We are in crisis because of a lack of planning

We are in crisis because of a lack of planning

January 12, 2022

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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We are in crisis because of a lack of planning

The states and territories have managed, in spite of constant criticism from Scott Morrison, to contain the virus for nearly two years. There has been lack of preparation by the federal government all along the way. Too slow to get vaccines and to start building suitable quarantine centres etc. Now, thanks also to many of its decisions, the virus is rampant in our community.

I cannot see my dentist or my doctor as both are in isolation. Many people are struggling to get PCR tests because the testing centres are overwhelmed and the results take days to arrive. Many cannot use rapid antigen tests because they are not available.

In Victoria, hundreds of paramedics shifts are now being filled by students and other volunteers, including from the State Emergency Service and St John Ambulance (Sunday Age, 9/1), and then there is life-threatening ramping. We are asked to not call triple zero or go to hospital unless we really need to because they are also overwhelmed.

Supply chains are failing and there are food shortages in supermarkets. Doctors’ surgeries are cancelling appointments because the COVID-19 vaccine had not arrived and their phones are so busy that those with other medical concerns cannot get through to make appointments. We have an existential crisis and our government has failed us. What does it take for a call of no confidence in it?
Jacqueline Kenna, Kew

Why have we gone from containment to “let it rip”?

Would Scott Morrison or Dan Andrews please explain and publish the medical advice that recommended a complete reversal of the pandemic management strategy of containment to the “let it rip” strategy, knowing full well that there were insufficient rapid antigen tests available, our hospitals and health systems were being smashed and the PCR testing regime was failing.

We have backflipped from dealing with the pandemic as a health problem to “it’s all too hard”, including promising that there will be no more lockdowns. I cannot help thinking this was orchestrated on the back of approaching federal and state elections. I do not see any positive economic outcomes coming from this change in strategy.

We have endured enormous suffering over the past couple of years. For what? To let it rip. We are now in a situation where nobody knows the true rate of infection. The incompetency on all levels of government is gobsmacking and suggests that the people in charge of “pulling the levers’ are just not up to it.
David Conolly, Brighton

When getting tested is too hard or even impossible

I suspect there is vast under-reporting of COVID-19 cases. As extended family and friends share their experiences, it is apparent that if one case is lucky enough to get confirmation on a test, the rest of the household and close contacts do not always follow it up with testing. They want to be tested, of course, but cannot get a rapid antigen test and they are feeling too sick and miserable to queue for a PCR test.
Effie Mantzaris, Williamstown

Treating some COVID patients in mobile wards

It is time to consider bringing in the army to help set up mobile hospital wards to mange the many sick, but not critically ill, COVID-19 patients. There are large, open spaces in close proximity to many of our major acute hospitals. These would be ideal sites, as the associated existing hospitals could provide some support and logistics that the army set-up cannot.

And obviously the nearby hospital would be able to take over the care of patients who deteriorate in the temporary COVID-only treatment centres. I would suggest that we start planning to set these up as soon as possible, with smallish-sized units to begin with, and then scaled-up over the coming weeks.

Associate Professor Peter New, public hospital physician, Elwood


We’d love to help but…

Apparently, there is a healthcare workforce emergency in Victoria. My wife and I are both ex-healthcare professionals. We have been trying to join the COVID-19 vaccination response workforce. You would hope it would be simple. But no. If you can find the right webpage (not obvious), you find that recruitment has been outsourced to a private provider. You start to fill in a form, then notice that you are expected to have police and working with children checks before applying.

Fair enough. What is not said is that these are complicated online procedures with substantial fees, difficult identification procedures and visits to post office. Too hard. No wonder there is an emergency.
David Ben-Tovim, Carlton

Health risk for teachers

According to a group of “notable Australians”, including health experts, who have called for schools to reopen, “Teachers are at no higher risk (of the virus) than the general adult population” (Opinion, 12/1). Do the general adult population spend 30-plus hours each week, maskless, working at close quarters with 25 young people? I would like to see these notable Australians prove this statement.
Miriam Pohlenz, Highton

Two years of learning

As a mother of teachers and a grandmother of school-aged children, I have witnessed the education system in action over the past two years. The notable Australians are correct that schools today are exciting places of learning and their greatest value is the social and emotional learning that they help to develop.

But please, in singing all the praises of opening up schools, do not denigrate the excellent innovating education that took place over the past two years.

Teachers worked long hours to prepare suitable material for online learning. As an ex-teacher, I was constantly amazed at the patience they displayed while dealing with technological problems and situations that they would circumvent if in a classroom. Learning did take place during these two years.
Marilyn Hoban, Mornington

Pay teachers a lot more

Julie Carrick (Letters, 11/1) is right that, during lockdowns, Victorian children barely missed a day of schooling due to the efforts of care givers and hardworking, at-risk teachers. By the way, how is that pay rise claim (7per cent) going, Daniel Andrews?
Lee Guion, Portarlington

The list is endless

So researchers in Israel have trained goldfish to drive (Odd Spot, 12/1). Maybe we could train them to drive our submarines, and tortoises to drive our new tanks. Think of the savings. Teaching chickens to drive their own deliveries to supermarkets would fix our supply chain issues. GI (goldfish intelligence) for self-driving cars. If only we could find smarter geese to provide effective government.
Simon Westfold, Bittern

Our dangerous roads

The safety rails on our major roads were designed to minimise serious injury for motorists. With more cyclists, the roads are less safe for both motorists and riders.

Leaf litter, which used to be blown off the road by the speed of passing vehicles, accumulates against the safety barriers. The road verge that was able to be used by cyclists is often impassable, forcing riders to use the driving lane. With the litter and barrier, there is no escape for cyclists, and motorists face moving into the oncoming lane. Is there a cleaning regime to remove the litter?
Cherie Forrester, Gembrook

Dutton’s double standard

It seems Peter Dutton’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. Here he is demanding that celebrities and athletes call out China on its treatment of women, including tennis player Shuai Peng (The Age, 10/1). Yet a few short years ago he warned captains of industry to “stick to their knitting” when they spoke out about same-sex marriage. Let us hope that these celebrities and athletes call out not only China but our own government for its draconian treatment of asylum seekers.
Jan van de Graaff, Brunswick East

Embarrassment all round

The Novak Djokovic visa saga is a fiasco to the point of laughable. Who will end up with more egg on their face? Djokovic or the immigration officials?
Christine Hammett, Richmond

No option but to lie

The Djokovic saga continues with claims that he may have lied on his entrance travel form (The Age, 12/1). Well, so did I on returning recently from Germany. And I had no choice. The electronic form is so incompetently constructed that it is impossible to put in the correct information because it prevents you from doing so.

In my case, I could not enter the date I arrived in Germany, some four months before my return, because it only allowed a date up to 14 days prior. And I could not enter that I was returning from Germany because of a three-hour transit in Dubai and the change of flight numbers. My attempts to find who to contact to fix the problem were futile. Yet another example where replacing people with artificial intelligence results in actual stupidity.
Tim Davis, Heidelberg

Cringeworthy moments

So Nick Kyrgios says he is embarrassed to be an Australian athlete due to the handling of Novak Djokovic’s entry visa. Well, Nick, now you know how we feel every time you represent Australia and exhibit unprofessional, juvenile behaviour on court – very embarrassed.
Julie Perry, Highton

Selling it to the voters

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is taking his time in deciding whether to exercise his discretion and cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa. I’ll bet Cabinet is workshopping a range of possible options with focus groups to find out which one best suits the loudest voices.
Les Cooper, Anglesea

Stay firm, Prime Minister

Just remember, folks, Novak Djokovic is merely an ego-driven tennis player, including not being candid with the truth. He does not give a rat’s backside about our country and should be turfed out pronto. The government should support the true Aussie battlers who carry the load, play by the rules and are doing it hard.

Yes, Scott Morrison, stick to your guns and make it clear to Djokovic and Tennis Australia they are not that important, and their standard of behaviour is less than acceptable.
Paul Reynolds, North Wangaratta

Staying the best option

Apparently Australia grants visas easily, allows ineligible visitors to arrive here, then “cuts them off at the pass” and sends them home. Presumably this saves federal money – provided it does not backfire. Being unvaccinated for no good reason, Novak Djokovic should just not have received a visa in the first place. But the Morrison government has made such a deplorable hash of things that it now seems only fair to let him stay.
Anthea Hyslop, Eltham

The horse has bolted

According to the federal Department of Health’s website, yesterday Fortress Australia had an estimated 612,619 active COVID-19 cases. And our politicians claim they are keeping Australians safe by maybe not allowing one unvaccinated, negative-tested tennis player into our fort? Seriously?
Noela Read, Brighton

A lack of leadership

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke seems to have a problem with putting pen to paper when a decision is required regarding visa applications and exemptions. Indeed he seems unable to act within a timeframe that is relevant to the nature of the application and he clearly ignores the emotional and physical well-being of the people involved.

The refugees and asylum seekers have been confined to their rooms in the Park Hotel for up to nine years waiting for their cases to be reviewed and resolved. No decision on Hawke’s watch, it seems. Now the Djokovic farce.

We expect our politicians to demonstrate leadership and make responsible, timely and fair decisions, even when they are difficult or unpopular. Not this government. Delay and indecision are its catchwords.
Jenny Williams, Parkdale

A convenient excuse

If Novak Djokovic is allowed to stay, just be ready for it: “How could you expect me to win the Australian Open after the way in which you interfered with my preparation?“
Winston Anderson, Mornington

Cavallo, a true rule model

How about we give some positive attention to sportspeople who deserve it, like Adelaide United defender Josh Cavallo who called out homophobic abuse – ‴⁣⁣Enough’s enough’: Police probe threats” (Sport, 11/1)? He is truly someone to admire and look up to. If only those in the crowd who gave him a hard time could have done the same.
Simon Presljak, Reservoir

Voters’ mixed views

Your correspondent (Letters, 12/1) seems to be suggesting that many people vote on the basis of a single issue. Government ministers often use the same tactic but, for them, it can be any issue that suits their message on any given occasion.

Perhaps this is why so many issues are mentioned during election campaigns with most then ignored until afterwards when a minister, in all seriousness, describes such issues as the ones “we put to the Australian people and they voted in favour”.

It is not uncommon for voters to support a range of positions put by different parties. In fact, it is arguable that to support every policy of one party and no other is a sign of someone unworthy of the responsibilities and privileges involved in participating in a democracy.
Terry Bourke, Newtown

Stick to simple English

Could we please bring back discussions for conversations, plans instead of contingencies, affect instead of impact and swimming instead of swim (swim schools/teachers). This list is incomplete.
Polly Mish, Hawthorn


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


The intention of the government’s “let it rip” approach is “let it RIP”.
Maurie Trewhella, Hoppers Crossing

Watching our governments manage Omicron is like watching dogs chase their tails.
Bill Trestrail, St Kilda

To prevent the federal election becoming a super spreader event, it must be made fully postal.
Susan Scalise, Ascot Vale

The “freedom” warriors and anti-vaxxing conspiracy theorists now have their own sporting role model.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

If you’ve got COVID, ScoMo couldn’t give a RATs.
Jennifer Grimwade, Richmond

Who will be the government’s Pied Piper to solve the RAT problem?
Jim Miller, South Melbourne

Australian Open

A PM who steps in to score political points. A player who avoids vaccination. Score: deuce.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

He isn’t a neurosurgeon, farmer, scientist, plumber or engineer. He just plays tennis.
Fay Bailey, Wonthaggi

To be Novaked: when someone who has an elite standing pulls the wool over your eyes.
Paul Jones, Balwyn

“Minister Hawke is considering the matter”? Rubbish. Cabinet is furiously debating the best political solution.
Peter Cash, Wendouree

This year at the AO, I will cheer for those playing within the rules.
Suzanne Clarebrough, Wangaratta


Lovely balmy temperatures. Where are the flies? It hardly seems like summer.
Bob McDowell, Albert Park

How many firefighting aircraft, and supporting equipment, could we purchase for the cost of the tanks ordered by Canberra?
Ruben Buttigieg, Mount Martha

First there was China, then France, now Serbia. Who’s next?
Mary Wise, Ringwood

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