Protest gatherings are a risk to community health

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Protest gatherings are a risk to community health

Suppose the Ballarat mum had been politely asked to remove her Facebook post, but then put it back up the next day. Let us be clear. These are not normal times. We have a pandemic, and we will not get out of lockdown until the COVID-19 spread is contained. Protest gatherings must be quashed.

We cannot have two different sets of rules, one for women who claim to be pregnant and one for everyone else. How would the police check such claims? Contrary to the current hysteria, the use of handcuffs on Zoe Buhler was brief, she was not hurt, and the police helped to reschedule her ultrasound appointment. Many offenders have health issues or family issues but it is not the job of the police to assess those. Lawyers and judges sort that out later.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills

We must take a stand on an uncalled for arrest

The arrest of a young, pregnant woman, in her own home, for daring to protest about regulations that are of disputed value – and have not even been tested in parliamentary debate, let alone explained – demands action from reputable members of our society.
Peter Fenwick, East Melbourne

‘But I didn’t know it was illegal’ doesn’t wash

Everyone knows that gatherings are not allowed during the stage four lockdown in Melbourne (and stage three in Ballarat). Believing that organising an illegal gathering on Facebook is permitted does not wash. It is a lame excuse, just like ‘‘I didn’t know the speed limit’’ or ‘‘I’ll put the stolen goods back’’.

And, by the way, I am pregnant so I should be treated differently and get sympathy when I break the law. Also, I post my arrest on Facebook to get more sympathy. I am tired of these minority groups gaining so much air time and creating divisions while the majority in the community is supportive and just trying to get through this pandemic.
Susan Simpson, Surrey Hills

Victoria, our new state of oppression

In the words of Daniel Andrews, ‘‘The key point here is, now is not the time to protest about anything. Because to do so is not safe.’’ Is he serious? To protest about the government’s regulations during the pandemic will lead to police raids and being handcuffed? Since when is this the way a democracy works? How can we judge China about its civil rights record when we have descended so quickly into a police state?
Elizabeth Potter, Brighton

Holding people to account for social media posts

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Also, pregnancy is not always visible to the observer in its early stage but, in any event, it cannot be used as an excuse to break the law. We have worked so hard for many years to say women are equal, but treating pregnant women as incapable undoes all that work.
I have heard that some of the posts on Facebook were questionable. The police officers who went to Zoe Buhler’s home did not know if the situation could have turned violent. At last, someone is being held to account for social media posts. That should happen often, not rarely.

And would there be a similar level of outrage if a Middle Eastern- looking man were arrested in front of his pregnant wife and child? I think not. Remember, too, the police were criticised for not stopping the Black Lives Matter protest. Now they are criticised for stopping these anti-lockdown protests. They cannot win.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

A double standard throughout the pandemic

Before he backtracked on his call for people to protest, I expected a search warrant to be issued for Sam Newman and for him to be handcuffed, prohibited from using social media and charged with incitement following the arrest and bail of Zoe Buhler. What shameful behaviour by our police. There have been rules for some and privileges for others throughout this pandemic.
Lorraine Ryan, Templestowe


Give us more details

Hear hear, Julie Szego (Comment, 4/9). The public should receive more information from the Victorian government about how quarantine and contract tracing will be improved, and more information about whether input has been sought from sectors other than business (The Age, 4/9).

Such as the medical fraternity which has proposed that public health encompasses more than the daily COVID-19 statistics, pointing to other potentially dangerous factors such as cancer, mental illness and domestic violence. We would be reassured to know these and other factors bearing on our well-being are in the equation when considering how and when restrictions can be eased.
Sidra de Zoysa, Glen Iris

Make it suburb by suburb

Why is the Premier lumping all of Greater Melbourne into the continuing lockdown? Would it not be more sensible to allow suburbs with very few cases to move to stage two? We have been patient and we have obeyed the rules so far but …
Sue Oliver, Frankston

Innovative exercising

Melissa Ort (Letters, 4/9), I was not aware that we could only do one hour of exercise each day. Certainly we are restricted to one hour of exercise in the public domain, but this does not stop us from using exercise bikes at home, tuning into gym classes, setting up exercise stations in the backyard and the like. In our current situation, we should take more note of Bill Proctor (Letters, 4/9), acknowledging the risk our healthcare workers are taking everyday and showing a bit of resilience.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Just facing the facts

It is a given that Tony Abbott should never be listened to or encouraged to ever speak. However is an ‘‘acceptable number of deaths’’ due to COVID-19 for the sake of the economy any different to how we manage the road toll?
Phillip Hankin, Camberwell

Get in line, Mr Abbott

Should Tony Abbott wish to return to Australia, I do hope he takes his turn behind all the other Australians in the queue.
Margaret Bridger, Merricks

Surely a win-win for all

In these unusual times, employers are again asking for more flexible working conditions. Maybe we could consider more flexibility for families in the form of extending unpaid parental leave for up to three years. This model, which operates successfully in some Scandinavian countries, might take some pressure off both parents and employers.
Gill Riley, Doncaster East

Putting the elderly first

Your report on how the Shepparton Villages aged care facility successfully managed a COVID-19 outbreak (The Age, 2/9) omitted a salient point: the service is run as a not-for-profit. This makes it more likely that the CEO and her staff had the time and resources to develop and implement a proper plan as opposed to the ‘‘tick the box’’ compliance efforts of private sector providers. When will Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck take responsibility for the failings of government policy and oversight in the aged care sector and resign?
Nick Thorburn, Apollo Bay

Yet another postal woe

When I finally tracked a ‘‘lost’’ parcel of puzzles, both purchased and sent from a local post office, I was struck by the care with which my number ‘‘3’’ on the (correct) address had been carefully changed into an ‘‘8’’. Four weeks after posting it, it had therefore ended up at another post office but with no information either to me or the recipient that it was there. What gives, Australia Post?
Colma Ife, Camberwell

A recycling problem

I second the observations of Hobsons Bay resident Phil Quinn (Letters, 3/9). Now that all our food scraps are being recycled with our green waste, the entire contents of my rubbish bin is made up of plastics that have no identifiable or appropriate recycling numbers. Ironically I am buying biodegradable bin liners to contain these non-recyclable plastics.
Kristen Doell, Altona

Shortsighted rankings

The Times Higher Education rankings ( Online, 3/9) follow a predictable pattern for Australian universities: more international students mean more money to attract star international researchers to bolster local research, which improves the rankings which attracts more overseas students.

Anything about the time and effort put into quality teaching? Anything about encouragement of local students to qualify in areas of perceived national shortage and of cultural benefit to this country? Instead we hope to attract skilled workers via migration. Anything about attracting quality lecturers, providing tenure and paying them appropriately? Are we willing to stop the carousel before we are totally giddy?
Russell Harrison, Sandringham

Preparing for the fires

With so many planes lying idle, why doesn’t the government buy or lease some of them so they can be refitted to fight next year’s fires?
Vicki Mackey, Balwyn North

It’s our grand final

It is a disgrace that the grand final will be played in Queensland, a rugby state. A much better idea would be to play it at the MCG – at the start of the next season. Now that would be a great curtain raiser to season 2021.
Hugh Pirrett, Balwyn

Lure of the AFL money

We are taught that no means no. This is often enforced in the court of law. Apparently this does not apply in Queensland. When its government says ‘‘no Victorians are to come here’’, apparently it means no Victorians with the exception of the cashed-up AFL and its profitable game.
Trish Young, Hampton

A battle to be tested

Peter Farago (Letters, 3/9), I too was turned away at my local testing centre, where I have been tested twice in recent months (both negative) as a matter of course because I work in the disability sector. I was given a similar rejection spiel to what you copped. When I told the greeting medico I’d had two tests, initially he did not believe me. My closest alternative, he said, was Bunnings in Sunshine.

I have not bothered checking if that is beyond the five-kilometre travel limit that applies and am unsure if I feel like having that third test after all. But I remain bemused, especially as we have been told that people can have coronavirus but not show symptoms.
Rob Inder-Smith, Laverton

Changing perspectives

Before the coronavirus changed everything, the federal government was aiming for a wafer-thin surplus. It told us that saving (by the government) was important for our future, even though wages had been depressed for years. Since COVID-19, the government has been spending in ways it could never have imagined. Ironically now it tells the people to spend, not save, to stimulate the economy. This just when most people are feeling more insecure about their financial future than ever before.
Katherine Malangre, Bayswater North

What he’s paid to do

The Treasurer reassures us that he will monitor the economy. I thought that was his job.
Judith Dunn, Bentleigh East

It’s our right to know

Defying the lockdown will only spread the virus and cause more deaths and further damage our way of life. But we could validly campaign to have a charter of human rights added to our constitution. We are the only developed country in the world not to have legislated the UN Charter of Human Rights.

Politicians and vested interests say our rights are well protected by our tradition of common law. But more and more legislation is whittling away those rights, and more and more government business is stamped ‘‘secret’’ – some of it for national security reasons, but most of it to hide embarrassing government bungles and corruption. We need a legislated and unfettered right to know.
Ken Sussex, Lilydale


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Why does carrying a non-recyclable coffee cup remove the need to wear a mask?
Bruce Love, East Melbourne

Premier, please allow me a latte, sitting in my favourite cafe, to lift my spirit.
Ivan Gaal, Fitzroy North

The arrest of Zoe Buhler could have been handled with more sensitivity.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Facebook and so on are not authorities. Zoe Buhler may have learnt a lesson, but others need to too.
John Crossley, Oakleigh


How gratifying to see his chickens coming home to roost.
Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris

Three-word summation of his skewed rationale: Sir Prince Philip.
Bill Walker, St Andrews

Tony, your reputation precedes you. Just ask the British MPs and press.
Greg Bardin, Altona North

UK ministers upset at Abbott’s appointment? Sorry, no backsies.
Helen Kamil, Caulfield South

Tony, there is dignity in silence but you blew it by opening your mouth.
Jane Cheong, Aspendale Gardens

Abbott ignored climate experts so it’s not surprising he ignores medical experts.
Fabio Scalia, St Kilda


By doing themselves a favour, American voters will also do the world a favour.
Brian Rock, Beechworth

Putin adds to his medals with deserved award of DoS (Disciple of Stalin).
Ken Dowling, Wheatsheaf

Chris Uhlmann (2/9) gets the China story. How can you negotiate with a dictatorship? It’s used to winning.
Murray Horne, Cressy


Christine Holgate volunteers to deliver mail. I’d like to see that.
Dan Drummond, Leongatha South

The Gabba gets the grand final, AFL staff and families go swimming while in quarantine.
Ian Davies, Kew

The grand final being played away from Melbourne actually is ‘‘unprecedented’’.
Peter Finn, Tallarook

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