PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has said he was following the advice of the government's health experts and young people were a low-risk group. Closing schools would put pressure on health workers to stay at home to look after children, and hurt the economy more broadly, he said.
There is no evidence, however, that young people contract COVID-19 at a lower rate than adults or that they are less contagious. I believe keeping schools open offers the virus an unprecedented opportunity to spread within the school and for seemingly well young people to spread the virus within their own family.
For the sake of the economy our government is taking an unacceptable risk with the health of the nation.
Carlo Rendina, Lambton
MAKE KINDNESS A LEGACY
I PULLED out of my driveway this morning quite early, not to seek out toilet paper but to drive to my local pool as I normally do at least five mornings a week.
This time it was for probably one of my last swims of the season. The council-owned pools are closing early because of the fear of the coronavirus. Eric Idle sang Always look on the bright side of life on my radio, and that song made me smile.
I understand that it is difficult to see the bright side at present for many people faced with hardships including loss of employment and isolation, but this too shall pass. What will be remembered will be this society's behaviour during the crisis.
I will miss Mayfield pool for several reasons, but mostly I will miss the people. The young and the ageing, all are early morning swimmers. I will also miss the staff. We have cared about each other and have a great community there who are friendly and who just look after each other.
There will be a cure for the virus, but in the meantime let's just try harder to be kind to each other.
Denise Lindus Trummel, Mayfield
NO COMMON SENSE APPLIED
MY daughter, a 24-year-old recent graduate, is a job seeker on Newstart. She is very frugal and scrapes by with occasional assistance from her parents. She is diligent in applying for jobs and ensuring to meet all the job-search requirements. She went for her interview with the job search agency this morning. It was confirmed after the interview that the job search requirement still exists, and that she must apply for any job referred. The requirement to apply for 20 jobs a month at a time when we face mass lay-offs is not only senseless, it's also cruel. It should be stopped today by a directive from the relevant minister.
Kevin Fell, Cooks Hill
MORE THAN CUPBOARD BARE
FOR months citizens have been enduring the loss of habitat for flora and fauna throughout Australia. We have lost huge tracts of bush land inhabited by koalas, wallabies and birds, many of which are now on the endangered list. People are genuinely grieving at this loss, and it is well documented in social science terms as solastalgia, the emotional or existential distress caused by environmental change.
Environmental scientists have warned us about the extensive developments, undertaken in all our local council areas, where land is cleared completely and roof to roof housing is constructed.
There are no established trees to add shade and reduce local temperatures. Houses need air conditioning, yards are almost non-existent, and such close proximity to neighbours can sometimes lead to anxiety and anti-social behaviour. Wildlife corridors are non-existent. If we as a society are so concerned about loss of bush land and native habitat, about the implications of climate change, then why is everyone so silent about the extensive land clearing for development in our region?
I believe Maitland City Council should hang its head in shame for the complete clearing of land that has been allowed to occur in what you would call Thornton and the immediate area surrounding it. Another new estate is being advertised on Raymond Terrace Road. As I drove past the land this week, I could not believe what had been done. The entire hillside has been stripped of every tree. These are lined up for either wood chipping or logging. Solastalgia does not even come close to my distress.
Margarete Ritchie, Brandy Hill
EARLY LEARNING AT SHOPS
I DRAGGED myself out of bed at some absurd hour this morning in order to go shopping. Even the sun hadn't woken up when I joined the ever-growing queue for the all important bog roll.
We ancients can be on occasion grumpy and bad tempered but this morning was different. I was made to feel like a child in primary school.
Before the doors were flung open and the stampede had started, one of the pleasant staff asked us nicely to behave ourselves and be nice to each other. Despite the gathering, not one walking stick was raised.
We were so good they even thanked us for not abusing the staff and being so well mannered. It reminded me of school; well, either a school or farm. I checked the price of everything I bought and joined the queue at the check-out. At that point I felt like a sheep to be fleeced.
Nick Ryder, Booragul
MIXED STANCES ON MINES
I READ the opinion pieces of Labor parliamentarians Joel Fitzgibbon ('Why it's a mistake to write off coal industry', Opinion 17/3) and Pat Conroy ('Simplistic slogans on coal are not helping', Opinion 18/3).
What I think both fail to deal with is the expansion of the coal industry and what Labor's position is. It is one thing to maintain our coal exports, a stance I can understand, but it is entirely another to support or condone the expansion of existing mines and the opening of new mines such as Adani. Without opposing new mines or expansions, I think Labor is losing an enormous amount of credibility on climate change. It is no good arguing that their policy is better because while this huge gap exists in Labor's policy stance, they will struggle for traction.
Daryll Hadfield, Redhead
SILVER LINING TO VIRUS
WELL it certainly seems the gods are angry. We have had drought, floods, fires, now the plague and a downturn in the stock market. I wonder whether with all the cancellations of trains, planes and automobiles, stopping cruise ships from docking and the cancellations of sporting events and social activities, is the result that we have potentially slowed the effects of climate change? Does anyone know? "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good."
Judith Delbridge, Warners Bay
LETTER OF THE WEEK
THE pen goes to Sheila Bourne, of East Maitland, for her letter on goodwill during the pandemic.
SHARE YOUR OPINION
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THE Australian women and children refugees in Syrian camps must be brought home now. They can be housed in the quarantine accommodation already established. Whatever their crimes, we owe them our protection. It is our duty as Australians.
John McLennan, Charlestown
GREAT start to the season, Knights, well done. Let's hope it continues even though we may not be able to get to the games.
Bill Slicer, Tighes Hill
WHAT is our country coming to when people are stealing toilet paper, hand sanitiser and tissues from places like TAFE, skin cancer clinics, hotels and clubs just to mention a few ('Toilet paper bandit rolls hotel', Herald 11/3)? I know of a lot more places that are being robbed for these toiletries. When caught in the act what happens to these low lives? Maybe the same penalties should apply when caught as the ones promised if you break the rules on 14-day isolation. It's actually out of control.
Trish McKay, Cooks Hill
HILLSONG church has assured members their faith in the Lord means no evil shall befall them('Churches 'hands free' in response to virus', Newcastle Herald 14/3) Can someone please remind me how belief in the Bible and trust in God went protecting European Christians from the Bubonic Plague? From memory it wasn't all that effective.
Doug Steley, Heyfield
THIS year's tobacco excise, collected by the Federal Government, the fourth largest individual tax imposed, is a whopping $17 billion. Cigarette smokers should feel very pleased that, through their efforts, they are fully underwriting the federal government's $17 billion economic stimulus package against the impacts of the coronavirus.
Allan Searant, Charlestown
I WILL put this simply; the more you buy, the more things are going to cost. Meat is going to be at unattainable prices, the same for most fresh food if people don't settle down. So in the words of Cheech and Chong; mellow out, man.
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
MAYBE now people will understand and appreciate just how vital our farming, mining and manufacturing industries are to everyday Australians. In a weird sort of way, what's happening could be a blessing in disguise. This unprecedented event has also shut the hypocritical climate alarmists up - for the time being, anyway.
Brad Hill, Singleton
HAVING just watched Revelation on the ABC I was again reminded how easy it is for criminals and self servers to hide in our institutions. Where would our society and democracy be without journalists like Joanne McCarthy? Let's hope our newspapers can survive this social media age.
Rick Miller, Gwandalan
ROBIN Carrall's letter (Letters, 19/3) is a beauty. I'd also like to know why they're more expensive though if the snags are free of gluten. Surely they'd weigh less.