Letters to
the editor

Catching a break on Covid-19

Rick Morton’s “How the second wave broke” (July 18-24) references a feeling any keen surfer knows all too well when surfing waves outside their comfort zone. Without warning, the first wave of the set always looms frighteningly large, spurring frantic paddling to the horizon. It’s when the spray and wind clear from the first wave’s trail that hearts collectively sink, as the second wave rears its head. Always bigger, always more powerful, always more dangerous. In their desperation to recoup lost seconds, it dawns on those not prepared that they won’t make it. For those who’ve been there before, there isn’t a moment to waste. Before the spray has cleared, their paddle strokes are already a little faster and their breaths a little deeper. Without hesitation, the 12 seconds between waves presents enough opportunity to avoid disaster. Here’s hoping the national cabinet can position themselves well enough in the line-up and act decisively to avoid being cleaned up.

– Nick Chadwick, Whale Beach, NSW

Government projects are the answer

To quote your Editorial (“Sharing the pain”, July 18-24), “The economy needs stimulus, people need jobs and the private sector isn’t going to provide them.” If the private sector will not provide enough – or any – jobs, there is only one choice: state and federal governments and shire councils must provide paid work for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own during a deep recession that could well morph into a depression. I recall that my maternal grandfather was given work by the council, building and repairing roads in the Ballina area, where he lived at the time, during the Great Depression. There must be many thousands of jobs in the building and maintenance of important infrastructure such as roads and railways that would not only benefit the unemployed but also the whole community or even the country. One project worthy of consideration is making a start, at least, on a Brisbane–Sydney–Canberra–Melbourne fast or, ideally, very fast rail connection.

– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT

Flawed interpretation of ‘palace letters’

My trust in Gadfly’s lack of bias took a hit when reading “Carry on up the Charteris” (July 18-24). Here, Richard Ackland uses a narrow selection of quotes to claim that “there could not have been a greener green light from London” for Kerr to use the reserve powers to sack Whitlam. The “palace letters” included a number of warnings from Sir Martin Charteris, including him advising that “to use them is a heavy responsibility and it is only at the very end when there is demonstrably no other course that they should be used”. On the other hand, if Charteris had written as suggested by Mr Ackland “forget the reserve powers – for a democracy they are an anachronistic absurdity”, he, as agent for the Queen, would have most certainly been interfering in Australian politics. I suggest that critics of Martin Charteris cannot have it both ways.

– Hans Paas, Castlemaine, Vic

AI could be the diagnostic tool we need

Daniel van Roo’s late diagnosis of cancer by his general practitioners was a disaster (Rick Morton, “Exclusive: Doctors ignore terminal cancer”, July 11-17) but seemed to be a side effect of the fine line medical practitioners tread between under- and overdiagnosis exemplified neatly in “Risk analysis” in the same edition. As doctors, we routinely see aberrant investigation results where no significant illness exists and time shows a “regression to the mean” or normality. We are barraged by expert – medical and economic – advice about not overinvestigating, as doing so exposes individuals to unnecessary distress and makes our health system unsustainable. When will we embrace artificial intelligence as a mandatory augmentation to medicine or will the hubris of the profession continue to collude with the expectations of the public?

– Neil Cradick, Mons, Qld

Composer’s mastery

Vale, Maestro Ennio Morricone (Christos Tsiolkas, “High scores”, July 11-17). I bought my first CD, the soundtrack from the film The Mission, in 1986, a personal landmark graduation from the pre-history of the Sony Walkman cassettes of my teenage years. I listen to Morricone’s liturgical chorales, native drumming and Spanish-influenced guitars that crescendo to the rousing “River” where I reach the Garganta del Diablo (Spanish for Devil’s Throat), the seething abyss of inrushing torrent and the memorable scene of the Guaraní tribe living above Iguaçú Falls tying a priest to a cross and sending him over the falls to his death. Morricone was the shepherd that herded me towards my classical music, and music technology, enlightenment.

– Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld

Keep Cook statue in public eye

If any of the 65-odd signatories to the open letter “Relocate Cook statue” (July 4-10) had more common sense than expertise “in this field”, they would realise the need to keep the Cook statue where it is and erect a sympathetic Indigenous statue or symbolic structure nearby as an appropriate modern-day response. Ordinary people, especially Aussie bogans, need daily tactful and obvious reminders of the rights and wrongs of the past, present and future. Museums are fine for school tours and academic research purposes, but they also act as hides for inconvenient truths and labs for propagating lies. As an expert in the field of common sense, I say it is only right to leave the Cook statue where it is and erect a measured and timely counterpunch.

– Hugh Piper, Armidale, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 25, 2020.

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