How will our civil liberties be affected?

Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

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VACCINATION

How will our civil liberties be impacted?

The inevitable move to vaccination certification will have a profound impact on our civil liberties and ways of life. While passports have been required for international travel, we have never been required to validate our personal status so explicitly for the basics of life that are being proposed through certification

Lockdown strategies curbing many civil liberties were legally mandated through emergency powers. It is unclear what legal mandate will cover vaccination certification in the short and long-term. To avoid confusion and discrimination, certification must be available electronically and paper/card-based, in a single nationwide format, conveying the holder’s status, whether fully or partially vaccinated. If not vaccinated, legally accepted reasons, whether on medical, cultural or religious grounds, must be clear.

Will carrying a vaccination document be mandatory? Australia has no bill of rights. The constitution provides limited protections of our rights, notably for freedom of religion and prohibition of discrimination on the basis of state of residency. While public safety is paramount, it is imperative that we all retain the basic rights of a democracy. Vaccination certification will be a vital tool for opening up our lives but must not divide our society.

The national cabinet must ensure opening-up measures in every state are legally and practically consistent, and non-discriminatory. Political differences, evident in the vaccination rollout, must be set aside. We cannot afford civil liberties confusion, community unrest or, at worst, discrimination that violates our society.
David Cramond, Mornington

When it’s dangerous to be with the non-vaccinated

The recent notice from a Healesville establishment to allow entrance to all, whether COVID-19 vaccinated or not, may appear altruistic but it is misguided. Once certificates showing proof of vaccination are issued, I for one will never set foot in any venue that admits non-vaccinated individuals. The only exception should be for those with medical exemptions, which must be supported by a medical certificate.
Emeritus Professor Ben Adler, department of microbiology, Monash University

Protecting both the customers and the staff

New South Wales has announced a road map for the opening of venues and retail for the fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, no mention is made of any requirements for the full vaccination status of the associated workforce. Can the Victorian government please provide clarity on this when such announcements are made for our state.
Kerry Landman, Alphington

Providing the most vaccines to those in most need

I moved to Victoria from London 18 years ago and believed I was settling in Australia. I read with dismay of people applauding Dan Andrews for his outrage at the federal government supplying NSW with more vaccines. Clearly that state, and in particular the people of south-west Sydney, were in an extreme situation.

We as Australians expect our government to prioritise the response to areas of greatest need. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has demonstrated genuine friendship and compassion in helping out his allies. Unfortunately compassion has been so lacking in our premiers in Australia. Boris Johnson certainly made some disastrous mistakes early in the pandemic, but Dan Andrews, please learn from his example and your state will benefit very soon from his generosity.
Gerry Glackin, Sandringham

Will we have a policy of “no vax, no ICU bed”?

During the initial COVID-19 outbreak, when there was a real chance of intensive care units becoming overwhelmed, younger patients were reportedly given priority over older patients (65-plus) for intensive care treatment. What is to be the access policy with respect to those people who reject vaccination? Will the emerging move to “no vax, no job/travel” extend to ICUs?
Adam Thomson, Collingwood

THE FORUM

Urgent need for hospitals

Re “Health worker fears as tenfold case rise tipped” (The Age, 9/9). Discussion seems to regard the health system as if it were a fixed presence that we simply have to cope with. What it represents is the outcome of decades of government policy, regardless of which party was in power.

What a difference two more major public hospitals would make to issues like the long elective surgery wait times, demands for beds for COVID-19 patients, especially in ICU wards, availability of specialist staff and ratio of nurses to patients, assuming all was properly funded.

The fact that we are enduring a once-in-a-century pandemic is irrelevant to this argument. What new crises might climate change impinge on our health system? No amount of outsourcing our health management to the private system will make the difference we will need, so start planning now. Dan Andrews, stop digging holes unless you plan to put hospitals in them. Think of the work that will create and the efficiencies that will follow.
John Whelen, Box Hill South

Putting the people first

Australia has an oversupply of the AstraZeneca vaccine and enough to give those who are eligible two jabs. Meanwhile, our politicians argue about the difference in the numbers of any vaccine available between states and territories. Politicians need a jab of a vaccine called “Australians Other Than Me Come First”.
Cheri Lee, East Brunswick

In support of testing

Surely the moment has arrived for rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 in hospital emergency departments. Given that one of the tests was developed in Australia and has been approved for use in Europe and the United Kingdom, it is high time that it is used routinely here in settings where a timely result would be so beneficial.
Celia McKenzie, Rosanna

Surely character building

All these articles referencing how hard the whole COVID-19 thing is on the poor, young folks. Has anyone considered the fact that this may give us, in the future, a tougher and more resilient group of people to continue this country?
Shane Gunn, Heathcote Junction

Defying health orders

Jeremy Browne (Letters, 9/9) I wonder whether one of the “most self-effacing and gentlest people imaginable”, when leaving the Ripponlea synagogue, allegedly assaulted a news cameraman who ended up in hospital? Or was it one of the 20 or so who arrived as those leaving the synagogue apparently attempted to avoid being questioned by the police for disobeying public health orders that are intended to protect the community?
Gaynor Sheahan, Wantirna South

The rites we’ve all missed

An interesting article by Deborah Stone (Opinion, 9/9) reminding us of the sacredness of the Jewish history and that the selfish behaviour of a minority does not represent the views of the majority of our Jewish brethren. Yes, Rosh Hashanah is sacred and many Jewish people have made sacrifices this week. However, we must not lose perspective. Thousands of people have died with COVID-19, and many have lost their livelihoods during lockdowns and are struggling, day to day, to make ends meet. All of us have missed important events that celebrate rites of passage over the last two years.
Julie Ottobre, Forest Hill

The insurer always wins

It is great news that soon we will be able to travel overseas. I bet that travel insurers will exclude anything that is related to COVID-19. Or if you want it included, there will be price gouging by insurers.
Phillip Rosenwax, Caulfield South

Such changeable “lines”

Early in the pandemic I wrote to a Liberal senator for Victoria asking why public universities had been excluded from JobKeeper. I was told that the line had to be drawn somewhere. I agreed, but wrote back to ask why private universities were supported, but not public ones. I did not get a reply. Now, Josh Frydenberg shamelessly defends handouts to big businesses that increased their profits, while his government pursues Centrelink benefit recipients who were inadvertently paid more than the measly amount they were entitled to. Another example of where this government draws the line.
Alan Shiell, Lorne

Clive, stop messaging me

Does anyone know how to get the United Australia Party to stop texting me? They have ignored my email request to desist and the phone number of their website comes up with: “Your call couldn’t be connected, please check the number”. I would not think this endears the UAP to the random people they are targeting.
Rosie Elsass, Brighton East

The issues that matter

I am sick of the whingeing letters (The Age, 9/9) about Scott Morrison’s visit to his family on Father’s Day. For God’s sake, he is the Prime Minister and surely can have a few little perks. I am far more concerned about big issues such as his government’s lack of action on climate change and the environment where billions of dollars and the future of the planet are involved. Let’s focus on important issues.
Don Owen, Hawthorn

Relax, the US is here

Peter Dutton accuses China of becoming increasingly bellicose. China responds tit for tat, and so the escalation continues while we feel comfortable we have the support of the United States. That reliance worked well for the Afghans, didn’t it?
Val Pollard, Woodend

Emboldening the Taliban

Greg Baum (Sport, 8/9) makes the case for going ahead with a men’s Test match between Afghanistan and Australia in Hobart. Coat it however you like, the playing of that game anywhere will be viewed by the Taliban as a vindication of their government and policies. The development of cricket in Afghanistan is a trivial issue in relation to the human rights suffering that is happening there. It is not cricket, and there should not be any cricket.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Let the team play here

Cricket Australia will not host the Afghan men’s cricket team in Tasmania unless the Taliban agrees to maintain an Afghan women’s team. The Taliban finds itself governing a poverty-stricken populace which has been at war for 40 years. The new government, regardless of what we think of its ideology, will require massive support from the West if it is to govern successfully.

Sport in general is an international unifier. Surely it is better for us to accept the situation as it is for the moment, invite the men’s team and give the Afghans at home something of which to be proud. If the world makes the country and its government pariahs, then we risk causing a bitter populace who will easily engage with even more radical groups, with the risk of further war.
Julie Smith, Soldiers Hill

Social media posts

Herewith some free speech concerning “High court ruling dims public debate” (Editorial, 9/9), itself irrebuttable evidence that the art of special pleading is alive and well – “Media lose Facebook appeal” (The Age, 9/9).

As the High Court’s majority made clear, there has really been no issue since 1928 concerning liability for defamatory joint publications, but you chose to report the Voller judgment as if it were only now that “any community organisation, company or individual risks being sued for comments posted by third parties on their Facebook pages or other interactive social media”. Such was always the case.

The claim that news media, in publishing what it is pleased to call readers’ “comments” – they are, in the main, malicious, trivial and ill-informed assertions of fact, not adequately supported opinions – is “encouraging fair discussion” is surely disingenuous: are not its purposes a downmarket commercial gimmick and data gathering? The demand that governments should “clarify” these issues is baffling. What is unclear? A publisher is anyone who makes material public.

Well-advised news media can and will simply drop the worthless readers’ comments add-on. One real benefit of the High Court’s decision is that it puts social media and its users on final notice that the curse of vicious character assassination, so widespread on Facebook and the other sites – revenge porn is one egregious manifestation – opens them up to awards of significant damages as primary publishers. Potential litigants who were defamed by their impecunious enemies need not fear winning a Pyrrhic victory, but can with greater confidence look to Mark Zuckerberg’s deep pockets.
Stuart Littlemore QC, Woollahra

The role of science

Not so, Allan Patience (Letters 9/9). Scientific knowledge is not strictly confined to what humans perceive through their senses; rather, it is confined to the application of objective reasoning. Nor is the role of science about finding the truth, rather it is about describing nature based on objective experience.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda

Desperately seeking a cut

If my hairdresser and I are both vaccinated, twice, can I get a haircut?
John Manfield, Blairgowrie

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Federal

Morrison is right. How can he do his job – the PM of NSW – if he can’t fly in and out of Sydney?
Geoff Wescott, Northcote

Come on, Penny Wong. If Kristina Keneally moves to the lower house, how about you join her.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor

Keneally moving to the lower house might shorten the odds for Labor.
April Baragwanath, Geelong

When will Australia grow up? Morrison is the PM of Australia, not the ACT.
Murray Horne, Cressy

Alan Tudge is straight out of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth
Judy Delaney, Lower Templestowe

The Tudge fudge: Don’t let facts get in the way of Australian mythology.
Bryan Lewis, St Helena

Father’s Day: How selfish, how stupid and another example of how Morrison has one rule for himself and another for the rest of us.
Andrea Plantinga, Point Lonsdale

ScoMo: Sydney is the new Hawaii. Still tone deaf.
Russell Woodley, West Footscray

Victoria

Come on, you guys. Matthew Guy is simply channelling John Howard.
Eldert de Graaf, Wheelers Hill

Victorian Liberals: How do we prevent ourselves from winning the next state election? Oh, I know.
Mark Bennett, Manifold Heights

I can see Matthew Guy pleading with the old nag, Fia Mongering, to run one more race.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor

Furthermore

F-35 fighters: Too expensive to let fail.
Greg Cyster, East Bairnsdale

I suppose it wouldn’t be helpful to mention that all the models for the F-35 indicated success.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

Do minerals belong to all Australians, or just those individuals who export them at obscene speed and profit?
Bill Burns, Bendigo

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