THE Victorian experience emphasises the need to prepare for a further COVID outbreak in aged care facilities in NSW. The rapidity of spread and the collapse of the aged care system in Victoria has been startling ('Vulnerable in aged care moved to hospitals', Newcastle Herald 29/7).
We need to ensure that staff are not working across multiple facilities and that they can feel economically secure if they have to isolate.
Adequate government stores of personal protective equipment (PPE) need to be available as the facilities' supplies are unlikely to cope with a major outbreak. Supplementary staff trained in infection control must be available. Most importantly, there needs to be a plan for the removal of positive cases from environments where other residents are in danger of infection. Some facilities have identified areas within their complex for this to happen.
If facilities do not have such an option, we need to be preparing properly equipped units to take COVID positive aged care residents. Hospitals may not be ideal for this if they are already overloaded by community cases or if this prevents families being able to be present with their ill parent or spouse. The ideal place would be equipped to handle severe respiratory disease and delirium, with staff trained to manage respiratory failure and palliation, and with sufficient PPE to allow families to be present during the illness.
John Ward, Georgetown
Green shoots are powering on
THE COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating effect on lives and livelihoods, but the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)'s quarterly report for the three months to June on Australia's national electricity grid has included a trifecta of positive results.
Greenhouse gas emission intensity has dropped to a record low, showing clearly mankind's activities do have a significant effect. Electricity demand has fallen and wholesale power prices have, across the states, dropped between 46 and 68 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2019. All forms of renewable energy increased their generation.
Gas decreased slightly, but the big loser was black coal, offset by a small increase in brown coal. These results reinforce AEMO's assertion that a largely renewable future for the grid will produce the cheapest power, and highlight why there is no financial interest in building coal-fired stations and increasing wariness around long term thermal coal investments.
Of course, this report likely won't stop Matt Canavan claiming coal-fired power remains the cheapest in Australia at below $40 per megawatt hour, even though some simple calculations show this does not even cover the cost of the coal.
Richard Mallaby, Wangi Wangi
Celebrate distinct traits of mates
WHILE I appreciate the biology and intent of Associate Professor John Malouff's article ('Biologists do not believe in race, why do we?', Opinion 24/7) I trust we are not confusing race with culture.
In my opinion there is nothing wrong with believing in our differences (or should I say attributes). My father was born in North Wales and he, as well as my paternal grandfather, had incredible singing voices. I think about visiting pubs in that country to hear the untrained locals standing around a piano and all singing harmony.
My husband was German and quite innovative. My daughter's godfather was Greek. Who else do you know would dance on a table and crash plates on the floor in a restaurant (no, not the provided plaster of Paris ones) as well as educating you in the number of English words taken from the Greek language?
Another great friend is a Malaysian born Indian woman who speaks five languages (certainly not academically educated). How many of we Aussies with British heritage can speak a language other than English - no, Strine doesn't count. Isn't the best Australian Aboriginal art peculiar to that race?
I embrace all my friends and their idiosyncrasies, many of which in my opinion and without stereotyping are distinctive qualities of their culture and race.
Jan Schramm, Mayfield
Don't wash your hands of suburb
PRIOR to the virus I wrote to City of Newcastle and asked the Lord Mayor to come to Stockton regarding major issues. There are no hand wash or drying facilities in council toilets and the disabled toilets locked. The reply was that vandals damage the wash and drying facilities.
The disabled toilets are locked for the same reason, and if you need to use this facility you have to get a key from the council. The indignity of having to leave the toilet door open because your mobility aid won't fit is appalling.
I believe disabled people are being abused because of lack of footpaths in the streets of Stockton. You have to traverse the road and even though there is room for cars to pass they still abuse you. The emotional distress this causes is damaging to your health and wellbeing.
The council did not address this issue in their reply except to say they will be fixing the main street. It seems that they won't address this issue. We have cycleways (and yes, even able-bodied cyclists abuse you because your disability aid takes up too much room.
It's time they fix these major issues. In my opinion the council sit in their new executive suites which cost us millions of dollars and millions more to spend on rent and ignore the most vulnerable in our community. It is a major health issue regarding no hand wash in toilets. Is there someone who can stand up for our safety?
John Reay, Stockton
Voids could cash in on coal ash
IT occurs to me that the power stations fly ash issue and the coal mine voids are a match made in heaven. I note that coal mines and power stations generally have a rail link. Both organisations must have a legal and moral obligation to return the land to something similar to that before their endeavours.
Remove the fly ash and partly fill the mine voids at the cost of the miners and the power stations. The original coal material was provided by the miners and used by the power stations. At all stages, the handling of the coal and fly ash was safe to the workers.
No cost to the state or the consumer, would be warranted, in my opinion.
A benefit to the power stations and the miners that I see, is the improved perception of the two groups, by the general public. Maybe the far left and far right of Australian politics will find fault, but the very large centre should find a benefit.
Stephen Watson, Jewells
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.
FOR crying out loud, why can't we simply change the wording ('Bye bye captain', Newcastle Herald 21/7)? Let's stop using this to divide the community. Something along the lines of "This plaque marks the magnificent nautical journey of the Endeavour and its crew and acknowledges this land was at the time home to an indigenous population". I'm in absolutely no doubt there are many readers who could word it better. Let us all work together. We can't change the past, but united we can build a better future.
Dave McTaggart, Edgeworth
I AM wondering if the Premier now sees the value of our essential service people and backs down completely on refusing them a pay rise. She should also apologise for trying to rob them in the first place. These people put their own lives at risk to ensure we are kept safe. So far this year we have all suffered from famine, fire, flood and now a virus. We could not cope without our essential service people.
Greg Lowe, New Lambton
JULIAN Popov ('Coal regions hold key to renewable future', Opinion 28/7) is well written but he has not mentioned the large percentage of electricity that is generated by nuclear. You will find that over 50 per cent of Europe's electricity is produced by nuclear generators. We can't have that here because of the case of the tail wagging the dog a la the Greens and Labor.
Bruce Brander, Belmont
THE pandemic has brought to light is the fact that every worker in this country needs to have access to sick leave. At least 10 days sick leave per year per employee needs to be legislated by the government, and it needs to be cumulative. It has become clearly evident that people showing signs of COVID-19 are turning up for work simply because they do not have access to sick leave, and so the virus spreads.
Darryl Tuckwell, Eleebana
BETSY Watson (Short Takes, 28/7) asks a great question: from where is the government borrowing? People I ask typically scratch their heads and suggest China or the banks, both incorrect. In fact the money is not borrowed, rather printed in a bit of argy-bargy between the government and its Reserve Bank which creates bonds. All this talk of debt and deficit, usually followed by prescriptions of austerity, is massively overblown. Our own Professor Bill Mitchell of UoN explains it well. To those old-school economists who warn about inflation resulting from this, we are experiencing deflation with no end in sight.
Michael Gormly, Islington
I WOULD like to thank you for the article ('Castles in the sea in whopper storm', Topics 21/7). Of 32 news articles by Australian media in the days following the storm, it was one of only three that mentioned the link to global warming. Ignoring the reason behind increasingly powerful storms and sea level rise is like diagnosing a tumour without mentioning it's cancer. Erosion is getting worse and the media plays an important role in ensuring residents and politicians make the urgently needed changes to keep homes safe.