Let me get this straight. Neville Power is one of the least narcissistic chief executives, but it’s his way or the highway. He speaks respectfully to Aboriginal people, but doesn’t want to pay royalties to them. He is poor at consultation and can’t handle complex projects, but the government put him in charge of the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission. He has a reputation for getting things done, but so far the commission has produced almost nothing. Am I missing something (Margaret Simons, “Mysterious Mr Power, architect of our recovery”, July 25-31)?
– David Clarke, Battery Point, Tas
Gas sure to be the solution
The appointment of mining executive Neville Power as National Covid-19 Coordination Commission chair typifies the simple ruse of disguising longstanding policy proposals as independent expert advice. A disastrous example of this stratagem was Tony Abbott’s National Commission of Audit, which was chaired by Tony Shepherd, then head of the Business Council of Australia, and tasked with reviewing government expenditures with a view to budget repair. Its recommendations were implemented in Joe Hockey’s 2014 “lifters and leaners” budget, at considerable political cost to the government. With fiscal austerity currently in abeyance, the sole organising principle of Australian conservatism is safeguarding fossil fuel use. A fancily named commission can’t hide the fact that a gas-led “recovery” was on the government’s agenda well before the pandemic arrived.
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
Stand with criminalised women
“Speaking out for criminalised women” (Tabitha Lean and Debbie Kilroy, July 25-31) was both intellectually powerful and emotionally overpowering. The language of Lean to voice her message came with a force that knocked the air right out of me. The directness and truth of their lived experiences and how it has scarred them today, and will scar them tomorrow, broke my heart. The power of the message from both these women was expressed so eloquently, so deeply, it must surely garner the support of all who read their insights for their fight. Right now, during this time, we are able to reflect upon much of what is going on in our society; Indigenous incarceration, the age of criminality, the need to protest injustices and the dereliction of our government in protecting the vulnerable and giving voice to the marginalised as it continues to push further away from social justice and economic equity. Now is the time for transformation of much of the narrative that drives their political agenda. Here are two more courageous women who are taking on the burdens of that task. We must do more than simply wish them success, we must stand with them wherever the opportunity presents, in support and solidarity.
– Ian Ossher, Dover Heights, NSW
Aged care’s quality problem
As a retired trained nurse who worked for 30 years in nursing homes, I am compelled to respond to Rick Morton’s description of the crisis the aged are facing in some facilities with “I told you so” (“Forgotten lives”, July 25-31). This word “crisis” is not just due to the pandemic. I have used it to describe my workplaces for more than 20 years. Prime Minister John Howard came into power and immediately changed the Aged Care Act in 1997. Providers responded gratefully to his offer of self-regulation by immediately cutting staff, compromising the care we were used to giving so generously. I resigned as a deputy director of nursing after being hounded and bullied and required to attend a disciplinary meeting where I was demeaned and accused of not performing the duties that once two nurses accomplished. The next home I nursed in took several years to slowly cut staff, and nurses took over the physio’s job, the laundry job of folding and putting clothes away, as well as doing chores once considered to be for kitchen staff. This left less time to be a nurse. I could become overwhelmed by grief, guilt and frustration as I completed each shift with no feeling of satisfaction. We all did the best we could in circumstances we could do nothing about. I became a prolific letter writer with a determination to highlight the menacing inadequacies in the system where greedy providers compromised the care to the elderly during their greatest need. The response to my letters to politicians was always the same, “the government ensures adequate staff with the appropriate skills”. Some of my letters have been printed in newspapers where I was able to describe the inadequacies and fruitless attempts I made to ensure a registered nurse was on duty 24/7 in nursing homes by sitting in on parliamentary hearings, never gaining the required responses. I enjoyed being interviewed by the royal commission and can only hope that my optimism will be vindicated.
– Judy Nicholas, Denistone East, NSW
Put the mask on
People value their freedom and many have fought and died to protect it. They would be horrified that freedom includes the right to be stupid and endanger others. You can hold whatever stupid belief you want, even about the lizard people who you think rule the world, but exercising your freedom shouldn’t lead to putting people’s freedom and lives at risk. Put your masks on, keep your mouths shut and hope that real science comes up with a solution (Amy Coopes, “Behind the masks”, July 25-31).
– Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 1, 2020.
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