SCOTT Hillard (Short Takes, 6/7) again declares that COVID-19 is not as serious as influenza, basing his assertion on the simple statistic that there have only been 104 deaths in Australia from COVID-19 (now 106 at the time of writing this) compared to the usual 500 per year from influenza. He boldly trumpets that "clearly, the burden from influenza is the greater of the two". Clearly, Mr Hillard hasn't thought this through.
Each winter an influenza vaccine is made available to those who want it and who can afford it, and that is about all that is done to ward off influenza. On the other hand, the response to COVID-19 has been to almost totally shut down the Australian economy. This has resulted in unemployment figures not seen for decades, the closure of many thousands of small businesses, the decimation of the hospitality and entertainment industries, government support payments amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars and our worst recession since the Great Depression. The upside of this societal and economic upheaval has been that we have managed - so far - to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus and keep infection, hospitalisation and death rates relatively low compared to most other countries
To try to make a judgment on the overall threat posed by COVID-19 by simply comparing death and hospitalisation rates in Australia with those generally experienced from influenza is simplistic and ingenuous. And we still have a long, long way to go, as Victoria is now demonstrating.
John Ure, Mount Hutton
Keep them inside and in the know
I AM empathetic towards the thousands of individuals in the nine high-rise towers outside Melbourne. Again I believe the testing of all 3000 should be mandatory, and they shouldn't expect any form of monetary incentive. Their reward should be the comfort that they haven't infected anyone else, especially the elderly or their family members.
But yet again, the Victorian government officials have not put together any plans as what to do for those infected or are in risk of infection. Their methodology is lock up and forget as I believe they have done all along. No wonder people are in disarray and confused. Tell these poor beggars what your plans are. For instance, if I am diagnosed positive will I be moved out of these small units and isolated and cared for at a proper medical facility? Don't just lock them up in these units and hope they get better, in the meantime possibly infecting all those within the complex. Give them hope and guidance; they are scared and have no light at the end of the tunnel, just despair and hopelessness. Those within the walls of lockdown, please adhere to testing to help yourselves.
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
Don't let a trial be fait accompli
MICHAEL Gormly (Letters, 7/7) avoids the statistic that in 2017 weekend night assaults in Newcastle had fallen 72 per cent since 2008 while local police reported that the number of smaller bars and licensed restaurants had more than doubled.
This outcome importantly established that modest drink controls and business prosperity can coexist without the need for very costly police saturation or, proposed questionable 'trials' of weakened licensing conditions. Whilst there may be some room for evidence-based movement in either direction, I remain concerned that the end game will ultimately be the relaxation of those conditions impacting upon the powerful late-trading pubs and clubs.
They may likely argue (as they did in 2017 to the Independent Liquor and Gambling Authority) fairness by relying upon comparisons with the Sydney lockout laws abolished in January.
YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW - A NEWCASTLE HERALD SERIES:
- Trust in government erodes without functional transparency
- Newcastle East calls for squeeze to be eased on crowded school
- School secrets: the plan to move Newcastle High to part of National Park
- 'Appalling': Minister visits Truegain site as EPA eyes prosecution
- Kicked, punched, head-butted and spat on: Hunter hospital staff say assaults are under-reported
The AHA may also rely on a new reduced differential of trading conditions with local smaller bars and restaurants as an outcome of this impending review.
Within this context, the industry-based trial of weakened conditions for the smaller licensed premises in Newcastle, can be seen as the first key step in this end game.
NSW Minister Dominello, responsible for the alcohol and gambling portfolios, must take ultimate responsibility for the impartiality, transparency and integrity of any Newcastle trial and outcome. This should include reliance upon the best available independent evidence.
The ultraviolence in Newcastle pre-2008 was associated with more than a dozen late-trading premises and failed RSA on an industrial scale. These contributing factors can never be allowed to return regardless of how they may be disguised.
Tony Brown, Newcastle
Win was despite an uphill fight
LABOR won the Eden Monaro election after having overcome obstacles.
There was the Liberal scare that Labor was to introduce a 'retirement' tax. There was an email falsely advised that Kristy McBain had withdrawn, purportedly contracting COVID-19 and that she asked her votes be redirected to the Liberal standing candidate; a complete fabrication. We saw vision of the Victorian branch stacking, and in my opinion the airing was conveniently timed for some. This was followed by vision of an ASIO raid on now suspended NSW Labor Shaoquett Moselmane's office and home. I believe it was all designed to smudge the Labor Party and muddy their chances in Eden Monaro. Has Mr Moselmane been charged with anything? Those that were observant couldn't fail to notice the sustained attacks from right wing media be it radio, TV or print. Congratulations, Kristy.
Dennis Petrovic, Rutherford
Wrong response inflames things
THE deadliest bushfires in Australia over the last 200 years were in 1851, 1939, 1983, 2009 and the most recent summer. Their frequency is increasing and will continue to do so as the climate warms.
There are the more easily measured tangible losses (cost of replacing things plus loss of human life) and the more difficult to estimate intangible losses. The latter include effects of injuries and shortened lives; loss of livestock, grain and feed, crops and local and national parks; social costs including increases in mental health problems, unemployment, suicide, substance abuse, social problems, relationship breakdowns and domestic violence. A Deloitte investigation into the total cost for the 2019/20 fires came to $230 billion.
Industry could install around 230 gigawatts of solar, or 170 gigawatts of wind, energy generation for that cost. The detailed integrated system plan developed by the CSIRO and the national energy grid operator AEMO shows we will need less than half that to supply our total needs using 94 per cent renewable energy and producing significantly cheaper wholesale power. Rather than adopt the science and operating experience-based plan to reduce the risk of repeating fire disasters our federal government seems determined to inflame the risk by advocating a gas-led recovery from COVID-19.
Richard Mallaby, Wangi Wangi
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 0427 154 176 (include name, suburb). Letters should be fewer than 200 words and Short Takes fewer than 50 words. Correspondence may be edited and reproduced in any form.
IT'S curious that some rugby league players will use gutter language to abuse a referee, then shortly after produce a written apology that Shakespeare would be pleased with ('Fonua-Blake facing two-week ban', Newcastle Herald 7/6).
David Stuart, Merewether
SCOTT Hillard, I believe you wrong everyone in health systems, (Short Takes, 6/7). Coronaviruses rage that much when left to run wild that they collapse all, including shoving flu aside. It is not known what it can get up to for at least another 18 months at best, subject to vaccine success. It is now known, unlike before, that some recover with damaged organs including the brain. A leader doesn't run that risk. Anti-contagion is not applied to the flu.
Graeme Tychsen, Rankin Park
WELL, Don Fraser (Short Takes, 6/7), five minutes viewing of a one-hour program allows you to conclude that the ABC should be privatised. Won't it be wonderful when objective commentators like Rowan Dean completely dominate the media scene and our minds? Yes, as Marshall McLuhan said, the medium certainly is the message.
Marvyn Smith, Heddon Greta
LATELY on this page John Hewson has been described as spleen-venting, irrelevant and vitriolic - terms more commonly associated with shock jocks like Alan Jones or the shrill minions of the Murdoch media. John Hewson is currently a Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National, and an Adjunct Professor at Curtin, UTS, Canberra and Griffith Universities. This man has current knowledge across many areas and is thus well qualified to give an accurate description of current affairs. I find Mr Hewson uses relevant facts and data to support his positions and criticises both sides of politics when they don't respect the public interest but instead look after their own. He looks at the big picture and, most importantly, has no master to serve through his opinions. Keep him coming, Newcastle Herald.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
HOW can you not feel exasperated? The decision to lock people up in high-rise towers is ludicrous ('Rent waived for housing estate residents', Herald 6/7). For how long are we going to see sad, desperate faces staring out of windows? For how long are we going to see signs for help placed up against glass? It is a shemozzle to say the least because, like Newmarch House in Sydney, rules are made on the run at the expense of residents. Here is what should be happening: let people out immediately. Hand out masks and hand sanitiser. Deep clean all common areas daily including lifts. Temperatures need to be frequently taken and everyone should be tested weekly. These people need fresh air and sunshine. They need to feel some sense of freedom. They should be treated exactly like people who live in free standing dwellings on the ground.
Julie Robinson, Cardiff
I AM sad to say I come from a broken home. Every home appliance I attempt to repair is now well and truly broken.