Playgrounds are due to open next week. However, rather than being a useful outlet for frustrated children, I foresee huge crowds with little social distancing at each one. This would pose a much higher risk to our COVID-19 caseload than reopening daycare centres. Keeping childcare centres closed and prep school kids at home is an issue that does not appear to have been given any great thought by decision-makers, and the weight it puts on parents has been grossly underestimated.
Toni Ossher, Glen Iris

The heavy weight of the lockdown on business

I expect Jon Faine (Comment, 8/9) is not in business and going broke. Nor retrenching staff. His claim that firms go broke every year implies that this is like any other year. This is nonsense. His implied suggestion that the economy will quickly recover is simplistic.

Businesses play an important role in Victoria and they should be heard by government. It seems their core complaint is their meetings were with second-level bureaucrats and their advice ignored, or they did not even get in the door. Their contributions might have helped the economy and employment without jeopardising the COVID-19 fight. This would be the more frustrating given this crisis was caused by the government’s hotel quarantine fiasco and contact tracing failings

Faine rightly says we are a community. And this community needed a lift on Sunday. Instead, it got a road map with little change until the end of November. And with very challenging trigger points. It was dispiriting.
William Frilay, Doreen

Do we want to be like the US or New Zealand?

While I feel for the many who are losing their jobs and businesses, I remain convinced that the framing of our choice as between saving lives and saving the economy is wrong-headed. We have enough statistics from around the world – of lives, jobs and production lost – to prove that the choice is rather between an extreme economic downturn combined with loss of lives on the scale of a world war (for example United States, United Kingdom, India) or a harsh but lesser economic downturn combined with a minimised loss of lives (for example Australia, New Zealand).
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley

In support of Andrews’ slow and steady approach

Congratulations and thanks to our Premier for sticking up for us and going forward cautiously. Having spoken with many friends about the plan forward, I have heard only one criticism of it. It goes without saying that those individuals and businesses suffering significant financial hardship need to be generously supported over the next several months. And I find it a bit odd that the federal Health Minister seems to disagree with the top medical advice. Or perhaps he now has expertise in infection control and epidemiology?
Pat Dowling Elsternwick

A good plan for Melbourne, a poor plan for Victoria

There are no active COVID-19 cases across the north of Victoria, and abutting shires to the south or east either have no cases or fewer than five. There has never been a first wave in the north, let alone a second. Take a western corridor from Mildura south to Bass Strait and only Horsham had three active cases on Tuesday; even the Bendigo ‘‘hotspot’’ had four. Nevertheless, schools and hospitality remain closed. The sledgehammer to crack the regional walnut is damaging communities and government is missing an opportunity to conduct well-monitored, controlled, natural experiments.
Maree Dyson, Prahran


Our changing times

I visited China for the first time in 1975, as a member of one of the early post-Whitlam delegations of ‘‘foreign experts’’. People in those days, when hearing of my visit, would ask: ‘‘How did you get in?’’ Forty-five years have passed and in view of the treatment of Australian journalists these days – ‘‘Australia’s last reporters in China forced to leave’’ (The Age, 9/9), I am expecting today’s question to be: ‘‘How did you get out?’’
Trevor Hay, Montmorency

Earning China’s respect

Trade, trade and trade. There is no mystery as to why China is taking an ‘‘aggressive’’ stance towards Australia. Assisted by government to seek out other markets, our exporters must increase, not decrease, commodity prices if we wish to regain and enhance China’s respect. Perhaps it will be less belligerent after dealing with inferior resources from alternative sources.
Leon Burgher, Stony Creek

Standing up for Auntie

Let us hope that the Australian government employs the same vigour to support local ABC journalists in the firing line as it did for those who were recently whisked out of China.
Jaroslaw Kotiw, Strathfieldsaye

Parent’s genuine concerns

As a parent of primary school children, I was devastated to read that as a result of lost learning owing to COVID-19, Victorian kids will complete school with fewer skills and less capacity to contribute to economic growth (The Age, 8/9).

I was equally upset to read an academic suggesting that the current situation is somehow positive, saying ‘‘kids might be learning or engaging in more life skills outside of formal schooling, in that they are problem-solving in their daily lives or collaborating more with their parents’’.
Kids isolated and ignored while their parents try to work is not ‘‘problem-solving’’ or ‘‘collaborating’’. While we are doing our best to get through this, the negative impact on our kids missing six months of schooling – and possibly as much as nine months – is very real to us.
Petra Stock, Carlton North

Defining ‘separations’

Some people have proposed that coronavirus-related restrictions be lifted for themselves while the ‘‘vulnerable’’ are ‘‘protected’’. I would be very interested to know how they envisage that protection could be implemented without imposing significant, ongoing limitations on the freedom of movement and social interactions of those they would protect. A clear, widely acceptable determination of who should be separated from whom would also be useful.
Helen Duggan, Kingston

In support of Victoria

Hear hear Jon Faine (Comment, 8/9). Comments from Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt, Josh Frydenberg and co. do not help Victorians in lockdown. Their Canberra bubble must be opaque. Could they please go away.
Teresa McIntosh, Keysborough

But I’m only a ‘Phillips’

I would willingly pay for two weeks’ quarantine in Queensland at a good hotel if the authorities would allow me to stay for a month or two afterwards. How do I achieve this if my surname is not Fox or Simonds?
Bill Phillips, Marlo

Please walk the walk

Billionaire Anthony Pratt backs the continued crackdowns (The Age, 8/9). Perhaps he could consider spending his billions on supporting the hundreds of small businesses this decision will finally send broke.
Peter Norman, Glen Iris

The privileged players

Is it too late for me to adopt an AFL footballer and go to the Gold Coast to help him with his washing, tie his boot laces, anything?
Rhonda Ward, Mont Albert

A smart water project

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has named water as a key focus in his infrastructure plans (The Age, 9/9). The government talks of a ‘‘pipeline of projects’’ in the budget. Why hasn’t consideration been given to capture the excess rainfall in northern Australia and build a real pipeline from North Queensland to the river systems that flow into the Darling River? Not only would this provide a significant boost to employment, it would also save the wastage that flows into the oceans, for the benefit of many.
Jim Pollard, Mount Waverley

Follow world on fast rail

It is good that the government is planning projects for post-coronavirus but disappointing to see the continued opposition to fast rail, including that ‘‘the business case won’t stack up’’. Twenty countries have high-speed rail and more networks are in the pipeline. You can travel from Edinburgh to Budapest, Madrid to Prague, Amsterdam to Naples, the length of Japan, and from Harbin to Hong Kong. Uzbekistan has 600kilometres of track. Australians are still captive to the airlines’ monopoly on travel between capital cities. Fast rail between capital cities, extending later, will do more than any other single project to facilitate business and relieve the pressure on capital cities and roads.
Caroline Miley, Heidelberg

The transport we need

A team of Victorian health officials has been sent to Sydney to learn how to manage contact tracing efficiently (The Age, 9/9). It is a great pity that, years ago, teams were not sent there to learn about public transport efficiency, where credit cards can be used by visitors instead of purchasing Opal cards and where trains connect the airport to the suburban rail system.
Max Langshaw, Sunbury

High cost of ‘home care’

I am 90, and my GP suggested I should go on the (very long) waiting list for a home care ‘‘package’’. Fortunately, I have a supportive family and still have my wits about me. Out of curiosity I looked at a couple of ‘‘packages’ to familiarise myself with the scheme and could not understand why ‘‘providers’’ are needed. The report on 7.30 (ABC, 7/9) clarified it in plain terms – it is a ‘‘business’’ and ‘‘profit’’ is the driving force, according to an ex-employee who could not take it any more.

These middle men are unnecessary. I have used some of the excellent services available through my council and regional organisations allied with hospitals and rehab centres. As a pensioner, I have not been charged exorbitant fees and often there has been no charge at all. Surely, for those who are unable to navigate the regulations or handle their own finances, power of medical attorney could be used to designate someone more capable, and local councils or hospitals could employ an adviser to assist families in making decisions regarding a grant that is designed for their benefit, not for some shady ‘‘provider’’.
Ros Collins, Elwood

A predatory industry

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck says the provision of home care to the elderly is a business and competition will bring down the fraction of the package charged by providers to a fair level. But it appears this is not a competitive industry but a predatory one.
Rosemary and Peter Turner, Castlemaine

Explaining birds’ reactions

The noisy miner bird has not become aggressive (Letters, 8/9 and 9/9). It is reacting to a change in its environment. I have lived on the same block for 40 years and have increased the number of honey-producing native plants. The wattle birds remain and the noisy miners are invading the neighbourhood where housing has become dense and native gardens smaller and residents have grown European plants. Other bird species are similarly reacting.
Colin Pratt, Surrey Hills

Keeping your distance

I also agree with Peter Fenwick – ‘‘Fundamental right to protest peacefully’’ – (Letters,7/9) that it should never be unsafe to protest. The issue is: What form should that protest take? At the moment, face-to-face gatherings are unsafe. So find another way to protest. Organise an online action. Set up petitions, have small group online meetings to discuss ways to protest. I do not think they will get many takers, but by all means give it a go. Just do not do it face to face.
Helen Gardner, Caulfield South

The joy of being free at last

How wonderful to see former refugee Behrouz Boochani freely riding a bike on the streets of Christchurch in New Zealand (Australian Story, 7/9). His life has begun again in a country that recognises and values him. Shame on the Australian government.
Mandy Bridges, Barwon Heads

Takeways, green style

As our oceans fill with plastic and other waste, one wonders why this need be so. One looks for simple means to combat this horrific proliferation. A major source of this material emanates from waste generated by takeaway food, especially in this COVID-19 time.

Growing up in the 1950s in Coburg, one recalls the occasional treat of a takeaway Chinese meal. Mother would provide the saucepans and pots, all with well-fitting lids, and I would accompany my father in the family car to the restaurant in Sydney Road to purchase our special treat. The trip home, olfactory senses assailed by the most enticing aromas, was never fast enough. My role to secure the precious cargo with my hands and feet, preventing any disaster or loss. Safely home, the meal was enjoyed by all. Satisfaction: 10 out of 10. Recycling: zero out of 10.
Peter Burke, Moe South

Bring on the complaints

Since the Office of the Wind Farm Commissioner has been underwhelmed by so very few complaints about wind farms (The Age , 9/9), and expanding the remit to cover solar farms, large-scale batteries and new transmission lines has drawn even fewer concerns, could this valuable service be expanded further? I suggest accepting complaints over proposed or actual drilling for gas fracking, holes in the ground of coal mines and emissions from coal and gas-fired power stations.
Peter Moore, Clifton Hill


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


The PM’s criticism of Victoria’s fight against the virus gives comfort to those helping to spread it and risks prolonging the agony.
Philip Bull, Ivanhoe

Re David Davies’ criticism of Andrews’ cautious leadership. Would he be comfortable with a funeral-led economic recovery?
Michael Faulkner, Toora

Daniel, I’ve sharpened my pencil and dusted off my exercise book. When can I start as a contact tracer?
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

Brett Sutton says he didn’t suggest a curfew. From whom did our Premier take this advice?
Josephine Bant, Collingwood

Greg Hunt’s hindsight is better than his foresight or his insight.
Susan Daniel, Blairgowrie

Dan, I’ve seen better road maps scribbled on the back of a serviette.
Ed Veber, Malvern East

Simone Martin (9/9), I see Faine’s article (8/9) on Andrews as giving credit where it is due.
Betty Rudin, Wandin North

When did Jon Faine leave Melbourne to live in La La Land?
Tony Ryan, Cape Schanck

Is Morrison the PM for Australia or NSW?
Anne Maki, Alphington

Hands up those who think runners should mask up like the rest of us.
Ian Black, Essendon


The fairness and integrity of the British justice system, not Julian Assange, is on trial.
Tony McNally, Melbourne

It seems we might get another ‘‘Pig Iron Bob’’.
Mel Green, Glen Waverley

It’s timely for the PM to inform China we have run out of iron ore.
Robert Saunders, Box Hill North

Let’s hope Donald Trump is a one-trick phoney.
Perry Sanders, Murrumbeena


Nick Coatsworth advises ‘‘making your bed’’ each day. No, you should throw off the doona and air the bed.
Caitlin Stone, Brunswick East


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