adolescents). Some people who have had influenza vaccines would have experienced these. COVID-19 is no different. All these effects are minor and can usually be relieved by a dose of paracetamol. Australians can be assured that the COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for efficacy and safety. However, rare allergic reactions can occur.
Dr Louis Roller, faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, Monash University
Danger in rushing into another big building project
We need proper quarantine accommodation today, not in four months time (The Age, 18/2). There appears to be a lot of existing solutions to this problem, including establishing self-contained caravans at Avalon Airport. There is no need to rush into another large construction project that is certain to be rendered obsolete once we all have been jabbed. Better still, immunise returning Australians in our embassies before they arrive in Australia.
Juliet Allen, St Kilda West
Repurposing old sanatoria for modern day use
In the 20th century, people infected with tuberculosis were sent to purpose-built sanatoria – these facilities were isolated from the community, and patients had access to fresh air and sunshine. Are there any of these sanatoria still standing? Could they be re-commissioned to replace COVID-19 “hot” hotels?
Angela Gill, Moonee Ponds
How to avoid outbreaks: do not use hotels
Tim Thornton (Letters, 17/2) says it is not clear why there are inconsistent standards between hotel quarantine and healthcare settings. Hospitals are designed for infection control, hotels are designed to provide accommodation. Continue to use hotels and outbreaks will continue. The federal government needs to stop shirking its responsibility and step up.
Michael Lunney, Leopold
The importance of ventilation and fresh air
As far back as the early 18th century, writers on medicine and disease observed that hospitals needed high ceilings, big windows (that could open) and ventilators manufactured to help expunge germs. Perhaps premiers could add historians into their mix of advisers.
Paul Watt, Hawksburn
Let’s take vital precautions and get on with our lives
This most recent lockdown has led to serious financial and social effects on business and the community. Did the government consider identifying hotspots and then locking them down, as has happened in NSW, rather than a blanket ban which on this particular weekend (Valentine’s Day, Lunar New Year) placed greater stress on the community? It seems to me the general feeling is that this pandemic cannot be eliminated but can be controlled while we get on with our daily lives, with the necessary precautions (vaccinations, mask-wearing, sanitising etc).
Lee Palmer, Albert Park
Balance laypeople’s opinions with expert views
Tourism Australia’s managing director urges governments to accept a higher risk threshold of COVID-19 and learn to live with the virus (The Age, 18/2). The executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council says closing borders after a handful of cases is like “trying to crush a walnut with a sledgehammer”.
They can, and should, talk about the impact of the pandemic on their industry and ask how decisions take their circumstances into account. However, chief health officers and other people who understand the dynamics of how diseases spread must be shaking their heads. These people’s opinions should be published with a public health response.
Richard Jamonts, Williamstown
Take a fresh approach
Now that a quarantine facility could be built at Avalon airport, might we hope the state government retains ownership of it? Many builders of prefabricated and modular homes/bungalows around Melbourne could, presumably, deliver in a short time frame. Is it really necessary to always look to a foreign supplier? Also, why waste time sending Victorian officials to Howard Springs to inspect the motel-style set-up there?
If the new facility is built using public money, it could be redeployed elsewhere in the future to help address the dire shortage in public housing. It has been almost a year since the Prime Minister announced his hotel quarantine policy, and then turned his back on it, and it has clearly had a few problems. It is time to try something new.
Dianne Ounapuu, Nunawading
Why an on-site inspection?
It seems a no-brainer to construct a Howard Springs-type facility at Avalon Airport. So why in heaven do we need Victorian officials to travel to the Northern Territory, at taxpayers’ expense, to “inspect the motel-style set-up”? Surely a few photos and conference calls would suffice? It is a motel, not a top secret biological laboratory. With the lovely Litchfield Falls a punt kick away, and Kakadu a nice drive away, the word junket roars to mind. It is not quite as good as a fact-finding mission to the Bahamas, but pretty close.
Billy Miller, Yarraville
Next step: a railway line
Avalon Airport’s environs seems an ideal place for a purpose-built quarantine facility. It is close to medical support, remote from residential areas, and there is land available. Travellers can walk to the facility, eliminating the risk of cross-infection on buses.
With this in mind, now is the perfect time to build a railway line to our second-largest airport to support both it and a quarantine facility. At the very least, it is essential to reserve the rail corridor to Avalon before residential infill creates the same difficulty that has plagued Melbourne Airport for so many years.
Helen Lyth, Rippleside
Betting on lockdown 4
I have a suggestion for a new lotto game. Pick the number of days until the state’s next outbreak from hotel quarantine, the next lockdown and the length of that next lockdown. Imagine the payout you would have received from Victoria’s second one. (Current odds on the next outbreak is 14 days or less: evens.)
Paul Jones, Balwyn
All quiet, all good
For those people who claim that the lockdown was unnecessary because there were no newly acquired COVID infections, I would like to share something I learned as a medical student: You know that public health measures are working when nothing happens.
Professor Roy Robins-Browne, medical microbiologist, University of Melbourne
Not an interesting drop
The almost daily release of Michael O’Brien’s whine has critics bemused. Wednesday’s “white whine” was criticised as being thin, without substance and definitely not one to get the party going.
Caitriona Young, Warrandyte
A high price to pay
I was saddened to read that roses for St Valentine’s Day were flown in from Ecuador and Kenya – “Roses are red, retailers are blue” (The Age, 18/12). Think of the “flower miles”. It is remarkable that we have to endure the environmental damage and cost of this. It is also difficult to understand why a viable local supply chain does not exist.
Leslie Reti, Melbourne
Making sense of Joyce
A quote from Barnaby Joyce on net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (7.30, 17/2). “I might offer one word of caution for those who are jumping on board saying they want it. You know, you can’t say I’m going to marry a person and then say you actually want to marry someone else. Once you say you’re in, you’re in”. Is our climate policy safe in this person’s hands?
Simon Gould, Arawata
A champion in every way
At her press conference on Wednesday, Ash Barty demonstrated why she is a true champion. Gracious in defeat, respecting the rules, no excuses, seeking to learn from her experience and focusing on the future. A shining example for us all.
Anne Lyon, Camberwell
Tennis’ unfair advantage
This 10-minute medical break is ridiculous. It simply lets a player break their opponent’s momentum. Tennis players should do what other sportspeople have to do: play through the pain or retire hurt and get off.
Geoff Lipton, Caulfield North
Toughen up, players
Ash Barty may or may not have lost her match due to an opponent’s medical break but why do tennis rules allow players to have a rest because their fitness fails them? If I get a cramp in a bike race, the whole field does not wait until my problem is resolved. Most athletic sports require participants to last the distance without outside assistance, surely an indication of a worthy winner.
Max Langshaw, Sunbury
Two great sportsmen
No smashed racquets, no abuse of umpires: just beautiful, finessed play between two champion tennis players. The Australian Open’s quarter final between Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas was something that our children should watch as an example of outstanding sportsmanship.
Barbara Mothersdale, Hawthorn
Standing up to Facebook
The notion that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook think they can hold the Australian government to ransom is gob smacking. While this is being sorted out, maybe we can all access our news directly from original sources. And maybe Josh Frydenberg can incorporate into the discussion a way of convincing the head of arguably the world’s most successful corporation that it pay reasonable taxes here as the rest of us are expected to do.
Rosie Elsass, Brighton
News, the old style way
Who needs Facebook? If we need news, go straight to the source and try the news apps, emergency services and government bodies such as the Bureau of Meteorology. If you are set in your views of the world, Facebook will reinforce your prejudices. If you want trivia, Facebook again. However, for diversity and communications try the old ways. They still work.
John Seal, Hamlyn Heights
Facebook, who needs it?
I knew there were good reasons not to join Facebook and spend my declining years peering at a computer. It is possible to get all the information you need without Facebook, thank goodness.
Margaret Ady, Avondale Heights
Prosecute the offenders
The behaviour of parliamentarians and their staff needs to be held to account. There is a systemic problem in relation to the treatment of women in Parliament that should be addressed by an independent body with the power to prosecute. If the law can be broken so easily without any consequence within our halls of power, then what hope is there for the rest of society?
Paul Chivers, Box Hill
History of predatory acts
Back in the 1960s, a young woman friend of mine moved from Sydney to Canberra to take up a prestigious, graduate training position in one of our national cultural institutions. Six months later she was back, having reluctantly given up the position, appalled at the misogynistic workplace culture and predatory behaviour of male colleagues and fellow residents, many of whom had left their wives or partners behind in their home states and saw any young female as fair game. It seems that not much has changed there in 50 years.
Bronwen Bryant, St Kilda West
Cleaning up the mess
Yet another delivery of carpets, brooms and other cleaning requirements to Parliament House’s ministerial offices is probably on its way. Persisting with hiding and ignoring mistakes might just sweep you away, Prime Minister, sooner than you think.
Bill Longden, Hampton
No certain election winner
The comparison by Jon Faine between Scott Morrison and Jeff Kennett winning elections (Opinion, 18/2) is interesting. Most media commentators picked Kennett to win in 1999, and have Morrison as favourite for the next federal election. But a major difference is that Kennett was defeated by a highly regarded opposition leader in Steve Bracks and Morrison is still facing “car crash” Anthony Albanese, decent bloke that he is. It is always crucial that voters look at the potential prime minister as well as party policies on election day, and that can still go either way.
Barry Donovan, Aireys Inlet
Axe the tax incentives
It is good to see the Labor Party call out the fallacy of releasing super to assist first home buyers (The Age, 18/2). But to then argue that getting rid of stamp duty is the solution, and to intimate that this will not have the same effect on pushing up house prices as accessing super: am I missing something? Prices will only stabilise and become “more affordable” when demand is weaker than supply. Until the tax incentives on investment houses are reigned in, home affordability will never be addressed.
Mark Harwood, Ocean Grove
An uneven playing field
Jessica Irvine is blunt, but spot on, with her analysis of the causes of increasing house prices (Opinion, 18/2). In this, the cat is truly belled and the Australian notion of the fair go is exposed as as something of a sham. The absence of wealth taxes advantage property owners in particular and limits the access to the property market for current non-owners. Also, the absence of taxes on wealth accumulation and the low real rate of business taxes places a burden on Pay As You Go income tax contributors.
Peter O’Donoghue, Kensington
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Facebook will restrict news feeds in Australia. So what?
John Mosig, Kew
Facebook is going to block news sharing on its platform. Now that’s good news.
Julie Perry, Highton
Morrison needs to get Jen to speak to Mark Zuckerberg.
Greg Lee, Red Hill
I hate to quote Trump but it’s time to clean the swamp.
Linda Mackie, Collingwood
Scott wears the trousers but Jenny chooses them for him.
Harriet Farnaby, Geelong West
Morrison’s comments, said with a straight face, are providing plenty of “pull the other leg” moments.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn
Thank you, Jon Faine (18/2). The only way Scott will be Jeffed is if Wong leads Labor. Its current options look pale and grey.
Imelda Carthy, Camberwell
So, up to 7500 people at the tennis and thousands at the football, but only five visitors in homes and 20 at public gatherings.
Geoff McDonald, Newtown
O’Brien again proves he is a proponent of carp diem – find fault every day.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
I’m sorry, Brian King (17/2), but as someone with a fear of guns, I’d rather have a jab than a shot any day.
June Collini, Diamond Creek
Ash is a wonderful role mode. She behaved exactly as we could hope after a disappointing loss.
Diana Goetz, Mornington
Barty, gracious in defeat, a sportsmanlike explanation for her loss and poo pooing media hype about Muchova’s medical break.
Ross Cropley, North Ringwood
In retrospect, perhaps Barty should have taken a similar break.
Rob Mathew, Yarraville
Could Nine replace flags in front of players’ names with three-letter acronyms. Not everyone knows all the flags.
John Cummings, Anglesea
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